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Wednesday, 11 November 1964

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) (12:57 PM) - in reply - It is not long since I read the second reading speech on this Bill and I do not want to traverse its purposes again. After all, it is a fairly simple Bill. The main purpose is to make provision for the transfer of inspectors of the South Australian Department of Agriculture and of the South Australian Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board, to the Commonwealth Public Service, bringing with them their State rights. I lay some emphasis on the fact that the number of inspectors involved are three from the Department of Agriculture and 25 from the Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board.

I gather that the Bill in the broad receives the approbation of the Senate. It is true, as Senator Prowse said, that we were in some doubt as to Senator Cormack's views but I give Senator Cormack the benefit of the doubt and assume that he will support the Bill. I enjoyed very much his excursion 1.. history and economics. At one stage J was not quite clear as to whether Parkinson's law had got into the history section or the history had got into Parkinson's la\y. He built up an edifice of his own and then proceeded to knock it down. In fact, no State is obliged to come into the scheme at all. Nobody would know better than Senator Cormack the way in which the States preserve their sovereignty in all fields. The only possible way in which the States could be involved in this scheme would be by their agreement to participate. There is no substance in the suggestion that the Commonwealth will be usurping State powers. In South Australia the authorities have elected to come into the scheme, and the authorities in Queensland have elected to have the Commonwealth meat inspectors perform certain functions. The same applies to a certain extent in Tasmania. In each case the transfer of the functions is by arrangement and by consent.

If I may digress to state an analogous situation, honorable senators know of the tremendous amount of work that is required by the Commonwealth, the States and primary producers to evolve stabilisation schemes. They know how difficult it is to draw all the elements together to produce such schemes. In the second reading speech, on behalf of the Minister I drew attention to the difficulties that were being experienced by the Australian Agricultural Council. Senator Drury referred to those difficulties in the course of his remarks. I remind the honorable senator that it is necessary for the States to come into this scheme voluntarily and there can be no suggestion of duress. In fact, under the Constitution there can be no duress in bringing the States into the scheme. Senator Cooke referred to the position of the other States, and I believe that my answer in the broad covers the point that he made. He asked why the other States were not participating in the scheme. The reply is that the other States have chosen not to come into the scheme, for a variety of reasons. It is their decision.

The honorable senator referred also to temporary employees. My advice is that no temporary employees will be involved in the transfer of meat inspectors from the South Australian authorities to the Com.monwealth. 1 believe that Senator Drury also referred to a number of temporary employees. I repeat that my information is that no temporary employees in South Australia will be involved in the transfer. Senators Cooke and Drury said that South Australian inspectors had worked under conditions applying to Commonwealth officers in the same field which meant that they would be subject to the normal Commonwealth law in relation to seasonal transfers. I believe that that goes hand in hand with normal transfer to the Commonwealth service. The seniority of State inspectors will be based on their service with the State or with meat authorities as meat inspectors, and service will be calculated on the basis that would apply in their State employment.

Senator Cooke asked about the accumulation of recreation leave, and I believe Senator Drury raised this issue also. Where officers have accumulated recreation leave in excess of 30 days we presume that the States will adjust the leave credits.

Senator Cooke - r-For the amount of leave in excess of 30 days?

Senator ANDERSON - Yes. It is assumed that the States will adjust leave credits at the time that the officers transfer to the Commonwealth. All State officers who transfer will be entitled to join the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. Senator Drury asked a whole series of questions and I have noted eight or nine of them. I do not promise to supply all the information that the honorable senator sought, but his speech will be referred to the Minister and if any points have not been resolved an effort will be made to obtain the information and make it available to him.

The Department of Primary Industry feels that it is of advantage to have at least one State operating under the Commonwealth's proposals. As I have already indicated, this Bill also provides the machinery so that if any other State elects to come within the Commonwealth proposals the legislative form is available for it to do so. There is no suggestion that, as Senator Cormack said, this is the first shot in a big effort to seize power in this field from the States. I merely repeat that while the legislation was designed to accommodate South Australia it was made sufficiently wide to encompass other States if at some future date they decide to come into the scheme.

I have said, the Bill provides what are considered to be the normal conditions to cover all aspects associated with the transfer of the officers concerned. South Australian inspectors, if they elect to transfer to the Commonwealth service, will be transferred after receiving notice in the proper terms. I do not think anyone can object to that procedure, which we regard as normal.

Senator Drurymentioned sick leave. Under the State conditions South Australian inspectors may be paid 60 per cent, of the value of sick leave which has not been used. Such sick leave provisions are not part of the Commonwealth scheme, so they cannot continue after transfer. In other words, when the officers transfer to the Commonwealth they will be placed on the same basis as other Commonwealth servants. The conditions will be equal for all members of the Commonwealth service.

Superannuation was another matter raised by the honorable senator. South Australian inspectors joining the Commonwealth service will be required to contribute to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. He also mentioned long service leave. The inspectors will carry with them their long service leave entitlement and the Commonwealth will accept responsibility for payment in that regard. However, payment will not be made for furlough taken by officers under 60 years of age unless they have completed 15 years' service. Promotion will be based on seniority and efficiency in accordance with the pattern in the Commonwealth service.

The honorable senator raised the question of overtime rates. The inspectors will be paid overtime at the rate of time and a half except for overtime worked on Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday. Taken in the broad sweep, the Commonwealth conditions are as good as those in the State. As to the matter of salary which he also mentioned, the information I have is that State officers will receive an increase in salary. As mentioned by the Minister in another place, the salary paid to the inspectors will be, on balance, higher than that paid in the State. We will make the details available.

Senator Drury - Would it be possible to get the amount.

Senator ANDERSON - 1 am not in a position to give it to the honorable senator at the moment but it will be made available to him. Pending transfer, the abattoir is paying inspectors the same salary as that paid to inspectors in the Commonwealth service. In other words, during the transition period they will receive the salary applicable to the position in the Commonwealth.

I do not suggest that all the answers I have given are comprehensive, but in the circumstances I think I have covered most of the questions that were raised. I appreciate the remarks of honorable senators who participated in the debate. I conclude on the note that while this is a bill to meet the requirements of South Australia, it has been so drawn that should other States elect voluntarily to come into the scheme the legislative machinery is available for them to do so.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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