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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr SCULLIN (YARRA, VICTORIA) - It may be a little more. If a fifth class officer were retired on twelve months' pay he would get only £198 after six years' service, but if he had been in the Department for ten years ho would get £252, and, if married, £272. The amendment is very reasonable. I do not want to fight the matter any longer. I admit that the amendments prepared' by the Treasurer have greatly improved the Bill, and I want to give him credit for so doing ; but, apparently, he baulked at the proposal in my amendment. This question and that which concerns the whole of the temporary employees are the most important in the Bill. I remind the Treasurer that the employees for whom I am now fighting have had to run the gamut of examinations to obtain entrance to the Department, and have since been trained as specialists in taxation work. This happening is a tragedy in their lives, and has caused them great anxiety.

Mr Bowden - Does the honorable member think that they will be out of work for more than six months?

Mr SCULLIN - I think that the whole career of many of them will be destroyed.

Mr Bowden - Most of them are young.

Mr SCULLIN - That makes the destruction of their career Ihe more serious.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some of them have been sitting in the gallery all night waiting to see what will be their fate.

My. SOULLIN.- That shows how deeply they are interested. The majority of them will find suitable employment outside, bub that makes it all the more desirable that we should give the minority adequate compensation. A responsibility rests upon the Government to absorb them in other Departments. The transition period should be gradual so that such an absorption could occur. The Government has allowed the duplication to go on, and has encouraged boys and girls to enter the Department. _It tells us that something like £260,000 will be saved by this measure. Surely it is not too much to ask that that amount should be used in doing justice to them, seeing that we. are firing them out* into the cold world.

Mr Maxwell - Could it not be arranged for the Government to keep a list of them with a view to giving them future employment? . "

Mr SCULLIN - That could be done; but, in the meantime, many of them will be out of work. The Government policy of preference to soldiers will prevent many of them from re-entering the Service for a considerable time. These men have had special training, and though they will not be useless in ordinary commercial pursuits, their experience has not fitted them for such work. It would not be any hardship on the Government to give them the equivalent of twelve months' pay as compensation. The average amount thus paid to them would be under £200. The Bill provides for miserable compensation. They had to prepare themselves by considerable study, and at a cost of much sacrifice by their parents, to enter the Department, and they should be more generously compensated.

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