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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) (Minister for Air) . - The reduction of the rates of pay and allowances of the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force, to which the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has referred, has excited a good deal of comment and, perhaps, criticism of the Government. On a previous occasion, the honorable member referred to this matter by way of a question, and I replied that the action of the Government was taken following the consideration of an agendum that had been prepared for the purpose of making uniform the rates of pay for all the women's services. Apparently the Government, after full consideration, decided that uniformity was necessary. This undoubtedly involved some reductions of existing rates. I believe that the rate of 4s. 4d. a day represented an allowance made to the Women's Auxiliary Australian' Air Force who lived away from home, and that 2s. 5d. a day was paid to those who lived at home. The rate of 4s. 4d. a day was reduced to 3s. 6d. a day, and has continued at that level. The alterations have been so made that no one will receive less than £2 16s., The honorable member can, or course, put an excellent case - I pay tribute to him for that - but I believe that he is aware of all the circumstances that surround this matter; and his statement of the case to-day would suggest that he is concerned not so much with obtaining a remedy for the Women's Auxiliary

Australian Air Force who have suffered the reduction, as with making some party political capital out of what has taken place in pursuance of proposals of his own government.

Mr McEwen - I deny that.

Mr Rosevear - We should not adopt the proposals of another government.

Mr DRAKEFORD - I am not suggesting that we should. But there should be no cause for complaint by the honorable member in respect of reductions that were proposed by the Government in which he was Minister for Air.

Mr McEwen - I say that that is untrue; they were not proposed by the Government of which I was a member.

Mr DRAKEFORD - I object to that statement, and ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr McEwen - I have to make it, in order to focus attention on the incorrectness of the honorable gentleman's statement.

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