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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- Mr. Deputy Chairman,I want to raise another point before the question is put. I desire to bring the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to a reply which I received from the Public Service Board and which indicates the type of thinking in which the board indulges regarding the employment of females, especially those who have suffered from asthma. In a letter to me dated 2nd November, 1960, the secretary of the board stated1 -

In order that you may better understand our decision I would like to point out that our medical standards have been determined to ensure, so far as medically possible, that persons accepted give prospect of efficient service to the normal retiring age of 60 to 65 years.

The fact is that females, as a rule, do not remain in the Public Service until they reach 60 or 65 years of age. Only a fraction of them do so. I asked Sir William Dunk to provide me with figures dealing with this matter. He promised to do so, but up to date I have not received the statistics dealing with the duration of female employment in the Public Service. This matter affects all government departments. It is about time that the matter was reviewed in the light of the large number of females employed in the Public Service. If the Government is going to adopt the practice of giving nothing away in regard to the employment of males I believe it should vary, in the light of circumstances, its policy with respect to the employment of females.

On the broad question of the employment of physically handicapped persons I ask the Prime Minister: Are we to leave it to private employers, to private industry, to give opportunities to the physically handicapped? Surely the responsibility for dealing with this matter finally rests with the Commonwealth Government, because in the long run the payment of social service benefits to handicapped people who cannot find employment is involved. Who among us wants to find1 the revenue burdened with social service payments to people who are able to work, and are willing and ready to give first class, efficient service in the Public Service of their country? I ask the Prime Minister to consider sympathetically the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) and other honorable members.

Amendment negatived.

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