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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 883

Mr WILLIS (Gellibrand) - When this debate was adjourned last night I was making the point in regard to this Bill, which gives 4 weeks annual leave to Commonwealth public servants, that this 4 weeks leave had been vigorously opposed by the previous Government which had in doing so grossly overstated the alleged costs of introducing 4 weeks leave for Commonwealth public servants and employees generally. I referred to the New South Wales example to show that the kind of proposition put forward by the previous Government just did not hold true because in fact as a result of the introduction of 4 weeks leave there was no substantial increase in employment above the normal rate of increase. The reason is that there was increased productivity stemming from increased leisure. That was explained by counsel for the State of New South Wales in the 1962 annual leave case before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Very briefly summarised it was claimed, firstly, by arranging annual leave so that it falls in the period of least work load there is a productivity benefit. Secondly, by speading the work of an individual who is on leave over the group with whom he carried out his tasks, the output of the group as a whole is maintained. Thirdly, the fact that outstanding problems are generally cleaned up before an individual goes on leave increases his productivity in the period preceding the taking of leave.

If we look at what happened in the nation as a whole at the time of the granting of 3 weeks leave to employees in 1963 we can see that there must have been induced productivity as a result. I have not time to go into the evidence in support of that. We can therefore regard with considerable scepticism the previous Government's dire warnings as to the cost of an extra week's annual leave. There can be no doubt that the previous Government considerably overstated the cost to the Commonwealth of applying this benefit to its employees and to employees generally by completely ignoring the consequential productivity increase factor. The evidence seems to indicate that this is an important factor and although we cannot be precise as to its effect on the cost of granting an additional week's leave to Commonwealth public servants we can be certain that it will cost much less than the previous Government said it would cost. In that situation we should concentrate our attention on the equity argument for granting an additional week's leave to our public servants and if we do that the case for it is overwhelming. I commend the Bill to the House.

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