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Friday, 25 November 1910

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I should like to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether any satisfactory explanation can be given of the fact that the hours worked by telegraphists in Tasmania are different from those worked by telegraphists on the mainland? The, Tasmanian operators on the cable press service work seven hours a day, while the operators on the mainland work six. The Victorian men come on duty, say, at 8 o'clock p.m., while the Tasmanian man goes on at 6 o'clock p.m., and works, perhaps, until 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning. On the 15th November, 1 asked the following questions -

1.   Is it correct that telegraphists in Hobart and Launceston, in order to receive the latest press cables, are often on duty until 2 a.m. and 2.30 a.m.?

2.   Is it also correct that, in such instances, they receive no allowance or other consideration for overtime?

The reply was -

1.   Telegraphists are sometimes detained until 2 a.m. and later for press messages. During the past six weeks this has occurred on six occasions.

2.   Yes, it is correct, because the hours worked during a fortnight have not exceeded 88 hours, vide Public Service Regulations

It was stated that in Tasmania the men had not worked until 2 o'clock in the morning beyond six times, and, taking that statement literally, it may be true; but I find that there are many occasions on which they have worked until 1.45, 1.54, 1.57, and so forth, practically meaning until 2 o'clock a.m., and on every night until well after midnight. Press telegrams intended for publication in the Tasmanian newspapers are in Melbourne throughout the day, and are not transmitted until evening, unless in cases of exceptional importance. Notice may be given at 10 o'clock or 12 o'clock to keep the cables open because a great deal more matter has to come through ; and the operators in Tasmania have to wait until after midnight in order that the messages may be sent out to the local newspapers. For geographical reasons, the Tasmanian operators must be latest on such duty ; but something should be done to place them in a fair position in relation to their fellow employes on this side. They ought not to be called upon to undergo the strain of working from 6 o'clock p.m. until these late hours in the following morning without payment for overtime or some time off when they are on ordinary day shift. I could show that there is hardly a night that these men in Tasmania are not kept late, even to 2 o'clock, and, on occasions, to 3 o'clock in the morning. They have to bear an immense strain in very ' nervy ' ' work ; and I trust that the onerous nature of their duties will be recognised, and something done for their relief.

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