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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr CONELAN (Griffith) . - I endorse some of the re-marks of the hon.orable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), but with others I entirely disagree. The treatment of non-official pOStmasters was one of my main complaints when he was a Minister and his party was in power. I did not then hear the honorable member take up the cudgels on behalf of these servants of the Commonwealth. I am confident that the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Lawson) and the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley), will see that these officers receive fair treatment when their case is heard by the Public Service Arbitrator. The worst feature of the matter has been left unmentioned by the honorable member for New England; it relates to messenger boys employed at non-official post offices, who have to work 44 hours a week in the delivery of telegrams. If a telegram were lodged at a minute to 1 o'clock or a few minutes before 6 p.m., it would have to be delivered, even though the boy had to travel miles in order to deliver it. Holidays throughout the year also have to be worked, and the remuneration is only 4s. a week. If that is not. child slavery, I do not know what it is. Some of the lads have to provide a bicycle, if the employer does not do so.

Mr Harrison - There are no specified rates in respect of non-official post offices.

Mr CONELAN - -Tha,t is a very strange statement for an exPostmasterGeneral to make. The remuneration of non-official postal officers is fixed.

Mr Harrison - I am talking of messengers.

Mr CONELAN - Messengers are included.

Mr Harrison - Nonsense !

Mr CONELAN - The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. Only yesterday, in Brisbane, t received a. deputation of non-official postal officers, who placed before me in black and white the statement that these lads receive only 4s. a. week. They are supposed to provide, a bicycle, and do not receive any additional remuneration for working overtime, except on Christmas Day, Good Friday, and one other day. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) expressed the wish that all non-official post offices should be made official, and was called to task by the honorable member for New England. So soon as the revenue reaches a certain figure, a non-official post office become? official.

Mr Harrison - It does not.

Mr CONELAN - Since this Government has been in power, the status of two offices in my electorate has been changed.

Mr Harrison - Many other offices have not been changed.

Mr CONELAN - No member of the staff has been thrown out of employment : they have been either transferred to other non-official post offices or included in the staffs of the new official offices. The PostmasterGeneral and the Minister representing him in this chamber will see that every officer connected with non-official post offices shall be given decent treatment and paid a. living wage, not the mere pittance handed out by the previous Government.

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