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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr FRANCIS (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) - Yes; but the Minister will not answer it.

Mr CALWELL - The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has no right to insult me by saying that I will not answer points raised by honorable members. The Government ' is anxious to protect the interests of the employees of the company. I am not sure that the honorable members for Moreton and Balaclava do not want to do a little stunting in this matter as in other's. I- shall now address myself to the intelligent members of the committee. The period of exclusive service does not mean that a person shall have served for three years exclusively before the taking over of the company. The requirement is that he shall have been engaged for a period of three years. If he had been engaged before the war started, and continued in the- employment of the company right up to the conclusion of hostilities, he must have had more than three years service. The idea, is that a. 'period of three years service would be required to make him an efficient employee.

Mr Spender - A doubt is raised by the use of the word " so " in the phrase " and has been so exclusively engaged for a period- of three years ".

Mr CALWELL - I shall ask the Government's legal advisers whether the word " so " in that context bears the meaning which the honorable member suggests.

Mr Spender - -Would that provision operate to the detriment of a man who had been in one of the services during the war?

Mr CALWELL - It would be very wrong if this legislation were to operate in any way against the interests of a man who had served his country in the armed forces'. The Government does not intend that any provision should operate against a man who was away serving his country during the war. If there is the slightest danger of that happening an appropriate iteration will be made.' The observations generally of the honorable member for Warringah .will be taken into consideration, and if it. be found necessary to do what he suggests, because of the fears he has, the necessary alterations will be made.

The honorable member for Moreton has raised a somewhat different issue, He says that some employees may have been serving with the fighting forces, and may not have had an opportunity to serve exclusively with telecommunication services for a period of three years. We are taking over a business undertaking, and we have to take over with it those who have demonstrated their efficiency and competency to do the work for which they will be paid. It may be said that, had there- been no war, thousands of people in the armed forces might have secured employment with Cable and Wireless Limited, and might have been capable of discharging the duties now to be undertaken by others. The honorable member has raised a. somewhat hypothetical case. If he has any particular persons in mind I shall consult with the department to ascertain' how they may be given the right which he wants them to have.

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