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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr HULME - I think that some aspects of this question might more properly have been directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. As I understand the position, an application was lodged, in the normal course, with the Public Service Board and an appeal was made to the Full

Bench of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The claim made by the Professional Officers Association concerning engineers was rejected by the Commission. If the engineers believe that they have new material which is pertinent to a claim for increased wages, they have the right to approach the Public Service Board again with a claim.

As to the other questions that the honourable member has asked about engineers in the Post Office, it is fair to say that with the technological developments that have taken place in recent times there is a shortage of engineers in many areas of industry in Australia. The Post Office is short of engineers not because we do not have more engineers now than we had 12 months ago but because there has been an increase of no less than 23.5% in the demand rate for telephones in the 10 months to April last. The honourable member will appreciate that as a result a tremendous work load is developing within the Post Office in relation to telephone installations. The shortage of engineers relates to the increased work load rather than to a reduction in their numbers compared with the previous 12 months.

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