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Thursday, 25 June 1903

Mr E SOLOMON (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -I think it is to be deplored that occasion has arisen for the discussion which we have had to-night in regard to a certain case, and which has occupied nearly three hours, though now that the Minister has decided not to give any explanation at this stage, no doubt it must come to an end. My reason for rising is to bring before the Government one or two matters to which the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs was directed whenhe visitedWestern Australia two or three months back. He promised to look into those matters, and I am rather surprised that nothing has been done. One of the matters to which his attention was directed was the state of the Custom-house at Fremantle, and another the state of the post-office there. Both buildings would be a disgrace to. any community, and they were in such a condition that the Minister was afraid to go over the premises where the clerks work. His attention was also called to the high fees which have to be paid by licensed Custom-house agents. They complain very greatly of the regulations which have been framed. it appears that, not only have they to find a guarantee of £500 for the honesty of their clerks generally; but they have to pay £5 per annum for each clerk they employ on Custom-house work, and if, through the illness or temporary incapacity of one of these clerks, they have to employ another, per.haps only for an hour or two, they must pay £5 for him. They complain very bitterly about that requirement of the regulations: I hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs will look into the matter, and, if possible, so alter the regulations that no fee will be charged where a clerk is temporarily employed, the employers being regarded as under the same conditions in respect to his employment as they are in respect to the employment of their ordinary clerks. I trust that the Government will give attention to all these grievances, and that we shall soon have satisfactory replies to the statements of the deputation whichwaited upon the Minister for Home Affairs.

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