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Tuesday, 24 May 1904

Mr JOHNSON (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to know from the Postmaster-General if his attention has been called to a statement in this morning's Argus which seems to reflect upon his administration of the Department ovct which he has control ? To make my question clear, I may, perhaps be permitted to quote a few sentences of the report to which I refer -

When Mr. Mahon became Postmaster-General in the Labour Ministry he called for a report from Colonel Outtrim. That gentleman contended that in the interest of proper administration it was unwise to accede to the requests of the associations which 'employed political influence in order to accomplish their ends. ......

Mr Mahon, Postmaster -General, insisted upon Colonel Outtrim recognising the departmental associations. He decided in his deputy's favour in regard to the lift case, but against him on the larger issue. And he continued : - I do not desire to receive from him any further communication in which his fellow-officers are referred to in acrimonious and contemptuous terms." Colonel Outtrim felt that he did not merit the hard words used by the Postmaster-General, and he wrote a letter' in reply, in which he cited several instances of attempted political influence, and said that if Mr. Mahon were dissatisfied with his administration he was quite prepared to retire. . . .

A precis of the correspondence was submitted to Parliament last week. Prominence wasgiven in it to Mr. Mahon's final minute, but the cases upon which Colonel Outtrim based his case were omitted.

Is the charge contained in the last sentence true?

MrMAHON. - In reply to the honorable member, . I desire to say that the documents connected with the case of the Deputy Postmaster-General of "Victoria and his non-recognition of certain Public Service Associations are. rather voluminous, and instructions were given to an officer of the Department to prepare in the usual way an abstract of them, so that the main points . might be easily available to honorable members and others who wish for information on the subject. It is quite true that this abstract does not give the whole of Mr. Outtrim's letters; but if the honorable member, or any other honorable member, thinks that any material fact has not been disclosed, I shall have the greatest pleasure in placing the whole of the papers before him.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How can we tell that facts have not been disclosed unless we see all the papers?

Mr McDonald - Why do not honorable members take the responsibility of moving for a return?

Mr.MAHON. - If there is any suspicion that there are material facts which have not been stated by the responsible officer who compiled the summary to which I have referred, and who received no instructions whatever from me, I shall have the greatest pleasure in laying the whole of the papers before any honorable member who may wish to see them.

Honorable Members. - Why not lay them on the table ?

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