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Wednesday, 22 June 1904
Wednesday, 22 June 1904

Mr. Speakertook the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

DUTIES ON SHIPS' STORES.

Mr. WATKINS.- Referring to the reply made by the Minister of Trade and Customs yesterday to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa with regard to the collection of duties on ships' stores, I desire to know whether his statement related to oversea ships that touch at only one port in the Commonwealth, as well as to those which trade from port to port along our seaboard ? I desire, further, to know whether he does not think some distinction should be drawn between the two classes of vessels ?

Mr. FISHER.- So far as I am aware, at present, no exception is made- in favour of ships which call at only one port in the Commonwealth, but the question of making a distinction may be considered later on.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS.

Sir JOHNFORREST. - I desire to ask,

Mr. Speaker,what is the rule with regard to the answers given by Ministers to questions asked by honorable members ? The present procedure seems to me to be somewhat inconvenient. Ministers . sometimes merely give a promise that they will obtain certain information, but afterwards forget all about the matter. In such cases, it would be preferable to postpone the questions until the information desired can be furnished.

Mr. SPEAKER.- If honorable members do not obtain the desired information in the first instance, and intimate that they wish their questions' to remain on the noticepaper, their request will be complied with. In cases, however, whereno such intimation is made, the questions will not retain their place.

PUBLIC SERVANTS' LONG SERVICE LEAVE.

Sir LANGDONBONYTHON.- I wish to direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to an article headed " South Australian Federal Officers' Long Service Leave " contained in the latest issue of tha Transmitter, a journal published in connexion with the Post and Telegraph service. The article quotes section 3 of an Act passed in South Australia in 1881, entitled "An Act to amend the Civil Service Act of 1874," which reads -

The Governor may grant to any officer in the civil service, of at least ten years' continuous service, not exceeding eight months' leave of absence on half salary, or, at.his option, four months' leave of absence on full salary, 'or if of twenty years' continuous service, eight months' leave of absence on full salary.

The article goes on to say -

When the Department was transferred to Federal control, a very large number of its members had already completed len, and, in many . cases, twenty years of service, but had not taken their long leave. It was the unanimous conviction of all concerned thai they would receive the same terms of leave from the Federal Government for this service rendered to the State as- . they would undoubtedly have enjoyed had . they remained under the State. This conviction was deeply and firmly rooted in various good and manifest reasons, prominent amongst which are -

(a) Although both the before-mentioned clausesare governed by " may grant," not by- " shall grant " (for the obvious reason that it was necessary to give the Governor power to withhold the- leave in the event . of the record of any officer being unsatisfactory), the absence of any mention of a portion only to be granted, and also the fact that the Parliament considered, it necessary specifically to curtail the leave by substituting four and eight months in. the Amending Act of 1881 for the twelve months in the original Act, seem to indicate that the granting of this leave in. its entirety was, in the opinion of South Australian legislators, quite a binding obligagation upon the State. '

(b)The contention that this " may grant " has. been invariably interpreted as" shall grant" is justified by the history of the State service, which, to the best of our' knowledge, shows that the full term of four or eight months, as the cose may be, has never been refused, but that, on the contrary, the State Government, whatever its policy, has always, in good and bad times alike, scrupulously discharged its debts in this respect to its officers.

(c)Both the Commonwealth Constitution and the Commonwealth Public Service Act of 1902 contain clauses preserving the rights of transferred officers under State Acts.

The conviction that the full measures of leave would be granted to those officers who had already earned them before passing over to the Federal regime was strengthened by the very equitable, not to say liberal, treatment which we have received from the Commonwealth administrators in other matters. It was, therefore, a rude shock to our confidence to learn that it is the intention of the Public Service Commissioner to grant only three and six months, instead of four and eight months, respectively.

I would ask the Minister whether this statement as to the intention of the Public Service Commissioner is correct ?

Mr. MAHON.- I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member has directed attention. As several important questions are involved., I can only promise that I shall have the matter inquired into at the earliest opportunity.







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