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Wednesday, 13 December 1911

Senator SAYERS - That is so. They apparently have no regard for the inconvenience to which people are put in having to occupy such a building in a warm climate. In winter, it is cold enough, because all the winds of heaven can blow through it.

Senator McDougall - They want a little fresh air up there.

Senator SAYERS - They have plenty of fresh air. If such a building were used as a post-office in Sydney or in Melbourne, there would be a deputation of a hundred people waiting on the Minister, and the building would be at once condemned, or, as Senator Barker has said, a firestick would be put to it. I was specially asked to inspect this building, and when I did so, I said that no Government should ask men to work in such a building, where the only protection afforded against the rays of the sun is a thin sheet of galvanized iron. In this cooler climate of Victoria, public officers are properly housed in buildings that are lined and ceiled. I do not complain of that, but I ask why officers working in Northern Queensland should not be treated in the same way. We have established an Arbitration and Conciliation Court for the settlement of the grievances of public officers, but what remedy could the men employed in this building get from that Court? I solemnly repeat that everything I have said about this building is correct. The letter I have quoted is dated 29th November, and I am informed in it that the Department intend to delay the consideration of the matter until 19 12 -13. It would be a shame and a lasting disgrace to any Government to do so.

Senator Barker - I suppose that a new building would not cost very much?

Senator SAYERS - No; it would cost very little. We fritter away more here in little paper shows than what this building would cost. Herberton is in a good timber district, and the timber that would be required could be obtained very cheaply. It is an old tin-mining field, but the district all round Herberton is now being rapidly settled by farmers. I hope that before these votes are dealt with the Minister will be in a position to assure the Committee that something will be done in this matter, and that the people concerned will not have to wait for two years for any improvement in their conditions. If a private individual attempted to carry on busi ness in such a building, the Government Inspector of Buildings would condemn it at once, and he would be compelled to

Meet a new one. Surely Parliament will not refuse to comply with the law which it makes itself. I see the PostmasterGeneral in the gallery, behind Ministers ; I dare say that he knows all about this matter, and I hope that we shall get some assurance that the improvement of this building will not be put off for the next two years.

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