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Wednesday, 25 June 1930


Senator THOMPSON (Queensland) . - In this matter we must recognize the sign of the times - economies are absolutely necessary - but I think we must also recognize that discrimination has been displayed against a very deserving class of public servants, if they can be so called. They are, in any case, in the service of the Commonwealth, and among them are quite a number of sergeantsmajor who, as my long experience in the defence4- forces, extending from commander of a company to that of a brigade, has led me to conclude, are really the backbone of our defence forces. It is very unfair to discriminate against them in the way the Government has done. The Assistant Minister has shown that already 77 per cent, of the required numbers under the voluntary scheme have been enlisted. The scheme seems to be going ahead satisfactorily enough, and the fact that all organizations have to be maintained as a nucleus indicates that the same work is required from non-commissioned officers and instructional staff. A reduction of the forces from 47,000, or whatever the number was, to 35,000, does not mean that any one's services can be dispensed with. The organization must remain practically the same; just as many instructional staff officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, will be needed to instruct the reduced number as were required to cope with the larger number.

The need for economy is reflected in commercial life. Rationing has been adopted in commercial life. In one case which has come under my notice, employees have been given one week's holi-day without pay in four. They would rather have that than have a reduction of hands. I would not raise my voice' against this proposal if the whole of the Public Service were to be rationed. From a hasty calculation, it seems to me that the rationing of one week a year throughout the Public Service would save at least £200,000.


Senator Sir George Pearce - Rationing of one day would give £60,000.


Senator THOMPSON - It would be less onerous on the whole of the Public Service to give up one week per year than it is' for the section of the community I have mentioned to have to give up one week in four.


Senator Sir George Pearce - The Government does not want to save more than £60,000.


Senator THOMPSON - I presume that it wants to save more than £60,000 if it can do so; and I am showing how it can almost quadruple, that amount.


Senator Daly - Would there be no complaints about non-delivery of letters? The honorable senator is aware that letter-carriers cover a certain area each day.


Senator THOMPSON - I think that the rationing of one week in a year would not lead to any lack of efficiency on the part of the Service. I heard the Leader of the Government (Senator Daly) say that it was impracticable to ration the Public Service, because of arbitration awards, but it has not been found impracticable to have rationing in the railway service of New South Wales. If there is anything in the Commonwealth Public Service Act to prevent its being done, surely it is worth while to introduce a short amending bill to give the necessary power, I advise the Government to adopt that system., and I would go further and include members of both Houses of Parliament. They could give up the equivalent of one week a year in order to assist the Government in this trying financial time. I protest most strongly against the rationing system as applied to the defence staff only.







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