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Saturday, 16 December 1905

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - I desire to indorse the remarks of honorable members in regard to the desirability of continuing the consideration of the Seat of Government Bill, without the intervention of other business. I further desire to add my protest to that of other honorable members against the indecent haste with which legislation is being dealt with - haste which amounts to nothing less than a scandal to the country. This afternoon, in the course of a few minutes, we have voted immense sums of money, without having had time to look intothe items of expenditure, and without being able to obtain information, owing to the absence of Ministers in the charge of certain Departments. Reference has been made by the honorable and learned member for Corio to the false character of some of the answers to questions put by honorable members and to attempts on the part of officers of Departments to bluff Ministers in this connexion in reference to Departmental matters. An instance of this was brought under my notice only this week. It will be remembered that I asked some questions in reference to alleged sweating in the New South Wales Post Office, and' also in, regard to hours of labour and leave. Certain answers were given which, I have been informed, were absolutely contrary to fact at the time the questions were asked. For instance, I am credibly informed that, after the question in relation to leave had appeared on the business-paper, certain officers were granted leave, and then the answer given made it appear that there was no ground of complaint.

Mr Fisher - That might have happened' in the usual course.

Mr JOHNSON - If my information be correct, it shows there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead the House. It is customary at Christmas time to employ temporary hands in the Sydney Post Office, in order to cope with the extra work; but I am informed that this year little telegraph messengers from suburban offices, who receive 10s. a week, are called in ; and, although I am credibly informed that some of them are scarcely big enough to reach the stamping tables, they are required to drag heavy baskets, and., generally, to do the work of men. All this is done in order to save the few paltry pounds which would be involved by the engagement of the usual temporary assistance. I am sure that the PostmasterGeneral has no sympathy with that kind of thing, and I hope that he will do his best to prevent it becoming a practice, and to stop it if the practice has already been initiated.

Mr,. KINGO'MALLEY (Darwin).I urge the Government to finish theconsideration of the Capital Site question next week, before they deal with any other measure. I am satisfied that if they do not take that course, ambulance waggons willbe required to take some of us to the hospital.I should like to inquire whether I have an action against the

Government for sweating, seeing that I am engaged here for nineteen hours a day for a miserable return of £400 per annum.

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