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Friday, 8 December 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I congratulate honorable senators upon the exhaustive manner in which they have dealt with this question. There is not a great deal to reply to, with the exception of some urgent requests made by Senator Stewart with respect to the work of the Postal Commission. The honorable senator must recollect that there are other persons in the Commonwealth Public Service than those in the Post and Telegraph Department, and it is necessary that this Bill should deal with them all. I might inform the honorable senator that, so far as the lower grade's, particularly of -the Post and Telegraph Service are concerned, the Government have adopted almost nine-tenths of the recommendations of the Postal Commission.. He will admit, from his own experience, that that is a bigger proportion of recommendations adopted than he has ever known in the case of any other Royal Commission that ever reported to Parliament. Some of the recommendations which have not yet been dealt with are under consideration, and inquiries are being made with respect to them. Senator Stewart must also recognise that there has been no Royal Commission that has not made some recommendation that it would be impossible for any Government to accept. With reference to what the honorable senator said concerning night work and day work, the difficulties to which he has referred are being adjusted as speedily as possible..

With respect to broken shifts, I am able to say that the Postmaster-General has that matter under consideration. Senator Stewart should bear in mind that, in connexion with a service like the Post and Telegraph Service of the Commonwealth, emergencies will arise which it is almost impossible to foresee. I am sure thatevery loyal servant of the Department is willing to exert himself a little more on such occasions than he would expect to be compelled to do in ordinary circumstances. I do not think that Senator Stewart canknow very much about the difference between night work and day work. 1 haveworked at night as well as in the daytime,, and I would just as soon work at night.. As a rule, people are not expected to work so hard at night as in the daytime, except in mines, where it is all the same to the men whether it is day or night. The trouble is not in working at night,, but in getting res; during the daytime in a hot country like Australia. So far as the difficulty to which the honorable senator has referred can be met, the Government will do ali they can to meet it,, and to give consideration to those who labour under such difficulties. I am sure that neither the honorable senator nor the Post and Telegraph employés expect that all night work can be avoided. The matter is under consideration, and everything: will be done in die direction of giving fair play to those concerned. ^ This Bill is one of the means which will be placed at the disposal of the members of the Public Service to secure redress; of grievances if what the Government do isconsidered insufficient. I am sure that, if the public servants consider the measure fairly, they will be only too willing to accept it. There have been other matters mentioned during the debate which might be dealt with, but, if they arise in Committee, I shall endeavour to make any explanations concerning them that are necessary. In connexion with public servants whose disabilities arise under the provisions of the Constitution, it is clear that they cannot be remedied in the same manner as grievances in connexion, with wages, hours, and conditions of labour. Some of these were referred to by Senator Rae, and a number of them have been in the mind of Senator W. Russell. Honorable senators will admit that the High Court isthe tribunal to which grievances in the service in connexion with accruing or accrued rights should be submitted, and the Arbitration Court is the place in which grievances of the other class may be dealt with. I hope that the Bill will be allowed to pass as speedily as possible.

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