8th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Sugar Inquiry: Refusal of “Witness to Give Evidence.
– Idesire to ask the Attorney-General whether it is a fact that a certain witness who was called before the Public Accounts Committee in connexion with the sugar inquiry refused to give evidence; if so, whataction does the Attorney-General propose to take?
– Like the honorable member, I have seen in the press certain statements as to what has occurred in connexion with the inquiry, but I, as Attorney-General, have received no official information on the subject from the Public Accounts Committee.
– A matter of the sort cannot be dealt with in ten minutes, but it is being proceeded with.
Manufacture of Paper: Useof Waste ProductsofSugarCane.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Duplicationof Federal and State Returns
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follow : -
Officials, Salaries, and Rentals
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Unification Proposals in New South Wales.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Complaint of Delay
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will he cause a full inquiry to be made with the object -
– The answer to each of the honorable member’s questions is Yes.
– On the l7th August the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following replies: -
– On 17th inst., the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) asked the following questions : -
I promised the information would be obtained, and now furnish the following replies : -
The following papers were pre sented : -
New Guinea Act-Ordinance of 1922 - No. 25 - Explosives.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) ActOrdinance of 1922- -No. 10 - Supreme Court (No. 2).
Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 1567), on motion by Mr. Greene -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Mr.BLUNDELL (Adelaide) [3.6].- Officers and others in the Defence Department who will come under the operation of this Bill are exceedingly fortunate as compared with officers in other Departments of the Commonwealth who feel that in dispensing with their services the Government are not giving them the recognition to which they are entitled. Speaking generally, I do not disagree with the . principle of -the Bill, but the treatment which it metes out to members of the’ Naval and Military Forces who have been retired is in very marked contrast to that of employees in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in South Australia who were taken over from the State Service. Those men have undoubted rights which have been embodied in an Act of Parliament, but they have been unable to obtain recognition of them except by recourse to law. They have had to spend thousands of pounds in order to secure that which, at the time that they were taken over by the Commonwealth, was recognised to be their due. Even now, although the Court has decided in favour of the claims of these men, the Government are fighting them over certain technicalities relating to the compensation payable to them. I trust that even at this late hour the recognition of services rendered, which is embodied in this Bill, will be extended to employees in the Government Service generally, and particularly to those in the South Australian branch of the Department of the Postmaster-General who were taken over by the Commonwealth, and who to-day are suffering grave injustice because of the refusal of the Government to carry out their obligations under the Act to which I have just referred.
In this Bill we are recognising a principle which if it is to be taken as a precedent will involve the Commonwealth Government in a great deal of expense whenever it is decided to dispense with the services of particular individuals. I cannot see very much difference between the claims of the men who are to receive compensation under this Bill and those of returned soldiers - men who went to the Front and did their bit - who have been doing useful, valuable, and most efficient service in the Repatriation Department. These returned men, week after week, are being turned into the streets. Their services are gradually being dispensed with, and before long, as the work of repatriation diminishes, their occupation will have gone. Not only are these men denied compensation, but they cannot even obtain employment in the ‘Commonwealth Service. These men, who have performed their duties satisfactorily, cannot get an opportunity in the ordinary Public Service today; but, as the necessity for their services ceases, they are compelled to look for employment elsewhere. I think that the Government might pay some consideration to the case of the returned men in the Repatriation Department, more especially as, apparently, we are prepared to pass a Bill under which large monetary compensation is to be distributed to others. No doubt these men have served their country well, with credit to themselves, and honour to the Commonwealth; at the same time some of them are being placed in a position of great advantage as compared with others who are not being compulsorily retired, but are called upon to send in their resignations because their services are no longer required. I understand that the Government have on several occasions promised that something shall be done for these men, and I, therefore, take this opportunity to bring their case under the notice of the House. While I do not oppose the general principle of the Bill, it seems to me that it differentiates between the men who are to be retired. Some of these men will retire on the most princely allowance, whilst others, who have given equally valuable services, are awarded only small compensation. The reason advanced for this Bill is that naval and military men are by their very training unfit to adopt a new occupation, but a man who happens to be a warrant officer is thrown out of employment and finds himself at disadvantage equally with the commissioned officer. In my opinion, the rate of compensation given to the man with high rank in the service is unjust and unfair, when it is compared with the compensation given to others. An officer with twenty years’ service is receiving now at least £900 per annum, while a warrant officer, who is a non-commissioned officer, is receiving £300. Under the regulations a warrant officer can rise no higher; he has reached the highest position possible for him under the regulations. This is not a matter of ability, or of any other consideration - there the man has to stay. Yet the commissioned officer who has been receiving £900 a year is paid compensation of, approximately, £1,500, while the warrant officer receives only £500. The big difference between these two amounts does not reflect the difference between the value of their services, and both are placed at an equal disadvantage when they go outside the service.
– Both, have given their best years to the service, and I repeat that the idea underlying the Bill is that the naval and military man is by his very training rendered unfit for employment outside. I regard both ranks as being placed in exactly the same position when they are* compulsorily retired; and there ought to be some amendments made m Committee in order to bring about a fairer ratio of compensation. I have not been able to get the figures; but, so far as I can learn, in some cases tha compensation runs to very large amounts indeed; but the man I have in my mind is the one who cannot, whatever his merit, according to the rules of the service, go any higher. The same thing applies, though in a lesser degree, to the men who have been employed in the clerical work of the Department. If we are going to recognise, as we do in this Bill, that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to recompense its officers when their services are dispensed with, it can easily be seen that unless we are careful some of those concerned will be placed at a great disadvantage. I admit that, from one point of view, these men may be regarded as very fortunate, because hundreds of men are thrown out of employment every week, not because of any fault of their own, but because the necessity for their services has ceased. These men have to go on the “ scrap heap “ without a penny. If, however, we are to adopt the principle of compensation, let us lay down some definite scheme, so that those public officers of ours, whose services are dispensed with under such circumstances as the present, may be equitably compensated. It seems to me that by this Bill we are “ spoonfeeding “ one section of the employees at the expense of the others, and at the expense of the whole of the community. I realize, of course, that in all probability the Bill will be passed, and in view of the facts that I have laid before the House, I shall, in Committee, suggest to the Minister (Mr. Greene) that clause 5 be amended by the addition of a new sub-clause to read as follows:-
– The honorable member is not in order in discussing the clauses at this stage, but he may indicate what amendment he desires to have made.
– I shall move that clause 5 be amended to provide that a special bonus shall be paid to chief petty officers, warrant officers, noncommissioned officers and other ratings for their services on such a scale as will compare more favorably with the amounts proposed to be paid to those of higher rank. In the payment of war gratuities and war pensions, discrimination was certainly shown as between officers and privates, but not to the extent laid down in this measure, which provides a greater proportion of compensation for men who have all along been in a better position than others to provide for themselves.
.- This Bill has been specially designed to give generous treatment to highly-paid military officers, and parsimonious treatment to those who have been on the bread-line for many years in rendering faithful service to the Defence Department.
– It is a Bill to subsidize the “brass-hats!”
– Yes. The “brasshat” influence is seen in almost every clause. It is not a Superannuation Bill; it is a measure to give compensation to certain persons who have been deprived of their employment. Furlough pay is treated as being quite apart from the question of giving compensation for deprivation of position. When the Minister (Mr. Greene) was moving the second reading he attempted to reply to the assertion that unjust discrimination had been shown as between those receiving high pay and those receiving small pay; and he said that, whereas officers were appointed for life, members of the rank and file were only engaged for a period of five years, and could he reappointed for a further period of three years. It was a mere technical quibble, because privates who adopt the military profession as their life’s work are permanent men, subject only to good behaviour and the proper performance of their duties. The fact that their positions were insecure should not be looked upon as a reason for discriminating against them in the matter of giving compensation for loss of employment. The Minister has laid down the principle that the proposed compensation is payment for injury done through depriving men of their means of livelihood. Let me show how this principle is applied in the Bill. The minimum payment for an officer is to be £200; for warrant officers and non-commissioned officers, six months’ pay; for soldiers, three months’ pay; and for the civil staff, two months’ pay. . A single officer after three years’ service, and drawing a salary of £325 per annum, will get £200 as compensation. A married private, after three years’ service at £182 per annum, will he compensated to the extent of only £45 10s., and a single private, after three years’ service at £156 per annum, will draw £39 as compensation. The discrimination against the lowest paid men is manifestly unjust. There should be an evening up and down. A reasonable proposition would be to put every one on the basis of the warrant officer, who is to draw a minimum of six months’ pay. On Friday there was a considerable discussion as to the meaning of that portion of clause 5 which refers to the maximum payment. I take the Minister’s explanation to be that the maximum amount to be paid is either one month’s pay for every year of service, or twelve months’ pay plus full pay for the unexpired period of service, whichever is the lesser. Thus an officer with forty years’ service and two years’ unexpired period of service will draw, as compensation, not forty months’ pay, but twelve months’ pay plus two years’ full pay, whereas if he had remained in the Department he would not draw more than two years’ pay.
– In that two years, if he remained, in all probability he would get promotion, which would extend his period of service for another period of years.
– The probability is that he might not get promotion. An officer with forty years’ service and one year’s unexpired period of service would, on retiring, draw two years’ full pay as compensation for loss of employment; whereas, if bis services were retained he would only draw one year’s full pay. In other words, he would be given two years’ full pay for not working and one year’s full pay for working. Talk about the slowing-down policy of some people ! Here we have a proposal for double pay for doing nothing. The Bill is certainly most generous to the “brass-hats” who have been drawing big salaries. The Minister said that if a man has had thirty years’ service, and there are two years to go, he will not get thirty months’ pay, but will be given twelve months’ pay, plus the pay which he would have earned in the unexpired period of ‘ his service. That means that, for thirty years’ service, he would get three years’ full pay. whereas, if he had been kept on at work, he would only eventually get two years’ pay.
– The honorable member is wrong. If a man has had thirty years’ service, he will get thirty months’ compensation.
– That is so. He would get two and a-half years’ pay as against two years’ pay if he had remained on duty up to the date of his retirement.
– What would have been the position if he had served his full term ?
– He would receive two years’ pay.
– The practice is to give a man twelve months’ pay on his going out of the service.
– Yes; that is furlough pay, which is provided for under regulations, quite independently of compensation proposed to be paid under this measure. I have here further concrete examples. The first has to do with a colonel who is being retired compulsorily. He is due to retire in January next year. There are seven months to go. He is being compulsorily retired as from, 31st July this year. His compensation amounts to twelve months’ pay, plus the pay for the seven months of his unexpired term of service; that is, nineteen months in all. He is receiving a salary of £850 per annum. Had the Government retained his services, he would have been paid only seven months’ salary for work actually done. As they are not keeping him and are not requiring him to do that seven months’ work, he will receive, in compensation, £1,345; whereas, if he had not been retired, he would have received only £495 in salary - seven months’ salary. That is largess with a vengeance !. Because he is being compulsorily retired seven months’ before the due date, he is given seven months’ holiday on full pay; and, by way of compensation, he is to receive £850 as well ; in addition to all of which there is the matter of his furlough. The Minister (Mr. Greene) also- said on Friday that no officer was being retained who had not been at the Front. That is not correct. The names of those who are to be retired are out, and it is seen that there are officers who are to remain who were not at the Front.
– I qualified that statement. I said that no officers were being retained who had not been at the Front, except in cases where voluntary retirements had made the matter of dispensing with their services unnecessary.
– I know of an officer who is an adjutant at Ballarat. As a matter of fact, he is a son-in-law of Senator Pearce. He is being retained. He did not leave Australia until 1919. I fancy the war was well over then !
– Is he not a. Duntroon man ?
– Yes ; his name is Lieutenant E. B. Ellison.
– Many of the Duntroon graduates) did not receive their commissions until after the war was over.
– Exactly; but the point is that his services are being retained, and he did not see active service. I have given one or two illustrations of the very generous terms to officers who are to receive, in some cases, twice as much by way of compensation as if they had remained at work.
– Long service officers were previously given a gratuity on retiring.
– I know that furlough is paid to every one on retirement; these officers are getting that now, in addition to compensation. I shall now devote some attention to the civil staff. The provision for members of the military side is that they shall receive one month’s pay for every year of service; but those on the civil staff are to have one month’s pay for every two years of service. And. whereas the maximum compensation for a military man is twelve months’ pay, plus the pay for the unexpired period of service - or a month for every year served, whichever is the lesser - the civil staff can secure maximum compensation of only twelve months’ pay, and they can only get one month’s pay for every two years of service. I know of a man who is fiftyeight years old; he has had thirty-eight years’ service. His salary is at present £334. He is two years short of the retiring age. His compensation will be £334. If he were a military officer his compensation, would be £1,003 - three times as much ! Here is another case of a man who is being retired. He has had twenty years’ service, and has rather more than ten years to go. His salary is £436 per annum. His compensation, based on one month’s pay for every two years of service, will be £363. If he had been a military official his compensation would be £723. That is manifestly unjust. He will be deprived of more than ten years’ service and will get only ten months’ pay. The Minister has saidthat the Government are compensating for injury done. Surely greater injury is done to a man who is being retired more ‘than ten years before he has reached the allotted period than in the case of the military officer who is being retired seven months before reaching the retirement age. And the former is to get a paltry ten months’ pay by way of compensation, while the latter, with only seven months to go, is to be given seven months’ holiday on full pay and £850 - twelve months’ salary - in addition. There are quite a number of men on the military side who did not go to the Front, while there are quite a number of those on the civil side who saw active service outside Australia. I will give another example. One man has had thirty-four years’ service. His salary is £354. His compensation will be £354. He is a civilian. Had he been a military official he would receive £1,005. An interjection was- made last Friday that these military men were liable to be sent to the Front, but a number are being retired who were not sent to the Front. There is a major - as a matter of fact he is a brother to the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) - who has had twentyfour years’ experience, and who is to receive as compensation twenty-four months’ pay, £1,225; yet a clerk with thirty-four years’ service is to get twelve months’ pay. Neither of these men went to the Front.
– The honorable member might mention that my brother was rejected for active service.
– Honorable members will see the discrimination between the military and the civil officers.
– Civil men can get employment at work to- which they are accustomed - clerical work, for instance - but the soldier cannot get another job at soldiering.
– How much chance of getting another job has a man who has done thirty-four years’ service in the civil branch of the Defence Department? A man who has been soldiering for twentyfour years has a better chance of making his way in life than has any man who has spent thirty-four years in the Civil Service. The latter has lost all chance of getting into commercial life, because no commercial man will give hiin employment. His whole training, particularly in the Defence Department, has unsuited him for commerce. Therefore, a man. who has had thirty-four years of that training has mighty little chance of getting employment, certainly no better chance than has a man who has been soldiering for twenty-four years.
– And especially at the age of the man whom the honorable member mentioned.
– That is so. Whilst there may be only about 100 of these civil cases, they will be dome a precedent for the whole of the Public Service, and will influence the compensation in future if any public servant is compulsorily retired.
– What treatment is given to a man whose services have been partly civil and partly military? ‘
– The compensation he receives is governed by his present classification. If he is classified in the General or Clerical Division of the civil staff he will be retired as from the civil list.
There is another aspect of the question which requires serious consideration. These men are being retired from the Defence Forces in accordance with the policy of the Government. Whilst I approve of the policy of retrenchment in military expenditure, of which this Bill is a consequence, E do not approve of the policy of replacement that is at present being carried out by the Government. Nearly four years have elapsed since the Armistice was signed, and yet many of the promises made to the soldiers when they left our shores are still unredeemed - so much so that on the eve of a general election a number of men are being sacked in order to make room for returned soldiers. That is a cruel and an unjust policy, and an insult to the men who went abroad to fight. Those men who are being replaced should be provided for under this or a similar Bill. Many of them were . brought into the service of the Government upon a personal assurance that their appointment would be permanent, and they are as much entitled to recognition under a Bill of this character as are those men who are being retired from the permanent list. I have particularly in mind the men who are being replaced in the Notes Printing Office and the Harness Factory. Men employed in the factory were brought from various States upon an assurance that they would be permanent employees, but they have been dismissed. The men in the Notes Print, ing Office have received especially harsh treatment, and they have had to teach other men their business. The qualificatien they have acquired as a result of years of service is absolutely useless to them in ordinary civil life, because outside of the Government office there is no scope for a notes printer unless he wishes to find his way to gaol. The occupation of these men is a special and expert one. I wish to put on record some instances of the kind of treatment that these men have received. A married man who was ineligible for active service entered the Government Service at the age of sixteen years, and has served five years; he has been dismissed, although he had the personal assurance of the officer in charge that his position would be permanent. Others who have been dismissed are: A single man, who was rejected for active service, and has been employed for seven and a half years by the Government; a married ineligible, with eight children, who has had eight and a half years’ service; a married reject, who has had six and a half years’ service, having entered the Service at sixteen years of age; a married ineligible with seven children, whose wife recently died, and whose mother died two weeks after, and who has had eight years’ service; a married reject, who has one child, and has had five years’ service; a married ineligible, with two children, who has had seven years’ service; a single reject, who commenced in the Government employment at fifteen years of age, and has had seven and a half years service; a married ineligible, with eleven children, who has had six years’ service; a married reject, with two children, who has had eight years’ service; a married reject, with three children, who has had nine years’ service; and a single man, who was five times rejected, and has had seven and a half years’ service. Before those men were dismissed they had to teach returned soldiers their calling. I have spoken to many returned soldiers on this subject, and have not met one who does not heartily disapprove of the cruel policy that is operating in the Notes Printing branch. If it was necessary in accordance with Government policy to dismiss those men they should have been provided for in the same way as are the military men in this Bill; they are as much entitled to consideration as are the “ brass hats,” who have been drawing high salaries, and who never went to the Front.
– Does the honorable member say that a man with eleven children has had to make way for a returned soldier ?
– Yes, and he had first to teach a returned soldier the business of note printing. Neither the returned soldiers nor the members of the returned soldiers organizations with whom I have spoken approve of this policy, but the attitude of the individual is that if he does not take a position that is vacated another may. This policy is being carried out four years after the signing of the Armistice, when every promise to the returned soldiers should have been fulfilled. In order to provide employment for them the Government should have proceeded with a developmental policy and extended the Commonwealth factories, instead of closing or selling them. I shall say no more at this stage, because we shall have the opportunity of moving a number of amendments in Committee. The Bill requires serious amendment, otherwise the operation of the .policy that it represents will be absolutely unjust. The scheme of compensation must be placed an a more equitable basis, the private must be treated on the same footing as the officer, and we must insure equitable treatment to members of the civil staff, who are being compulsorily retired after years of faithful service, and give less generous treatment to the officers who have been drawing high salaries. It is absurd that any man should be given in compensation actually more than he would have received if he had remained in the Service until the ordinary retiring age. The plea put forward by the Minister that some of these men might have passed into a higher grade of the Service fails in the case of a man who, with seven, months’ service ahead of him, is receiving nineteen months’ full pay, because he is being compulsorily retired. If honorable members are prepared to support the Bill in the form in which it has been introduced they stand for the principle of overfeeding the fat and starving the lean.
.- This Bill touches a very important matter at the present time, since to my mind the world is far from being at peace. Old ideals are lost, new are being sought, and it is quite impossible to say where the irresistible stream of events is going to take us. The retrenchment of the Defence Forces of this or any other country at the present time must, therefore, be carried out in the most careful way, and without endangering more than is absolutely necessary, the profession of militarism. I know that the mere mention of “ militarism “ is apt to meet with very serious reproof from many quarters; but, while the world is in its present unsettled state, it would be disastrous for this or any other country, to throw away all means of protection. That being so, in dealing with a Bill relating to the retirement of soldiers, whether they be officers or men, it becomes necessary, even in these times of strict economy, to be as generous as circumstances will permit. We know that reductions are necessary, Australia, we realize,- cannot continue to carry the heavy burdens which have beer heaped upon her, and all that we ask is that these reductions shall be carried out fairly and in such a way as not to destroy the interest of our young people in a profession which, after all, is essential to the protection of the Commonwealth.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has’ told us that if this Bill were carried in its present form officers, on their retirement, would receive considerably more than they would have obtained had they remained in the service. That, to my mind, is a vicious principle. No man should be given more on his retirement than he would have obtained had he been allowed to remain in the Service for his full time.
– Long before this Bill was brought in a number of officers left the Service, and received a gratuity on going out.
– Was that merely an . act of grace, or was it in accordance with a general principle that had been laid down ? While I am averse to destroying interest in the military profession which, unfortunately, is still a necessary one, I do not want any mere act of grace in the past to be made the basis of a general principle to become operative at the present time. In no case should au officer or a man upon his retirement receive more than he could have earned if he had remained in the Department.
– The compensation to which I have referred was given because there was no superannuation fund.
– But in no case was the act of grace mentioned by the Honorary Minister as generous as the principle of compensation for which this Bill provides.
– If that is so the Bill should be amended.
– It is not so.
– Even if in odd cases the treatment of retiring officers of the Department, as an act of grace, was as generous as that for which this Bill now provides, that should not be regarded as a precedent in this case. Never before have we had to retire, in a wholesale way. members of the Defence Forces, but as retrenchment is now imperative, it remains only for us to see that it is carried out on absolutely fair lines, and that every officer and man gets neither more nor less than even-handed justice
– Does the honorable member approve of superannuation for the Public Service generally ?
– That is another matter with which I do not propose to deal at this stage.
There is one feature of this measure in respect of -which a considerable improvement can be mode. I think every one who saw what was done by our men on the other side during the great war will agree with me that officers and men who have been on active service should receive more by way of compensation under this Bill than those who have not been on active service. There are some cases, of course, where members of the Permanent Forces could not get away.
– Some were not allowed to go, although they were anxious to get to the Front.
– It should be quite unnecessary, for the Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) to have to speak in defence of one of his brothers, because all who know the Ryrie family know full well that they are honorable men, ready to fight for their country whenever the opportunity occurs. It is quite unnecessary for the honorable gentleman te defend his brother, and, indeed, it is more or less of a slur on his position in this House that he should be compelled to protect his brother against attacks such as have been made.
– I made no attack.
– It matters not to me where a man sits in this House. If he is an Australian, and built the right way, he is game. It is a pity that any aspersions should be cast on men who could not go to the war. Some of the very best men in Australia wanted to go to the Front but could not get away. There were hundreds, and probably thousands, who, so to speak, were eating out their hearts in the desire to go on active service, but who for physical, family, or other reasons, were unable to do so.
– Some of the men who went away had an easier time than others who remained, at home.
– In odd cases, they did, but no man who left for the Front knew what sort of a time was before him. Every man. knew when he was volunteering that he was placing himself under the authority of men in high command, and therefore must have been prepared to go wherever he was sent. Such men took all the risks, and while it may be true that, in a few cases, those who went away had an easier time than had some who remained here it was probably not their fault.
To say that men, who have been employed in the military, and particularly in the civil branch of the Department, are, because of that service, utterly unfit for civil occupation, is by no means helpful to them. Quite a number of men in the Defence Department, particularly those employed in the clerical branch, are capable of taking up occupations in every-day life.
– The reference was only to men with thirty-four years’ service.
– Whether a man has had ten, fifteen, or twenty years’ service in the clerical branch of the Department, it seems to me that if he is capable, and has done his work properly, it will be just as easy for him to obtain employment outside as it is for any other man. I have no desire that any man in the
Department shall be thrownout. without consideration,, but it is a lopsided view of the situation to urge that those in the civil branch of the Department, who are retired, should receive the same compensation that is paid to those on the military side. We all know that military training unfits a man for civil life, and, what is more, that members of the Military Forces are always at the command of their superior officers, and do not know when they may be called upon to take their lives in their hands. I, for one, cannot support the plea that, under this scheme, the civil side, of the Defence Department should obtain the same compensation that is provided for the strictly military side. Those who went to the Front and came back, however, should get better compensation than is provided for those who stayed at home. Every man who has seen active service, and has done his duty by the country, should receive better consideration than those who did not go to the Front. Even if, in some instances, the recognition of that principle may inflict hardship on the men who wanted to go to thewar but could not get away, it seems to me that we cannot properly depart from it. The men who wanted to go, but could not, did not have to put up with the hardships that were suffered by the men who did go to the Front, and so I maintain that they should not receive as much consideration as is extended to those who actually went and put up with all the attendant hardships.
SirROBERT BEST (Kooyong) [4.0]. -No more unpleasant or painful duty could fall to the lot of a Parliament than that of dealing with matters involving retrenchment and compulsory retirement . proposals, and, in connexion with them we should be prepared to display.a substantial amount of practical sympathy. I, unfortunately, have had some experience of retrenchments and compulsory retirements from the Public Service, and know, therefore, something of the distress associated with such schemes. In connexion with a Bill such as this considerable anomalies are likely to occur, particularly when we find that discrimination is the vital factor running through it. To deal, first of all, with the matterjust mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Country party (Mr. Fleming), who said that he did not see why members of the military and civil branches of the Department should be -treated upon the same basis, and that there was ample room to discriminate between them, I would point out that those in the clerical service, who are mainly affected by this Bill, belong to the third and fourth classes. They have been in the Service for a very considerable time, and will be seriously handicapped in leaving the old routine of the Public Service to enter into competition with young . men in the outside world. Whilst the discrimination to which my honorable friend refers may be fairly justifiable on the basis of equality of age, . so far as the two branches are concerned, I think that when he takes into consideration the point I have just made, and which I desire to emphasize - that nearly the whole . of the clerical staff, who are to retire, are in the third and fourth classes, and have been in the Service for a great number of years, he will not deny the handicap to which they wilt be subjected in competing for employment outside. In the circumstances I urge that the discrimination which, is provided in the Bill should, not be persisted in.
There is anotherhandicap from which these men suffer. Honorable members may view the matter as they please; but there is undoubtedly abroad a feeling that members of the clerical branch who are being compulsorily retired are being so treated because of inefficiency. That feeling, for which there is no justification, will impose an additional handicap on the men: In joining the Service they naturally anticipated that they would remainin permanent employment until they had reached the age of sixty-five years, and many of them have entered into what to them are serious, financial obligations. Someof them are purchasing homes of their own . on the instalment principle. For the most . part they are men with, large . families,- and it is a serious, matter for. them to be thrown on the world with only a very modest compensation. We cannot ignore their position.
The discriminations which are made in this- Bill, I learn, are . substantial. Let me give a few illustrations. The compensation to the military personnel includes an allowance which is equiva- lent to child endowment. The compensation to the civil personnel does not include child allowance. The military personnel with twelve years’ service, under this Bill receives, by way of compensation, twelve months’ pay, whereas the civil personnel with twelve years’ service, receives as compensation only six months’ pay, or half the rate of compensation provided for the military personnel. I have here a summary and comparison of services required by civilians in the. Department to obtain the minimum compensation- proposed for the military personnel - .
A civilian officer, to receive £200, would require to have sixteen years’ service.
Civilian officers, to receive £120, would require to have ten years’ service.
A civilian officer, to receive £45, would re quire to have four years’ service.
A clerical officer can only ‘reach the fourth class after years of efficient service and experience,, and the average rate of pay of such officers works out at about £300 per annum.
May I add that the maximum for the militarypersonnel is unlimited, while the maximum for the civil staff is limited to twelve months’ pay. For instance, a civil officer with thirty years’ service would receive twelve months’ pay - that is, half a month’s pay for each of only twenty-four years, and no compensation for the remaining six years’ service, military officer, for similar service, would receive thirty months’ pay: - two and a. half years - as against twelve months’ pay for a civil officer. I think the cases I have referred to will emphasize the serious discrimination between the military and the civil staffs. I urge that that discrimination is not justified, having regard, as I say, to the great length of service of the members of -the civil stall who are compelled to retire, and who suffer under . a great handicap in competing with the outside world.
There is another feature in connexion with some of the Duntroon lads. Those of the 1916-17 class, who had experience abroad at a cost to the Government of £1,000 or more per head, are being retired in preference to the 1918 class, who had not that experience,- but who are get ting £25 and £50 less pay. The Government thus save £25 or £50, and waste £1,000; and this appears to me to be false economy. . I hope the Minister will look into this matter. I have a letter here which gives some information regarding the Duntroon men. It is as follows : -
The selection for retirement of junior officers of the Staff Corps was on a basis of marks gained at theRoyal Military College, Duntroon, which were allotted mainly for theoretical and educational subjects. This means that no due consideration was taken of practical records, which show that those more obviously fitted for a military career were often at the bottom of the mark list. In my own class, three of the ten senior noncommissioned officers were retired. Further, no consideration was taken of records of graduates since leaving the College, which would help to pick those who show any special aptitude for their work; and it is after leaving the College that each individual can prove his worth or otherwise. In the general opinion, some of those being retained are obviously unsuited, while some of those being retired show marked good qualities.
With regard to the compensation, it is merely nominal, and certainly not adequate for any practical use. When the circular asking for voluntary retirements was issued, the clause stating that the amount offered was subject to ratification by Parliament, raised hopes that something more reasonable might be decided on. It was in view of this thatso many did volunteer.
A comparison with Indian, and British Army rates shows how trivial is the Australian compensation. In compiling the former, some consideration was shown for those who had to make a fresh start ‘in life, a consideration which was neglected in the Australian scheme. In my own -case, which is quite normal, it . is impossible for me to start myself in business or on the land; -especially as my whole life has been devoted to military work, with the consequence that I have no wage-earning knowledge for any other walk of life. Whatis more, no employer is willing to give me a . position at the union wage while younger and cheaper men are available. The amount 1 am to receive is £200, while an officer of the same standing in the Indian Army receives about £750. A captain. of five years’ standing in the Indian Army will receive the same- as Major-Generals Legge and Forsythe. The basis of the Indian Army rates was one year’s pay plus one month’s pay for each year’s service. Our rates are one month’s pay for each year’s -service”, with a minimum of £200. On the Indian Army basis I would, receive £425, which would be of more use, though still below the Indian, standard - because of higher rates of pay ruling in the Indian Army.
The junior officers of the Staff Corps are not the only ones affected. Many of the warrant and non-commissioned officers of the Australian Imperial Corps are, or will be, much worse off. Men with large families, and well on in age, will have even less chance of getting a position than ourselves, who are young.
These are anomalies which are incidental to any scheme of this kind ; but brought as they are under the notice of the Minister (Mr. Greene), they are entitled to his best consideration. I have no doub the Minister has taken every precaution in deciding as to those who are to be retired, and that he has had the advantage of the expert and valuable aid of the Military Board.
– It is a disagreeable job !
– It is, and I sympathize with the Minister. At the same time, since the cases have been brought under the honorable gentleman’s notice, they are entitled to individual consideration, with a view to removing as many anomalies and hardships, as possible. Parliament has the right to deal out to all these men a generous consideration.
– I join in the general protest against the way in which this Bill has been framed. The measure shows marked preferential treatment of men who, no doubt, have rendered valuable service to the country; but there are others who have rendered equally valuable service, and it appears to- me that the Minister, in the preparation of the Bill, has been advised largely from the military side. I do not know whether the Minister, like myself, has had any volunteer experience, or whether he has been associated at all with the military movement. I have no desire to speak in derogatory terms of those members of the House who have been, perhaps, more particularly connected with the military side; but we all naturally thought that, in these cases of compulsory retirement, gentlemen .who have spent practically the whole of their lives on the civil side, would have received, at any rate, a certain amount of attention from others, who, like the Minister, are associated purely with civil ser”vices. I am afraid that, although the Minister went to the Department with no military leaning at all, he has depended very much on military advice in the framing of the measure. No doubt, as has been said, it is a most unpleasant task to retire these men, as we know from our recollection of the retrenchment days in Victoria some years ago. I do not say that the men who were responsible then for that retrenchment policy carried it out with any pleasure; indeed, any man who could do so. must have had a very hard heart. Altogether, this retrenchment business is most unpleasant for any Minister, Government, or Par- ‘liament to undertake. We might, however, have lightened the fall by doing something more for these men, whom, I was about to say, we. are practically castling mercilessly on the world. I was’ much struck with what took place when a deputation ‘waited on the Prime’ Minister (Mr. Hughes) in Sydney at the beginning of the year. Representations were then made by the president of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Soldiers Association, who emphatically informed the right honorable gentleman that the returned soldiers as a body had no desire to replace men who. had been ineligible to go to the Front, or who were married men with responsibilities. The Prime Minister, in reply, reminded the president of the New South Wales branch of the very different policy that was adopted in Victoria, where the president of the local branch, and even the president of the Federal organization, had insisted that in every case, without discrimination, men should be sent to the right-about, and returned soldiers put in their places. The Prime Minister told the president of the New South Wales branch that he agreed with the stand his association had taken, but suggested that the returned soldiers should bring about some unanimity in their policy regarding this preference for employment. In Victoria, I may say by way of illustration, we have actually seen the fathers of men who fell at the Front displaced in favour of returned soldiers - a policy which I do not think the returned soldiers as a body desire to see carried out.
– I do not think the honorable member is right in his quotation of what was said by the president of the Soldiers Association.
– I am merely quoting from -memory, and if I happen to be wrong I am sorry; I mention the matter merely to show that there is no desire on the part of returned soldiers to displace men unnecessarily. In that attitude I think we have the key note of the discussion on this Bill. No doubt many men who were abroad on “ active service,” and. who come under the provi- sions of the Bill, saw no active service at all in reality. Certainly they left Australia, but hundreds, if not thousands, of them never got out of Great Britain; if they saw the Front at all they saw it on :the journey across.
– I do not think the honorable member is right in that statement.
– The honorable member knows how many men were on the transports when the Armistice was signed.
– What has this to do with the Bill ?
– All I mean is that such men will come under the provisions of this Bill, along with others who were rea.11 on active service. I am not speaking of the former in any derogatory way’ but merely pointing out what a small thin line there is between the two classy concerned] I shall quote some statements by the men themselves, who, I presume, know their own position. I am now speaking of the men on the civil side, and, in placing their own case before the House, I cannot be accused of trying to do them any harm. The information they have presented to me shows how likely we are to .make a mistake in a measure like this, or .in the measure which conferred the war gratuity. It was announced far and wide that this latter measure was passed as an act of grace, and not in recognition of any right on the part of the soldiers. In another place, quite recently, a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the services rendered by one- man. The Naval authorities had taken the stand that this -man did not technically come within the category of a member of the Naval Forces. Senator Gardiner was chairman of the Select Committee, the members of which, with practical unanimity, decided that the man was entitled to a gratuity. He rendered very valuable service during the war. Knowing the eastern and north-eastern seas very well he was able to pilot our Naval vessels to spots where they could seize German ships and take possession of German territory.
– I know the case to which the honorable .member is referring, but it has nothing whatever to do with this Bill.
– 1 am merely quoting it as an illustration of how very deserv ing Pearsons may be excluded from the benefit of this measure.
– I know the case very well, and I would not advise the honorable member to pursue it any further.
– I am merely giving the result of the investigation of the Select Committee appointed by the Senate. The members of that body unanimously recommended that the person in question should obtain his gratuity. In the same way many men may have been excluded from the benefits of this Bill. I am aware that the word “ permanent “ may debar the submission of amendments to include others in the scope of the Bill, but I would like to know from the Minister whether he proposes to take into consideration the payment of some slight recompense to certain men who also rendered valuable services to the country during the war, and have since, been deprived of their employment. For example, nien who had served for twelve years in the Cordite Factory, and suffered in health as a consequence of the services they rendered , during the war, have recently been driven out of employment without any compensation. Men employed in the Ammunition Factory, and in the Small Arms Factory, who also rendered good service to the country have been deprived of employment. It is the bounden duty of the Government to find them other work or pay them compensation.
The civilian staff of the Defence Department have put their case in a circularto honorable members. They say -
A vital factor in the Bill is the discrimination proposed in the scale for retiring allowance between the military and civilian per sonnel who may be unfortunate enough ito have to come under its provisions. It is submitted that military and civilians alike will bo equally seriously handicapped by their previous training, experience, and resources when entering into competition with men outside the Service, who have had years of special training in commercial spheres. The clerks affected have received all their training in the Government Service. Departmental training, however valuable and technical in itself, is not looked upon by the business community us of any practical value outside the Service, whatever may be stated to the contrary. The clerks affected are unfitted for the commercial world, and have to begin all over again under adverse conditions. Further, the belief (none the weaker because erroneous) will bo held in the commercial world that those retired will bc the least efficient (duds) in the Defence Department, so that an extra difficulty will be added to the task of retrenched clerical officers in obtaining employment. The clerical staff to be retired are of 3rd and 4th classes, are well up in years, and in many cases have assumed heavy financial responsibilities (e.g, purchase of home by instalments) under reasonable expectation of permanent employment until sixtyfive years of age. Many of them were originally enlisted and trained as soldiers, and are now performing clerical duties.
Surely men who have served part of their time as soldiers and who, because of clerical fitness have been transferred to office work, are deserving of being paid the same compensation as is paid to those who have served the whole of their time in the ranks. The document which I am quoting has been signed by a large number of men engaged on the clerical staff of the Defence Department, and the paragraphs I have read are thus drafted by those who are vitally affected by the Bill. Every honorable member who has spoken has asked that more generous treatment should be meted out to them, and I hope that in Committee concrete proposals will be put forward on their behalf. I do not know whether the order of leave will prevent us from adding to the financial responsibility of the Commonwealth in this way, .but I know what it means to be thrown cut on the- cold world at a time when employment is scarce. It is even difficult at the present time for men with expert clerical and .commercial experience to find employment. Yet we are sending out into the ranks of the unemployed men whose sole experience is that -of Defence bookkeeping. Many, of them belong to the Commonwealth. Public Service Association, which body has submitted the following objections to the Government? s proposals : -
As Government employees are not permitted to engage in any outside employment whilst servants of the Crown, no opportunities have existed to prepare for the unforeseen and unexpected catastrophe of retrenchment. The proposed scale for civilians is a more parsimonious one than has ever been adopted in Australia, since, whenever retrenchment has been previously necessary in the Public Services it has been based on one month’s salary for each year’s service (e.g., the New South Wales Act of 1884). ‘
They .are referring there to men who have been retrenched by State Governments in times of financial stress after rendering good service in the Public Service of their States. To-day we are dealing with men who have rendered most valuable service to the Commonwealth at its most critical period’, and- it is proposed to treat them more parsimoniously than States with ‘a less revenue treat their retrenched employees. The Public : Service Association’s objections continue -
Finally, the reductions now made have only been rendered possible consequent upon the successful termination of a great war, and it was on Defence employees, who are now to suffer, that a particularly heavy burden of work was of necessity imposed, and they have given loyal and untiring service. It might reasonably be expected that a spirit of level justice, and not of unequal discrimination, would be displayed when depriving men of what they expected to be an assured means of livelihood and when terminating careers entered upon in the service of the Government in good faith and to which the best years of the men now affected have been devoted.
I was a comparatively young man when I was deprived of my position in a Government Department, but, although I had a family, I was in the prime of my life and I set out to find employment. I had to go many miles to get it, but I succeeded. Sere, however s we are dealing with men who, after having rendered good :service to the country at its most critical period, are deprived of their means of livelihood at the eventide of their lives, and surely we should stand by them in their time of severe trial, or, at any rate, should not be more parsimonious with them than the States were in those hard times of past years to which I have just referred. Loss of employment means a great deal to many men. who have been engaged in buying homes for themselves. They may lose their homes .through inability to continue paying for them., even perhaps when they have, through years of saving .and frugality, come -almost within reach of making their final payments. We should offer these men every chance of finding other employment, or we ‘ should give them such .compensation as will put them in a position to fight the battle of life. The objections taken by the Public Service Association continue -
It is asked that these grants of compensation to persons to be retired be free from income tax, on the grounds that the money .so granted will be used, in the majority of instances, to found businesses or other incomeproducing means of subsistence, upon which the tax will have to be subsequently paid. This grant of compensation is analogous to the issue of bonus shares ‘by a company, recently adjudged by the High- ‘Court to be exempt from taxation as such.
– The Bill proposes to make the payment exempt- from taxation.
– I am glad to hear that that small measure of relief is given. I hope that the . Minister will not prove obdurate whenthe is appealed to in Committee. I trust that he will take a bigger outlook. Every honorable member has shown that there, is too much discrimination as between the military and civil side, and I trust that the Minister will heed what has been said and not make the issue a party one, or one vitally affecting the Government. I hope the Minister will allow the wisdom of the Committee to decide whether the provisions of the Bill should’ be made more generous. I trust that the limited benefits that will accrue to some may be accorded as soon as possible; but I hope as ardently that the measure will be altered to assume a more generous form, for then the Minister will receive both the thanks and good wishes of those who will be vitally affected.
– I was about to quote from the same memorandum as that which has been drawn upon by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. I trust that the Minister (Mr. Greene) will give close attention to the very good case which has been advanced for the men concerned. It must be gratifying to the Government that the Bill should have been received so sympathetically. Honorable members realize that the country owes something to those who are to be subjected to the loss of their employment. They have done excellentwork; in fact, the greater number of them were willing to give their lives that we might live. They deserve all the compensation that the Commonwealth can afford to provide, and I hold that wo can afford to make it adequate since a vast sum has been saved to Australia as the outcome of the- Washington Conference. . We should be not only just but generous to those- who have done so much for us. We should not forget that the training of the majority has been such as not to fit them very thoroughly, perhaps, to go out into the world at a late stage in their lives and compete on the employment market with civilians. I speak particularly in behalf of the naval men, both officers and ratings. Wot many of these will receive compensation, but all1 those who’ are to benefit richly deserve it.. I had no idea, prior to an event of about a couple of years ago, how highly technically trained are the men of the navy. They have to absorb a considerable amount of knowledge, and yet their pay and their status are almost insignificant by comparison with the scope and character of their training. I had the pleasure of a voyage from Westernport to Sydney, and it was then that I learned to appreciate to the full the men of our Navy. The captain of the vessel desired to send a message by telegram. He called up one of the ratings, who took down the message in shorthand and departed to transmit it. The incident opened my eyes. I found that these navy men were receiving exceptionally low pay compared with men in other walks of life. They had not been considered at all in the matterof compensation for the high cost of living. I put their case earnestly before Cabinet, with the result that they got over £100,000 increase for the year.
I think the civilian staffs are treated the most harshly in this measure. I know the case of a man who was transferred from the military to the Clerical Branch; and now, as the result of that transfer, he will receive only one-third of the compensation that he would have been ‘ given had he not made the change.
– Is there no room for these men in the Public Service?
– The Public Service Commissioner has been asked to absorb every man he can, and he is doing so.. Every man so absorbed, of course, will not get compensation.
-Reverting to the person whose case I have just indicated, I trust that the Minister will give special consideration to the facts. In fairness, I should add that by the transfer he profited at the time; but I am still of the opinion that his case deserves special consideration.
It may be taken for granted that no honorable member cares to be called vulgar or abominable names. I havealways found the men of the Naval and Military services thorough gentlemen. Yet there are honorable members who vulgarly refer to certain officials as “ brass-hats.” It is cowardly for them to make such references under the protection of Parliament. If they were about to do so outside, in the presence of a military officer of the type of the Assistant Minister ‘for Defence (Sir GranvilleRyrie) - well, they would think twice !
– The term is one of endearment.
– I would not think of using it offensively. I understood that the reference was ft recognised military expression.
– The interjection of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennau), I take it, is tantamount to an apology. I trust that he or any one else will not be guilty of the vulgarity in future.
I am sorry that, years ago, the Federal Parliament did not pass a Superannuation Bill. Had we done so, all this trouble would have been avoided.
– Miners and men in the building trades receive no compensation.
– I am surprised at the honorable member saying that.
– Except in case of accident.
– I am sure that the honorable member would not object to every working man being in a position to receive compensation on retirement. I have a number of individual cases which I desire to indicate. “ A “ is a major who is receiving £450 per annum. . He has seen forty years’ service. He is fiftynine years old, and when he retires he will get £984. “B” is a captain, receiving the same salary. He has had thirty-two years’ service, and is fifty-six years old. He will receive £1,546 compensation.
– I do not think those examples can be correct.
– There cannot be a captain fifty-six years of age in the service. If he had not reached a higher position than that of a captain he would have gone out before that time:
– All I know is that the particulars have been given me by the men themselves.
– There may be a case of a major, retiring after forty years’ service, the unexpired period of whose service is very short. He would receive less than a captain who had a longer period still to serve. The Bill is designed to provide compensation on that basis.
– So I understand. I shall mention the case of another officer, whom I shall indicate as “ C.” He receives £425 per annum and has been thirty-two years in the service.
His age is fifty-seven. On retirement, he will be given £1,472 compensation. “ D “ earns £450 per annum. He has had thirty years’ service; he is fifty-three years old, and will be compensated, on retirement, with £1,471. All these officers are captains, with the exception of the first-mentioned, who is a major and is the nearest to the retiring age. He has had the longest service; he is the senior officer, but he will get the least amount of compensation. I think he informed me that had he remained in the Service another six months he would have received considerably more than he will get under this Bill.
– He would have received nothing.
– I think the honorable member is mistaken.
– A man with only a short period of unexpired service receives a less amount of compensation than a man with a longer period. That is the basis of the Bill.
– The Minister and the Military Board have my sympathy in the difficult task they have had to perform, and if there are any anomalies in the Bill, I hope that honorable members will assist the Minister to rectify them.
.- The circumstances that have been related this afternoon prove anomalies in connexion with this Bill that cannot be justified, and I feel that I am warranted in emphasizing them so that the Minister may realize that the House is not prepared to accept a measure proposing a form of favoritism such as is so clearly demonstrated in this measure. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and the honorable member forKooyong (SirRobert Best) have shown clearly that the officer class is receiving special consideration. Both honorable members mentioned the circumstances of a colonel who would reach his retiring age in seven months, but who, through being compulsorily retired, is to receive full pay for nineteen months, plus the ordinary furlough which is due to an officer of his’ rank retiring in the ordinary way. In justification, of that compensation the Minister interjected, “Yes, but even in ordinary circumstances officers occupying such a position would be given some form of gratuity on retirement.” I understand that the gratuity is given on a pro rata basis, and that an officer retiring after forty years’ service is entitled to twelve months’ pay. But this Bill proposes to do even more than that, for whereas an officer retiring in the ordinary way would receive, by way of gratuity, twelve months’ pay after forty years’ service, the colonel to whom reference has been made is to receive nineteen months’ pay. Thus he gets an advantage of seven months’ pay. I hope that the Minister will explain to the House the Government’s very generous attitude towards the officer class, whilst at the same time giving much less generouscompensation to persons who have been retired from subordinate positions. Never is there any proposal by the Government to compensate the workers who have been engaged in the industrial undertakings of the Commonwealth; no, they are dismissed without any compensation or consideration. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) mentioned on Friday the injustice that has been done to a number of men in the Defence Department who received a circular intimating that if they submitted their resignations they would be entitled to compensation, but whose resignations, when proffered, were refused. A number of men who accepted the offer contained in that circular letter, having a prospect of retirement with compensation, arranged to enter other avocations which would provide them with a livelihood. I have particulars of one such case inSouth Australia, and perhaps it would be as well to allow the man to state his own case, so that honorable members may realize the unfair position in which he has been placed. The letter is dated 14th August, 1922, and states, inter alia -
Some few weeks ago I received a memorandum from Keswick Head-quarters advising that I was eligible to put in an application for discharge and claim compensation, the compensation given depending on rank and service. I complied with the instructions contained in the memorandum, but was later informed by telephone that my discharge would not be granted me, though no reasons were given. Since then, as you will see by the enclosed, I have made another attempt, asking for the application to he sent to Army Headquarters, Melbourne, for reconsideration. However, the local head-quarters did’ not comply with my request, but answered it themselves, saying that my discharge could not be ap proved, and gave as, their reason that instructions had been received from Army Headquarters debarring the discharge of any man when the strength of a unit would be reduced below the existing establishment, and this they say would take place if I were discharged.
Now, sir, if that holds good, why was my discharge invited in the first place? The number of men stationed here previous to 30th June, 1922, was one warrant officer and four gunners, the actual establishment as laid down being one warrant officer, one bombardier, and three gunners. Now, sir,’ if this excuse is accepted, how is it that out of the total just given. one warrant officer and two gunners were discharged, with compensation, bringing the establishment this . number under strength, and necessitating two men being transferred to this unit. I might also state that neither of these three men had any war service. For myself, I have served nearly fourteen years in this unit, out of which I spent four years at the Front. I do not ask for preferential treatment through being a returned soldier, but I do ask that my treatment be no worse on that account.
I think that is a clear case of unfair discrimination.
– There is no obligation on the Department to accept the resignation of anybody.
Mr.MAKIN.-How easy it is for the Assistant Minister to say that, but I ask that this man should receive at least the same consideration as was given to others serving alongside him.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that if the whole of the officers and men of the Defence Department offered to resign we would have to accept their resignations?
– I do not think that the country would be any worse off if that did happen. However, the writer of that letter has served fourteen years, including four on active service, and he is not receiving the same consideration as has been given to men who had no war service.
– If that man had been compulsorily retired, the honorable member would be making just as strong complaint against the Government for having taken that course.
– The Assistant Minister might wait until that occasion arises before indulging in any supposition as to what my attitude would be. His interjection does not dispose of the injustice disclosed by the letter I have read; it is quite irrelevant to the subject under consideration, and is no answer to my contention. I ask him to deal with the case on its merits, and not seek to create a smoke-screen, behind which he may escape his responsibility. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), supported by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), has drawn attention to the way in which special consideration has been given to those men who have been retired from highly-paid positions, and I ask the Government to realize the seriousness of the situation that has been created, and the precedent that Parliament will establish if it sanctions the Bill in its present form. I hope that the honorable gentleman will inquire further into the particular case I have mentioned, because I understand that that young man has entered into certain obligations in regard to going upon the land, and the Department’s refusal to accept his resignation and pay compensation places him in an invidious position, and prevents him from meeting those obligations. If the circumstances are such as he has related, he might well receive more consideration than has been extended to him by the Department.
.- In speaking to the motion for the second reading of this Bill I desire to join- with other honorable members who have expressed their appreciation of the difficulties with which the Minister (Mr. Greene) has been faced in dealing with this scheme. Having regard to the whole situation that confronts Australia, it is necessary to keep a close watch over the retrenchment proposals, and to see what officers! are retired, in order to make sure that our defence system is not weakened. I agree also with the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Laird Smith) that, realizing how great in the aggregate is to be the saving, we should be as generous as possible to the men who are being retired.
During’ the debate a number of the principles embodied in the Bill have been dealt with by honorable members. Most of the discussion has centred upon clause 5 , which relates to the maximum amount that may be paid to an officer. It seems to me that under that clause it will be possible- for officers to receive by way of compensation considerably more than in the opinion of this House they are justly entitled to be paid.
– We can deal with that matter in Committee. I shall be able to show very clearly that what the honorable member suggests will not occur.
– Very well. I desire only to make one suggestion, and that is that instead of granting to an officer who is being retired compensation in the proportion of one month’s pay for each year of service, “ plus pay for the unexpired period of the service of the member,” the Minister should seriously consider the advisableness of amending- the latter provision so as to provide for “ plus one month’s pay for each year “ of the unexpired period of service. If an officer had thirty-eight years’ service, and in ordinary circumstances would have retired after forty-three years’ service, it would be unreasonable to pay him on his retirement at the end of that thirty -eight years’ service anything like full pay for tine remaining five years in addition to the compensation provided for in the main part of the clause. Such a thing, however, would be possible, it seems to me, under the clause as it stands. The more uniform procedure would be to grant an officer one month’s pay for each year of service.
– And do the same with the men.
– That is another matter which I am prepared to discuss.
– The difficulty in the way of the honorable member’s proposal is that the date of retirement depends upon the rank then held, and “the suggestion which the honorable member makes does not make any allowance for the possibility of promotion to senior rank which extends the period of time.
– The Minister was not present when at the outset of’ my remarks I said that I appreciated the difficulties with which he was confronted. It is very hard, to know where to stop and to determine to what particular category certain cases belong.
I would stress a. point mentioned by the Minister in introducing the Bill as to the differentiation in connexion with the payment by way of compensation to officers, warrant officers, and men of other rank. After all, the officers have had to undergo’ very extensive training and to carry heavy responsibilities. In regard to this question of preferential treatment to men of higher rank, I would remind honorable members of the Labour party thatit was a Government led by the Right’ Honorable Andrew Fisher that introduced this very principle in a measure . dealing with military pensions. I am prepared to say, in justice to honorable members opposite, that some of them objected to the principle, so that their opposition to it to-day is quite understandable. The party as a whole, however, was responsible for this differentiation.
– That differentiation was carried because the then Opposition voted with the Government.
– It was a Government measure.
– It was not a Caucus measure. The honorable member was at the meeting of the party, and he knows what took place.
– I well remember the discussion of the matter at a meeting of the party, and I know that it was strongly and solidly debated. When the matter came before the House, strong exception, was taken to the refusal of certain members, of the party to follow the lead of the Government.
– And the principle of differentiation would not have been carried but for the then Opposition.
– The honorable memberhas probably refreshed his memory on the subject quite recently, whereas I am relying only on my recollection of what happened. Another point to which I invite attention is that it is necessary to exercise care in the case of men who have held military rank and who have been transferred to. the Clerical or General Division. I can well understand that some of those men will be placed in a very difficult position, and be treated in a way that would not have happened had they remained on the military side of the Department.
Honorable members are apt to lose sight of the fact, as we shall find when the Public Service Superannuation Bill is discussed, that the whole question of superannuation generally is based on a recognition of the difference in the status, class, and rates of pay of the individual public servants. With a knowledge of that fact, any argument that is levelled against differentiation in connexion with compensation to retiring members of the Naval and Military Forces is bound to lose point. We have to take into consideration the whole Public Service in conjunction with the Naval and Military
Forces, and we shall find that the underlying principle of this Bill is embodied in the general Public Service superannuation scheme.
.- The striking feature of this Bill is the way in which it differentiates between the purely military side of the Department and the civil administration. The differentiation is altogether- too much in favour of the purely military members of the Department. I have no fault to find with the work of the military side. I may find much fault with the system which renders it necessary ; but we have to face the facts. The men on the military side of the Department are undoubtedly doing good work, and those on the civil side are rendering an equally valuable service. The machine would not work unless the civil side of the Department was running smoothly and effectively; and we have to take into account the results achieved by the two branches of the Service working in proper- harmony. Accepting that principle, we may fairly say that those on the civil side should at least receive treatment equal to that meted out to the purely military officers. There is, however, a very glaring discrimination in this Bill between the two branches.
– This has beencopied from “ dear old England.”
– The unfortunate feature of most of our naval and military legislation is that we slavishly follow the legislation of older countries. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) righly reminds me that, while the Government stick so slavishly in this Bill to the British precedent for dealing with the purely military side of the Department, they are not so willing to follow the example of Britain in dealing with the civil side. The civil side of the Department in Britain is treated more generously than is proposed in this case. The men on the civil side, are entitled to have their cases dealt with on the same basis as those of the military side. I would draw attention also to the altogether disproportionate manner in which the men, or privates, are treated as compared with the officer class. The officer class cannot- carry out their duties properly without the co-operation of the men.. We have to recognise that those below the rank of colonel, captain, major, and so on are entitled to be dealt with on the same basis as the higher officers.
– Not at all. The higher officers, are of different flesh and blood. That; at least, is the view of the Department.
– Unfortunately, it is. That, however, ought not to stand in a country like Australia, which prides herself upon her democratic institutions. It is, our boast that here we have none of the great class distinctions of older lands. We ought to realize that the service of the private is equally as important as that of the officer. , Both do good work, and must work in harmony. We should see that the compensation paid to officers and men is on the same basis. The whole idea of the Government, however, is to penalize the men in favour of the purely officer class. They are prepared to make proper provision for the higher officers. With that I have no fault to find. The higher officials are entitled to have provision made for them. I do not quarrel with that provision, but I do quarrel with the direct distinction made between the officers and the ordinary employee. Right throughout the Government Departments, not only on the military side, but also on the naval side, we find this distinction made; there is no provision for the rank and file - for the worker, who has only been able, during his term of service’, to eke out a miserable existence on the basic wage.
I wish particularly to direct the attention of the Minister to the naval side of his Department. There ought to be some explanation of the fact that naval employees, who are entitled under the naval regulations to six months’ retiring pay, after a certain number of years of service, have been refused this right. Why is itthat, on every occasion, some technical objection is raised, some paltry excuse made,. for refusing themthis retiring allowance? In the Navy Department, there are men who were taken over from the State on the distinct promise or understanding that all their State rights would be preserved. Senator Pearce, when he was Minister for Defence, promised these men that, if they transferred their services from the State to the Commonwealth, their rights would be protected. They were told that they would have their retiring allowance, their pension, their holiday leave, and so forth; but we find now, in every one of these cases, that these rights are taken away. If I am asked whether I am in favour of this Bill, I reply that I am, so far as the measure goes. But I wish it to go further; I wish the same principle that is applied to the officers to be applied to the ratings. We hear much about the heroic deeds of the officers at the Front during the military operations; but what made it possible for the officers to perform those deeds? As a matter of fact, it was not possible for one Australian soldier to be taken to the Front but for the work of the naval employees in fitting up vessels and providing transport. We now find these old employees, in their declining years, after long periods of service - in one case amounting to forty years - refused their retiring allowance on a technical objection. They are told, for instance, that their service has not been continuous - that, during the forty years, they were away sick for a week, or, because of an accident, were absent from work for a day or two; thus the conclusion is arrived at that the con-, tinuity of service has been broken, and that, therefore, they are entitled to no allowance. If the compensation proposed by the Bill is to be given to men of the officer class, then the people of Australia will demand that the men of the working class shall receive the same consideration. The men at Cockatoo, to whom I have referred, are really being robbed of their rights and privileges, and I look to the Minister for an explanation.
– That has nothing to do with my Department.
– It has everything to do with the naval side of your Department.
– It has nothing whatever to do with my Department.
– Then I must . show the Minister that it has to do with his Department. The probability is that some “ brass hat “ just signs the dockets, and the Minister is so, busy with other matters that he has no time to go into all the details. That may explain why the Minister does not know the facts. If the Minister says that what I have related is not a fact, he is wrong, for I have written to the Minister myself on behalf of the men concerned, giving specific instances, with the number of years of service, and the regulations under which the men were entitled to six months’ leave. The answer I invariably received, signed by the Minister, was that the continuity of service had been broken. There arc men at Cockatoo who have grown grey in the service of the country. Against these men nothing can be said, but, because of a week’s sickness or absence for a few days from some other cause, they are robbed of their retiring rights. On the other hand, is there a word in this Bill about continuity of service on the part of the officers? Is there a word to indicate that the absence of a few days in a service of twenty or thirty years will deprive them of their retiring compensation ? Oh, dear, no ! An officer can be absent a month or six months for all it matters, but the unfortunate workman, who is the .man who made it possible to get the troops to the Front, is told, when he is on the down grade of life, that a technical objection prevents his receiving six months’ retiring leave. If necessary, I could produce specific cases. I would like to add that even the annual leave has been taken away from these men.
Personally, I shall not oppose this measure, but with other members of the Labour party I shall endeavour to improve it in Committee. I conclude with the hope that when Ave are discussing the clauses the Government will agree to the extension of their operation to the workmen in the Department.
.- I have no desire to prolong the discussion, but I think, in common with many honorable members, that this is a measure which may be considerably improved in Committee. . It has become abundantly evident that it is an exceedingly difficult matter to frame a measure of this kind so as to do equal justice to all. I have no doubt that the desire of the framers of the Bill is that all-round justice shall be done; and it is only when we come to apply such principles as are embodied in it that we find how inequitably they act in certain directions.
– I am afraid it is impossible to have any system which does not present some anomalies.
– I agree with the Minister, but I wish to lay before him one or two typical cases that have been brought under my notice. I wish to know how the Bill will operate in regard to the physical-training instructional staff. I understand that about two years ago the physical-training staff, which up to that time had been on the military side, was disbanded and the men transferred to the civil side, where they have been since. 1 am informed that the computation of compensation to which the members of this staff are entitled is to be made ofl the principles that regulate the civil side.
– That is right.
– It seems to me that that is not equitable. I know of some of these men who spent nine years on themilitary side, indeed in one case a man spent many more years than that with the military, and I think that at the very least their compensation should be computed in view of the years they spent on the military side, the remaining.two years being calculated as on the civil side. One case that has been brought under my notice requires explanation. Four warrant officers, in common with all the other members of the Military Forces, received, a copy of the order sent out on the 13th June requiring each one to say whether he was prepared to voluntarily retire. These four men did desire to retire, but on the 15th June they got notice of their discharge. They were subsequently notified that, inasmuch as they had been discharged, they would not be eligible for compensation under this Bill; and the reason given .is that Head-Quarters had resolved to discharge them before the promulgation of the order of the 13th June.
– Were these time-expired men?
– I think . not, hut I, could not say for certain. The fact remains that they got this order, and that subsequently they were discharged. Now they are told that they are not eligible for compensation for the reason given.
– I am inclined to think that the cases to which the honorable gentleman is referring are those of men who failed to pass their examination, and, as a consequence, were passed out. .
– If that be so, it was curious that these men should, on the 13th June, receive this order.
– It was a circular, and I suppose that every man got it.
– The order was sent to each of them, I understand, by name.-
– That is quite possible.
– I know that one or two of them, having received the order or notice, and having made up their minds to avail themselves of the opportunity of voluntary retirement, incurred liabilities in anticipation of the proposed compensation payable in the event of voluntary retirement. It seems to me that under the clause dealing with the discharge and retirement of officers they would be and should be entitled to compensation, seeing that they have been discharged subsequent to the 10th June, upon which date this measure is understood to come into operation. I simply desire to bring these cases under the notice of the Minister, in the first case, because men in the Clerical Division styled Supervisors of Physical Training are entitled equitably to thepro. rata computation of the compensation ; and in the second case, because I consider that warrant officers who, having been asked whether they were prepared to retire voluntarily, and having expressed their willingness to do so, have been subsequently retired, are entitled to compensation.
.- I do not object to the proposal to pay compensation to retired members of the Defence Forces, but I do object to the allocation of the compensation proposed to be paid. There should be more generous treatment of the men in the lower grades. The country will save a good deal of money by the reduction of our military expenses, but this reduction means that many men will be compelled to suffer hardship. They will not be in a position to compete with persons engaged in the commercial world when they are deprived of their means of employment I want to know whether the men in the explosive magazines at Sydney will come under the terms of the Bill. They arc certainly temporary employees, but they have been in their present positions for forty years. They were taken over from the State Government.
– It depends on whether they are members of the Defence Forces.
– They are practicably employees of the Defence Department, but they are not gazetted as such. They are simply workmen who have been on the job all their lives. If they are thrown on to the labour market, why should they not get compensation? I want to know, also, what gain there is in training young men at Duntroon College when there are plenty of practical men already in the Forces? The heavy expense of training these youths, not only at Duntroon, but also in Great Britain, could be avoided. I know of one young man, who passed with a very high pass through Duntroon and then went to Great Britain and passed with a very high pass there. On his return he was sent to the South Head Fort, but he was so disgusted with the idle life he had in. that position owing to the retrenchment policy that he voluntarily retired, after the country had spent £2,000 in training him. It is an anomaly to continue the Duntroon. College or the Naval College at Jervis Bay for the purpose of training young men to replace practical men already in the Service. We ought to save money in this direction, instead of. sacking practical men and replacing them by younger officers from the colleges. I welcome the reduction in military expenditure, but I do not want to see -injustice done to men who have spent their lives in the service of the country and are not now fitted to follow other occupations.. Why “ cannot these men be provided with positions in other Government Departments, into which every year we are taking hundreds of men?
– Provision is made to en able that to be done, and the amount of compensation retainable by any one so transferred has to be computed.
– I -am pleased to hear that. I do not envy the Minister his job. It is hard to do the right thing in such a matter. An honorable member has called attention to the fact that there are a number of men who’ have been doing good work for the country in the Commonwealth Woollen. Mills at Geelong. Our soldiers could not have gone overseas without clothing, and now that the Government propose to dispose of the mills, the employees in them should be compensated for their loss of employment.
– Or else found other employment.
– The point is where we are to draw the line. The principle established in this Bill is that if the Government do not require a man in the capacity in. which he has been employed they are prepared to compensate him. It is a principle with which I agree, but it ought to be applied all round. If, through some new invention, men engaged in some branch, of the Post Office are no longer required and have to be discharged, after spending1 their lives in the service of the Department, should they not also be compensated ? I hope the time is not far distant when amy men whose services are dispensed with, because they are no longer required, owing to the adoption of some new invention, for example, will be compensated for their loss of employment. If the country benefits “by dispensing with their services they should not be made to suffer. I shall do ray best to improve the Bill in Committee, not only in the interests of the country, but also in the interests of the men whose services have been dispensed with. The Labour party do not wish the country to benefit at the expense of the lower-paid men who have been deprived of employment.
.- In giving my support to the second reading of this Bill, I agree with other members that it is really a measure for Committee consideration, and when it reaches the Committee stage I hope that all honorable members, irrespective of party, will endeavour to improve it. Having perused the speech delivered by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene), and read the Bill itself, I appreciate to the fullest extent the difficulty the Minister had in drafting it. I am opposed to the submission of work that should devolve upon this Parliament to outside bodies, but, in this case, I would have preferred the whole question of the compensation of our military officers, upon their retirement, to be placed in the hands of a Board for report to the Government. However, this has not been done, and we must congratulate the Minister upon bringing forward a Bill which is the outcome of many years’ agitation for a superannuation scheme for officers of the Defence Forces. In considering the measure, I think that we ought to regard it in the light of compensating a man for the loss of employment in a career which he has made his life’s work. Any man who started out on a military career should be regarded as a permanent officer, no matter whether he has become a general or remained a private. The man who rises in the Military Forces to the- rank; of noncommissioned officer may be just as earnest in his desire to follow a military ‘ career as is the officer who has risen to the highest rank. At the same- time, there should be in the payment of compensation a cer tain amount of discrimination, according to the rank of the officer affected. We have heard a lot of talk about “ brass hats.” I have had a great deal to do with officers and men of the Australian Imperial Force, and I find that the rank and file have every respect for their officers. After all, comparing the record of the Australian Army with that of other armies, we realize that there is no other in which so many officers have risen from the ranks.’ I have certainly heard privates criticising their officers and calling them “ brass hats,” but when it came to a question of putting their lives into the hands of those officers, they were thankful to do so. Some say that the whole success of- an army depends upon the men, but the men themselves ‘say that it is only the knowledge their officers possess which enables them to carry their commands safely through their battles. The men would not feel that same degree of safety if they had. to depend on “ higgledy-piggledy “ leaders, who were really not officers at all in the proper sense of the term. Therefore, there should be differentiation as between officers and. men in assessing compensation upon retirement. The education test required for a private is not high, but those who have risen to the rank of noncommissioned officer, and subsequently ‘to commissioned rank, have had. a lot to ‘learn and a lot of knowledge to assimilate. The higher a man advances in “the Service the more necessary it is for” him to be educated. The high standard of education of the officers in the Australian Imperial Force was responsible for saving the lives of many of our men. The knowledge possessed by these officers, and the years which must have been occupied in attaining such -a standard of education, should now be recognised bv a differentiation in the compensation’ payable. Nevertheless, the differentiation set out in the Bill between non-commissioned and commissioned officers is too marked . And . from warrant officers downwards, every man should be placed upon the same basis. 1 I am confident that honorable members will vote almost unanimously in the direction of making the retiring allowance, and all conditions, in fact, the same for all ranks of non-commissioned officers and men.. With respect to the retirement or’ discharge of persons from the permanent services of the Defence Department, it should be remembered that those returned men who took work in various offices such as the Pay, the Pensions,and the Repatriation Branches, knewthat they were only temporarily employed. It was due to that fact that their conditions were made different from those of the permanent officials with whom they worked. In the Pay Office, for example, home service men were working side by side with returned soldiers. The latter were receiving the benefit of gratuities, and were getting deferred pay. Other considerations also were being given them, in which the men . of the Permanent Forces were not participating.
– What would the honorable member do for the casual labourer breaking stones in the street ?
– I would give him as good conditions as the Minister would be prepared to give. If I hadmy way with the Government Services, there would lv no permanent officers or employees, and no pensions.. I would employ the best men offering, and if their services did not meet with the approvalof the Government, they would be dismissed; but as for those whom the Government retained in the various Departments, I would give them the remuneration due to worthy men. I would pay them so well, indeed, that they would be able to put something aside for a rainy day. There are military men who are now about to be retired, who were engaged inDefence work for years before Federation. When the Commonwealth was established, numbers of these were placed in clerical positions. The Bill should be amended in order to give them the consideration to which their long service entitles them.
.- The Bill can be improved considerably in Committee, and I trust that the Government will not obstruct efforts in that direction. I wish to refer particularly to the manner in which retrenchments in the Naval and Military Services have been carried out. I know of the case of a naval official who had given long and good service, and had an unblemished record. He, with others, was called up by superior officers, warned of the retrenchments that were about to take place, and, with the best intentions, no doubt, advised that if he could secure outside employment he should take the earliest opportunity to accept it. The individual I have in mind specifically asked if such a. course would interfere with his retiring allowance. He was assured that it would not do so. Thereupon he tendered his resignation ; this occurred a little before the end of June last. Soon after entering outside employment he was informed that he had forfeited his right to retiring allowance, which amounted to between £60 and £70.
– I think I inquired into that matter at the request of the honorable member.
– That is so. Finding that the advice of his seniorofficers was not officially founded, this man asked permission to withdraw his resignation ; but the request was refused. He has been very unfortunate, and has been unfairly treated. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has already instituted’ inquiries, but if he pursues them further, he will learn that this man and others were advised as I have stated.
– The officer concerned denies what is represented, and he certainly had no authority to say what is alleged.
– Naturally, the officer would take that attitude when he found that he had made a mistake. I agree that he had no authority , to make such a, proposal; but why should a man who, in good faith, accepted unauthorized advice, be made to suffer? I appeal to the Minister to make a more thorough inquiry.
.- In Committee, I intend to move to amend the Bill in the direction of making the basis of compensation the same for all ranks. I am in sympathy with the spirit of the Bill, but’ it embraces some very unfair provisions. Some men who held clerical positions in the service went to the Front, and were wounded. They returned and re-occupied their old jobs. Under this Bill they will be placed in an invidious position. There are other men who did not volunteer, or who were rejected. They are permanent military employees, and, whether for one reason or another they did not go abroad, the basis of compensation for them is to be three times as favorable as in respect of the others who saw active service. If the Bill had set out to differentiate between those who went overseas and those who stayed at home the whole situation would be different.
– This measure relates to employment in time of peace.
– There is no more risk attaching to employment in the military branch to-day than to employment in the clerical branch. What greater risk does the Honorary Minister (Sir Granville Ryrie) run compared with the Secretary for Defence?
– I am not getting any compensation.
– No; but the Honorary Minister is of the military class, while the other official belongs to the clerical branch; and the Minister is running no more risk in his job than the man at Victoria Barracks. What justification the Government can adduce for that section receiving three times as much compensation as is to be given to the men who were on the clerical staff, I cannot conceive. I feel sure that upon reflection the Minister will realize that a grave injustice is being done. At any rate, I intend to test the feeling of honorable members upon the question when the Bill is in Committee. One honorable . member asked if, under this Bill, graduates of Duntroon College, who are being dismissed, will be compensated.
– Certainly hot under this Bill.
– -Yet they are being dismissed as a result of the conditions of which this Bill is an outcome. I have been told of a young lad named Burgess, who completed a four years’ course at Duntroon, and graduated as a second lieutenant early in 1919. In the following year he, with other graduates of that class, went to England, where he was attached to various arms of the British Service, and received special instruction in different subjects, including tank driving and machine gunnery. He finished up with a physical training course at Aldershot, and received a good certificate at the end of each course. It has been estimated that it costs £1,000 per annum for the education of each cadet at the Duntroon College. I venture to say that the education of this lad has cost the Commonwealth at least £10,000; yet his services are to be dispensed with, notwithstanding that it is understood that every lad who successfully passes through the course at Duntroon will be guaranteed at least twelve years’ service.” If we are to dispense with the services of lads who have been trained at such heavy cost, why not wipe out Duntroon College altogether? Lads who, after five or six years of study and service, are turned out of the Forces, and compelled to find for themselves a new course in life, suffer an injustice. If we are to turn adrift young fellows who have not only been studying in Australia, but have been sent abroad for further instruction, we should dispense with Duntroon College altogether. I would not object if this Bill provided a pension for every permanent officer of the Defence Forces. There is no necessity for any of them. My constituents, and, I believe, the constituents of nearly every honorable member, would indorse, our action if, taking advantage of the Washington Treaties, we abolished our standing Army. That, however, is not the purpose of this Bill, and I merely rose to intimate to the Minister the object of the amendment I propose moving, so that in the compensation we give we shall deal more justly with both arms of the Service, and insure that a clerical officer shall be treated on the same basis as a military officer. If my amendment is carried it will reduce the disparity which the Bill proposes between the compensation to be awarded to officers and that to be awarded to privates. It is beyond my comprehension why the Government should propose to pay almost excessive compensation to officers who hare been receiving very high salaries - majorgenerals have been getting £950 and brigadier-generals £850 - and smaller compensation to warrant officers who have been receiving from £200 to £300 per annum.
– All will receive a month’s pay for each year of service, so all will be on exactly the same footing.
– The pay of the officers has been too great in the past. The Country party claim to be the champions of economy, and I suggest a new scope for their activity. There is no reason why a man who is receiving a salary of £1,500 per annum should- be paid 25s. per. day travelling allowance. Those officers should get no larger an allowance than is paid to the warrant officers. The general and the warrant officergo to the same hotel, sit at the same table, and eat the same food, and if 12s. per day is good enough for the warrant officer it should be enough for the Inspector-General or Chief of Staff.
Those officers have been receiving not only high salaries, but also £80 to £100 per annum for command pay, and 25s. per day travelling allowance. They have been most generously treated by the community, and I suggest that the Minister should not allow them to draw up the regulations and fix the amount that they shall receive for travelling allowance. That payment is an utter waste of money; there is no necessity to pay any man a travelling allowance of more than 12s. per day. Moreover, if it is right for the Inspector-General to travel first class it should be right for the warrant officer to do so. There is in my electorate a sergeant-major, who served in the South African War, at the termination of which he resumed his position as sergeant-major in the Australian Permanent Forces. He enlisted in the Great War as a sergeantmajor, and won the rank of captain abroad. After being dangerously wounded in France - in fact, his death was reported in the English, papers - he rejoined his unit, and was recommended for his majority. When he returned to Australia he had to resume his position in the Permanent Forces as a sergeantmajor. To-day he travels second class, and has to salute a bit of a lad who did not leave this country till the signing of the Armistice, but who is connected by marriage with the former Minister for Defence (Senator. Pearce), and graduated from Duntroon College. That lad is superior in rank to a sergeant-major who served in two wars, and won his captaincy on the battlefield. The Duntroon graduate did not go to the war ; that may not have been his fault, f or he may have been too young; but neither is it the fault of the sergeant-major, who, having been a captain on the battlefield, has now to take instructions froma Duntroon lad.
– Abolish saluting.
– Certainly; but that would not do justice to this sergeantmajor. He has earned his rank, and he should not be subordinate to a. young fellow just graduated from Duntroon College.
– A lot of men who did splendid work overseas and won commissions have had to return to their, former rank because it was impossible to keep them on their war-time rank when they returned to Australia.
– That may be quite true; but why does the Department take a lad from Duntroon College, and put him over men who have won their spurs in active service ?
– That is what the lads are sent to Duntroon College for.
– Yet the Department has dismissed the lad Burgess at a moment’s notice. He has not been placed in authority over the sergeantmajor, but another lad, straight from Duntroon, has been appointed to Ballarat, and nearly every one of the men of whom he is in charge has seen service abroad. It is unfair- and undignified that a man who won the rank of captain on the battlefields of France should, on his return to Australia, revert to non-commissiened rank, and be under the direction of young graduates.
– There were hundreds of those cases, including captains, majors, and even lieutenantcolonels.
– I realize that the Department had some difficulties to contend with. The Minister interjected that( lads are trained at Duntroon for permanent positions in the Forces, but the Department has sacked one lad with a better record than that of the young fellow who to-day is adjutant in Ballarat. If the Department can sack one Duntroon lad it can sack others. But do not allow one of the best sergeant-majors that the Department has ever had, a man who has served in two wars and been an officer on active service, to be placed under the control of a young fellow who has come straight from college. When such things happen, it is no wonder that men are dissatisfied with the service.
– What would be the position if both men had to go on active service again . ?
– The man who has already been through two wars would go to the Front again as a sergeant-major, and at the end of a couple of years, if he lived, he might still be on the same rank, whereas the lad might be a general. It is recognised that the sergeant-majors were the backbone of our army. They were the drill instructors and the trainers of the Australian Imperial Force, and, during the first two years of the war, they were prevented from going on active service. It was only when the conditions in Europe became serious that the De- fence Department gave the members of the Instructional Staff leave to go abroad.
– They were retained in Australia because their services were so valuable here.
– Yes, and their services are now regarded as so valuable that mere children are allowed to supersede them in the Permanent Forces to-day. It is remarkable that young men with no active service should be allowed to supersede men whohad such a fine record, and, no doubt, if later another Compensation Bill should be brought forward, the young adjutant atBallarat will receive four times as . much compensation as the sergeant-major who has seen service in two wars and earned on the field the rank of captain. I hope that when the Bill gets, into Committee we shall make . it a little fairer to the non-commissioned officers and privates, and deal, more justly with those men who accepted the Minister’s invitation to resign, and retired at the end of June, and who to-day have not received one shilling in compensation, whilst those who were dismissed by the Department received pay up to the end of July. Some of the men who believed the Minister’s promise to be; genuine and resigned at the end of June have been absolutely stranded, and are anxiously waiting for the passage of this Bill so that they may get quickly their compensation, small though it may be, and be enabled to engage in some other avocation which will yield them a livelihood.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall be deemed to have commenced on the tenth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-two.
– This clause antedates the coming into operation of the Bill. Some of the men whose services were dispensed with have been out of employment . for a considerable time. Why did the Minister (Mr. Greene) send them to the rightabout so far in advance of. the passing of this Bill, with, the result that in many cases, they have been reduced to straitened circumstances.
– They have been living on their’ capital.
– Some of them had no capital upon which’ to draw. One man toldme the other day that seven weeks had elapsed since his retirement ; that he had sent his furniture to Brisbane,, where he proposed to reside when he obtained his compensation, and that, he and his family had been kept waiting here so long that they were almost stranded. Why did riot the Minister’ exercise a little foresight? No very great expense would have been incurred in retaining the services of these men for a little longer. Had that been done much suffering would have been avoided.
.- About a fortnight ago, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I referred to the position of men who had been discharged or had voluntarily tendered, their resignations, and mentioned that a number of them were experiencing considerable hardship as the result of the action of the Department in accepting their resignations as from 30th. June last. I understand that warrant officers and officers above that rank were given a month’s notice, whereas those- under the rank of warrant officer, in some cases, received only a few days’ notice, and have had no pay since 30th June last. This action on the part of the Department is pressing very harshly” on some of the men in my electorate, who have communicated with me. on the subject. I think it most unfair that the coming into operation of the Bill should date from 10th June last, if no provision is made, other than the proposed compensation for the months of July and August. I hope, with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), that something will be done by the Minister to make the position very much easier for the men.
. - I agree with the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) that very grave injusticeis being done to those who accepted the invitation of the Minister (Mr. Greene) to send in their resignations, and who had their pay stopped on the 30 th June last. The Minister, no doubt, was anxious to effect economies, and probably thought that this Bill would be promptly dealt with. Many other matters have intervened, but we should see that the men do not suffer. They expected prompt payment of their compensation. Some of them intended, with the money so obtained, to set up in” business for themselves. Owing to the delay that has taken place, however, quite a number have had to borrow money to provide for themselves and their families, and will not be able to go into business. On the other hand, those who did not accept the Minister’s invitation and were compulsorily retrenched, have received payment up to 30th June. I propose to move -
That the following words be added : - “ and all who retired prior to 30th June shall receive their military pay up to 1st September! 1922.”
– The Bill will probably not pass both Houses before 1st September.
– I have taken that fact into account in suggesting this amendment. I think, we should pay the men for the two months during which they have been denied an opportunity of earning a living.
Sitting suspended from fi. SO to S p.m.
– I understand that my proposed amendment is not relevant to clause 2, and I therefore shall not submit it at this stage.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
.- I drew attention on the second reading of the Bill to the question of the meaning of payment for the unexpired period of service, and I now wish to have the matter cleared up. Sub-clause b of clause 5 states -
The maximum amount so payable shall be a sum equivalent to twelve months’ pay plus pay for the unexpired period of the service of the member.
This provision, read in conjunction with the definition clause, appears to convey that in addition to the retiring allowance permitted by the Bill compensation could also be claimed for any unexpired period of the ‘service of a member. Seeing that a general serves up to the age of sixtytwo years, some other officers up to sixty years, and some to fifty-eight years, it seems that if this Bill became law there, could be an additional claim for the whole term -of a member’s unexpired service.
– That is not intended.
– I should like it made so clear that there will be no doubt upon the matter after the measure has become law.
– I am glad the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has drawn attention to this point at the present stage, because it may help me to clear up the question definitely. I shall endeavour to indicate the purpose and effect of clause 5. The fear of the honorable member is that a legal claim would lie against the Commonwealth in respect to the unexpired portion of the service of every officer. That is not what is intended, and I think it is clear that that is not the effect of the Bill. I draw attention to clause 14, which provides an additional safeguard, inasmuch as no action can lie against the Commonwealth in respect of the compensation proposed under the Bill.
– That might apply only to a member who resigns after the passing of this Bill.
– No; clause 14 relates to compensation payable under this measure. “What is intended is that every officer shall be entitled to one month’s pay for each year of service, but there are some officers who are close up to the retiring age, and it seems to the Government that the actual injury done to them through the termination of their service was considerably less than in the case of those men having a longer period of unexpired service. It was decided, therefore, to put a provision in the Bill which would automatically decrease the compensation payable in a greater ratio the more closely the members had approached the end of their period of service. It was with that object in view that subclause b of clause 5 was inserted. This is not, as has been suggested, a provision which would enable the Government to pay compensation for the whole of a member’s unexpired period of service, but it is a definite limitation upon the amount ‘ of compensation to be payable to a man who is near the end of his service. Clause 5 states -
Upon the retirement or discharge, in pursuance of the last preceding section, of any member of the Permanent Naval, Military, or Air Forces . . . there shall be payable to him compensation in the proportion of one month’s pay for each year of service : . . .
That is the basis of the compensation. It is to be at the rate of one month for each year of service, and sub-clauseb provides that, the maximum amount, com- puted at the rate of one month’s pay for each year of service, shall be a sum equivalent to twelve months’ pay, plus pay for the unexpired period of the service of the member.
– Why are the words “ pay for the unexpired period of the service of the member “ used at the end of sub-clause b and also in the definition clause if your argument is correct?
-I can explain that most easily by taking a concrete case. Suppose a man had had thirty-six years of service. Under the main provision of clause 5 he would get thirty-six months’, or three years’, pay. Suppose the member had another six months to run to complete his period of service. Subclause b states that the maximum amount payable shall be a sum equivalent to twelve months’ pay, plus pay for the unexpired service of themember. Consequently, if the officer had thirty -six years of service to his credit, and had only six months more to serve, all the compensation he could get would be twelve months’ pay, plus six months’ pay. This officer, therefore, would receive eighteen months’ instead of three years’ pay.
– Because you deprived him of six months’ work?
– I think I explained the reason for that on the second reading of the Bill. The reason is that it has been customary for some considerable time, as officers have gone out of the Service, to vote them a sum of money. We have allowed up to two and a-half years’ pay in some cases. We wish to treat them as generously as we can, but there is also another side to the question.
– You said that if an officer had thirty-six years of service he would get a month’s, pay for each year, but could not exceed twelve months’ pay, plus six months’ pay for the unexpired period.
– That is, if the member happens to be in the position of that particular’ officer.
– Suppose an officer has thirty-six years of service, and has three years still to serve.
– Clause 5 says that he will get compensation at the rate of a month’s pay for each year of service. That is the maximum - he cannot get any more. Sub-clauseb really provides for a reduction of the maximum in certain cases, and establishes, a maximum in each individual case that falls within the proviso.
– Yet you use the word “ maximum.”
– It is a question of drafting.
– It is.
– It seems very involved.
– Since this question was raised I have asked the AttorneyGeneral’s Department whether the officials could not suggest a ‘form of words to make the clause clearer, and they have been unable to do so.
– Would it not be easier to provide that the total compensation shall not exceed so-and-so?
– That is what the clause says; there is no question that the clause does exactly what is intended. It is impossible, under the circumstances, to pay more than a month’s salary for each, year of service by way of compensation; but if a man has a short, unexpired term which, taken together with the year’s payment, is less than the compensation which he would . have been paid at a month’s salary for each year of service, he gets the lesser amount.
– Yet it is called the “ maximum.”
– It is the way the clause is drafted ; but there is no question about what the clause does.
– Is that the lay mind or the legal mind?
– It is both. The clause does what we intend to do - to give a month’s pay for each year; but if there is a short unexpired period attaching . to a particular man, he gets the lesser amount and not the greater.
– How about the case of a man with twenty years’ service and five years’ unexpired term ?
– He would get twenty months’ pay; he cannot get any more. We gave a. great, deal of consideration to the method we should adopt for paying the compensation, and, with actual, figures before us, we tried out quite a number of different proposals. . In every one of these there are more or less anomalous conditions created, and they cannot altogether be avoided.. One case was cited this afternoon in which, there is possibly a generous compensation paid in the circumstances; but there are quite a number of other cases whore there is an unexpired period in which, if we did not do something along the lines we are suggesting, we should not do anything like adequate justice. I have in my mind the case of a senior officer who, I think, has about two years and a half to go. In all human probability, had he- remained for that two years and a half in the service - had not the guillotine come down, and cut short his period - he would have had. promotion giving him an, additional five years. It was his misfortune, and a great misfortune, that the term of unexpired service was short,because,, under the rules we laid down, he had to go. Had’ he remained in the service he would, I’ believe, have got promotion which would have, entitled him to a considerably longer life, and probably higher compensation. There are, of course, a number of cases, of the sort.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) this afternoon suggested that, instead of paying for the unexpired period of service in the way we. are suggesting, we should pay twelve months’ salary, plus a month’s pay for each year of unexpired service. In a number of instances that I could quote that would, not do anything approaching substantial justice to the men. I have gone into the method of compensation as closely as possible, and I believe that, in the main, while this system presents anomalies, it does substantial justice to those whom we unfortunately are called upon to ask to retire.
– I take it that the basis of clause 5. is one month’s pay for each year of service, and that sub-clause b is really a limitation. It is puzzling to me why the clause is not put in a form that could be more readily understood. For instance, the terms used are positive, when I think they ought to be negative. It would be a simple thing to. make the clause provide that the- maximum shall not exceed so-and-so.
– Is that not what the clause does, say 1
– The clause does not say that; and honorable members find it difficult to interpret the meaning when definite and positive terms are used instead of qualifying or negative ‘terms. No doubt the clause means what the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) says, but, as it stands, it is a matter for argument by legal men. I believe that the clause does mean what it is in- tended to mean;, but what it is intended to mean is wrong.
– That is another matter.
– The Minister (Mr. Greene) says that he has to provide for a man who might, in. the ordinary’ course of events, get promotion; but what provision is . made for the clerk who might have got promotion ‘in the time? If it is bad luck for the officer that the guillotine comes down before he has. been raised in rank, is it not quite as bad luck for the clerk?
– No promotion a clerk could get would entitle him to a longer period of service.
– But he might be entitled to a larger compensation.
– That is a differentmatter.
– The difference is that one gets an increase inpay plus an increase of service, while the other gets an increase of pay on which the compensation is. based. The Minister has not been able to answer the case I put this afternoon; I mean the case of Colonel Luscombe, who is retired with only seven months to go and is given nineteen months’ full pay as compensation. Take the case cited by the Minister himself - that of a man with thirty-six years’’ service and six months to go ;. in such a case, under the Bill, the compensation will work out at eighteen months? full pay. Surely itis not suggested that in a case like that such a man would, in the ordinary course, be likely to rise- in rank ? On this illustration by the Minister himself, a man who is deprived under the regulations of six months’ service is paid compensation for the six months plus twelve months’ full pay.
– He gets three times as much for doing nothing as he would if he still held the job.
– Quite so. I cannot understand why the Government are retiring men in such a position; if the Government are out for economy, why select them? It would be cheaper to keep such men . working, even ‘if only ‘to write “ pothooks and hangers.” We have to remember that these men are being compulsorily retired, and that none of them could retire without the permission of “the Government. I am surprised to hear sensible , men defending sucha proposition as that submitted by the Government. I repeat that a man who ‘has been retired by the Government, with seven months to go, is compensated with nineteen months’ full pay; that is, because the. Government have given him seven months’ holiday on full pay, they add £850 as compensation. I should like anybody to justify such a policy, especially when we hear so much about economy. I do not know that I could move any amendment at this stage, but while I believe the clause means what it is intended to mean, the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) was justified; in any case, I think the clause could be put in less ambiguous terms.
– I know I have no chance with the amendment I should like to move.. In my opinion, the clause should cover a wider area, but in the temper of the Committee I do not see that it would be possible to so frame it. I said before that I should have been abundantly satisfied had some effort been made to find employment for these men, but that, as we know, has not been done. The clause is couched in language around which legal members may do an admirable wardance -a. dance in which they seem to delight. That reminds me of a question often asked by laymen, as to why we cannot draft our Acts of Parliament in language that can be as easily read and understood as the newspaper. .
– Here is your chance -do it!
– If the honorable member had the simple instincts possessed by the late Charles Cameron Kingston, he would do it himself, and make our legislation much clearer.
– But the clause is clear.
– It is- as clear as mud in some cases, especially when it comes to be interepreted by the Courts. However; the Minister, backed by the legal talent surrounding him, tells us that the clause is all right, and I accept his assurance. At the same time, the more we indulge in involved language, the more likely are we to land the Commonwealth in litigation; and it is not too late . in the day to start with simpler language. I thoroughly support the suggestion of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) that the clause should be more clearly drafted, for there is certainly a multiplicity of unnecessary words.
– Put the clause in fewer words and see where you land !
– I can understand some laymen talking like that, but it has always been my contention that if we had simpler drafting we would not have nearly so many amending Acts to deal with, and we. would escape much litigation.
.- I understood the Minister to ‘tell the Committee that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) suggested this afternoon that the retiring allowance should be twelve months’ pay and a month’s pay additional for each year of service.
– That seems to me to be the intention of the Bill. I defy any layman to interpret definitely the meaning of clause 5. From what the Minister said,’ I was led to believe that the honorablemember for Fremantle suggested what the Bill makes provision for ; but the Minister says that it provides for something entirely different.
.- What I understood the honorable member for Fremantle to suggest was that, instead of paragraphb of clause 5 reading as it does, it should read -
The maximum amount so . payable shall, be a sum equivalent to twelve months’ pay, plus one month’s pay for each year of the unexpired period of the service of the member.
I endeavoured to. combat that suggestion and give the reasons why it was not adopted. We have tried to do what we believe to be substantial justice to these men. I do not think that the provision suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle would do that.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Upon the retirement . or discharge, in pursuance of the last preceding section, of any member of the Permanent Naval, Military, or Air Forces (not beinga person whose duties, in the opinion of the Naval Board of Administration, the Military Board of Administration, or the Air Board, as the case may be, have teen mainly of a purely clerical nature), there shall be payable to him compensation in the proportion of one month’s pay for each ‘year of service:
Provided that -
the minimum amount payable to any member under this section shall be -
in the case of an officer - Two hundred pounds;
in the case of a chief petty officer, a petty officer, a warrant officer, or a non-commissioned officer - a sum equivalent to six months’ pay; and
in the case of any other rating or other soldier - a sum equivalent to three months’ pay;
the maximum amount so payable shall be a sum equivalent to twelve months’ pay, plus pay forthe unexpired period of the service of the member.
– I move -
That the words “ (not being a person whose duties, -in the opinion of the Naval Board of Administration, the- Military Board of Administration, or the Air Board, as the case may be, have been mainly of a purely clerical nature)” be left out.
Those words are included in this clause for the purpose of excluding members of the civil staff from the provisions of the later portion of the clause.
– The intention of the amendment is to put civil and military members in the one class.
– That is so.
– If the amendment is carried it will involve striking out clauses 6 and 7. ‘
– That will be for the Committee to decide.
– And to increase the amount of compensation payable under the Bill.
– That will depend upon what is done subsequently by the Committee. .
– The object of the amendment is to put an end to the discri mination in the Bill between the military and civil staffs.
– That is so; but whether the result will be to increase or decrease the. amount of compensation payable under the Bill will depend upon the way in which paragraph a of this clause is finally passed.
– It must increase the amount of compensation, because it will give the civil staff officers compensation at the rate of. one -month’s pay for each’ year of service instead of for each two years of service.
– The Committee has not yet decided that. I know that the object of honorable members opposite is to raise a point of order on my amendment; but I submit that it must be ruled to be quite in order until we know what is to “ be done as a consequence of the reception of amendments to be subsequently moved. The object of my amendment is clearly to wipe out the discrimination, which now appears in the Bill, between the military and civil staffs. The clause as it now stands provides in the case of an officer for a minimum compensation of £200, and a later clause provides for a minimum compensation to a member of the civil staff equivalent to only two months’ pay. There are two proposals in the Bill. One is that membersof the civil staff, instead of getting compensation at the rate of one month’s pay for each year of service, which is provided for the military stall, are to get compensation at the rate of one month’s pay for two years of service. There is another proposal which limits the maximum compensation to members of the civil staff to twelve months’ pay. I gave illustrations this afternoon to show how unjust these discriminations are. I mentioned the case of a man who had thirty-four years of faithful service in the Clerical Division, and is retired with twelve months’ pay as compensation, whereas if he had the same service on the military staff he would get three times as much compensation. Such a discrimination cannot be justified. The only excuse so far put forward for it is that a member of the Clerical Division on his retirement will be able to get a living outside. One honorable member accused me . of saying that a man who had served for some time as a clerical officer in the Defence Department could not obtain work outside as a clerk. I did not say that. What I’ did say was that a man who has served for thirty-four years as a clerk in the Defence Department will have very little chance on his retirement to secure clerical work outside in competition with young men entering commercial life. My point is that the injury done to such a man by his retirement before his legal period of service has expired is just as great as the injury done to a member of the military staff who is similarly retired. I gave particulars of an actual case of a member of the civil staff who, on retirement, will receive £334 compensation, whilst if he were a member of the military staff on the same salary, and with the same number of years of service, he would, under this Bill, receive over £1,000 in compensation.
– Does the honorable member. not think that the man to whom he refers will be a lot better off than some of the Ballarat miners?
– He may be; but the military man who is retired will be a great deal better off still.
– I agree.
– Then why does the Minister compare the Ballarat miner with this man, and not with a member of the military staff, who in the same circumstances would’ receive three times, as much as the man to whom I referred? Why does he not use the comparison of the officer who on retiring will get three times as much iri compensation as he would earn if he continued at his work for the rest of his period of service? The interjection is a stupid one and irrelevant. The Minister for Defence is the only member of the Committee whom I have heard to-day who is prepared to justify the discrimination made in this Bill between the military and civil staffs. My amendment, if agreed to, will abolish this discrimination and put the military and civil staffs on the same footing.
– I should like your ruling, sir, as to whether the amendment is in order. It is quite clear that, if it be agreed to, every member of the Forces at present exempt from the provisions of this clause will have a claim under it. The Bill provides that members of the civil staff shall have a claim under clauses 6 and 7, and not under clause 5. It is clear that the effect of striking out the words which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) desires to have omitted will increase the amount of appropriation necessary under this -Bill.
That is something which I submit the Committee has not the power to do. In the circumstances I would like to have your ruling, as, to whether the amendment is in order.
– It must be obvious that the Minister is not justified in ask-, ing at this stage for a ruling as to whether the amendment is in order on the . ground that it will increase the cost of compensation under this Bill. Whether it will or will not increase the cost will depend on what is subsequently done by the Committee. The purpose of the inclusion of. the words which the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) wishes to have struck out is to exclude clerical officers from- the operation of this clause. The object of the amendment is to have them included; but, if carried, it will not necessarily follow that the amount of compensation to be paid under the Bill will be increased.
– Of course it will.
– We cannot say so until we see what the (Committee will do subsequently. For anything which the Chairman or the Minister knows at the present moment, the Committee may reduce the compensation to be paid under this Bill by later amendments. If the Minister adopts the attitude at the first hurdle of preventing a decision on the question of removing the discrimination, between the civil and military staffs from this Bill, that will not assist its passage. In any event, I submit that, unless it can be clearly shown that it will have theeffect of increasing expenditure under the Bill,- the amendment cannot be ruled out of order.
– At this juncture the only effect of carrying my amendment would be to put all officers who are retiring or being retired from the Defence Force on the same footing. That does not necessarily involve any increase in the expenditure incurred under the Bill. If that should be necessary, I am prepared to move that the .basis proposed for compensation for civil members shall apply to civil and military members alike. . I want an expression of opinion to show whether the Committee stands for the discrimination provided for in this Bill or not, and no ruling on a point of order should prevent that expression of opinion. This is the proper time at ‘which to’ test this question. If the amendment is carried, the Minister may consider the - wisdom of reporting progress on the Bill togive time for its’ further consideration. I submit that at the stage which we have now reached my amendment is perfectly in order.
– I am again called upon to give a ruling which has been given on two previous occasions, and which on both those occasions was referred to the higher authority of Mr. Speaker. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat says that his amendment will make no difference in , the appropriation. Dealing with the matter of appropriation we have the precedent that all money Bills, and this may be termed a money Bill, must be preceded by a message from the Crown. It is true that the message does not specify any particular amount, but the appropriation is for the purpose of the Bill only. If the amendment is carried, it will bring under the provisions of the clause a large number of persons who are not now included. I have not to consider my own feelings in the matter; I expressed them on- a previous occasion.
– Oh, good-bye!’
– Order! I hope the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) will not offend again, particularly- when a ‘ruling is being” given, which every member of the Committee has a right to hear.
– I. was merely suggesting that coming events cast their shadows before.
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in making a. reflection on the Chair at any time, and particularly whilst the Chairman is addressing the Committee. This- matter was first raised in this Parliament on the Tariff, and . as the Standing Orders made no provision for the guidance of the Chairman or of the Speaker upon the point, . the Committee had to decide its own procedure. As a matter of fact, that course was not adopted, and with the consent of the Chairman - I had the honour of being Chairman at that time - the point was referred to Mr. Speaker Holder, who laid down a lengthy ruling, which I need not repeat now, based upon precedents from our own -proceedings and those’ of the House of Commons. On a. subsequent occasion, when the then honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Andrew Fisher) proposed certain amendments which would have the effect of increasing the appropriation under a Bill, a point of order was raised and debated at length, after which the then Chairman (Mr. McDonald) ruled that the matter was in order. However, the Committee was anxious to get a ruling on the point from the highest authority, namely, Mr. Speaker, . and Mr. Speaker Holder ruled that it was not in order for any member of the Committee to move to increase’ an appropriation covered by a message from the GovernorGeneral. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) claims that the Committee, at its present stage, does not know what may be the subsequent allocation of the moneys to be appropriated by the Bill. Nor do I. But I am guided by the effect the honorable member’s proposal is likely to have on the Bill as printed. The last ruling I gave on the same point can be found on page 1028 of Mansard for 1920. It was given when the Committee was dealing with the War Gratuities Bill, and shows that past rulings have established a precedent from which, notwithstanding my personal feelings, I am not ‘prepared to depart. I am, therefore, reluctantly compelled to declare that the honorable member’s amendment is not in order.
– Do I understand that you, sir, have ruled that my. amendment would increase the number of people to be affected by the Bill ?
– But the same number of people . are already included in the Bill.
– Clause 5 makes provision for the exclusion of a considerable number of . persons which the honorable member’s amendment proposes to include. Therefore, the amendment must increase the number of persons who would be affected by the Bill, and thus increase the appropriation in the measure.
– The Chairman seems to have forgotten that clause 6 specifically provides for the clerical staff. However, as the Minister has ‘ taken exception to the amendment, I suggest to him that he should postpone the . further consideration of clauses 5, 6, and 7, which deal with the question raised by -the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and that he should give them further consideration. When the Minister is satisfied that the House is desirous of placing the clerical stall on the same footing as the military staff, the technical difficulty now presented can readily be overcome. However, apart altogether from the ‘technicality of thematter, a point upon which I do not propose to speak, because I have no desire to interfere with the Minister in this direction, 1 think we are entitled to have some announcement fromhim as to whether he is prepared to put an endto the discrimination shown in clause 5.
– Nothing will be gained by postponing clause 5. I have other amendments to move.
– It would he advisable for the Leader of the Opposition to listen to what I have to say before he starts threatening one with that species of obstruction, which we all, as old parliamentarians, understand. It . is quite clear that the amendment which has just been ruled out of order was intended to wipe out the discrimination between the two branches of the Service. Although’ the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) tried very cleverly to suggest that what he was proposing to do would not immediately effect what he intended, nevertheless that was his object.
– Of course, I hoped it would be.
– When I was speaking on the second readingof the Bill I explained, broadly, why the Government had made this discrimination. The law in. relation, to the civil staff is very clear. Section 8; sub-section 6, of the Commonwealth Public Service Act provides -
If the services of any officers in excess in any Department are not likely to be required in any other Department, the Governor-General may call upon such officers to retire from the Public Service, and every such officer so called upon to retire shall retire accordingly.
As the law now stands, : an officer retired in the circumstances set forth in this subsection has no call upon the State for anything in the way of compensation. It is one of the conditions under which he joins the Service. Personally, I have never been in favour of the provision. I believe the Bill became law ‘before I was a memberof the House. I believe that for the Public Service, as well as for the Military and Naval Service, we should follow the ‘lead of other countries, and adopt a superannuation scheme whereby if menbecome excess, and it is found, necessary to dispense with their services, the Government shall be able to retire them without feeling all the time that they are casting men out on the world necessarily incapacitated for meeting the ordinary ups and downs of life by the very nature of the services they have given to the State. Every one recognises that the actual nature of ‘ the service, which is on the whole very faithfully rendered by the great body- of public servants, is such that it does to a very large extent incapacitate them for the battle of life, as compared with the man who goes out to work in the ordinary way, and in competition with his fellows gains an experience which is entirely different from that which, obtains in the Public Service.
– The provision in the Public Service Act does not -apply to naval and military officers.
– Quite . so. I am talking of civilians, but ‘ -the Government, although they were . aware of the existence of this provision in the Public Service Act, felt that, in view of the fact that a Superannuation Bill had been long promisedand not brought, down, something should be done.for these men,. At the same time, we realized that the actual injury supposed:to be done in the case of civil servants was not on all-fours with that which was likely tobe done in the caseof military or naval men, ‘who are specially trained for service of a. particular character which no one outside can give them. The State is their one and only employer. Outside the service -of the State theycannot get similar employ-, meat. The Government felt that, although the civil staff might to some extent be handicappedin obtaining, employment immediately, nevertheless the work in which they had been engaged was of such a character that to a very great extent it did fit them for employment outside, and that consequently the actual injury the State was doing to them by the termination of their employment was not asgreat as that which was beingdone to military and naval officers:
– We dispute that.
– It is quite correct that men havebeen in the clerical branch of the Military Service for years, and on the whole have rendered very faithful service. However, it is apparent that a large number of honorable members are anxious that the discrimination shown in the Bill should be wiped away. If they will agree to the postponement of clauses 5, 6, and 7, and thus allow me to consult my colleagues in regard to this particular portion of the Bill, and if they will assist me to pass the remainder of the clauses, I shall take steps accordingly.
– If you include clauses 6 and 7 also, I am agreeable.
Clauses 6 and 7 postponed.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
.- I am not quite clear as to. the meaning of the clause. I understand that a number of public servants who came over to the Commonwealth at the inception of Federation had previously been employed in the Service of one or other of the States, ‘ and have been paying contributions to a superannuation fund to provide retiring allowances. It is unfair that they should be denied the privileges of this Bill. The Committee certainly is entitled to some information on the point.
– This provision was inserted because it was thought that in cases where, under the terms of their engagement, public servants had special facilities and privileges . safeguarded to them it was not the duty of the Commonwealth to include them in this Bill.
– Suppose some of these transferred public servants had paid large sums of money to a superannuation fund, whereas other public servants may have paid nothing. Is that any reason why no compensation should be paid to the former under this Bill?
– As honorable mem-, hers are aware, public servants who came over from any State Service had all their State rights and privileges preserved to them. Some of these officers had pension rights, and this clause says in effect that inasmuch as they are in a very much better- position than other public servants there is no obligation on the Commonwealth to again compensate them upon the termination of’ their appointment.
– I would point out to the Minister (Mr. Greene) that obviously it would be very unfair to retire a man, say, five or ten years before the ordinary time fixed for his retirement, and give him no compensation whatever, because if he had been allowed to continue in the Service until the ordinary time of his retirement he would have had his salary for the whole of that period plus pension rights, which would have accrued tohim, possibly on a higher salary basis. As this Bill has nothing to do with superannuation or retiring allowances in the ordinary sense of the term, but is being enacted as payment for injury done to public servants whose services may be dispensed with before their time of retirement, they are entitled to compensation, in addition to any other rights that may be coming to them.
– If we did that in the case of a man with ten years’ service to run, we should be paying his pension for ten years longer.
– No. Suppose a man with five years to run is retired under this Bill and has forty years’ service to his credit. Will he be paid compensation based upon forty-five or upon forty years’ service ? If he is compulsorily retired his compensation should be based upon the salary he might be receiving if he had remained in the Service for his full term. It must be remembered also that’ some of these officers with pension rights are not insured, as is the case with other public servants, and therefore they would be in a very unfortunate position if they were retired in the terms of this clause. Many of them are, no doubt, dependent upon their pension rights when they leave the Service, and, therefore, if they are compulsorily re- tired now, their full pension rights should not be interfered with.
– But you do not want to make the Commonwealth pay twice.
– I do not think that contingency need be feared. It is clear that if we did not retire these officers they would be getting their full pay for the remaining period of their service, with, at the end, compensation or pension rights based upon the salary received at the retiring age. Now, it appears, some officers will be retired before their due date without proper consideration in regard to pension rights. The principle is unjust, and the clause should be deleted. .
.- It appears to me that there is a good deal in the argument of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), and I support what he has said, because it is only just that officers who may be compulsorily retired under this Bill should receive proper consideration. We are proposing to compensate certain members of the Service who are being deprived, of their positions, but that is no reason why they should not be entitled to any superannuation which in the ordinary course of events would have accrued to them at the end of their period of service. If there is anything to be said against the view put forward by the honorable member for Yarra I should be glad to hear it.
– I do not think we would be acting fairly toa great number of public servants if we allowed this clause to stand. Whilst it may be quite true, as the Minister states, that certain officers will be entitled to pensions if they retire, it must be remembered that many have been contributing to a superannuation fund for a considerable number of years in order to insure for themselves an adequate retiring allowance at the end of their service, whereas other men may have been contributing nothing from their income towards this end. Why, therefore, should we discriminate and say that those who have made no provision for a retiring allowance shall get benefits under this Bill that are denied to other officers who may have been paying high premiums for a number of years?
– Did they continue paying those premiums after they came over to the Commonwealth Service?
– Perhaps the Minister can inform the Committee on that point.
– At the moment I cannot say.
– The fact remains that they did pay for a number of years, and that as some of them may have had fifteen or twenty years’ State service to their credit before being transferred to the Commonwealth, it is quite possible that their contributions would amount to a considerable sum. Because they made that provision it appears they are to be now shut out from the privileges of this measure. The least we can- do is to ascertain what amount these public servants paid to superannuation funds, and make it up to them.. They should all be put on an equalfooting in regard to the privileges granted under this measure, and in order to do that we should take into consideration the amount certain officers may have contributed to superannuation funds.
– Plus interest?
– I would not urge the interest, but it would be equitable to make an allowance to all officers who have been paying into any superannuation fund, and who may be retired under the provisions of this Bill.
– I believe that the only public servants likely to be affected by this clause are those who came over to the Commonwealth from the Victorian State Service, and under the State law regarding pensions they were : not required to make any contribution at all, whereas the superannuation rights’ of transferred officers from other States were on the contributory basis, but I understand they all pulled out. Consequently they lost their pension rights; but, in the case of the Victorian officers concerned, naturally, as there was no contribution required of them, they were quite prepared to allow their rights to be carried on, and they are entitled under the -law to the pension, which we are required to pay. It appeared to the Government, therefore, in view of the fact that we had to pay this special grant to certain officers for the rest of their lives, that they would be placed on an infinitely “better wicket” than others; and that therefore we should not be called upon to pay them additional compensation.
– Is the amount of compensation payable under this measure likely to be greater than the sum which the Victorian officers would receive under their pension rights?
– If we were to put into a fund the sum involved by the payments of compensation, and if those payments were made on an actuarial basis - the basis being on the average of life among the ‘officers concerned - ;the amount paid to each would be very much less than the pension payable to those who have State rights.
– Notwithstanding the explanation of the Minister (Mr. Greene), I am still of opinion that this clause violates -the general principles of the Bill. An officer of the Public Service who will receive a pension upon reaching the retiring age reckons to save something out of his salary year by year, up to the time of his retirement, so that the savings combined with the pension, shall provide an adequacy for his remaining days. But if the Government cut down the period of his service by ten to fifteen years, and so cut off his opportunities of saving on his salary through all that term, as much injustice will be done him as to an officer who will receive no pension at all. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Mathews) points out that only those members of the Victorian Public Service who had joined forty-two years ago, or earlier, will be eligible for pensions on re- tirement. Why, in the circumstances, should it be necessary to insert a clause in this measure to deal with so small a number of public .servants ? ,
– I support the view expressed by the honorable member for Werriwa. Pensions were abolished in Victoria more than forty years ago. Is the Minister (Mr. Greene) sure whether there will really be any pensions payable, or whether the former Victorian servants who are on the civil staffs did not all enter the Service after the abolition .of the pensions system in Victoria?
.- 1 intend to vote against the clause. The arguments of the Minister (Mr.. Greene) have only served to emphasize the injustice of the proposal here set out. The Minister states that the men concerned., who are about to be compulsorily retired, will have the privilege of getting their pensions how, and that, for that reason, they must be content to forego .everything else. But they could get that now by resigning. The argument which the Minister regarded as his strongest was that if the persons concerned were ‘allowed tq retain their pension rights, and were granted compensation under this measure as well, they would be “ on a better wicket” than those who will be compulsorily retired without pensions. I point out that the officials concerned are in the Service under special privileges; they were induced to enter the Victorian Service originally because of the prospect .of their eventually retiring on pensions. It is proposed now virtually to rob them of their privileges, while compulsorily retiring them. It is impossible to equalize the positions of all, since all did not enter the Service on the same basis. When introducing the Bill, the Minister (Mr. Greene) said, in effect, that the Government were proposing .to compensate certain public servants simply because they were to be compulsorily retired before reaching the retiring age; they were to be recompensed for injury done to them. Am I to understand now’ that the Bill has been introduced because certain persons have no pensions? ^
– If a man receives an adequate pension there should be no harm done by retiring him1 before the due age.
– No amount of compensation which ‘ the Government are likely to pay can make good the years of salary lost by compulsory retirement.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
A person to whom compensation has been paid in pursuance of this Act shall not be appointed to any position of a permanent nature under the Commonwealth until he has, if so required by the authority making the appointment, paid into the Treasury an amount equal to the compensation so paid to him, or such proportionate amount ‘ as that authority determines.
.- Provision is made in this clause that where an officer has received compensation on retirement he may be called upon to refund such compensation if he should obtain permanent employment in the Commonwealth Service.. It appears obvious to me that an officer, after being compulsorily retired, may be out of employment for six or even twelve months, and if he obtained a position in competition with any member of the Commonwealth Public Service or of the general community, it would beunjust if he were compelled to return the amount of compensation allowed him under this measure.
– Would not he be getting it both ways?
– No. It appears to me that the arguments of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and other honorable members, on a previous clause, apply with equal force to this provision, because it is understood that compensation is to be paid to certain persons on the ground that they have been deprived of their positions in the Defence Department. It is quite possible that an officer who has been out of employment for the period I have mentioned would have expended the compensation allotted him in maintaining his wife and family.
– The honorable member will notice that the clause reads, “if so required by the authority making the appointment.”
– Of course. If the authority considering the question looked at it in a fair manner, and treated every one justly, a person circumstanced as I have mentioned would not be called upon to return the amount if he would be the loser on account of having been out of employment for a certain period. This provision applies to all members of the staff who have been compulsorily retired, and an officer, when once compensated, should not be called upon to return the compensation allotted him. In this argument I must be supported by those who, in debating a previous clause, said that men were being compensated simply because they had been deprived of their employment. If employment in the Commonwealth Service were found for a retired officer a week or two after compensation had been paid the position would be entirely different. I know there are certain reservations, but the provision does not appear to be necessary, and I am afraid that if it is adopted it may in some cases be administered somewhat harshly.
.- I trust the Committee will agree to the clause which has been inserted- with the intention of safeguarding the interests of the Commonwealth. It is conceivable, although I do not think it will actually happen, that an officer may be retired-, say, to-day, and the compensation due to him paid tomorrow. He may have made application for a permanent position - it applies only to permanent positions.
– There may be another war.
– It would not apply in such a case. I ask honorable member? to read the clause which has been inserted in the interests of the Commonwealth and of the individuals concerned. It is possible that an officer may be retired from the Service and paid compensation, and when retiring may have submitted an application for a permanent position in the Commonwealth Service. The Public Service Commissioner, who is doing his best to place these men, may find a position for that officer the day after the compensation has been paid, and it would not be fair to the other members of the Service who were not selected for that position if the appointment was given to a man who had just received compensation. It is impossible to make the provision absolute in its terms, because of the variety of cases that might arise. Some men may have been out of employment a few days, weeks, or months; some may have lost their money, and others may have invested it to the best possible advantage. In the case of a man who hadbeen out of employment for, say, six months, it might be quite impossible for him to refund a single penny; but it will be noticed that the clause provides for the repayment of compensation, “ or such proportionate amount as that authority determines.” This appears to be the only practical way of dealing with the situation, and I feel confident that it is necessary to make some such provision, so that an officer may not be appointed to a permanent job, ‘ and at the same time retain his compensation, if he has been compulsorily retired for a very short period.
.- While I clearly followed the reasoning of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell), I have not been quite able to understand the arguments of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene). I am not in the least desirous of overloading any person with compensation; but it appears to me that the compensation provided for in this measure relates primarily to services rendered anterior to the person quitting the Service, and when once he has received compensation, having qualified for it, it should not be followed by any disqualification which would hamper him in obtaining employment in the Commonwealth Service or elsewhere. It may be that some of these gentlemen who are so retired will obtain lucrative positions in private employment, and I take it that they will not be disqualified, or hampered in any way, if this measure is passed in its present form. I therefore hardly understand why those who may be appointed to permanent positions in the Commonwealth Service should be in any way penalized. I take it also that the Commonwealth has discretion as to whom it employs, . and is entitled, apart from this measure, to take all attendant circumstances into consideration. I really could not understand what the Minister meant, and I trust he will take the trouble to explain what he intended to convey when he said that the provision was in the interests of the Commonwealth and of the individuals. A person has received compensation, and becomes an applicant for a permanent position in the Commonwealth Service, and is appointed. What about it ? Why should he be required to hand back what he has earned prior to that?
– Under clause 14, it is provided that the compensation shall be deemed to be a free gift by the Commonwealth.
– Yes, though I do not regard it in the same light as a war gratuity, which we know was a free gift, and was given for special service. This is compensation for loss or damage by reason of the fact that we are breaking in upon a certain contract, expressed, or implied, of employment. These men are employed in positions analogous to those of public servants who have certain statutory rights, and we are breaking in upon those persons’ rights which, though not statutory, are assumed to have hardened in some way. Therefore we are proposing to pay them a certain lump sum of money. The Commonwealth will not re-employ them . unless for some good reason they are thought to be suited for the positions; and, presumably, they will not seek reemployment unless they think they can discharge the duties of the positions for which they apply. I do not see why, after we have paid com pen- sation, we should follow them with an embargo which will penalize them in their quest for future employment. They should have a perfectly free hand. I am not saying whether the measure of compensation is sufficient or insufficient; but, assuming that it is just compensation for breaking in upon their accrued rights, once it is paid, and they have severed their connexion with the Department, they should be perfectly free agents. For that reason I am inclined to support the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell).
.- I find some difficulty in following the reasoning of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). He saidthat the compensation is payment for past services. That is not so. These men have been paid up to date for past services. The compensation is, Itake it, a payment for a prospective loss. Suppose that a man is employed to the 30th June, and is then discharged, and, in view of his prospective loss, is given a certain amount of compensation. The payment is on account of his loss of that particular employment; but if, after having been out of employment for a day, he is taken back into the service of the same employer, and is put in the same position and at the same salary-
– And there have been cases of that sort.
– Surely it is inequitable that the sum of money he has been paid for loss of employment should be retained by him after he has regained that employment. Each case, of course, would have to be determined upon its merits, and no doubt if a man had been out of employment for a number of months the Department would not insist upon a refund of the compensation. But I think the principle of the clause is equitable, and we might leave it to the authorities to apply it fairly. Of course, if one of the retired men finds employment elsewhere than in the Government Service, we cannot follow him; but if he is taken back into the same employment as that from which he was retired, I do not’ think he would feel that he could equitably retain the money that had been paid him as compensation for the loss of his employment.
.- I agree with a great deal of what was said by the last speaker. The clause is, if anything, a little too liberal. I am not prepared to agree to the payment of compensation for loss of service to a man who is subsequently re-employed in the Commonwealth Service. The clause provides that a man shall not be appointed to any position “ of a permanent nature.” Those words should be deleted, because they give power to the Department or the Minister to immediately re-employ temporarily any retired officer, even though he has received £1,000 in compensation for loss of employment. How many of the important positions that have been created in recent years, particularly since the war, are not “ of a permanent nature,” but carry salaries up to £1,000 and £1,500 per annum? If a man who has been paid £1,000 in compensation is re-appointed to a high-salaried position, what a howl there will be throughout the country! I can see the possibility of such a thing happening, because in connexion with many recent appointments, because of the principle of preference to returned soldiers, we have appointed men to high and’ responsible positions for which in many instances they were not qualified. Those appointments have resulted in great detriment to this country. Everybody knows that we have spent millions of pounds more than we should have spent because of the appointment of returned soldiers to important administrative positions for which they were not qualified.
– It is not only returned soldiers who have bungled.
– I am aware of that. I am not overstating the case; nobody has been more fairly disposed to the returned soldier than I have been, but I hold that it is not fair to appoint any man to a position for which he is not fitted. -
-The policy of the Government is not to give preference to returned soldiers in connexion with appointments for which they are incompetent.
– That has happened, and there is the possibility that a man who has received £1,000 in compensation for loss of his employment may within a week get another position, “ not of a permanent nature,” at a salary of £1,000 per annum.
– The honorable member need not fear that.
– The danger will exist if we agree to a provision of this kind. Why should we not strike out of the clause the words “ of a permanent nature “ ? We know that a permanent position involves appointment by the Public Service Commissioner, but many of the positions for which high salaries are being paid to-day are not permanent, and because they are not permanent certain men were appointed as returned soldiers,- and the country is not getting the best results from them. Even if we did get the best results, we would be condemned in the country for giving compensation to men whom we subsequently appointed to positions carrying high salaries. This clause will be equitable if the words “ of a permanent nature “ are struck out. After all, the retired men have been paid for services rendered, and the compensation is for throwing them out of employment. If they are re-employed within a short period, they can have no claim to retain the compensation.
.- The words “of a permanent nature “ were inserted in order that we should not require a refund of the compensation if a man were temporarily re-employed. For instance, there might be a rush ofwork requiring the employment of extra hands for a short period, and we do not wish to debar retired officers from taking work of that character. Besides, the work would probably be such as they were accustomed to and fitted for. I would suggest that instead of striking out the words to which exception has been taken the clause might be amended to read, “ A person to whom compensation has been paid in pursuance of this Act shall not be appointed to any position under the Commonwealth for a period of six months or more.” That would meet the objection raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
– It would be better to strike out the words “of a permanent nature.
– I am not particularly anxious to retain them, and if the Committee so wishes, I move -
That the words “ of a permanent nature “ be left out.
.- I am, of course, as grateful as I should be for the fact that what I have said on this clause has moved the Minister (Mr. Greene) to propose to make it worse than it was. My Leader (Mr. Charlton), also, with a reckless disregard for my feelings, contested every argument I advanced. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) paid me the compliment of saying that he could not understand me. He then delivered a short address which I understood perfectly, and the more I understood him the more completely I disagreed from him. I shall follow up the illustration which he was good enough to afford in regard to private employment. Let us. suppose that some manufacturer found that by reason of business exigencies it became necessary to retire an old and trusted employee, and he paid him a certain sum of money by way of compensation for the curtailment of his term of employment. Afterwards he embarked on some new branch of business, or the existingbusiness developed in such a way as to cause him to require the services , of such a man as he had retired. If the old employee came back to (him, he and the employer should, be perfectly free to make a fresh contract on an absolutely new basis.
– In that case, if the employee was returning for the sake of the employer and not for his own sake, the employer would forgo any claim for the refund of the compensation.
– Does the honorable member suggest that we should hold an inquiry as to whether a man was returning to the Commonwealth Service for his own sake or for the sake of the Commonwealth? The assumption is that the arrangement is a purely mutual one. Does the honorable member suggest that a man who goes back to the Department is not. to render service for the money he is to receive ? Does he suggest that it is not to be a contract on even terms, between employer and employee, or does he regard Government employment as being always what, perhaps, it sometimes is - soft sinecures for favoured parties? That may sometimes be so, but I shall not argue this case on that assumption. If an officer goes back to the Department for employment, and the authorities think that they should employ him, they should be free to take him back without any statutory obligation that he shall disgorge something which he has already earned and received, and which he has probably spent to good purpose. While I appreciate the action of the Minister in proposing to make the clause worse than it was when I first rose to oppose it, I can only continue my opposition to it, despite the fact that in doing so I find myself, for once in my life, in amiable antagonism to my honorable Leader.
.- The clause, from my point of view, is of no value. There is nothing in it that prevents a man who has been retired and has received compensation, from being reappointed without being required to return any portion of the compensation received by him on his retirement. It provides that such, a man shall not be appointed to any position of a permanent nature under the ‘Commonwealth until he has, “if so required by the authority making the appointment,” returned the compensation or such proportion of it as the authority determines. Those words create a loophole, by means of which the authorities may take back any man who has received compensation.. It gives them absolute control, and that is what they would have, even if this provision did not appear in the Bill. With such a qualification, the clause seems to be worthless. If it is desired to keep out of permanent employment in the Commonwealth Service, any man who has received this compensation, the Minister should move to eliminate the words, ‘ ‘. if so required by the authority making the appointment.” I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), that under the clause, as it stands, it would be competent for the Government to hand over £2,000 by way of com.pensation to a retiring member of the Forces, and to put him into a good job in the Commonwealth Service a day or two later. That ‘will still be possible, even if the clause be amended as now proposed.
– But a return of the compensation, received, or such proportion as may be determined, must be made.
– Only when required by the authority making the appointment.
– The honorable member thinks those words should be omitted ‘I
– Yes. The clause, if those words remain,. will merely give the authorities a power which they already possess.
– In the one case you make it absolutely mandatory, and in the other you do not.
– I would make it mandatory. Even if it were desired to reappoint a man for only six months, I fail to see why he should not be required to return a (proportionate amount of the compensation received by him. Having gone so far to meet the wishes of the Leader of the Opposition with regard to the permanent employment of such persons, I think the Minister might very well agree to eliminate the words, “ if so required by the authority making the appointment.” I do npt agree with the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). I do not say that these men ought not to be taken back, but if they are taken back to the service, they should return a proportionate amount of the money which they have received as compensation for losing their job. That should be a mandatory provision, but as the clause stands it is not.
.- Earlier in the discussion the Minister for Defence (Mr. Greene) advanced very good reasons why the amendment which he subsequently moved should not be carried. He told us, first of all, that if an exmember of the Forces who had received, compensation were temporarily employed, say, for only a week or two, it would not be fair to ask him to return a proportionate amount of his compensation. Almost immediately afterwards, he moved an amendment which, if carried, would give the authorities power to take from such a man portion of the compensation received by him. I think the first suggestion made by the Minister would best meet the objection raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), and that is that we should fix a period within which »’ re-employment would involve a return of the con]pensations paid, or such proportionate amount as the authority making the appointment determined. It would be sufficient, as originally proposed by the Minister, to fix a period of six months after retirement from the Defence Force. The amendment proposes something altogether different, and having regard to the Minister’s own argument, I fail to see that it will better the clause. Honorable members opposite seem to argue that this compensation should be withdrawn, because they have in mind officers who would receive large sums, up to, perhaps, £1,000; but they apparently overlook the fact that a number of clerical workers, whose compensation would be small, might be glad of re-employment, and might be called upon to refund part of their compensation.
.- The honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell) appeared to think that I was referring to the period for which an officer was out of the Service. I had inmy mind any position under the Commonwealth Government for a period of six months. That is why I think the words to which the ‘honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) took exception are important. In a case- of this kind it is impossible to lay down hard-and-fast administrative rules. If we did not retain the words “ if so required by the authority making the appointment,” it would be incumbent upon the appointing authority to deduct some portion of the compensation paid, even should an officer be re-employed, say, ten years hence for a mere matter of a fortnight, a week, or a day.
– The alternative is that you have power under that authority to show favoritism.
– A certain amount of discretion must be allowed to those in authority in order- to meet the peculiar circumstances of every case.
– Why should there be any discretion ?
– One man may be put on for a permanent job at £2,000 a year, and another man may be given a week’s work, and between those extreme cases there must be a certain amount of discretionary power.
– The amendment might deprive a man who was peculiarly fitted for a particular job; from receivingappointment.
– No; I think it would do the very opposite. The moment we stipulate a definite period we may debar a man from being employed, but so long as it is left indefinite we can do the fair thing to every individual who comes along.
– If honorable members were all convinced that the Government would make good appointments there would be no trouble over the clause. The anxiety has arisen, I think, owing to some of the appointments that have been made in the past, and there is a certain amount of suspicion on the part of some honorable members that certain of the officers put off may be favorites, and may desire to be re-employed. If the Minister can give us an assurance that no such action is contemplated I should say that a good deal of the doubt in the minds of honorable members would be swept away.
– I can say that very definitely.
– There have been appointments made in the last few years to which any reasonable man would take exception, and there is a feeling that some of those . men have become so entrenched, so to speak, in the Public Service that they may be re-employed in a short time. Although the clause seems to some honorable members to be somewhat dangerous,. I fail to see that it should be restricted to the extent suggested by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), because it is quite possible that all grades of men down to the lowest paid . officers will be seeking re-employment.
– It is probably from the lower grades that most of the applications will be received.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Yarra need be anxious, because in all probability it will be men from the lower ranks of the Service who will seek further service with the Government.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 -
.- This clause appears to be unnecessary. I do not know why we should leave it optional for men who desire to retire to come under the Bill. The measure is brought in to compensate men who have been deprived of their employment, and now it is proposed to allow up to the end of June., 1923, for officers to apply for the retiring allowance, and if the Minis- ter is agreeable they will, under this clause, be able* to receive it. I submit that, unless there is reason for men retiring, they should not be given the option of availing themselves of this particular measure.
– It would pay them to do that if they had only three months to serve.
– Yes. There might be men who had their eye on some other business, and it would not be in the interests of economy to allow them to retire and get the compensation. Clause 4 gives power to retire officers. If the Minister finds it necessary to retire men he may do so, but, if there is an additional clause’ leaving the matter optional ‘with the officer himself to apply for compensation, it might mean having to fill his position by a new appointment, and instead of saving money the Government would be paying the salary and the compensation as well.
– In that case the retirement would not be acquiesced in.
– If that is so there is no necessity for the clause.
– I shall explain why it is necessary.
– This clause seems to he quite superfluous. There is nothing to prevent the Minister from granting any request for retirement up to June, 1923’, and having to place another officer in the position; and, if the retiring allowance runs into £1,500, the country will be worse off to that extent. The Minister has the right to retire any man if necessary, and he can do so under clause 4, which permits a man to apply for retirement, and, if the Minister acquiesces, to be paid compensation, notwithstanding the fact that the country requires that man’s service or the services of some other person.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) has referred to clause 4, and has suggested reasons why it is provided that any officer who is compulsorily retired up to 30th June, 1923, shall be entitled to compensa- . tion under this Bill. The reasons for that, of course, are quite obvious. In the re-organization of the Forces which has been carried out, involving considerable retrenchment and re-arrangement of the whole of the staff, it was impossible at the first cut to know that we had reached bedrock - impossible to say whether or not the staff was still redundant. Consequently, we made provision that an officer found to be redundant prior to 30th June, 1923, shall be entitled to the same amount of compensation as if they retired now. We have dealt with the men in two classes; first, we called for volunteers, and then we had to deal with the surplus over and above the establishment on which we had determined. It may be found that we have got rid of too many men - though I hope not - or it may be found that we have still redundant officers. In exactly the same way that to-day we do not wish to compulsorily retire men when there are volunteers ready to go, as time goes on, we do not wish to compulsorily retire men if there are still volunteers. The clause is so drafted that it depends on circumstances whether any application is granted. I can tell honorable members that already we have had applications from men to retire in certain grades in excess of the number required for the establishment on which we have decided. When we got applications in excess of the number required, we had to say to some, “You must not go”; and the reason is obvious. Had we allowed them to go, and paid them compensation, we should have had to put others in their place. Clause 12 must be read in conjunction with clause 4.
– Does not the honorable gentleman see the danger? Clause 4 provides for that to which he has alluded, and clause 12 is for the purpose of permitting anybody who desires to retire if the Minister wishes or consents to get rid of him. In the latter case it is quite possible that some Minister may grant a request that is not in the best interests of the country.
– The responsibility is on the Minister of the day.
– Would it not , be possible now, without a clause of this kind, for you to dispense with men who are prepared to go out?
– No, it would not; it is impossible to say what circumstances may arise in six months’ time, but the circumstances must arise before the 30th June, 1923.
Mr.Charlton. - Supposing you had a list of those who were prepared to go out, could you not let them go rather than have applications made in this way?
– It depends. We may find we have two redundant colonels and ten redundant warrant officers, and we may get applications from six colonels and from only two warrant officers. We cannot tell. We cannot take them as so many men in the Force and so many going out. We have to provide for a certain establishment in certain ranks. We do not know where we are going to’ get applications from. Supposing our establishment was 240 lieutenants, and. we did not want to get rid of any of them; if we got twenty applications for voluntary retirement, not one of those, under the Bill, would be entitled to compensation, because we require them. But if there were three redundant captains and we got four applications, we should have to choose between them, for we require the fourth man, who, if he were compensated, would have to be replaced. That is the only way to retain the principle on which we have acted - to have voluntary retirements during that period, leaving the Minister power to compel men to retire and to pay compensation.
– Will a person who has seen active service have any preference in these applications?
– Broadly speaking, yes.
– I appreciate the point of the Minister (Mr. Greene) in having voluntary rather than compulsory retirement. But I see the danger that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) has pointed out, a danger which is emphasized by the illustration furnished by the Minister. It is quite clear that the officers who voluntarily retire will be those who will gain the most by retiring, as shown by the case of the colonel as cited to-day. If men can get three times as much for doing nothing, applications will be rushed.
– I can assure the honorable member that there will be no case of that sort, because every man who is. within four years of the retiring age will be either compulsorily or voluntarily retired.
– I am astonished to hear that statement, because it proves that the Government have allowed those men who will gain most from retirement to volunteer or be compulsorily retired.
– That is not so.
– The case I have cited is surely not the only case of the kind.
– It is practically the only case.
– I cannot imagine that I have stumbled across the only case of the kind in the Commonwealth.
– There may be. one other such case.
– And two or three more may be discovered by ‘ to-morrow morning. I have not yet heard any explanation from the Minister to show why he allowed the colonel to whom I have referred to go when it will cost the country nearly three times as much to retire him as it would have cost to keep him working for the rest of his term of service.
– That is not so.
– My statement is quite correct.
– He might have cost the country a. great deal more if we kept him..
– The Minister says that if four captains apply to retire, and only three are redundant, he must decide as between the four which of them are to go. That is a most vicious principle.
– We cannot help it.
– I say that we can. It is the duty of the Minister, where there are redundant officers employed’, to get rid of those whose services are least required, or, if all are of equal merit, to get rid of those whose retirement will cost the country least. The Minister says that he must accept the applications of those who wish to retire, and where all who apply are not redundant, he must select those who are to retire from those who apply.
– I did not say that.
– I admit that the Minister did not say that he “ must “ do so, but I took his words down, and what hesaid was, “ We will have to do so.” The honorable gentleman is welcome to any satisfaction he can get out of the change of words. The clause leaves room for favoritism, and we know that those who will get most by retiring will be the persons who will make the application to retire, and the Minister has said, “ We will have to choose from them.”
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 15 agreed to.
There shall be payable from the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund, which to the necessary extent is hereby appropriated accordingly, the following payments : - (d)the pay of excess personnel of the Defence Force pending absorption, transfer, retirement, or discharge.
– I should like to have an explanation of paragraph d of this clause. I do not quite know what it means.
– Under the new arrangement, we are bearing on the strength a certain number of men. Owing to the compulsory retirement, we were obliged to give the men compulsorily retired a mouth’s notice, and there has consequently been an excess of personnel for that month. In one or two cases men had to be kept on for a time before wo could get rid of them. The purpose of the provision is that these special payments shall be defrayed from the appropriation under this Bill, and not from the ordinary appropriation for the year.
Clause agreed to.
Clause17 agreed to.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
Bill received from the. Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Groom) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir Granville Ryrie) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1922/19220823_reps_8_100/>.