1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator STYLES presented a petition from 29 members of the Church of England resident at Donald, in the State of Victoria, praying the Senate to reject the Matrimonial Causes Bill.
– I have to acquaint the Senate that I have received from the Governor-General a copy of a telegram which His Excellency has received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in answer to the address passed by the Senate last week. It is dated London, 24th January, and reads as follows : - “ Referring to your telegram of 22nd January, His Majesty’s Government acknowledge with worm gratitude patriotic action of Senate in hasteningat earliest possible moment to join with the House of Representatives to repudiate baseless charges against conduct of South Africa, and to promise all requisite aid in bringing war to an end. These resolutions fromboth Houses of Parliament of all Australia are welcomed by people of Great Britain as another proof of unanimity of Empire on this question and of loyal support which Australia gives to Mother Country.”
asked the VicePresident of the ExecutiveCouncil, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the VicePresident of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is.it the intention of the Government to take such steps as will carry out the provisions of the Imported Labour Registry Act of Western Australia in so far as they provide for the deportation of the persons brought in under such provisions at the expiration of their agreements ?
– The duty of carrying out the provisions ofthe Act referred to rests with the police and magistracy of the State of Western Ausralia. The persons referred to are deportable only under judicial authority.
In Committee (consideration resumed from 24th January, vide page 9232) :
Clause 71 -
Christmas Day and the following day,
Good Friday and the following Saturday and Monday, the anniversary of the Birthday of the Sovereign, and any day proclaimed by the Governor-General or required by any Act to be observed in lieu of any of the said days.
– A little alteration is necessary, as there is some doubt as to whether the 1st of January will be observed as Commonwealth Day. If the word “ being” is omitted, the words “ Commonwealth Day “ can be placed in a separate line by the Clerk, and the date will then be left as an open question. I move -
That the word “being “ (line 3) be omitted.
Amendment agreed to.
– I am very glad that the PostmasterGeneral has made that alteration. It might be well if the Government would Consider the advisability of fixing Commonwealth Day at the earliest possible period. I do not think there can be any doubt as to the absolute unanimity of Australia on the desirability of having a day fixed independently of, as now, the 1st of January, or any other existing holiday. If the Government could insert in the clause a date which would be acceptable to the whole of Australia, it would be a distinct advantage. I think it ought to be the date of Her late Majesty’s assent to the Commonwealth of Australia Bill - the 9th July. It would be an excellent time of the year, certainly much better than the 1st of January, for the commemoration of a great historical event. I shall be glad if the PostmasterGeneral will ascertain the views of the Government on the point before this Bill leaves the Senate.
– At this stage it would be almost impossible to make a statement of that kind. We may be able to do so before the Bill leaves the Senate, but I am inclined to think that the matter is not likely to be settled quite so early.
– I would suggest to the PostmasterGeneral that we should include in the days to be observed as holidays the Prince of Wales Birthday, which has been celebrated from time immemorial.
– I cannot .understand this rushing up and down the calendar for a day on which to celebrate the proclamation of the establishment of the Commonwealth. Was it not proclaimed on the 1st of January, and, if so, why should we seek to alter the date ? Why should we add the Prince of Wales Birthday 1 What is the Prince of Wales to us? If the Commonwealth had been established on the 29th of February, the 12th of July, or any other day in any other month, we should celebrate the anniversary of the event on that date. We cannot, without stultifying ourselves, depart from the 1st of January.
– I am afraid that Senator Stewart has misunderstood this proposal. When the Bill was drafted, it was supposed that Commonwealth Day would be celebrated on the 1st of January. It has been pointed out that the 1st of January is always a holiday - that a great number of persons desire on New Year’s Day to go to sea-side resorts, and that it would not be a convenient day to adopt ‘ as Commonwealth Day. It would have no special significance. It would be celebrated, as it has been for years, as New Yearns Day. Taking that into consideration, it is probable that some other suitable day may be fixed upon, but I do not wish the Senate to commit itself to any day. The amendment which has been agreed to will leave the matter open.
– I did not interpose when the Postmaster-General moved his amendment, not because I entirely approved of it, but merely with a view of hearing what he had to say as to the clay he would substitute. I entirely dissent from the proposal to alter the day. The 1st January is the day on which the proclamation was issued, and on which Ministers took office. It has an historical significance, and to substitute for it any other day would rob the celebration of its charm and effect in the minds of a great number of people. I do not believe in any alteration, not that I wish to deprive any one of an extra holiday, but because I think that the Federal Parliament should adhere to the day which possesses an historical significance. In Scotland great importance is attached to the 1st January, and as Scotland is the home of my fathers, I attach importance to it also as a holiday. But so far as Australia is concerned, the 1st January is the day which should be celebrated in connexion with the inauguration of the .Commonwealth. Before I sit down 1 wish to mention an amendment which I intend to move on this clause in the interests of a number of officers employed in country and suburban districts. It will be observed that under sub-clause (6) it is provided that the Minister or the permanent head of a department may require an office to be kept open iii the public interest, upon a holiday, and may require the attendance of officers. In that case, it is provided that the officers who are thus deprived of their holiday may be granted - if practicable in lieu thereof a holiday upon such other occasion as -shall not interfere with public business.
I entirely agree with that, but the PostmasterGeneral must be aware that in man y of the suburban offices, where, to meet the exigencies of business, officers have been required to work on holidays, there has been some difficulty about granting them holidays upon other occasions. In order that that may not occur in the future, I intend to move for the insertion of the following words at the end of sub-clause (6) : - or shall be entitled to an equivalent extension of leave of absence for recreation in the current year.
– I have some difficulty in determining exactly what is meant by sub-clause (2).
– It simply means that if the public holiday falls on a day that is very inconvenient - as, for instance, on a Saturday - and any State by proclamation fixes Monday instead, the latter day may be observed in that State.
– I think that the Postmaster-General is speaking without looking at the words of the sub-clause.
– In South Australia we have a law which provides that certain holidays shall be observed on Monday. I think that this Bill also provides for that.
– I quite understand that. The same law prevails in other States. But the words of this sub-clause are -
Where under the law of any State any day is observed as a public holiday in lieu of any such day-
What day? Then it says - such first-mentioned day -
What is “ such first-mentioned day “? This is about as hopeless a bungle in the way of drafting as I have ever read.
– Senator Millen is merely indulging in a verbal quibble. The sub-clause simply provides that in a case where the law of the State fixes some other day to be the holiday that day shall be observed by Commonwealth officers. It is a very reasonable provision, because it is desirable that public holidays should be kept by Federal officers on the day upon which -they are kept in the State where the officers are serving. It is evidently undesirable that Federal officers should keep a holiday on one day and State officers on another day. Therefore all that this subclause provides is that where the State law fixes a certain day for the holiday, that holiday is to be kept on that day by the Federal officers employed in that State.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I understood that Senator Millen intended to move an amendment upon sub-clause (2), and an amendment is certainly required. The sub-clause should not be dealt with quite in the cavalier manner in which the PostmasterGeneral has referred to it. He has called the point made by Senator Millen a “ mere verbal quibble,” but I regard it as an endeavour to make sense of what at present is nonsense. The sub-clause says -
Where under the law of any State any day is observed as a public holiday in lieu of any such day-
What is “ such day “ ? It ought to read, “ in lieu of any of the days above mentioned.” That would make sense of it. The word “ such “ must be referred to the word “ day “ in the first line, which I am sure is not intended. Then it reads - such first-mentioned day shall in such State -
The draftsman of this measure must have an extraordinary affection for the word “ such.” - be observed as a holiday in the public offices in lieu of such day -
I wonder that the draftsman did not say “ such public offices.” If the object is - and it is a very good one - to enable the Government to vary the particular day upon which the holiday shall be observed the sub-clause needs altering. For instance, in South Australia we have a law which provides that certain holidays shall be observed on Monday, and that is very convenient. I move -
That the words “such day,” in sub-clause (2), lines 2-3, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : “of the days above mentioned.”
– I have no objection to that.
Amendment agreed to.
– Is sub-clause (2) necessary? The first day of January will be observed everywhere. If it falls on a Sunday it will be observed on the following day ; Christmas and Boxing Day, Good Friday, and the following Saturday and Monday cannot be altered ; while the anniversary of the birth of the Sovereign will be observed on the day itself, although, if it falls on a Saturday, the following Monday will be observed as the holiday. “ Any day proclaimed by the Governor-General “ ought to have general acceptance throughout the Commonwealth, and not be a holiday movable by individual States. I see no necessity for this subclause.
– It is too late now to move the omission of the sub-clause, because we have already amended it.
– I agree with what the Postmaster- General has said as to the desirability of allowing any State to make an alteration in regard to the observance of a holiday in order to suit the requirements of the people of that State, and because of that argument I should not be inclined to support a motion for the omission of the sub-clause. The repetition of the word “ such “ four times in this short sub-clause is not good draftsmanship. If we were to provide that -
Such first-mentioned day shall in that State be observed as a substituted holiday. the meaning, of the sub-clause would be retained, while the draftsmanship would be improved.
– I think that the idea of this sub-clause is to allow the substitution of any day which may be determined upon by a State for the particular day mentioned in the previous sub-clause. Surely that follows without any law being made on our part? If we say, “such and such days shall be observed as holidays,” and the State says, “ instead of such and such a day we shall observe the holiday on a Monday or a Tuesday,” would not the decision, of the State operate in the public offices of that State?
– Not in the Federal offices. The State offices would be closed onone day, while the Federal offices would be closed on another.
– Surely the proclamation of a holiday has nothing to do with the officers?
– The Federal officers could not suspend work because the State had substituted another day for that fixed by us. I intend to move -
That the word “ other “ be inserted after the word “such,” in sub-clause 2, line 5.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - If the sub-clause were struck out it would be necessary to go back. The proper place in which to have made this provision is sub-clause (1). The object of this proposal is to prevent a conflict between officers of the Commonwealth and officers of the State in the observance of any of these holidays. That is very desirable. We legislate for our public service in sub-clause (1), and then we go on to say that instead of having a conflict between the holiday’s of the State service and those of the Federal service, the State arrangements shall prevail.That could be done very much better by inserting after the word “ days “ in the first line of subclause (1) the words - “or any days observed in lieu of them under the law of any State.” That is all we want. To insert the word “other “in sub-clause (2), as proposed by the Postmaster-General, would not meet the case.
– It is all very well for honorable senators to say - “ Let us strike out these words and put in something else,” but as soon as we look carefully at the words proposed to be inserted we find that they give rise to difficulties similar to those sought to be overcome. I think the insertion of the word “other” will meet the case.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Our only desire is to make the meaning of the sub-clause clear. I have no wish to strike out the sub-clause, although I am satisfied that the object of every one would be better met by the suggestion I have made. We. do not want lawsuits - which are always undesirable - as to the interpretation of this clause. I think we could make the subclause clearer by amending it so as to read as follows : -
Where under the law of any State any day is observed as a public holiday in lieu of any of the days above mentioned, such first-mentioned day shall in such State be observed as that holiday.
I move -
That the word “a,” in sub-clause 2, line 4, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ that.”
– That would not meet the case, because the honorable and learned senator proposes to omit the words at the end of the sub-clause ‘” in lieu of such day.” If this amendment is made, the result will be that we shall have Federal officers keeping up both holidays. I should be compelled to close the post-offices on one day under this measure, and on another day because of the State law. Some care must be observed in making these alterations.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the word “ other “ be inserted after the word “ such “ in sub-clause (2), line 5.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - This, of course, is a mere matter of drafting, and I therefore do not desire to interfere with what the Postmaster-General thinks will effect the purpose. It is quite clear what we all desire, and if the honorable and learned senator thinks the insertion of the word “other” will be effective it is for him to take the responsibility, and I am sure we have no desire to sit as a drafting committee.
Amendment agreed to.
– How does the subclause read as amended ?
– As amended, the sub-clause reads as follows : -
Where under the law of any State any day is observed as a public holiday in lieu of any of the days above mentioned, such first-mentioned day shall in such States be observed as a holiday in the public offices in lieu of such other day.
– I think that Senator Symon had better persist in his first suggested amendment of sub-section (1).
– We have made these amendments now, but before we come to the report stage I shall go through the matter again, and take advantage of all the suggestions made by learned draftsmen in the Senate to see if I cannot propose something which will embody all their views.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I think that is much the soundest thing that my honorable and learned friend has said in the course of this discussion. I should like to direct his attention to the amendment I suggested in sub-clause (1), and to which Senator Harney has just referred.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland).- Subclause (6), to which I have already referred, provides -
But in that case every such officer may be granted, if practicable, in lieu thereof a holiday upon such other occasionas shall not interfere with public business.
The Postmaster-General should move the omission of the word “may” with a view of inserting in lieu thereof the word “ shall.” A number of communications have been received from all parts of the Commonwealth in support of such an amendment.
– I am greatly in sympathy with the views expressed by Senator Glassey, but from his acquaintance with the working of the Postal department the honorable senator knows that in order that the public shall be properly served it is absolutely necessary that some officers shall work upon holidays. I think that they ought to have days off in lieu of the public holidays upon which they work, and the days allowed them should be as near to the holidays upon which they work as possible. It should be recognised that they are substituted for the holidays upon which they work. The views of Senator Glassey would be carried out to a considerable extent if we substituted the word “ shall “ for the word “may,” so as to make it clear that an officer working upon a public holiday was to get the extra time off.
– That would not meet what I want.
– I am not disposed to go as far as Senator Glassey proposes. I do not think it desirable that these days off should be added to the recreation leave, which is given for a different purpose. Recreation leave is given to an officer in order that he may recruit his health, but these public holidays are days of public rejoicing, when people desire to meet together and enjoy themselves. If the public service demands that an officer shall stop and work upon those days he should, as early as possible, get a holiday in lieu of them. I do not approve of the latter part of Senator Glassey’s suggested amendment, which might lead to officers laying themselves out to work on all public holidays, with a view to increasing the amount of their recreation leave. I do not think it desirable to encourage that. Public servants who are required to work upon holidays should be satisfied if they get a holiday in the place of the one upon which they work. I am prepared to go so far as to substitute the word “shall” for the word “may,” and to substitute the word “ when “ for the word “if” before the word “practicable.” I move -
That the word “ may “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall.”
Senator MILLEN (NewSouth Wales). - Senator Drake andSenator Glassey are agreed that it should be compulsory, and not voluntary, to give a public officer a substituted holiday for a holiday, upon which he has had to work, but they differ as to when the holiday should be taken. Looking through the clause I think the difference is a matter of words only, and if amended as the Postmaster-General proposes the clause will give Senator Glassey what he is aiming at. I understand that the honorable senator desires that an officer who has been deprived of one of these public holidays shall have the right to tack it on to his ordinary holiday. That can be done under this clause, because it is provided that the substituted holiday may be granted “upon such other occasion as shall not interfere with public business.”
– But it does not say the occasion.
– It leaves it in the hands of the head of the department to say that the extra days due to a public officer may be taken at the time of his ordinary holiday if that does not interfere with public business. If it is inconvenient for the working of the departments for him to take the additional leave at that time, he must take it at some other time. However careful we must be in looking after the interest of its civil servants we have some regard for the proper conduct of business in these big State departments. With regard to the Postmaster-General’s proposal to substitute the word “ when “ for the word “ if “ before the word “ practicable,” I point out that the words “ if practicable “ are unnecessary in view of the provision that a half-holiday may be granted “ upon such other occasion as shall not interfere with public business.” The words “ if practicable “ were a qualification of the word “may,” and as we have struck out the word “may,” the words “if practicable “ may also be struck out.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to.
That the words “if practicable” in subclause6 be omitted.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - I move -
That the following words be added to subclause6 - “ or shall be entitled to an equivalent extension of leave of absence for the current year.”
Senator Drake is in error in some of the statements he has made, and I may mention a few cases to illustrate what I desire to impress upon the committee. I entirely agree with Senator Millen that the first consideration for Parliament is to see that the public requirements are met. The annual leave granted is a time for recreation, and the usual public holidays are days of rejoicing, but in scores of country offices, and in many suburban offices there is no time for the officers to rejoice, as they must be in their offices every day in the year to meet the requirements of the people. I remind the PostmasterGeneral of the conditions existing in places like Blackall, Tambo, Georgetown, Atherton or Mareeba. In such places the honorable and learned senator must know that before the officers in charge can get their ordinary leave ofabsence an officer must be sent from Brisbane, Rockhampton or Townsville to relieve him. In the same way I have no doubt in South Australia officers must be sent from the central officers to relieve officers in charge of outside stations, and the relieving officer has often to travel over hundreds of miles. Under these circumstances the honorable and learned senator must see that it is quite impracticable to carry out an arrangement to give these officers off days in lieu of the ordinary public holidays upon which they have to work.
– In their cases the off days could be added to the annual leave.
– That is what I am asking. I am sure Ministers would not be prepared to go to the extra expense of sending relieving officers hundreds of miles to enable a public servant to have a day off.
-What the honorable senator proposes can be done under the clause, but it has to apply to the town as well as to the country.
– I am aware of that. But I wish to add a few words to the clause in order that there may be no doubt in the minds of the head of a department or the Minister that the ordinary annual leave of any officer may be increased by the number of holidays upon which he has had to work.
– After the very generous way in which the Postmaster-General has met us I think it is unnecessary to insert the words. The provision as it stands gives the head of a department an opportunity of meeting the wish of any officer should he desire a day off a week af ter the holiday was celebrated, and that day might suit him a great deal better than the other. It is mandatory that the officer shall have a holiday in lieu of the one on which he worked, but on such an occasion as shall not interfere with the course of public business. The clause ought to meet the requirements of every officer.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 77 - (Salaries not to exceed amount appropriated by the Parliament.)
– It has been pointed out to me that no good object will be served by retaining the second sub-clause. I move -
That the clause be amended by the omission of the words - “(2) No salary or allowance shall be paid to an officer whose appointment or promotion has not been made in the manner provided by this Act.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The Governor-General may make, alter, or repeal regulations for the carrying out of any of the provisions of this Act, and in particular for all or any of the following purposes, namely : -
For regulating and determining the scale or amount to be paid to officers for transfer or travelling allowances or expenses or for living in or near the tropics or in mountainous localities, or in places where, owing to their situation, the cost of living is necessarily high ; and providing for the relief and transfer of officers employed in any such locality after having been so employed for the period prescribed for that locality.
– I rise to submit a small amendment, of which I have given notice, and to which, although it involves a big principle, I think the PostmasterGeneral will assent. I move -
That after tho word “situation,” line 1.1, the following words be inserted : - “climate, remoteness from large centres of settlement or otherwise.”
If that amendment is agreed to, I propose to ask the committee to insert after the word “high” the words - “or the conditions of life are relatively inconvenient.” I know of cases where officers now in the employ of the Commonwealth Government have not received fair play. If this amendment is made it will give additional power to the Governor-General in framing conditions as to working hours and wages, and thereby remove the disabilities under which officers labour in certain places. I hope that the Postmaster-General will see no ground for opposing my amendment.
– I think that nearly everything which Senator O’Keefe desires is in the clause. For instance, ‘what is the objection to a place on the ground of its “remoteness”? So far as it means that it increases the cost of living to a man, that is provided for. If by remoteness is meant that a man is deprived of certain society, it would be almost impossible by any means to frame a scheme of allowances which would compensate a man for losing the advantages of society. With regard to climate, that evidently is dealt with in the reference to the tropics, and a man may have an extra allowance because he is living in or near the tropics. If we are to make an -allowance to one man because he is living in a place which is too hot, and to another because he is living in a place -which is too cold, it will be exceedingly difficult. We recognise in the clause that a man is untitled to some special consideration because he is living in or near the tropics or in a mountainous district, or in such a situation that the cost of living is necessarily high. I do not see how by regulation we could go very much further.
– The suggestion of Senator O’Keefe has probably been induced by the use in the clause of words which are quite unnecessary. If we omit the words “ owing to their situation “ we leave the matter open. In any case where the cost of living is necessarily high it will be in the power of the Governor-General to proclaim a special allowance for that place, without any stipulation as to the cause why the cost of living is high. There is no reason for mentioning climate or any other cause. If Senator O’Keefe will be good enough to temporarily withdraw his amendment, I shall move for the omission of the words.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I would suggest the omission of the words “ owing to their situation.”
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - The omission of those words would destroy the effect of the amendment I wish the committee to make. I do not know whether Senator Millen quite gathers the class of cases I mean. I have in my mind’s eye several places which are not in the tropics or in entirely mountainous regions, but in which the conditions of life are inconvenient, uncomfortable, and costly, and in in man)’ instances very unhealthy. The amendment I propose to move would enable the Governor-General to meet such cases by regulation. I know some such places to which officers were sent many years ago. They have never received their transfers, as they ought to have done, or had a proper increase of salary, and are still living under great disadvantages. I cannot see any harm in taking power to meet such cases. I hope that Senator Millen will not press his amendment, because I believe he is just as anxious as I am not to act unfairly to an officer.
– Perhaps the views of Senator O’Keefe and Senator Millen may be met by the insertion of the words “ or remote” after the word “mountainous.” There would be a clear, definite meaning in the word “ remote.”
– A place may not be very remote, but may be very unhealthy for a man to live in. A man in such a place gets no consideration as against a man in the tropics.
– It is very difficult indeed in regulations to provide for an extra allowance for living in an unhealthy locality.
– It has been done in New South Wales.
– Are the unhealthy places scheduled ?
– Yes, places west of a certain line.
– It is generally considered that these places are, though not altogether unhealthy, undesirable ; but the definition which Senator Millen has quoted is a geographical one. No doubt that can be done, but I do not think we can schedule certain places as being distinctly unhealthy. Very often these places are considered most undesirable from a health point of view, but are not really unhealthy. I have in mind such places as the western districts of Queensland, which, by reason of the dust and the flies, are uncomfortable, though the climate cannot be referred to as unhealthy. It is a most healthy climate.
– Still a man should have some little consideration in point of salary for having to live there.
– Quite so ; it is a place where consideration should be given to officers on account of remoteness. Therefore, the word “ remoteness “ should be in the clause. The commissioner would quite understand what was meant by “ remote” in this sense.
– The draftsman of this Bill evidently put in as many words as he possibly could, and did not attempt to boilit down in any way. He has used words that are quite unnecessary. For instance, in this sub-clause he uses the words “mountainous localities,” but such localities arehealthy, especially in the tropics. I cannot see any reason why, because a man lives in a mountainous locality, he should receive extra salary. If I were a public servant in South Australia, I should desire to be placed in the mountains, because of their healthiness. In the tropics, the higher one gets into the air the lower the temperature is, and the more comfortable. Going a little further, the sub-clause says - or in places where, owing to their situation, the cost of living is necessarily high.
There is nob the slightest necessity for the words “ owing to their situation.”Very likely the situation affects the cost of living, but there is no necessity to put such words in an Act of Parliament. There is an unfortunate want of terseness in the drafting of this Bill, as well as a lack of distinctness and of knowledge of how to express exactly what is meant, It is quite right to leave in the provision with regard to the cost of living, because in all the States of the Commonwealth it has been recognised that a public servant should receive consideration when he is residing in parts where for some special reason the cost of living is particularly high. We ought to strike out the words “mountainouslocalities” and make the sub-clause simply read - or in places where the cost of living is high.
– We might insert the word “ remote.”
– We do not need to provide for remote places, because it is almost certain that in the remote localities the cost of living will be high. What we want to do is to give something additional to officers who are compelled to live in a part of the country where, owing to the remoteness of the situation, the cost of living ishigh ; but there is no need for the word “ remote “ or the word “ situation.” It is only the actual fact that the cost of living is high that needs to be provided for. If, in the first place, we struck out the words “ or in mountainous localities,” and then omitted the words “ owing to their situation,” the sub clause would read - for regulating and determining the scale or amount to be paid to officers for transfer or travelling allowances, or expenses, or for living in or near the tropics, or in places where the cost of living is high.
That is all that is wanted, and it would do away with the verbiage that encumbers the sub-clause.
– While I agree largely with what Senator Playford has said, I do not think that his criticism is exhaustive. He has limited himself to the question of the cost of living, but in Senator O’Keefe’s proposal there a word which is particularly applicable. He has drawn attention to the desirability of treating with a kinder hand those civil servants whohave to live in a very bad climate. The sub-clause will not serve its purpose un less Senator O’Keefe’s amendmentis made, and I shall support him in his effort to get some words inserted which will indicate that extra remuneration is to be given to officers who have to live in a bad climate.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - Senator Playford seems to have limited his objection to hot districts, but there are in New South Wales places where the cost of living is not high, and the climate is not hot, but which are uncomfortable. There is, for instance, an official living on Mount
Kosciusko, where, in the winter time, the weather is exceedingly cold. What honorable senators desire to do, I think, is to make an allowance both, for uncomfortable climatic conditions, and unusually high living. I move -
That the words “or near the tropics, or in mountainous localities “ be omitted, with the view of inserting the words “ localities where the climatic conditions are severe.”
– I have a great amount of sympathy with the intention of Senator O’Keefe, and do not think that Senator Playford has taken the broad view of the situation that he ought to have taken. The main consideration in connexion with the life of a public servant is not whether he lives in the tropics or in a hot climate, or in a cold climate, but the conditions that surround him. I know of places in Australia, where through the dust, the flies, and other unpleasant conditions it is almost a misery to live at all. Many public servants have to live under those conditions. I agree with Senator Millen that something might be done to make the clause much shorter, and even more intelligible, if instead of referring, to climate - that would lead a person to consider that either hot or cold, or wet or dry, was meant - the subclause simply said - “ Where the conditions of life are severe, or the cost of living is high.” That would be comprehensive enough to include everything. We may be sure that the regulations would be framed by officers having a knowledge of the conditions and of places where the living is high. I would suggest to Senators Millen and O’Keefe that instead of referring to climate only they should refer both to climate and cost of living.
Senator EWING (Western Australia).I would ask Senator Millen to reconsider his amendment in view of the representations of Senator McGregor. There are many places in Western Australia where the climatic conditions are not necessarily very severe, but where there is no water, and the conditions of life are very unpleasant indeed. Take, for instance, the Phillips River gold-fields - a place that is not specially hot and is far removed from the tropics. The conditions of life there are very unpleasant by reason of the absence of water and the newness of the locality. I suggest to Senator Millen that he should follow the suggestion of Senator McGregor, leaving out the reference to the word climate, and saying “localities where the conditions are severe.” My point is that in some places in Western Australia it is not the climate, but the absence of water, which makes life unpleasant.
– Does not that arise from the climate ?
– I think the construction of the word “ climate,” as here used, would be hot or cold, wet or dry. The mere absence of water would not be considered climatic. A man is entitled to something for the inconvenience of living in a locality where he cannot get pure water, or a sufficient quantity of it.
– I should divide the places to which reference has been made into two categories - the desirable and the undesirable- but we cannot do that in an Act of Parliament. We are endeavouring now, by tortuous language-
– To do the same thing indirectly.
– Yes. The object of a provision of this kind is to enable allowances for the cost of living, to be made in such a way as to somewhat equalize the undesirable and the desirable places, but, as soon as we endeavour to describe the conditions, we encounter difficulties. I was willing, to accept Senator Millen’s amendment in the belief that it was agreed that we were going, to substitute for the words omitted the words “localities where the climatic conditions are severe.” ‘ If we make that provision, and provide for an allowance for the cost of living where it is high, we cover everything, so far as that is possible in an Act of Parliament.
– I think we must all feel that what the Postmaster-General has just said is full of good sense. I hope that Senator Millen will proceed with his amendment, which hits as nearly as possible the exact conditions we desire to meet. It has been observed in connexion with the suggestions for dealing with places where the conditions are severe, that there are places in Australia where the flies are troublesome-
– Very healthy places, too.
– Extremely healthy places they may be. In those places itmaybenecessaryforaman to protect
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania).-.! had intended to intimate before Senator Symon rose that on consideration I was willing to accept the last amendment suggested by Senator Millen, which puts in terse language the view which I had in mind when I framed, rather hastily, my amendment. I Cannot follow Senator Playford’s remarks as to the conditions of life in the tropics. He seems to think that only officers living in the tropics should be taken into consideration. I know of a place, certainly not in the tropics, which was visited recently by an officer from the public service of Victoria. After noting the conditions under which the officers stationed there had to work, he described it as “ a suitable dumping ground for the incorrigibles of the service.”
– It must be near the tropics.
– No, it is nearer the South Pole.
1902,] BUI. 9331
– Yes, and not far removed from centres of settlement, so that it could not be described as “remote.” I am not. sorry that I moved the original amendment, because it has given rise to a discussion which will lead to officers being treated with greater fairness than some of them have hitherto received.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to -
That the words “owing to their situation” (lines 10, J 1 ) be omitted.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I move -
That the word “necessarily” (line 1J ) be omitted with a view to insert in lien thereof the word “ unusually.”
The word “ necessarily “ does not meet the case. The cost of living is “ necessarily “ high anywhere ; and it is higher in some places than in others. What we want to do, I presume, is to provide for an allowance where the cost of living is higher than usual.
– The word “ exceptionally “ would be better than “ unusually.”
– I agree to the substitution of “exceptionally “ for “unusually,” in my amendment.
Amendment amended accordingly, and agreed to.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). I move -
That the following new clause be inserted after clause 35 : -
Any person’ who has served for a period of not less than three years in the permanent or fully -paid branch of the military department of the Commonwealth, or of any State thereof, may be transferred to, and be employed in the general, division.
This is an amendment of which notice has been given by Senator Neild, who is absent, and I have moved it at his request.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I wish to state that I have been requested by Senator Sargood, who is absent, to move the insertion of a new clause of which he has given notice, and which, evidently, is of exactly the same purport as that just read by Senator Pearce. I do not know whether in the absence of Senator Neild this amendment is to take precedence over that of which notice has been given by Senator Sargood.
– Senator Pearce is in order in moving his amendment at this stage.
– The amendment as printed provides for the transfer of the persons referred to “ without examination,” but at the request of Senator Neild I have omitted those words. Under clause 33 we give this power of transfer to any officers’ in the State employ, but there is no power in the Bill by which our own employes in the military department, other than those in the civil branch, may be transferred. The civil branch is dealt with in the Bill, but the military branch of the defence forces will be dealt with under the Defence Bill. I believe that in that measure there is a clause which gives the right of transfer to these persons, but it requires that they shall retire on reaching the age of 50 years. This amendment applies particularly to sergeantsmajor and drill sergeants, and Senator Neild informs me that under the provisions of the Defence Bill they would have to retire on reaching 50 years of age. We recognise in the Public Service Bill that a man of fifty has still fifteen years of life to run, and surely there can be no objection to giving officers in the military department a concession similar to that which employes in the railway services of the States enjoy, namely, the right of transfer, at a salary equal to that which they have been receiving, to some other employ in the general division.
– What about the naval branch of the service 1
– If the honorable senator will look at the Defence Bill, he will find that scarcely any reference is made to the naval forces. The term “ military “ is taken to include the word “naval,” Therefore it is unnecessary to use that word.
– The meaning of this amendment is clear to me, but I do not think that it is correctly expressed. I understand that the honorable senator desires the amendment to apply to any person who has served in the defence forces of the Commonwealth.
– In the permanent or fully paid branch.
– The amendment refers to the military department. That, I presume, mean” Defence department.
It is very desirable that men who have served in the defence force should have a preference in regard to employment in the general division, but I do not know whether it is wise to insert a provision of this kind in the Bill. It seems to me that the amendment would give those persons no right. It says that they “ may ,be transferred to and be employed in the general division.” That may be done already.
– But some of the officers might be beyond the age.
– If this means that a man of mature years, who has been serving in the defence force, is to come into the public service to the detriment of young fellows who are not above the age we have fixed, we should carefully consider whether it ought to be agreed to. We have already considered it desirable to fix a limit of age for entrance into the service, and I presume we had good reasons for doing that. We are now asked to upset that decision in order to benefit persons of mature age who have been serving in some other occupation or employment. I think, it would be better to leave it to the commissioner to give employment in different departments, wherever he finds he can, to those who have seen military service.
-Under clause 33 persons in the service of a State may bc transferred at the age of 60 years.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania). - I desire to submit a clause for the consideration of the committee, and in lieu of that proposed by Senator Pearce It contains more conditions as to examination and insurance than the clause which Senator Pearce has proposed, and it would further extend the period of service from three to five years, while it would extend the privilege to members of the naval forces as well as of the military forces. Senator Pearce might see his way to accept this clause in preference to the one he has proposed -
All persons who have served for a period of not less than five years in the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth or of a State, and have not been dismissed for misconduct, shall be entitled to be employed in the general division on fulfilling all requirements in regard to examination and insurance for persons in such “division, and such persons shall be entitled to be appointed to any vacancy which may occur therein in priority to all other persons whatsoever, except persons already in the service of the Commonwealth.
I submit that that clause is at once wider, and contains ‘ more of the conditions upon which I think the committee should insist, than the’ clause proposed bv Senator Pearce.
Senator EWING (Western Australia).I notice that there is a reference to “ priority “ at the conclusion of the clause, and I should like to know why persons who have served in the naval and military forces should be given that preference over other civil servants. Is this an amendment proposed by Senator Clemons, because I should like to have an opportunity of seeing the wording of the clause ?
– I give the credit of it to Senator Sargood, but I am prepared to move it now upon my own responsibility.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - The clause read by Senator Clemons is more explicit, and provides further conditions, than the clause I have proposed. I object, however, to the words “ in priority.” I do not see why one section of the community should be given priority to any other.
– That is the whole point of the clause.
– The point of the clause I have submitted is that outsiders cannot get into the service after they have reached a certain age, but under this clause these persons are given the privilege of entering the service at any age.
– Then the honorable senator does give a preference.
– I am prepared to give that preference, but not to go further. I point out that clause 33 allows persons in the State service at present to be transferred to the Commonwealth service, though they may have exceeded the age laid down in the preceding clauses respecting appointments. I am willing to withdraw my amendment in favour of that suggested by Senator Clemons, but I should like to see those words “ in priority “ omitted.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment, (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 35: - “All persons who have served for a period of not less than five years in the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth or of a State, and have not been dismissed for misconduct, shall be entitled to be employed in the general division on fulfilling .nil requirements in regard to examination and insurance for persons in such division, and such persons shall be entitled to be appointed to any vacancy which may occur therein in priority to nil other persons whatsoever, except persons already in the service of the Commonwealth.”
– I like this clause better than that proposed by Senator Pearce, but I think that some alteration should be made in it. I suggest that the clause should be amended by the omission of the words “ entitled to be employed,” with the view of inserting in lieu thereof the words “ eligible for employment,” and by the omission of the words “ shall be entitled to be appointed,” with the view of inserting in _ lieu thereof the words “may be appointed.”
– I accept those amendments.
Amendment amended accordingly.
– I direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to clause 33, because this proposed new clause will conflict with it in giving the members of the naval and military forces priority over every officer in the service of a State, and I do not think that the committee desire to do that. I think the PostmasterGeneral should see that officers in the service of a State are not prejudiced by this clause.
– This clause only applies to the general division.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I would ask Senator Clemons to accept an amendment adding the words “or of a State” to the clause. It is true that the clause applies only to the general division, but that is no reason why preference should be given to a man who has served in the military or naval forces over a man who has, for instance, been a navvy in the Railway department of a State, and who may wish to be “transferred to a position as a telegraph lineman in the service of the Commonwealth.
Senator EWING (Western Australia). - The objection I first saw to the proposed new clause was that it gave a preference to persons who had served in the military and naval forces over persons who had served in any other department in a State. In order to test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That the words “or State” be added to the clause.
– If this clause, as moved by Senator Clemons, is carried, it will give a great deal of trouble to the various services under the control of the Commonwealth. As I understand it, tho effect of it will be that, after a man has exhausted himself in the naval or military service, he can come along and claim to be taken into the Post-office or Customs department of the Commonwealth. He may come at 35 years of’ age, or may delay until he is 50. I ask honorable senators what earthly use to the Customs or Post-office is a man who has already spent 50 years of his life 1 People in Australia are not so cognisant of it, but it is well known in Great Britain, that nothing so unfits a man for every-day affairs as military service. A man who has spent a numberof years in the army is utterly useless in almost every other occupation. If this clause is carried, the Commonwealth Government will be loaded with a number of inefficient men. A military man, in the receipt of £200 or £300 a year, arrives at .-in age when he is compelled to retire. He approaches the Post-office for a position at the same salary. Will it be possible for the Post-office to give him such a position, or will he be fitted to fill it? In our anxiety to provide for the military and every other person, we are losing sight of the very important fact that what we need more than anything else is efficiency in the public service. If a clause of this character is passed it will aim a deadly blow at its efficiency. It will cause a body of incompetent men to go into the Post-office or the Custom-house^ It will provoke bitter antagonism from men who have been in the service for years. They will see a man who has been drilling soldiers for twenty years appointed to a position in the Post-office, although he cannot possibly know its duties. They will not take a position in the general division.
– This only applies to the general division.
– A man who had been trained to the sorting, and stamping of letters would lose a military man at the work. If you send a military man of 45 or 50 years of age to carry letters, his feet will be as heavy as lead compared with the nimble carriers we see in the streets of Melbourne. We should not place unnecessary obstruction in the way of the postal authorities obtaining what they require. I object to the whole clause* but particularly to the last few words, giving priority to these men. It is truckling to militarism, trying to set a soldier on a pedestal ; holding out to him the hope that if he spends the best years of his life shouldering a musket, practising the goosestep, shooting at a target, and displaying his finery to capture the hearts of the ladies, at the end of his career, when he is no longer fit for active service, he will be placed in some cosy billet, where he can spend the rest of his days in ease and comfort. AVe do not need military men in this country. We should not attempt by any means, either directly or indirectly, to foster the military spirit. ‘ It has been the cause of a great deal of evil in other countries. I have no desire to see it introduced into our Eden, like the serpent. Anything I can do to scotch it will be done. If men enter the army let them take the consequences. I would put military men on an equal footing with other servants of the Commonwealth. I hope that Senator Clemons will excise the words giving priority to military men.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania).- Probably owing to the fact that the new clause has not been sufficiently circulated, Senator Stewart does not quite understand its contents. I was perfectly willing to accept the alterations which Senator Drake suggested, and that was a concession in a direction which, no doubt, pleased Senator Stewart. I would point out, first, that the clause applies to only the- general division, and, secondly, that it prescribes even for the military and naval people, to whom Senator Stewart has so strong an objection, an examination, and they will have to comply with every requirement that an ordinary civil servant had to comply with before he entered the service. It maintains the same efficiency so far as we can do by legislation. Therefore there is no preference given in that way. The words to which Senator Stewart most strongly objected are these - which may occur therein in priority to any persons whatsoever except persons already in the service of the- Commonwealth.
The obvious meaning of -those words is that the appointment of a naval or military man is not to operate so as to interfere with the proper promotion of existing civil servants. I cannot accept ‘the insertion of words which would make the clause perfectly, meaningless. The words which seem to have caused hostile comment only mean that a naval or military man shall not get into the public service to the detriment of .an existing civil servant.
– He is in the service of Commonwealth at the time as a military man.
– I do not disguise the meaning of the new clause. Its object is to recognise naval and military men who have served five years. I find myself reluctantly unable to accept the amendment to add the words “or State.” I do not agree with what Senator Pearce said about putting a naval or military man on the same footing as anyone else. I think he ought to have a preference* and that is the whole aim of the clause. Whatever the clause does* it will not operate disadvantageously to any existing civil servant at the time a naval or military man gets his entry.
– I do not see anything particularly objectionable about this new clause. A similar provision is in force in Victoria. A mau who has been in the defence force is regarded as an exservant of the State. When the departments were short of hands here once some of these men had the first chance of employment. In one instance several of them entered the Income-Tax office, but before they could get there they had to show that they were fit to do the work. I apprehend that the same course would be taken under this ‘ clause if adopted. These men are already in the service of the Commonwealth, and it is merely a case of transferring them from one department to another. They should have a preference over State officers because they are Commonwealth officers. It seems to me a perfectly fair provision to make.
Senator EWING (Western Australia). - Under clause 33, State officers are given certain rights with regard to entry into the Commonwealth, service, and we are now asked to say that a person who has been in the defence force shall be entitled to priority over civil servants in the States. Supposing, that there are two competitors for a position in the general division - say, in the Railway department, as a telegraph line man, and that one has had experience of that work in a State and is well qualified to fill the position, whilst the other is a naval or military man. I think Senator Stewart was perfectly right when he saidthat military men spend most of their lives walking about the streets doing nothing. The men hi the Defence department do absolutely nothing which qualifies them to fill a position in the public service. When the Commonwealth can get from a State an officer trained in the duties to be dis- charged, is it to be compelled to take a man from the defence force?
– Yes, because he is already in the Commonwealth service.
– But State officers are given the same right to transfer under clause 33. A man in a State service is just as eligible for employment under the Commonwealth as is a man in the Commonwealth service, but we are asked to say that merely because a man happens to be in the defence force he shall, be given priority over all other persons in the States as to employment. Why should a man who happens to be in the military service have greater rights than a man in the railway service, or than any other person in the employment of one of the States t I certainly think that the Commonwealth is much more likely to find men capable of filling Commonwealth positions from amongst those occupying similar positions in the States than from amongst men in the defence force. Again, may I ask the mover of this amendment what is the meaning of the term “ defence force” ? Does it cover the volunteer service 1 Does it include persons holding a commission in the volunteer forces? If that is so, the best way of getting into the Commonwealth service would be to join a volunteer corps or a rifle club, because by doing so a man would secure priority. I am at a loss to understand why this priority should be asked for, and am therefore of opinion that the words “or State” should be added to this clause, giving the civil servants of the States the same rights as those employed in the Defence department.
– -I hav noticed during this discussion that there are two particular sets of persons mentioned as being those who ought to have priority. One set has been mentioned by the mover of this amendment - namely, those who have served in the military and naval f forces of the Commonwealth for a period of five j-ears. Hie others are the civil servants or those employed in the railway services of the States. But the Commonwealth Parliament is not elected to merely recognise the claims of one or two sets of people. It is chosen to legislate for the whole mass of the people of the Commonwealth. There are a large number of persons outside the sections mentioned whose claims for employment ought to be equal to those now set up, although they have not been mentioned. Take our mining population. They certainly run greater risks, and follow a far more dangerous occupation, than the persons who belong to the defence force, even including those who have been to the war in South Africa. Yet up to the present time, not a single plea has been put forth in behalf of any person outside the two sections to whom I have alluded. What is the difference between a man assisting in manning and sailing our warships round the coast of Australia and one employed in manning vessels upon the coastal trade ? Should not a man employed on vessels engaged in the trading business in Australian waters have an equal claim to enter the general division of the Commonwealth service with those who serve in the naval forces ? In exactly the same way, a man who works in a mine should have an equal claim with a man who serves in the volunteer forces. I strongly object to any priority being given to the persons who have been singled out by the supporters . of the amendment. Notwithstanding that, I value as much as any one the services of those who have gone to South Africa in a time of great difficulty, and have endured severe hardships and privations. What I hold is, however, that it is not our business to legislate for any one particular class to the detriment and at the expense of a vast number of persons who may desire to enter the service. That being so, I cannot vote with Senator Clemons, who I hope will see the wisdom of acting more in harmony with the spirit of the age, and with the equity and justice which ought to prevail in regard to the vast number of persons who are not included within the sections of the community whom it is desired specially to favour. As to what Senator Stewart has said, I may remark that I happen to have entered the service of one of the States at the age of 40, and I venture to say that I could carry letters then and could cany them now - notwithstanding that fifteen or sixteen more years have elapsed since then - as nimbi)’, as quickly, and as accurately as many younger members. I repudiate emphatically the assertion that a man of 40 is unfit to enter the service. I am nearer 60 than 50, but I venture to say that to-morrow I could go and carry letters, and discharge my duty and my share of work, in competition with any ordinary person of fewer years. It is preposterous to set up the claim that men who have gone through some drill in any part of the Commonwealth are, by Act of
Parliament, to be made superior in regard to entering the service to ordinary men who have been doing the every-day work of the country, and have been taking their share in raising the taxation which maintains the Government.
– -I really think that some honorable senators do not see the drift of the amendment which’ has been proposed, and which has been met by objections that do not properly apply to it. Senator Glassey, with all due respect to him, has not only misunderstood the question, but has been setting up a bog)’, which he has pummelled in order to show that the amendment should not be carried. Let me repeat what has been said by Senator Clemons - that the amendment does nob give preference to members of the naval and military forces in the ways that have been stated. They will simply be eligible for employment, just as any honorable senator would be eligible if he were not a member of the Senate ; and then the amendment says that they will be employed in preference to any one who is not a Commonwealth public servant. The amendment simply goes to the extent of recognising that men who are in the military service form part of the service of the Commonwealth, whilst men who are in the services of the States are not in the service of the Commonwealth, any more than are servants of a borough council. Would honorable senators say for a moment that a man in the service of a borough council stands in the same position as a man in the Commonwealth service? It would be an absurdity to say so. If there were a vacancy in the Treasury and a man in the Postmaster-General’s department wanted to occupy the position, should he not be transferred before taking a man from outside, assuming that the officer wishing to be transferred was capable of performing the duties in the Treasury ? Similarly in regard to the military forces, a man who belongs to them is in the service of the Commonwealth. and should obtain a right which a man who is outside the service does not obtain, having earned that right by virtue of his service. If he has been dismissed he does not get the advantage that this amendment would give. The amendment enables a man to apply to be transferred from the military branch to the civil branch. All it gives him is a preference over a man who is outside the Commonwealth service altogether. Is that not a reasonable thing to do 1 Senator Glassey has spoken of miners and men following various pursuits who are nob in the Commonwealth service. No doubt such men meet with hardships and difficulties. Sometimes they are not as well paid as public servants and sometimes they are better paid. Such a man has a right to apply for a vacant post in the service, but he has no right over a man who is already in the service. A military man is in the service of the Commonwealth, and he should be given an advantage over a man who is outside. Suppose a man in a post-office wants to be transferred to the military department to do some particular work, would not honorable senators give him a preference to a man outside the service?
– Certainly not.
– Then we ought to. If a man in the Post-office wants to be transferred to the Attorney General’s department, should he not have a preference ? That preference is given to him by this Bill, and why take the same advantage away from the military branch of the service, simply because the members of it do not come within the four corners of this Bill ? It is an unfair thing to do so. When Senator Glassey talks of the hardships endured in another occupation, he is simply setting up a man of straw for the sake of pummelling it, and not for the sake of bringing to bear arguments against the amendment. Of course I know that in the opinion of some honorable senators a man who serves in the military forces should receive no advantage over others, but should be driven away, if possible, from all remunerative employment.
– That is unfair. What we say is that he should receive no undue advantage.
– Men employed in the military service are working just as loyally and devotedly for the State as are those employed in the civil branches of our service. They are brought together for the defence of the State ; to defend the interests of the State and of the Commonwealth. They are entitled to all credit and honour for the positions they take up - positions which render them liable to all kinds of danger to which the ordinary citizen who goes to his office at nine o’clock every morning, returns to his home at five o’clock every evening, and sleeps in a comfortable bed at night, is never exposed. . I hope that honorable senators will realize that this proposal is designed to give a fair chance to those men who are already in the service, and to only allow them, when the authorities see fit, a preference over persons not already in the civil service.
– I do not intend to vote against this amendment if it is pressed to a division, but I have absolutely no sympathy with it or with the arguments that have just been used in justification of it. It certainly does seem to me that Senator Gould’s arguments are merely plausible pretexts for the continuance of the old system. If it is not intended to give a preference to those who have been employed in the military or naval service, of what use will the clause be ?
– It is intended to give a preference.
– Then I wish to know why the persons referred to in the clause are entitled to a preference ? It has been said that they are entitled* to it because they are in the Commonwealth service ? But in what branch are they employed ? In the military branch. If they are good soldiers they ought to be bad clerks. The soldier’s occupation is the negation of the stool. It calls upon a man to go forth to battle, and his duties are best fulfilled by those who develop the muscles of the body rather than the muscles of the mind. Therefore I see absolutely no sound logic whatever in the assertion that these persons ought to be given a preference over State civil servants, because they happen to be servants of the Commonwealth. True, they are the servants of. a department, the duties of which, if properly fulfilled, render them the more inefficient for the class of service for which they are to receive the preference. ‘
– The duties of .the department do not render them unfit for the general division.
– I have really been induced to speak upon this amendment because in private conversation I have frequently expressed myself very strongly upon the unwarranted deification of the military and naval profession. I do not often refer to personal matters, but honorable senators may be satisfied that I am speaking impartially upon this ‘ question when I tell them that I have sisters married to officers in the Imperial army. The feelings I have expressed are not therefore dictated by any prejudice. If a man joins the army or navy he does so in the hope of receiving the rewards which his profession gives, or the honour which it sheds upon him. If he does not think that those rewards or that honour constitute sufficient remuneration for his services, he should not enter the profession.
– But we are dealing with citizen soldiers.
– I care not whether they are citizen soldiers or any other class. Looking at it fairly and justly I fail to see what a man in this service does to entitle him to a preference over his fellow who occupies his time in serving his country in the ranks of the army of workers, or what better he does than the man who, in the case put so aptly by Senator Glassey, serves his country, and serves it lucratively, by risking his life mining in the bowels of the earth. All of us I hope, who properly and honestly discharge our duties, not only serve ourselves but to some extent serve our country. Most men by joining the army obtain not only a return to their pockets, but in addition an “highfalutin’,” unjustifiable, and unmeritorious return of kudos and glory. It is not because of the glamour which hangs around these persons that the Commonwealth and the States are to stoop down and say to these men, “ My brave sons, you are more worthy, more honorable members of the State than others” - others who serve it just as faithfully and far more efficiently in less notable callings which have shed around them less of the halo which attaches to the military profession. It is not often that I express sentiments which place me so much in accord with my honorable friends of the labour party, but every honorable . senator will acknowledge that,whetherwisely or unwisely, I generally speak out exactly what I feel. While I think that a good deal of credit is due to many members of the service who have left Australia to serve the Empire in the Boer war; while I think that as a nation we ought to be very proud of their achievements there ; while I think further that whether the Boer war in its inception was right or wrong-
– The honorable senator cannot discuss that matter now.
– If you will wait, Mr. Chairman, until you hear the end of the sentence, I think that you will agree that I am in order.
– The honorable and learned senator has already proceeded rather far in the wrong direction.
– While I still think that it is now the duty not only of Australians, but of every citizen of the Empire, to encourage, and to commend those who fight for theBritish flag, still I am of opinion that there has been far too much laudation, glorification, huzzaing, and clapping of hands in respect of those who went out to the war, I presume, for the rewards of the profession, from a love of the adventurous life there, and because of its possibilities, and I am not in favour of giving them any special privileges. Having expressed these views, I find myself almost in the position occupied some months ago by my honorable and learned friend SenatorSymon, who, after adducing very forcible arguments in favour of a certain conclusion, found it expedient to vote the other way. I am sorry that the proposal has been made to insert this new clause, but if it is insisted upon, I shall vote for it for reasons that I have not expressed. For the reason I have given, I hope it will not be insisted upon, but if it is put, I shall vote for it because of my unexpressed reasons.
Senator EWING (Western Australia). - I hope that as Senator Harney intends to vote for the insertion of this new clause he will support the amendment for the addition of the words “ or of a State,” in order to make the provision equitable and fair.
– Why not go further and add the word “ municipalities “ ?
– Because it would not be sensible or reasonable to do so. If honorable senators will refer to clause 33, they will see that persons who were in the service of any State at the establishment of the Commonwealth are eligible for appointment to positions in the corresponding divisions of the public service of the Commonwealth. As it is manifest that that clause places persons in the service of the States and those in the employ of the Commonwealth upon exactly the same footing, the distinction which honorable senators have endeavoured to draw between the two is absolutely without meaning. I would submit that we ought to agree to the proposed new clause, and if we do that we should add words that will make our action consistent, and keep this provision in line with clause 33. We are transferring persons from the State to the Commonwealth service to-day, and may be doing so for years to come. For these reasons I protest with all seriousness against members of riflecorps or members of volunteer corps, and members of the permanent forces being given a preference over their brothers in the civil service. All that a man in the State service would have to do in order to gain a preference over his brother civil servant, would be to join a rifle corps, and remain in it for five years. That should not be the intention of the Legislature. The express intention of the Legislature, as shown in clause 33, is to give these civil servants rights similar to those enjoyed by persons employed by the Commonwealth.
– I think we ought to recognise that we have adopted the system of a semi-paid defence force in Australia, and that it is wise to encourage young men as much as possible to enrol themselves in that service. This clause shows that it is recognised that men who have given their services for five years without blame in the Defence department should not be debarred from employment in the Commonwealth service in respect of work for which they are suited.
– That is not the argument.
– The first part of the clause makes them eligible. It provides that if a man in the defence force gets beyond a certain age, he shall be eligible for employment in some other branch. That is to say, we provide that he may be employed in priority to persons who are not already in the Commonwealth service. Every one who is in the Commonwealth; service is to have priority over members of the defence force, but members of the defence force may be chosen in priority to those who are not at the time and have not been in the service. That, it appears to me, is not unreasonable. We have been endeavouring to find employment in the various departments for members of the defence force who have been awayto the war and have returned, andI do not believe that one word has been said in disapproval of that course.
– Then the Government are going to overload the civil service.
-No, we are not making a single appointment that is not required. Supposing, for example, we required half-a-dozen men in the Postal department, this clause would enable us to give men who had served for five years in the defence force of the Commonwealth priority of appointment. Surely that is reasonable. To provide, as now proposed, that a man who has been serving in the defence force is notto haveany priority over any man who has been serving under any State Government would be to whittle the concession down to nothing.
SenatorSir William Zeal. - If the clause comes into operation at once it must be five years before any of these men can enter the public service of the Commonwealth.
– No, because it applies to any men who have been five years in the military or naval service of the Commonwealth or of a State. At the time of the transfer they came into the service of the Commonwealth. I think it is not an unreasonable thing to give this concession. It is merely permissive, and priority may not be given to any man unless he shows that he is equallyefficient with any other applicant for the position. If oneof thesemen is thoroughlyfitted to fill the position he is applying for, this clause will give the commissioner an opportunity of giving preference to him on the ground that he has served his country in the defence force.
– I am sorry so much time should have beenwasted in a discussion which can be fruitful of no good. I cannot understand how any benefit is going to be derived from the clause even if it is carried. If what the advocates of the clause say of it is true it is practically meaningless. If we are to have in the future a citizen army I take it that every able-bodied man in the country will be a member of the defence force, and will come under the operation of this clause; sothat it will be fruitful of no good, whatever the intention of the mover may be. In my opinion it is very unfair to give those who go in for militarism as a profession or a pastime any advantage over those following any other calling in the Commonwealth. If there is any thing in militarism of the kind suggested it should be its own reward. I hope the clause will not be carried.
– Honorable senators have asked what reason there is for giving our naval and military people a preference over outsiders in regard to employment in the Commonwealth public service. Soldiers and sailors have always had this preference given them, and I believe it is based upon the principle that they render services to their country as soldiers or sailors, which are worth considerably more in most cases than the pay which they receive. The bulk of the soldiers of the Commonwealth, whether militiamen or volunteers - I except paid defence force men - render hours and hours of service to the State for which the pay they receive does not remunerate them. Honorable senators should remember that every soldier of the British army for years past has received a pension on retirement. That is why it is suggested at Home by the most thoughtful men on both sides in the House of Commons - and I have read twenty letters on the subject in the Times if I have read one - that in any scheme of old - age pensSws that is passed, and I hope that if any scheme is agreed to it will be based to some extent on considerations of thrift and individual contribution, every man who has served his country for five years should be entitled as a matter of right to a pension.
– That is a different matter altogether.
– I am pointing out now why there has always been a preference in favour of naval and military men. As Senator DeLargiehas pointedout, if we pass a proper Defence Act - and we shall not pass a proper Defence Act unless we remember that militarism is just as necessary, though it may not be so important, as industrialism - we shall provide that every man in the Commonwealth shall be bound to drill 30 or 40 times a year whether we pay him or not. I agree that if that course is adopted this clause will then have very little effect, but in the meantime, and in case we do not pass such a compulsory defence measure, I agree with SenatorClemons that we should continue the slight preference hitherto given to naval and military men. It is said that these men will be uneducated, unfit, and inefficient, but honorable senators who have made that statement have forgotten that many of the men who have gone to South Africa from Australia were in the position of clerks in the Post and
Telegraph office, and in other like employment. Two young men who went from Hobart were in the railway service, where they commenced as porters. They taught themselves the telegraph operating business, and one of them, is now in a splendid situation in the Telegraph department in South Africa. Scores of the men who have gone away are absolutely fit to take many situations under the Commonwealth, and I am in favour of giving them the slight preference in the matter of employment which would be given them by this clause.
– There is one point which seems to have been overlooked by honorable senators, and that is that in the permanent force men may be retired at 50 years of age, and there is no provision made to grant them pensions. As Senator Glassey has said, they may still be good men, capable of doing excellent work, and as I desire that their claims upon the country may not be overlooked, I shall support the clause.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia). - I desire to draw attention to one argument which has been dinned into our ears in connexion with this clause. It is said that no priority is given to members of the defence force over members of the Commonwealth public service. In that we can thank honorable senators for nothing, because the men who are in the public service of the Commonwealth will not apply for these positions.
– It cuts away the advantages given to civil servants of the States under clause 33.
– I was going to emphasize the point to which Senator Ewing has referred. Under clause 33 we practically put the civil servants of a State on an equal footing with those of the Commonwealth, and recognise that they have equal rights in the matter of transfers to positions corresponding to those which they hold in the State service. By this clause we are going to interpose the military man between them and their rights. We are going to say - “ We will give you a certain right of transfer to a position corresponding to that which you hold in the service of the State, but if a member of a rifle club applies to be appointed to the same position we shall give him preference in the appointment.” That is inconsistent with clause 33, and no reason has been shown why we should give a preference to these people over others who, as Senator Harney has properly said, have in various ways served the State in an equally efficient and valuable manner.
Question - That the words “or State” proposed, to be added, be so added - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the new clause be inserted - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to-
That the following be inserted as a new clause to follow clause 62 : -
Every officer admitted to the public service before the commencement of this Act, who is not a natural-born or naturalized subject of His Majesty, shall forthwith after the commencement of this Act, or so soon as he is qualified so to do, apply for and obtain a certificate of naturalization under the laws of the United Kingdom, or of the Commonwealth, or of a State.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania). - I move -
That the following be inserted as a new clause to follow clause 78 : -
The Governor - General may appoint one person from each State, and an additional person to act as chairman to be a Classification Board. The Classification Board shall have all the powers of the commissioner. The Classification Board shall report to the GovernorGeneral as to the division, class, subdivision of class, or grade and salary of every officer.
The Governor-General may adopt the report of the Classification Board, and may make any appointments or transfers of officers, and alterations in the class or grade of officers necessary to carry out such report.
The Classification Board shall cease upon the adoption of the report.
The power of- the Governor-General to appoint the Public Service Commissioner and the inspectors shall be suspended until the adoption of the report.
The amendment opens up a very important subject, and that is the first classification of the three great departments - Customs, Post-office, and Defence - into one. My opinion always has been that one solitary commissioner, no matter how ably he is. aided by his six inspectors and the heads of departments, cannot undertake that work, at any time with anything like efficiency, justice, and fair play to the civil servants. When he does do the classification the whole of the evidence that will guide him will be evidence of a hearsay character. He will practically have no knowledge, and will have to depend on what he is told in the reports of inferior officers. Moreover, it is impossible that he can do this work for the first year or two. I take it that all honorable senators desire to see this classification take place at the earliest possible moment. I am sure we all desire to see the salaries of those civil servants who are being underpaid in some of the States raised at once to the Commonwealth rate. Honorable senators will see that here is to some extent a question of a State right. Every State has the right to see that civil servants of the Commonwealth in that State are placed in as fair a position, as regards grade and salaries, as civil servants in other States. I should like to know how this delicate and important work is to be undertaken by one man. Will honorable senators just grasp the fact for one moment ? The whole of this service is to be classified into one ; the six States are to be represented by one unknown man, and in this important matter, dealing with 11,000 officers, a State is not to have a member on the board to represent the officers in that State. This is a most peculiar way of trying to do a most important work. I do not see how it is possible for the plan to operate satisfactorily. My proposal is that, instead of having this one commissioner, strange to all civil servants, you should have the head of the department or the chief officer - a man who is in touch with the officers - who can speak of the officers of his own State, and confer with the representative from each other State, and thus, in the most delicate way, each will deal honorably and fairly with the other. They will have every now and then verv difficult questions to determine, such questions as whether clerk A in one State, with the same length of service and getting the same salary, ought to go above clerk B in another State, who is on exactly the same footing. How it is to be done I know not. I prefer my way of doing it, because it is more likely to secure an efficient grading, and to do justice to civil servants, than the rule-of-thumb method which is set forth in the Bill. The commissioner, I suppose, will have his headquarters at the capital, and will not travel about. All that duty will be done by his inspectors. He will get reports from the heads of the departments and inspectors, but just let honorable senators think for a moment how he must commence to classify the service. What has he to do ? He has to read all the reports of the inspectors, and the reports of the permanent heads ; but how much further forward has he got ? Does any one mean to say that the permanent head, who sees that while. he is responsible under the Act for the working discipline and control Of his department, the whole power of removing a clerk, of grading a clerk, of fixing a salary, is taken out of his hands, will take up the work of classification, and make a long report to satisfy the commissioner? I do not think he will take upon himself the responsibility, for this reason : that if we were to say that clerk A ought to go above clerk B, or that clerk D ought to go above both of them, and his report were not adopted, it would probably leak out, as some of the reports have to be tabled, that he had recommended one thing, and the commissioner had adopted another. I take it that the permanent head will not think of going into detail about the classification of the officers in his department. I ask honorable senators to tell me, if they can in a few words, how this classification is to “be done by a perfect stranger. How is he going to set about the work ? It appears to me that Ministers are solely influenced in favour of centralizing everything. A few weeks ago, I had to ask the head of the defence force in Tasmania for the loan of a big marquee in which I wished to entertain some guests who were partly guests of the Government. Of course, if they had not been partly guests of the Government, I should not have made the request. I had the loan of a tent in 1892, when I was doing a similar thing. I got back a telephone message - “We must telegraph to Sir John Forrest to ask if we can lend the tent.” Again, I had to ask for two boilers in which to boil some tea, and I got a similar reply. That is an illustration of what I call overcentralization. What I ask the committee to do is to insist upon decentralization. When we come to deal with the position of each one of these 11,000 officers, we have no right to hand over their prospects in life to an ignorant commissioner - a man who never will know from the reports of 50 inspectors how each officer should be graded.
Customs and a chief officer at the Postoffice, who is an exceedingly smart officer.
Senator Keating. - No.
– The accountant has seen their work. It is idle to say that an outside commissioner knows more about the officers in a department than does its head. This man, having grown up with the officers, has some knowledge and idea of who are the good clerks, and of whether they are in the accountants’ office or in the corresponding branch, or wherever they may be. But how is the commissioner to get this enormous mass of detailed knowledge into his head?
– Why should he be an outside commissioner ? Why should he not be one of the men the honorable and learned senator is talking about?
– He would necessarily be an outside commissioner for every State but his o wn . I have already expressed the hope that every one of the officers appointed to the head of the civil service will be chosen from within the service, and that we shall have as few new appointments as possible. The day will come when there will arise a question of retrenchment against extravagance, and I shall vote for retrenchment. But if we pick out an inspector from the service of one of the States he will be a complete outsider as regards the other States, whereas the man I want to preside over the board will be a man - say a county court Judge - accustomed to weigh evidence and to come to sound conclusions. My honorable friend, Senator Millen, will see that if a commissioner be appointed from the service of one of the States - and I hope that will be the case - he must be an outsider in respect to all the States but his own, and must be absolutely ignorant of the civil services of the States where he has not worked. This is one of the most important matters affecting the officers of the Commonwealth with which we have to deal, and Iwant to have all the States represented on such a board as I propose, and not have centralization. The man who is appointed to represent each State will be responsible for seeing that the service in his State and in the other States is placed in a proper position, and if the six representatives of the States cannot agree about any particular officer, then the outside man will enter in a kind of judicial capacity and decide the matter. I do not wish to take up any great length of time, but I should like to hear this matter discussed and ventilated ; and if honorable senators will show me what are the advantages to be derived from appointing a single commissioner, and how such an officer is to commenceto do the work of classifying the service, I shall only be too glad to withdraw my amendment and bow to the inevitable. But I contend that mine is a better way of classifying the service than the method proposed by this Bill. I would point out that my amendment proposes a temporary classification board, because the moment the board has classified the service into one, the work will, to a large extent, go on automatically. Possibly then one commissioner may be able to control the service. But he cannot, to start with, do it either efficiently or justly.
– The honorable and learned senator who has just sat down has proposed a scheme of classification which he is asking the Senate to accept in place of the scheme embodied in the Government Bill. In reality it is not something to be engrafted upon the Bill, but something to take the place of the system proposed by the Government. He proposes that the power of the Governor-General to appoint a public service commissioner and inspectors shall be suspended until the adoption of the report of a board to be appointed under his amendment. Indeed, his proposal is that the whole of the work we have been doing shall be put on one side, and that the operation of the measure shall be suspended until the scheme which he now proposes has been tried - that is, the appointment of a board for the purpose of classifying the service. Nothing whatever is to be done under the Public Service Bill until the report of that board is adopted. Therefore Senator Dobson asks us to begin again with our work in a different way. He practically proposes the destruction of the Bill. In what respect is Senator Dobson’s proposal with regard to classification better than the proposal of the Bill? He does not like the idea of a commissioner and of inspectors. Therefore he proposes that there shall be one person appointed from each Sta’:e, with an additional person to act as chairman, these persons to form a classification board. The additional person he suggests should be a county court Judge. He gave us two hints as to the class of persons whom lie would like to see appointed from each of the States. He mentioned first the permanent head of the Post-office, who is a federal officer, whose duty it is impartially to look after the interests of the officers in his department, and of the public throughout the Commonwealth. Senator Dobson does not propose that this should be a permanent appointment. The head of the Postal Department is to be asked to sit upon the Classification Board, but is to . cease to occupy that position when the report of the board has been furnished. It is only to be a temporary appointment. Consequently we are to take a federal officer who belongs to the whole Commonwealth and put him on the board to grade the officers in the various States.
– And to grade himself.
– Yes ; and after having dealt with the officers of each particular State he is to step back again into his position at the head of the Postal Department. In fact he is only to leave that position for a time, and is then to become once more the permanent head of his department, exercising the duty of impartially overlooking the interests of the officers and public of the Commonwealth. The second person mentioned by Senator Dobson is another federal officer, who is stationed in Tasmania, namely, the sub-collector of Customs there. He, while being a federal officer stationed in Tasmania, is to sit upon this Classification Board with the express power of furnishing information with regard to officers in each particular State. I think that such a thing would be most undesirable. On the other hand, the Government are asking, first of all, for the appointment of a commissioner who shall have no special interest in connexion with any particular State, and also for the appointment of inspectors, who are to be officers of the Commonwealth public service, and who will be at the service of the commissioner, to travel about to any State, and to discharge their duties impartially. That is the way in which we hope that the public service commissioner will be able to get a full and unbiassed knowledge of the officers in the different departments. I think that Senator Dobson has done nothing at all to show that his scheme is preferable to the scheme of the Bill ; but, apart from that, we have discussed the matter over and over again, and have passed the clause providing for the appointment of the commissioner and of the inspectors. I do not think it is desirable that, by a side wind like this, the work we have already done should be undone. I follow the example of Senator Dobson in not speaking at any length upon the matter, and I hope that it will be discussed briefly by the committee. ‘
– The last words of the Postmaster-General astonish me. I quite agree with Senator Dobson, that there has been no amendment and no new clause proposed, during the whole discussion on this Bill, that has been onehalf so important to the civil servants of the smaller States as this one. I remember that when this Bill was before the Senate on the motion for the second reading, I interjected while the Postmaster-General was speaking, and endeavoured to ascertain the method by which the proposed first classification of the civil service was to be conducted. I could get very little information then ; the honorable and learned senator replied to my interjection by telling me that the commissioner would do it. One of the things that nearly all of us said, when we were offering ourselves ‘as candidates for the Federal Parliament, was that we were all desirous of obtaining throughout the States uniformity with regard to the civil service. We said that we wanted to see equality of treatment throughout all grades of the service. But if we adhere to the provisions of this Bill, we are going to leave the question of the original grading of the many civil servants in the transferred departments, to one man, whom we do not know. My only objection to the commissioner - and we fought that question out some time ago - i3 that we are going to hand over to that one man the destinies and the interests of a very large number of civil servants. It does not surprise me that Senator Dobson has moved this amendment. He and I come from the same State, and he knows as well as I do that the civil servants of Tasmania, at the present time, are very far from being on an equality with those in the other States. In saying this I am making no plea for my own State, because I believe that the officers of all the smaller States suffer in a similar way, and that there is gross unfairness towards them in comparison with the treatment accorded to the civil servants of the larger States. It occurs to me as a reason why we should adopt some such scheme as Senator Dobson suggests, that if we have upon this classification board a representative of Tasmania, just as the other States will have their representatives upon the board, we may expect that a better knowledge of the conditions which exist will be brought out, and that some explanation will have to be given as to why so many of the civil servants of Tasmania are so badly paid. If Tasmania is represented it will be explained that the officers of the clerical division are largely underpaid, chiefly because Tasmania has for years been struggling against bankruptcy, and has been unable to pay its public servants what they ought to get, in comparison with the salaries paid in the larger States. There are in Tasmania civil servants, especially in the clerical division, who have been fifteen years in the service, who have done their work well, and who have not a single black mark against their names ; but yet at present time, in spite of the fact that they are doing exactly the same work as is done by similar officers in States like Victoria and New South Wales, the salaries they receive are not one-half what is paid for the same quality and the same quantity of work elsewhere. There is nothing to justify the difference of salary except the fact that Tasmania has always been in an impecunious position in comparison with the larger States. If we are going to allow a commissioner - a solitary man - to do the original grading work, we cannot expect him to be in full possession of all the reasons why the civil servants in the smaller States are underpaid in comparison with those in the larger States. I appeal for sympathy in this matter to honorable senators who come from the other smaller States of the Commonwealth. It is not only a Tasmanian question, but it seems to me that it is a question that especially calls for the attention of this Senate, where we are supposed to look after the interests of our particular States. I say, without the slightest hesitation, that honorable senators from the smaller States ought to vote for some such scheme as Senator Dobson has suggested. I do not profess to be in love with every word of his proposal, but I do say that he is on the right track ; that he is going to do much more than we could expect to be done in any other way by securing a classification board of this sort.
– If salaries were raised Tasmania would suffer.”
– The PostmasterGeneral has attempted to. throw cold water on the scheme because Senator Dobson is going to include in his classification board certain members of the existing civil service. I think he has suggested that a permanent head should be on the board, but that does not appear on the face of the clause. Even if it did, I should not object to it.
– I should.
– I should not, and I think I shall be able to persuade the Postmaster-General that he should not object. Practically there can be no doubt as to what the salary of the permanent head will be. He is not the man whose original classification is in danger. It is the civil servants of the smaller States of the Commonwealth who are in danger. If we leave them to the commissioner he will ascertain the salaries that are being paid to the various civil servants, and promptly grade them in respect of those salaries. That would be a grossly unfair way of carrying out the classification.
– Then the honorable and learned senator has no faith in the commissioner.
– I am not attempting to throw any doubts upon the bona fides of the commissioner, but he will inevitably be induced to consider the classification in the light of existing salaries. Is. it not reasonable to argue that he will? He is certain to take up the list showing the salaries which the various officers are receiving, and he is sure to base his classification largely upon it. I want to lay stress upon this point, because if the commissioner leans towards that method he will do a great injustice to Western
Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, and South Australia.
– Not Western Australia.
– I have seen the scale of payments received by civil servants in all the States, and I think it is fairly accurate to say that all the States I have mentioned will suffer.
SenatorCLEMONS. - I do not expect for one moment that we shall be able to level up the payment of the civil servants in the worst paid State to the standard received by civil servants in the best paid State. If we were to do that the additional expense involved would be enormous, but that is the direction in which we ought to aim. It is for these reasons that I think Senator Dobson has started on the right track in suggesting a classification board. The Postmaster-General has objected to the last part of this proposed new clause. I should have no objection to the clause being carried without that provision. It has only been inserted, I presume, because Senator Dobson thinks it is desirable ; not because he thinks it is absolutely necessary. It has nothing to do with the real object of his amendment.
– Would it not be sufficient to say that the powers of the commissioner shall be subject to the foregoing provision?
– That is all I want.
– The PostmasterGeneral objects, and if I were in his position, no doubt I should object to this amendment, because to a certain extent the last provision in the clause insults his Bill. Practically it takes away the whole scheme of the Bill. Senator Keating, whose support I expected to obtain, has objected by interjection to the last provision in the amendment. I hope Senator Dobson will agree to omit it.
– Then a great deal of the. Postmaster-General’s criticism disappears.
– It would be contrary to the other provisions of the Bill.
– I submit that it would not. We are asking for the appointment of a. temporary board for a special purpose- a board which will disappear as soon, as it has served one defined purpose, which, is the most important to existing civil servants that this Bill can contemplate. Senator Dobson says that the commissioner cannot possibly know the varying reasons which have led to one man in one State receiving a certain salary, and another man, doing exactly the same work in another State, getting a different salary. If we secure local assistance - the assistance of a man who knows the financial reasons that have compelled the Government of his particular State to pay their servants such, and such salaries - we shall be much more likely to secure justice under the original classification, which is of the greatest possible importance to all civil servants. I am not their special advocate, but from their point of view, classification is the most important provision in the Bill. Every civil servant is looking forward to equality of treatment, and unless we appoint a board which comprises local representation, we shall not secure that equality of treatment. We cannot expect the commissioner, taken from one particular State, to know all the reasons why the salaries in a certain State are too high, while in another they are confessedly too low. If Senator Dobson will withdraw the last provision in the proposed new clause, I shall support him.
– With much of what Senator Clemons has said I am entirely in accord. I agree that it is the object of Parliament to see that civil servants throughout the Commonwealth obtain equality of treatment. It seems to me, however, that I cannot say of Senator Clemons what he said of the honorable senator who preceded him - that, in endeavouring to effect this object, he has got on the right track. The main principle of his argument is that, in order to secure equality, it is necessary, in constituting the classification board, to pay primary regard to locality. He urges that we must have some one from each State on the board. In my opinion, that is the very thing which we must avoid, because the individuals from each State who constituted the classification board would, in discharging the duties that devolved upon them, have regard to their own particular experiences. That is one of the things which, I feel I can say with confidence, the civil servants in the State of Tasmania desire to avoid. Too much regard altogether has been paid by “ superior “ officers to their own local limited experiences, and although
Senator Dobson has cavilled at interjections which I have made, and has expressed the hope that I will not indulge in wild state- ment, I can assure him that my interjections were in consonance with truth. The honorable and learned senator has referred to the head of a certain department which has been transferred to the Commonwealth. Personally I have nothing to say against that officer nor against his administration, but I can say that he is not personally acquainted with many of the officers in the department of which he has had control, and that many of them do not even know him by sight.
– That must always be so.
– If that has been the case in a limited territory like Tasmania, what must it be in one of the larger States of the mainland ? Is it reasonable to expect that the permanent head, surrounded by the few officials with whom he comes in contact in the daily discharge of his duties, can be intimately acquainted with the capabilities of every one of the servants in his department discharging duties in the remotest part of the State ?
– Sir Charles Todd, of the South Australian Postal department, will tell the honorable and learned senator what he thinks of every one of his s> taff.
– What Sir Charles Todd may tell me of what he thinks of every one of the employes in his department may be all very well so far as he is concerned, but perhaps I might tell Sir Charles Todd what I think of his views on the men in his department. The honorable senator’s interjection gives me an opportunity for an illustration. South Australia is a very large territory, and there may be numerous officers in the Postal department there with whom Sir Charles Todd has never come into personal contact.
– Precious few.
– Then we must assume that the gentleman in charge of the Postal department of South Australia does not confine his attention to the business of his own office, but gallivants all over the extended area of his State.
– He is an efficient officer.
– Certainly. The honorable senator by his own interjection is only pointing out an exceptional case, and he wants us to be governed by that exception.
- Senator Dobson knows that is so. He has occupied the position of Premier of Tasmania. He has told us to-day that when he desired recently to obtain a marquee or a boiler, or something of the kind, from the Tasmanian branch of the Defence department, the officers there informed him that they would have to telegraph to the central authorities. He knows, as a former Premier of Tasmania, that the same statement applies to the limited territory of that State, where in the past the department has been centralized and controlled from Hobart. He knows that when in Launceston similar concessions have been required, personsthere have had to telegraph from thesouthern to the northern centre to secure it. We must have a degree of centralization.
– We have too much of it.
– We have had the same complaint in each of the States in the past. We have had the complaint that the control of the Government departments in the States has been too centralized. Now that we have agreed upon federating certain public services, we recognise what has been the effect of centralizing the systems of public service so far as States are concerned, and we must take the consequences when entering into an analagous position with regard to certain defined departments in the Commonwealth.
– Is it not a democratic principle that the civil service should berepresented on the board by one man at least ?
– But has SenatorDobson provided that the civil servants of each State shall elect one member of the board ? His own suggestion is that a departmen tal- head-
– The clause does not provide that.
– The honorable senator’s own suggestion is that a departmental head in each of the States should represent that State on the classification board. I contend that if that principle, which is contained in the clause, does this, we must admit that localism is inherently bad. In appointing a representative of eachState on the board, we would select some man because of the fact that he had been associated with the service of that State in the past.
– Not necessarily ; the Premier of Tasmania might be selected.
– If a man is to be selected who has not been connected with the service, the whole of the argument in favour of this amendment falls to the ground, because the very same work could be done by the inspectors provided for under the Bill. Senator Clemons has suggested that the Premier of Tasmania might be selected as a member of the classification board. But kas the Premier of Tasmania nothing else to do than to look after the particular duties with which he would be invested under this provision ? He would have to attend to the ordinary functions attaching to his office, and with regard to the duties which would devolve upon him under this provision, he would simply take the reports of the departmental heads. So we would get back again to the departmental heads. It seems to me that the amendment, proposed by> Senator Dobson, is aimed at the vital parts of the Bill. We have fought this matter out time after time, and after many hours the principle embodied in the Bill has received the approval of the committee.
– May I point out that the honorable and learned senator is hardly fair in his criticism, because the classification board would cease upon the adoption of the report. It is only a temporary affair.
– Quite so, but the honorable and learned senator provides that until the classification board shall have brought up their report, the GovernorGeneral shall not appoint the commissioner or inspectors. The amendment, if carried, would simply have the effect of giving to the permanent head in each State, no matter what might be his likes and dislikes or prejudices, the right to define for an indefinite time the status of every civil servant in the department over which he presides.
– It simply takes away the commissioner’s rights under clauses 8 and 9.
- Senator Clemons has pointed out that one of the promises put forward by most of the gentlemen seeking seats in the Federal Legislature was that they would work for equality of treatment for the civil servants throughout the States. But upon what principle did the civil servants of the various States expect to obtain equality of treatment ? Was it by a reference to the reports of the heads of their various departments 1 Are there not civil servants in every one of the States who have incurred the odium of the heads of their departments, or of intervening officers, and have not all these men expected to have their qualifications for the positions which they occupy recognised and estimated by an independent authority ? That is the position of the civil servants in the whole of the States. We know that favouritism and nepotism have prevailed in some of the States, and not always in the smaller States. As one who comes from one of the smaller States, I say it is not incumbent upon us to provide for a classification board, constituted of a representative from each of the States, in order to grade the public servants of the Commonwealth and say what salaries they are entitled to. Senator Clemons has said that if the commissioner proceeds to do this work, he is almost certain to take up a list showing the present salaries of each officer, and to make his grading according to that. What does the honorable senator expect that the local individual is going to do?
– The local individual will know, for instance, that the civil servants of Tasmania have had their salaries reduced by 10 per cent, owing to the financial necessities of the State. He will have regard to that and many other considerations of the kind, and the commissioner will not.
– What will the inspector do? Is the inspector to be an absolute blockhead ? The commissioner will act upon reports furnished to him by the inspectors and the permanent heads as well. He will not do this work of classification absolutely by intuition.
– Will each inspector suggest a classification ?
– How can he deal with the whole Commonwealth ?
– If the commissioner is to be guided by nothing further than the salaries officers are receiving under existing conditions, in what position do honorable senators think the inspectors will be who are charged with the responsibility of doing for the time being no other work than that of seeing how the civil servants are graded ?
– We shall have one inspector in New South Wales, and another in Victoria, and how is each of these to grade the salaries of officers in the other
States when they will be absolutely ignorant of their work %
– Does the honorable and learned senator really think that is a difficulty ? If it is how on earth is each of these local men who are to form the classification board under his own amendment to know anything of the work of civil servants in other States than their own ?
– By sitting together for hours, days, and weeks, and communicating their knowledge to each other.
– The very argument which the honorable and learned senator is deducing against the work of the inspectors tells with a great deal more force against the tribunal he is himself attempting to create.
An Honorable Senator. - Who would be responsible for the regrading after their work was done ?
– The commissioner could not’ be held morally responsible for the work of the classification board, but he would be charged with the responsibility under the statute. Parliament and Parliament alone will be responsible for the regrading if we assent to any such provision as this. I shall oppose the amendment.
– I cannot support Senator Dobson in his proposal, unless he eliminates from the Bill all reference to the commissioner and inspectors. I am not prepared to give the Government power to appoint these gentlemen and at the same time appoint a board to do a considerable portion of their work. Their salaries would be going on, and their most important work would be taken away from them and given to a board, the members of which would have to be paid. A grave objection to the proposal to appoint a board of heads of departments is, that for months and months they would betaken away from their proper duties in their various States, and located in some central part of Australia, to carry out this re-classification. The matter cannot be managed in that way. I object to boards all through. We have had experience of them, and, as a rule, they have worked very badly. I would sooner trust one smart intelligent man than any board to bring up a consistent scheme. My own idea is, that the Minister could go to work, and by means of the advice he would get from the heads of his department, could properly grade the service in a uniform way.
There is, in my opinion, no reason why the Minister for Customs, the Postmaster- General, and the Minister for Defence should not deal in this way with their own departments without going to this fearful expense of £10,000 a year for a commissioner and inspectors, ‘ and also to the additional expense of £50,000 a year, which is involved under this Bill, in the increases already agreed to in connexion with the Post and Telegraph department. I say that the heads of departments are the very last people in the world who should be called upon to classify the officers under them. In their own interests I , would never ask the heads of departments to do more than report to some one else, who would have to bear the responsibility’ . I would never place the head of a department in the position of having to make certain recommendations regarding the classification and salaries of officers under him. That would only create heart-burnings and trouble with officers, who might think that their claims had not been properly recognised.
– If the head of a department is not to report, how is the commissioner to get his information %
– The head of a department can report to the commissioner confidentially. If the Minister did this work, as I contend he should, the head of a department would report confidentially to him, and the Minister would take the responsibility of the decision. If the Minister will not take his proper work, and will shunt the responsibility on to a third person, the commissioner, these officers will report to the commissioner, and their reports will not be made public. It would be most objectionable to make such reports public, and such a thing has never been done in South Australia. The” Treasurer of a State has sub-estimates furnished to him by the various heads of departments, but those sub-estimates are never printed or made public. A particular matter may be referred to when the Estimates are being considered by Parliament, but otherwise these sub-estimates are private as between the Ministry and the heads of the departments. I cannot agree with this proposal at all. I have expressed my opinion upon the Bill on previous occasions. I think now that the board, suggested by Senator Dobson, would be a great mistake, and would especially be a great mistake, if heads of departments were to be appointed to it.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).I listened very attentively to the remarks with which Senator Dobson very moderately urged the adoption of his proposal. I approach this subject entirely free from any pre-conceived ideas, because I had not an opportunity of listening to the discussion on the portion of the Bill which it is proposed to amend. It does appear to me that what Senator Dobson asks the committee to do is to adopt, under different terms, exactly the same principle as is embodied in the Bill. I can see very little difference, and I am perfectly certain that there would be no difference in practice between a commissioner and six inspectors and a board composed of a chairman and six members. Senator Dobson seems to assume that while the members of the board would have an intimate knowledge of the individual officers in their respective States, the inspectors would lack that knowledge. Surely that assumption is unfounded ?
– The inspectors could get no knowledge for months.
– I have yet to learn that the inspectors would be strangers to the public service of the States. I am not prepared to say that all the appointments which this Government have made have been free from reproach or criticism, but I do hope that that they will see that the inspectors are qualified for the work to be clone. If that is so, I ask Senator Dobson what difference would there be in practice between a gentleman with an intimate knowledge of the work of the departments in his own State, called an inspector, and the same gentleman called by another name.
– It might be exactly the same individual under either scheme.
– It might be, and I am quite certain that if the Government wish the Act to work satisfactorily they will endeavour to pick for the inspectors men of the same type as Senator Dobson had in his mind when he urged the adoption of his new clause. In New South Wales we havehad some little experience, of the work of a public service board and the work of a classification board. I venture to say that if a poll had been taken a large majority of the public servants would have been in favour of entrusting their case to the Public Service Commissioners rather than to a departmental board which, on the argument of Senator Dobson, should have an intimate knowledge of their individual capacity. I refer to a departmental board which was appointed in connexion with the Lands department. The officers of the department were considerably disturbed in mind as to its operations, yet every member of that board had an intimate knowledge of every officer in the department, and it was for that very reason they feared it. They recognized, and I think we must all recognize, that in working with other officers sooner or later prejudices or fancies are created. One of the advantages of the system in the Bill is that it would at any rate place the gentleman who had to report on any branch somewhat outside the service. A further advantage would be that he would be appointed for a definite term. He would not fall back into the ranks and work side by side with the men on whose capacity he had had to report. He would be given a sufficiently long term of office - seven years - to make himself practically independent of little prejudices which his report might create. Senator Clemons urged as one ground why we should have a representative of each State that there are certain reasons in his own State which ought to be considered in determining the grading of various officers. He referred to the fact that because of financial considerations Tasmania is underpaying its public servants. Surely it would be competent for the public officers in Tasmania to bring that fact under the notice of the inspector if he did not know it, and through him underthe notice of the commissioner. It does appear to me that it is an argument quite un worth y of the time which was taken up in putting it before the committee, because the contention all through has been that there is no express machinery provided in the Bill by which officers as a body could put their case before the commissioner. There would be nothing to prevent them addressing a memorial to him on the discrepancies existing between the rates in the States, and the case having been explained it is hardly to be supposed that any commissioner would overlook that fact in grading the various officers. I do not wish to say that I approve of the principle of the provision in the Bill, but the only question is whether it should be superseded by the proposal of Senator Dobson.
– This does not supersede the provision. It is only a temporary board. It is appointed to get the first classification.
– Why limit its existence to the first classification ?
– Because I think that after that is done the work will go on automatically.
– Is there to be no subsequent consideration of the standing of individual officers?
– By promotion and transfer.
– I take it that the work of the commissioner will not be limited to the first grading. It should be his duty, if he takes the view of his responsibilities which I do, to be continually supervising and revising the work - to see whether, in the first grading, an injustice may not have been done to a competent officer, or whether some man who is incompetent or negligent has been overrated. I take it that that work will be a continual one. For that reason it is very much better to place the work of classification and grading in the hands of a permanent officer rather than place it first of all in the hands of a board, knowing that its work would have to be revised by the commissioner and inspectors.
– And are they to be bound by it interminably?
– They could not be bound by it. It would be competent for the commissioner and inspectors to revise the work of the board, and undo all it had done.
– But they could not undo it without the approval of Parliament.
– They could undo it in the case of individual officers.
– They have to report, the commissioner has to go to the Governor-General, and then the report has to be submitted to Parliament.
– The commissioner and inspectors would certainly not have to report whenever they wished to increase or lower the standing or salary of an officer. If they had you might as well have no commissioner. Either you must leave them some power and responsibility, or save the payments which Senator Dobson proposes to make, to the board.
– Look at sub-clause (2) of clause8.
– And subclause (3), and then it becomes a matter of Ministerial responsibility.
– I do not see that those provisions have any bearing upon the matter.
– The whole classification of the service is dealt with in those two sub-clauses.
– By dealing with individual officers the commissioner could undo all that the board had done. Those sub-clauses refer to a readjustment of the internal work of a department. But by dealing with individual officers, and saying to one, “ You are entitled to promotion,” and to another, “ We must lower your standing,” they could undo all the work of the board. I believe that either the commissioner or the board would work in exactly the same way. The members of the board would certainly add to their personal knowledge by inquiries through the heads of departments or the sub-heads, possibly by visits of inspection to the various departments. Is not that exactly what an inspector would do? The only difference would be that the members of the board would meet together and confer. Surely the inspectors would have informal conferences ? The very first thing I should imagine them to do, as sensible men, would be to arrive at a common standard before they proceeded to report to the commissioner. That is a matter which can fairly be left to them. No argument has been advanced to show that there will be any practical difference in the working of the two systems. Therefore I deem it advisable to retain the provision in the Bill as it stands.
– I think Senator Millen has pointed out the common sense course which the commissioner and six inspectors will take to grade the civil service. It will give them an excellent idea of the general state of the service. Under Senator Dobson’s proposal the work would be done by seven strangers possibly, who would never be heard of again so far as the civil service was concerned. The commissioner and the inspectors would then come in and take up the work of the board, quite ignorant of all the details, whereas if they had done the classification they would be thoroughly conversant with the whole of the civil service by the time it was completed. There is one feature which, I think, has not occurred to Senator Dobson, who is always very anxious to save money, and that is the cost of carrying out his plan. During the time, sir, you were in office here the Government brought in a Bill to appoint a classification board. It became law in December, 1S97, and a board was appointed consisting of a County Court Judge, whose salary was £1,500 a year, Mr. Davidson, the Inspector-General of Works, whose salary was £1,000 a year, and Mr. Taylor, a citizen whose fees were £3 3s. a sitting. Although the board did not sit all the time, yet two years and seven months elapsed before their report was handed in on the 31st July, 1900. I do not know what the total cost of that board was. If Senator Dobson’s scheme were adopted, and the work occupied only two years, what would it cost 1 A County Court Judge, who would have to be allowed reasonable expenses, would cost perhaps £2,000 a year, and each of the others we might assume would get £1,200 or £1,500 a year. The total cost would be £9,000 or £.10,000 a year. As the board would have to travel all over the States, the chances are that its work would not be completed within a period of two years, because as a rule men do not hurry when they are getting good fees. It seems to me that the cost of the board would be a very large item. I recollect that when the Victorian service, consisting of 11,000 or 12,000 officers, was classified by the board, there were innumerable objections made to the classification and appeals to be heard and re-heard, until the thing seemed to be never ending. Agreatdeal of dissatisfaction arose in consequence of their recommendations. I shall have to vote for the Bill as it stands so far as this amendment is concerned. Senator Millen’s idea is, I think, the proper one. If the commissioner and the inspectors are fit to control the public service afterwards, they are fit to classify it. I do not know who could be fitter. .
– I think the Senate has reason to be grateful to Senator Dobson for moving this amendment, and opening up for debate again a subject which in many of its aspects cannot be debated too often. The object my honorable and learned friend has in view is as far as possible to secure an efficient public service. He has also another object in view, and that is to bring about an effective beginning for the public service, which will largely consist of officers transferred from the States to the Commonwealth service, and who will be graded according to the salaries they are paid, though to some extent by the measure of the quality of the officer and his ability to perform his work. To accomplish that my honorable and learned friend proposes an amendment which does not supersede the system which at present appears in the Bill, though it is an encroachment upon it. I am free to offer this criticism, because I intend to ask Senator Dobson to withdraw his amendment, for reasons which I would suggest for his consideration.
– It will not supersede the proposal in the Bill if it is amended by the omission of the last paragraph.
– I do not believe that the amendment would be improved by the striking out of the last paragraph, though it would be improved by amending it so as to make the powers of the Public Service Commissioner and the inspectors subject to the provisions Senator Dobson introduces with regard to the proposed classification board. Therefore, I think that his amendment has .to some extent been misunderstood. It does not supersede the system proposed by the Bill, and we are not debating the principle of the Bill, which is embodied in clause 5. The amendment encroaches upon it a little, but only to this extent - that my honorable a,nd learned friend says that it would be very much better for the Commonwealth service if the original grading, which will apply largely to officers transferred from the States, is intrusted to a board upon which there will be men representative of each of the States of the Commonwealth. That, I take it, is what his object is, and he has given a large number of reasons, into which I do not propose to enter, in support of the view he takes. The reasons he gives are founded upon the presumably greater need for a board of six local men, who will be familiar with the conditions of their particular States and with the public service in those States, who will be familiar with the salaries paid, with the local conditions which caused those salaries to be fixed, and with the work the officers have to do. I am bound to bear out - as I think Senator Playford will bear out - what has been said in the course of the debate -. that not only in Tasmania, but in some of the other States as well, notably South Australia, owing to the stringency of the financial position, great reductions had to be made in the public service, until it came to be said in Parliament, and out of it, that the remuneration of the public service was being cut down to the bone. None of us, I think, are entitled to cast any reproach upon the States which, under the pressure of emergencies like that, were obliged to reduce their expenditure by reducing the salaries of their public servants. No one likes to do that kind of thing ; but sometimes even in one’s private establishment and business one litis had, with great grief to one’s self, and with great pity to those who have had to suffer, to cut down expenditure in that way. Senator Dobson launched his amendment based upon these reasons, which are very good and excellent reasons ; but it appears to me that there is another good reason for it that has, perhaps, to some ex- tent been overlooked. We are at the beginning of a new era, a fresh dispensation. We are inaugurating a new public service for the Commonwealth, and it has to be manned from the public services of the States. Are we in this Bill going the right way to inspire confidence in the public servants with regard to transfers and regrading ? We ought, I am sure all honorable senators will agree, not only to secure if we can - and as I hope we shall do - an efficient public service for the Commonwealth, but to inspire confidence on the part of the State services in the board, or body of men, or commissioner, or inspectors, who have to arrange these transfers and to grade the Commonwealth service.
– That is what we are trying to do.
– My honorable and learned friend does not imagine that I think the Government are not trying to do it. The question iswhich is the best way of accomplishing that object 1 We have one way proposed in the Bill, and my honorable and learned friend, Senator Dobson, proposes another way. I propose to state the reason why it appears to me that it would be unadvisable for him to press his amendment to a division. His desire is to give that confidence to the State services from which the Commonwealth service not only has to be recruited but to be manned, by se curing representation for each State on the board of classification. I understand that is the object. The answer made to that is. that that will be unadvisable, because Senator Dobson stated that what he contemplated was that these men should be the permanent heads of the various departments in the States ; and there is no doubt very great force in the objection taken by Senator Playford to a course of that kind that, by adopting it, we shall be placing the permanent head - who will not be the permanent head of the whole department but what is called in this Bill the chief officer, who will be always in a sense the permanent head in the State - if his recommendation came to be known, in a position which would be almost intolerable to him. Those .who were discontented would visit their resentment in some way or another upon him, possibly great irritation would be caused, and his official life would become very burdensome to him. Therefore I agree with Senator Playford that it would be unadvisable to have a man who was to retain office as local permanent head of a particular Commonwealth department in the invidious position of being a member of that board, and of making these recommendations. Of course that difficult)1’ and objection would be lessened by the fact that there were five others besides himself constituting the board, and therefore the blame would not so pointedly and individually be placed upon him at the hands of those discontented civil servants, as would be the case if he were the sole person to recommend. But at the same time Senator Dobson will see that that is a failobjection to taketo the proposed constitution of his board. But there is another objection which has been put with great clearness and force by Senator Styles. One of my strongest objections to this Bill altogether, is the enormous expense which it proposes needlessly to throw upon the Commonwealth. This mischievous system is going to cost the Commonwealth £10,000 or £12,000 a year unnecessarily. I am a constant and unchangeable believer in Ministerial responsibility to Parliament. Let us have the simplest form of Ministerial responsibility, which will be easy of correction in the Commonwealth Parliament. My objections to this Bill on that ground - and they are concurred in by Senator Dobson - are as strong now as ever they were. But when we remember that the effect of this amendment would be to multiply that expenditure and to put into a state of suspended animation the commissioner and the six inspectors until the board reported, I am afraid that the proposed scheme would not be very workable. I am sorry it isso, and am exceedingly sorry to feel gravely oppressed by that objection ; because my sympathies are entirely with Senator Dobson in his object. It is said that this amendment assails a vital principle of the Bill as we have passed it. If that be so I rejoice in it. If this so-called vital principle of the Bill can be assailed either in whole or in part effectively, and without following a course which will entail additional expense, I am ready to support it. Anything which will destroy what I believe to be a mischievous system in connexion with the control of the public service, I shall be glad to assist in. But this particular provision would, I am afraid, increase the expense without gaining for the service or the country very much benefit. The board would have to inform itself in very much the same way as the commissioner would have to inform himself; and I find that taking clauses 8 and 9 together it is the commissioner upon whom rests the immediate direct responsibility for the initial grading of the Commonwealth public service. There is also a provision in clause 10 which will enable him to summon witnesses, to take evidence, to investigate every matter that comes before him for decision ; and therefore he will have practically the same facilities for investigation, and possibly for a more or less satisfactory decision, as any board would have, unless it were constituted of men belonging to the local State services. To appointments of that kind the objection of my honorable and learned friend, Senator Playford, applies. I really see no difficulty - and I have listened attentively to what has been said by Senator Dobson and Senator Clemons - which will inure for the benefit of the public service by means of this board, that may not with equal effect be arrived at under the scheme proposed in the Bill. Therefore, unless my honorable and learned friend can put forward some stronger reasons, I shall ask him to withdraw his amendment, and to seek the recommittal of clause 5, against which he fought so valiantly and persistently before.
– Have it over again !
– Yes, let us have it over again ! Let us have it time after time, until we eliminate from the Bill what I believe we shall all regret if it is placed upon the statute-book as a measure for the control and government of the public service. I believe in Ministerial responsibility, and I dislike the provision for a commissioner and six inspectors, who cannot possibly be maintained by the Commonwealth at a cost of less than £12,000, or perhaps £15,000 a year. We are not in a position to warrant a cumbrous costly system of that kind. It is merely designed to lessen Ministerial responsibility, and to allow things to be done in the name of the commissioner in order to shelter the responsible Government of the day. Let the Government take the responsibility of grading the service, come down to Parliament, and face the criticism to which they may be subjected, in the open light of day. With our service covering comparatively few departments that is the course which we, having a patriotic interest in lessening expenditure, ought to adopt. I hope, therefore that Senator Dobson will not hesitate to maintain his principles by again opposing clause 5, and letting the committee consider the whole matter, instead of pressing the new clause which he has argued so ably, but which will probably fail to be any more effective than what remains in the Bill, while being open also to the objection as to expense.
– Certainly we may say that prejudice dies hard in connexion with this Bill. On the second reading we had a very long and a very able debate in connexion with clause 5, which Senator Dobson’s amendment seeks practically to eliminate.
– Clause 5 provides for the control of the service by a commissioner and six inspectors, and if this amendment were carried it would certainlyrob it of its back bone. I am surprised that Senator Dobson, having being defeated time after time in his contention, should return to the charge so repeatedly.
– It was a very narrow majority.
– It may have been a narrow majority, but Senator Dobson’s desire is to kill that portion ofthe Bill which the Government regard as vital. If we are ever going to get on with our legislation, I think it is time that those honorable senators who have so consistently and persistently voted against the system of control provided in the Bill, should withdraw their opposition and acknowledge their defeat.
– A battle is never lost until it is won.
– I think that Senator Clemons, who I am sure is just as ardent in his desire to secure fair play for the civil service of Tasmania as I am, has put the case in a light which would probably mislead the Senate. I am satisfied that the old system of Ministerial control, which has been maintained in Tasmania for so many years, and of which Senator Dobson should be a very good judge, has not worked fairly towards the public service as a body. That is the main reason why I have given my support to the system of control provided in the Bill. I desire to see the public service of Tasmania placed on an equality with those of other States.
– The honorable senator will have no say in the matter.
– I take the view that if we have a commissioner and six inspectors we shall certainly have a better chance of obtaining that fair play which has hitherto been denied the public service in Tasmania. In the course of his speech Senator Clemons made a statement in regard to Tasmania to which, as one of the representatives of that State, I think I may be pardoned for objecting.
– Do not refer to it.
– I must do so. Senator Clemons said that owing to the almost bankrupt State of Tasmania the civil service there had to be retrenched at the rate of 10 per cent.
– Was not Tasmania almost bankrupt !
– If she was, the other States were in a worse position. Senator Clemons has only to look at the statistics to find that Tasmania to-day is paying a less average rate of interest on her public debt per head of population than is any other State of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Victoria.
– What does she pay her civil service ?
– The reduction was not on account of Tasmania’s approxiniateness to bankruptcy.
– The reduction was made not because of the bankruptcy of Tasmania, but, because of the inefficient system of taxation, and the system of government which has prevailed in Tasmania for so many years. I think I am quite within my rights in referring to this portion of Senator Clemons remarks, and I feel satisfied that, upon mature consideration, my honorable and learned friend will regret that he uttered them.
– I feel severely scarified already.
– Senator Dobson will probably tell us what was the attitude of his government toward the civil service of Tasmania, but the persistent opposition shown by one of the representatives of that State towards this Bill, is only part and parcel of the treatment of the public service of Tasmania in the past. Senator Dobson cannot get away from his old surroundings. He cannot get away from the old political ideas which influenced him when he was at the head of the Government of that State. I would appeal to him, seeing that he has been defeated by a fair vote of the committee, to refrain from using these obstructive tactics. He has told us that he wants to kill the Bill. He does not want the Public Service Bill, because he objects to the system of control proposed in it ; and he has been told by the leader of the Government that if we do not have this system we shall not have the Bill. I am going to support the system of control originally provided in the Bill, and I shall vote against the amendment.
– It is remarkable that in this debate representatives of the smaller States are more opposed to the principle of the Bill than are honorable senators from the larger States
– There must be some reason for it. Looking at the Bill itself, we see from the marginal notes that the principal portions of it are taken from the Public Service Acts of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.
– It must be good.
– That may or may not be. I want to accentuate the fact that each of the larger States have passed legislation dealing with their public service. Any man who has been in public life in the larger States knows well the reason for it. We found that our State services were being overburdened by political appointments made by one Ministry after another, and the burden became so great that the States themselves could not stand it any longer. I wish those honorable senators who talk about having the service of the Commonwealth under ministerial control to see how readily abuses can creep in. A Minister occupies his position by virtue of the support he receives from members. The members keep their positions by virtue of the support of their constituents. And what more ready means are there for a member to retain that support than by yielding to pressure by his constituents, to obtain billets for their friends ? He goes to the Minister, who is dependent upon him and other members for his position, and urges that certain appointments shall b3 made, with the result, finally, that because of the pressure the service becomes overmanned.
– Such a thing is unknown in South Australia.
– It- may have been unknown in the virtuous little State of South Australia, but I have been in the Parliament of the larger State of New South Wales, and have had an opportunity of seeing how the system of ministerial control works. There the railway service, for example, was looked upon as a department in which every deadbeat should be placed. The Commissioner, Mr. Goodchap, stood out against the practice as strongly as he could, but he was overruled by the Minister of the day, who simply sent a note to him to appoint “ Mr. Jones “ or someone else to the position of porter or to some minor office of the kind. Once a man got his foot into the service it was impossible to get rid of him until drastic steps had to be taken. These remarks apply not only to the railway service, but to other departments in New South Wales, and Victoria has the same history.
– Club influence also comes in:
– I shall refer to that. This system prevailed until the country became impressed with the fact that the railways, at any rate, would have to be relieved from political influence. That was done, and the result wa3 a great saving of expenditure and a great advance in efficiency.
– New South Wales is the only State in which a saving has been effected in that way.
– So far as the public service of New South Wales was concerned, reports were presented to Parliament showing that it ought to be possible to effect savings in its administration amounting to £200,000 a year. Commission after commission reported in that way, and eventually the legislature passed the Public Service Bill because of the abuses that had cropped up. If we do not take care we shall find the same abuses creeping into the Commonwealth service. In small States likes Tasmania or South Australia, where there is not a vast army of men employed in the service, the danger has not been so great as it is in connection with the service of a larger State. As time goes on we shall find our public service increasing in numbers.
– Especially with liberal payments.
– There is a great tendency on the part of the average man to secure a position in the public service. He knows that he is certain of his position and of his pay in the service, and that the work is not always very hard. Be that as it may, we want to stop anything like this in the early stages of the Commonwealth, and it is to the credit of the Government that they have brought down a Bill to prevent these abuses taking a hold on the Commonwealth. I am very glad, therefore, to find that this has been done. Any attempt to destroy the Public Service Bill will receive my opposition, because I believe it is a step in the right direction, and because I believe the bulk of the States have proved the necessity for it. I do not want the Commonwealth to get head over heels in debt by having an over-manned public service, and to be compelled to dismiss a large number of men who have believed that they were likely to remain in the service for the rest of their days. The moment it becomes necessary to cut down the public service, however anxious we may be to avoid injustice, we may have to inflict injustice oh individuals in order to do justice to the people as a whole. I do not wish to see the Commonwealth driven into that position. These are the reasons wiry I oppose Senator Dobson’s proposal. I believe that, if this Bill is honestly worked . by the commissioner, these six inspectors will occupy relatively the same position towards him as the body proposed to be appointed by Senator Dobson would occupy towards the Commonwealth or the Government of the day. With regard to the Bill abolishing Ministerial responsibility and placing the control of the service in the hands of some individual who would be responsible to no one, while it is necessary that the commissioner should have a strong position, I remind honorable senators that he will not be above Parliament. If he prostitutes his position and acts unfairly and unjustly Parliament will be there to deal with him, and there is a constitutional way of dealing with him.
– We shall never see his original classification.
– If the Minister chooses to depart from it he will have to accept the whole of the responsibility himself and will not be able to shelter himself under the commissioner. If the commissioner goes astray it is true that special resolutions will require to be passed by Parliament to deal with him, but Parliament will have no difficulty in dealing with him if it is found that he is not acting fairly and justly, and even intelligently, in grading the public service. In my opinion it is far better in the interests of the community that we should have a Public Service Bill of this character. I would rather have seen three commissioners appointed, but as the Senate decided to accept the proposal for the appointment of one commissioner, I am prepared to stand loyally by that principle of the Bill, and I recognise with the Postmaster-General that to eliminate that principle would be to destroy the Bill absolutely.
– I am sorry that Senator Dobson has introduced this discussion at this point. We debated clause 5 for a long time and were defeated upon it. I say “ we “ because I was one of the minority. The same discussion cropped up again as the Bill was going through committee, and Senator Dobson now re-introduces the subject: After the decision upon clause 5, I said that it would be better to accept the principle of the Bill, and go through with it. Upon recommittal we can again consider clause 5, and strike it out. I shall do all I can to strike out clause 5, providing for the appointment of this commissioner and his inspectors ; but I shall reserve what I have to say upon that subject until the clause is recommitted. I hope Senator Dobson will now withdraw his amendment, and as we were only beaten by a majority of one in the decision upon clause 5, I hope we shall be able to reverse the decision then come to upon the recommittal of the clause.
– I am grateful to my honorable and learned friend Senator Symon for two reasons. First of all, for explaining in clear and terse language that almost every honorable senator who has spoken against my proposed clause has misunderstood the meaning of it. That is a fact. Senator O’Keefe seems to think that I wish to supersede the Bill. I wish to do nothing of the kind. I am also grateful to Senator Symon because he has suggested a course which I feel inclined to take. I listened with a great deal of attention to the practical speech delivered by Senator Millen. If the Bill is worked as he has suggested, it will, to some extent, meet my objection, and will practically give us what I want. I point out to Senator Millen, however, that I do not think that inspectors were proposed in this Bill with any such idea as he has suggested. I have read Hansard very carefully, and Ifind that when Ministers in another place were twitted, as Ministers have been here, with the very great unnecessary expense involved, under this Bill, they at once withdrew from their position that six inspectors must necessarily be appointed, and they said that there might be one or two, or, at the outside, three. I repeat again, that if one inspector is to be appointed, as a permanent officer for Tasmania, at a high salary, for a number of years, it will be a piece of gross extravagance. I hope that six inspectors will not be appointed, but if they are, and they are allowed to take part in the classification which I wish to be performed by the temporary board I propose, I admit, that that would be a good way out of the difficulty. But what about the question of expense 1 Under my proposal I would get the chief officers of each of the States to form a board, and would make them work for a month or six weeks during office hours without paying them anything extra, but if they had to work at night as well, and I think they should, to get this work of classification finished as soon as possible, they should be paid fees for their night sittings.
– How would they do their own work ?
– That is a strange objection from a Minister who the other evening told us that every man who had been twenty years in the service should get twelve months’ leave of absence on full pay. If a chief officer from each State could not be spared to meet here for five or six weeks to do this important work, we must have a very extraordinary service. We must classify the public servants, and the sooner the work is done the better. It is idle for the Minister to tell me that he could find no civil servants to do it. My way would be to pay these men fees for night sittings only during the five or six weeks they would be engaged in the work, whereas the Government scheme involves the appointment of permanent inspectors who are to be continued year after year in receipt of a salary which will form part of this burden of £10,000 a year.
– What would be the fee which the honorable and learned senator would pay the chief officers?
– Anything that might be considered reasonable for the work done during night sittings, but for work done during office hours I should pay them nothing beyond their ordinary salary. If they were asked to sit at night, as I think they should be, in order to get the work over in five or six weeks, I think they should be paid for the night-work, and should get their travelling expenses. I think I cannot do better now than withdraw the clause. I am very glad the debate has taken place, because I feel that some practical good may come of it. There must be great difficulty in carrying through this classification no matter who does it, and it is now quite likely that the inspectors will bear a part in the work which they would not have done had it not been for this discussion. Ithink there should beone inspector for New South Wales, another for Victoria, one for Queensland and Tasmania, and one for South Australia and Western Australia. That would be four, and the commissioner would make the fifth member of the board to carry out this re-classification. There is no provision in the Bill for it, but they will have to sit together. Under the Bill, no matter how much an inspector may know of the circumstances in the different States, he will have no vote whatever. All he has to do is to make a report, but I contend that the commissioner must sit hour after hour, and week after week with these men in order to get a proper classification of the public service. I now ask leave to withdraw my amendment, and I shall take an opportunity of securing, if possible, the recommittal of clause 5. As Senator Charleston has said, we were only beaten by a majority of one in dealing with it, and judging by the second reading speeches which were made, we should have been in a majority of two or three.
Amendment, byleave withdrawn.
– I move -
That the following new clause he inserted to follow clause 78 - “ Nothing in this Act shall in any way prevent an officer Becoming a member of any properly constituted society or political association. “
The necessity for the insertion of such a clause in a Public Service Bill must, I think, be obvious to every honorable senator who has noticed the awkward position in which civil servants find themselves during a general election. I have often thought it very humiliating to civil servants to find that, though they are allowed to interfere in other public questions, they are practically gagged at election times, and are prevented from giving expression to their opinions upon things political, just as if they were not enfranchised, and had no right as free men to give expression to any political aspirations they might have. That is a state of affairs which is not at all to the credit of a country of the freedom of which Australians are inclined to talk so much about. Every citizen of the Commonwealth, whether engaged by a private employer or by the Commonwealth Government, should have his full political rights accorded to him. When a civil servant gives service equivalent to the salary he receives, he should not be tied down and prevented from exercising his rights as a citizen any more than any other individual in the community? Under existing conditions, we find that civil servants dare not take any part in politics, and for what reason I do not know. I have never heard a sensible or logical reason given why a civil servant should not have as much political power as any other citizen in the community. For thereasons I have given, I submit the new clause which I have read.
– It seems, of course, a. very proper thing that every citizen should be allowed, to become a. member of any society or institution, political or otherwise, but I should like Senator De Largie and honorable senators generally to understand what will be the effect of this proposal. In the exciting times of a general election, for instance, how would it be if a postmaster or telegraph operator were to be the president of some political society ?
– Why not ?
– Would it give satisfaction to the community to know that all telegrams concerning political matters were passing through the hands of a gentleman who was himself actively engaged in political work. I think it would be very unsatisfactory. Take it again on the pos tal side. We have before us a Bill which provides for voting by post. Is it desirable, if we are carrying on a system of voting by post, that the postmaster, who has the handling of those letters, should be the president of a political association which is pledged to support a certain candidate ? Would that give satisfaction to the community? I think not. Some remark has been made lately with regard to a regulation which is being drafted, and, which has been in force in some of the States, for the express purpose of providing that a man who is engaged in the very delicate work of receiving telegrams and sending them on to their destination shall not be engaged in mining speculations. That is generally considered a very wise provision. What we desiremore than anything in that department is to ensure the utmost confidence in the work to be performed for the public. I think it would tend to impair that confidence if it were known that the officers who were engaged in the work were actively concerned in politics. There never has been, I think, any attempt to debar any man from freely exercising his full political rights- that is always preserved and safeguarded ; but it is not considered desirable that those particular officers should be members of political associations. I hope the honorable senator will not press his amendment.
Senator STYLES (Victoria). - I see no harm in civil servants becoming members of political associations. The unsophisticated Postmaster-General is not aware that many political associations exist under another name. The Commonwealth is full of them. I recollect that a good many years ago all sorts of dreadful things were predicted if the franchise were extended to the police force. I took an active part in that work, and I am proud of it. I do not know that the police have ever done harm to anybody.
– But they take no active part beyond recording their votes.
– I do not say that they take any active part - openly at any rate - at elections. Many years ago our Railway department made a regulation forbidding any employe from taking part ill elections, and it comprised 12,000 persons, or nearly one half of the State servants. I called on Mr. Mathieson, and whatever we think of his ability as a railway manager, there can be no question about his shrewdness, cleverness, and general knowledge. I laid the regulation before him and said- “ Are the men employed in this department allowed to take any part in elections, to join committees, or to make speeches ? My reading of the regulation is that they can, although your officers have time and again refused permission to the men to do so, and threatened them with dismissal if they did.” He went away to consult with some of his officers, and returning to his room in a few minutes he said to me - “ Your reading is quite right. The meaning of the regulation is that the men shall not in office hours and on the premises of the Railway department hold meetings to discuss politics. So long as they are outside the railway fences and it is their own time we have nothing to do with them. All we have to do is to see that they do the work for which they are paid.” Four years ago last September, when I was about to address the electors, Mr. Mathieson said to me, “In order to show you that I practise what I preach, I shall come down and take the chair for you if you like !” I said, . “ For goodness sake do not do that or you will ruin my election.” He did not understand as much about electioneering as I did. Mr. Mathieson’s ruling will be found recorded in the columns of the Herald, for a reporter was present on the occasion. On that very evening railway men got on the platform with me, and ever so many of them made far better speeches than I could make: They helped me all they could, and have done so ever since. Whoever thought that any harm had arisen in consequence of their action ? They frequently take part in political contests. There is a good deal of nonsense in this cry that they will form large associations. There is a good deal ofdivision amongst public officers, just as there is amongst other classes. A man goes into the service of the State to do certain work at a certain salary, and, so long as he does his work, and conducts himself properly, I do not think the Government has a right to interfere with him when he is acting as a private citizen. That was Mr. Mathieson’s view, and he acted up to it.
– There is a great distinction between the proposition of Senator De Largie and the proposition which some honorable senators seem to be discussing. It appears to be thought by some honorable senators that Senator De Largie, in his amendment, asserts that Government employes should be at liberty to take an active part in elections. Whether that is his intention or not I do not know, but certainly it is not expressed in his new clause. In Western Australia many political associations have been formed in the departments by civil servants, who endeavour to get what they consider to be their rights by means of political influence - by returning to Parliament men who will assist them in that respect.
– It may be very dangerous.
– It is no more dangerous than the gathering together of any other members of the community to forward their own political views.
– To forward their political views, but not to put money into their pockets.
– I would ask the honorable member why he is a protectionist ; why those who believe in protection form leagues to forward their own interests ? It is the right of every citizen, whether he is a civil servant or not, to look after his own interests. He ought not, merely because he happens to be employed by the Commonwealth, to be deprived of the right to force his political views on the public if he is in a majority.
– Would the honorable and learned senator like a telegraph operator to be the president of a political society ?
– It is not a question of what I would like. If I were an employer of labour, I no doubt should not like my men to band against me to forward their own interests. But does any man say they have not a right to do so? By the same token, the men employed by the Government are entitled to take that course. The Government may. not like their action or their organization, but does that justify the taking away of the inherent right of every citizen not only to exercise his vote, but to enforce his political opinions in any way he sees fit?
-What is the Postmaster-General but a servant of the Commonwealth?
– That is so, and he is an employer of labour. I am an employer of labour and a servant of the public. There are many employers of labour who do not like the results of organisation on the part of their employe’s. Perhaps Senator Drake might not like the results of any organization, but that is not what we have to consider here. It seems to me that civil servants have just as much right to fight their battles in their own way as have any other citizens. If Senator De Largie will look at the Bill he will find that nowhere within its four corners is there any prohibition against civil servants in this respect. Perhaps the Government would have power to frame a regulation preventing a civil servant from taking part in any elections, or forming these associations. But when they do it will be time to attack the regulation. If Senator De Largie forces his amendment to a division, I shall vote with him, but I would ask him - is it not better to let well alone, to wait until the Government try to stop the civil servants from taking part in the politics of the community, and to deal with the regulation when it is laid before the Senate?
Senator KEATING (Tasmania). - I was going to utter the sentiments which have been expressed by the last speaker. In his amendment Senator De Largie tries to prevent the issue of a prohibition which is not contained in the Bill. I cannot help reechoing the sentiments which he expressed. If the Commonwealth takes into its employ men to discharge certain duties for certain remuneration, adequate or otherwise, but still agreed upon, I see no reason why they should be denied the right which an ordinary citizen in a free community possesses. Whether they choose to associate themselves with an organization which may be opposed to theGovernment or with an organization which may be in favour of the policy of the Government, I think, as citizens, they are entitled to exercise the privileges which are extended to those who are outside the civil service. I am entirely in accord with the principle of the amendment, but there is nothing in the Bill which denies to civil servants the right to band themselves together, to associate as members of a civil service association, or to join, one or other of the many political, or semi-political organizations, or the national, or semi-national associations which permeate the length and breadth of the Commonwealth.
– Hear, hear ; and they never have been debarred.
– Notwithstanding the interjection of the Postmaster-General, he opposed the principle contained in the’ amendment when it was submitted, and he asked would anybody like a telegraph operator to be president of a political association. He knows that where such officers have been expressly or impliedly denied the right of banding themselves with any particular association, it is a matter of common experience for a candidate to come in contact with telegraph operators who he knows is directly opposed to him. Does he lose confidence in that man ? Does Senator Drake think that these men are destitute of political opinion or, indeed, of honour. If he does, why do we give them the franchise ? If a man is capable of exercising his intelligence as a voter, then we must assume that he is capable of forming political opinions in an intelligent way. . Why should he not be allowed to associate with those others who hold similar political opinions? If you say that a man should not form political opinions of a distinctive character, but that he should go to the poll, you deny him perhaps seven-eighths of his citizenship, the right to come openly into contact with those who agree with him, and the right to come into contact with those who disagree with him, and endeavour to convert them to his views. The principle underlying the amendment is one which I think is entirely correct. If the honorable senator who is in charge of the amendment insists on endeavouring to get it incorporated in the Bill, so as to obviate the possibility of the Postmaster-General introducing in his regulations something which will carry out the principle to which he evidently gives his adhesion, I shall vote for it.
– It is within empower when the regulations are laid on the table to object to them.
– But it appears that the Postmaster-General is of opinion that civil servants should be denied to a certain extent the right possessed by every other citizen of associating themselves with others of the same political opinions. Is that not the deduction to be drawn from the speech of the Postmaster-General in reply to Senator De Largie ? Did he not traverse .the principle of the amendment altogether, and say - “ How would you like a certain political officer to be the ‘president of a political society which was opposed to you ? “ The honorable and learned senator knows that although there may be regulations as strong as it is possible to make them, preventing civil servants from combining to express their political opinions, we cannot prevent them from holding opinions, nor from expressing them to other people.
– Unless we put a detective upon every nian.
– The PostmasterGeneral would have to do that in order to enforce the principles which he has suggested.
– No. Let the honorable and learned senator deal with the case I put, of an operator being president of a political society.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral mean to say that there are no operators who are presidents of societies?
– Not in Tasmania.
– Some of them are more influential than presidents. I am not talking of societies which exist for the common purpose of securing the affirmation of political principles to which their members give their support, but of societies of a semi-political character, which to a certain extent are more influential in determining elections than other societies which are clearly and straightforwardly nothing less than political organizations. Will the PostmasterGeneral say that there are no operators who are associated with societies of that character ? . If civil servants are for or against a particular Government, or for or against a certain political candidate, let them say so. If, however, they are found departing from principles which are honorable, and which have prevailed throughout the service irrespective of their own political proclivities, then is the time for dismissal. Surely we are not going to deny to the officers of the ‘service the right to have their own political opinions, when we do not take from them the right to vote and give expression to their political opinions at the ballotbox. Surely we shall not take from them a right which is absolutely co-ordinate with that right, namely, to associate with those who share their convictions, and in whose company they can give adequate and effective expression to the opinions they entertain. It is for these reasons that I am in favour of the amendment which has been moved by Senator De Largie, on principle, although I think it would be better for him to wait for any provision under the regulations which the Government are empowered to table under this measure. If such regulations contain a prohibition such ashe desires to prevent, he will be able to take exception to it ; but, if he presses his amendment, I must support it for the reasons I have stated.
– There is this reason why Senator De Largie should insist upon taking his amendment to a division - that we know that some permanent heads are a law unto themselves. Sometimes, when there are not certain provisions under Public Service Acts, these permanent heads lay down rules of conduct for their officers, and occasionally persecute those among their employe’s who differ from them. The Postmaster-General knows of cases in the federal departments where employes have been forbidden to come together, not for political purposes, but in regard to their own interests in connexion with their own departments.
– Not now.
– Thanks to the honorable and learned senator,not now ; but we may not always have a PostmasterGeneral broad minded enough to allow his -employes to band together for such purposes as will advance their common interests. We may . not always have a Minister enlightened enough to permit his employes to band together for political purposes. Therefore, as Senator Ewing has pointed out, although there is no prohibition in the present Bill there may be a prohibition on the part of a permanent head or a chief officer who may administer this measure. For those reasons it is advisable to state on the face of the Bill what Senator De Largie has proposed. Even if the amendment is passed we shall not in any degree intensify the political opinions of the employes of any department. If a postmaster likes to take such a keen interest in politics as to become the president of a politicalassociation in his district, he ought not to be made less politically independent because of the absence of such a provision in the Public Service Act ; nor would its absence make him take a less keen interest in politics. Even if he were robbed of a certain amountof of his interest in politics the fact remains that every man ought to be interested in the politics of his country, and must in that respect be a political partisan to some extent. There are such partisans in the Postoffice now, and if they are allowed to combine,no harm will be done. Nor will their opinions become less virile if they are prevented from combining. For these reasons I trust that the amendment will be pressed so that civil servants may be able to express their political opinions collectively if they wish to do so, just as other citizens of the Commonwealth can do.
-I hope that Senator De Largie will not withdraw his amendment, especially after the remarks that Have been made by the Postmaster-General. As Senator Ewing has said, if no such amendment were embodied in the Bill it would still be competent for civil servants to form associations, political or otherwise. But it is also possible that the Government might frame regulations prohibiting the formation of political associations in the civil service.
– Such regulations would be ultra vires.
– We have had cases in Western Australia of the Government prohibiting a number of public servants from joining an association to which the Government was hostile. I was astonished at the attitude of the Postmaster-General because he has always appeared to be most liberalminded in dealing with the public service. I remember that before Western Australia joined the Commonwealth a number of civil servants were prevented from forming associations, political or otherwise, and that on one occasion after they had had many wrongs inflicted upon them, and many of them had not had leave of absence for as long as five years, though they were living in the hot and dusty atmosphere of the gold-fields, they endeavoured to form an association to secure some redress. But before they had an opportunity of calling a second meeting they were scattered to the four quarters of Western Australia. That struck such terror into the hearts of the civil servants of that State that they were afraid to form associations in case they should be sent to way-back places. The
Postmaster-General may be in office for many years, but it is also possible that he may not. In the event of another Minister taking his place, associations might be prohibited unless there was a clause in the Public Service Bill permitting their formation. We do not prevent public servants from exercising the franchise. We allow every public servant the same voting power as an individual in. a private capacity. By giving that right we clearly say that civil servants have a right to take part in politics. That seems to presuppose the right to combine. If civil servants are subject to injustices in their departments there is nothing to prevent them from agreeing amongst themselves how they will vote. If they are not allowed to form political associations, they will do by stealth what they are not permitted to do openly and above board. I was surprised to hear the arguments adduced by the Postmaster-General. He said that if a postmaster were allowed to take part in politics he might be guilty of opening envelopes in order to see how voters by post exercise the franchise. If a postmaster can be trusted with envelopes containing large sums of money, surely he can be trusted with envelopes containing votes, which would be of no use to him if he opened them. Another plea brought forward was that it would be exceedingly dangerous for telegraph operators to form a political association, in case certain information which went through their hands as operators should leak out. Is not the PostmasterGeneral aware that in a town like Kalgoorlie telegrams are constantly being sent of such a character that, if an operator chose to walk across the street, he could often get hundreds of pounds from a broker for the information contained in them? When a mining manager wires to his directors in London about a strike which has occurred in their mine, or in regard to a find which has been made there, the telegraph operator who transmits the message might make use of the information, which would be worth hundreds of pounds to him. If an operator can be trusted with valuable secrets of that kind - and I honestly believe that he can - surely he is not going to reveal to his political association how a certain man voted. For the PostmasterGeneral to bring forward reasons like this against the formation of a political association shows the weakness of his case.
– I have not said anything about political associations.
– I understood the Postmaster-General to say that he objected to political associations being formed in connexion with the service.
– No. The honorable senator knows that I have recognised them.
– Then I presume the Postmaster-General is going to vote for this amendment.
– No. I have said already that I shall vote against it. What I said was that I did not think it would be desirable for a telegraph operator to be president of a political association when a political contest was in course of progress.
– I see no reason why a telegraph operator or a postmaster should not, provided that he does not devote to the association any of the hours which he is supposed to give to the duties of his office. Surely the Postmaster-General will, admit that a civil servant can devote his evenings to political meetings, and that meetings of the kind will be held whether this amendment be passed or not ? The advantage of allowing such meetings to be held is that they are likely to be more above board than they would be if the officers of the service had to hold them by stealth. I hope that the Government will not raise any strenuous opposition to this proposal. The Government of Western Australia has allowed the railway employes of that State to form an association. They objected at first in a fatuous kind of way, but there was trouble immediately, with the result that the formation of the association was permitted, and everything is now working well.’ Looking at it from the point of view of the Postmaster-General I think it would be more dangerous to allow railway employes to form a political association than it would be to allow telegraph operators to do so, for the reason that if the former demanded an increase of wages, and were refused, they would simply call out their men and the whole railway system would be paralyzed. The system in Western Australia is of such importance that if railway communication with Kalgoorlie were stopped for a fortnight the people o.f that place would be starving. Surely when we have the instance I have quoted - and I dare say that instances which have occurred in other States might be referred to - the Government should not object to political associations being formed as proposed by this amendment.
– I have listened to the various speeches on this question with the greatest surprise. I was always under the impression that whether a man was in the public service, or in the employ of a bank, he certainly had a right to exercise his vote, but was not supposed to take an active part in politics.
– What is the system in regard to bank employes 1
– I have never heard of a banker taking an active part in any political association. The reason is obvious. Every civil servant is the servant of the community, and should make no distinction between one party and another. A civil servant can vote as a citizen, but he cannot be a Member of Parliament. If honorable senators who support this proposal desire to be consistent they ought to allow civil servants to become eligible for election as Members of Parliament.
– To be consistent the honorable senator ought to. vote against civil servants having a right to vote.
– Not at all. We do not want anything like what we hear of in regard to America.
– Americans are quite as great as we are.
– That may be so, but I am content to be a Britisher. Whoever heard of a civil servant in the mother country attending a public meeting and speaking on behalf of any party 1 We are very young yet, and have much to learn. I am opposed to the amendment proposed by Senator De Largie. Some people are so afraid of losing votes that they will not speak their minds honestly. They are afraid that they will not get back to Parliament if they speak their minds. I want us to be honest, but we are not if we say one thing and mean another. I think the commissioner would be quite justified in expecting that an officer in the service, while having a right to exercise his vote, should not take part in party politics.
– A civil servant is to be gagged.
– It may be fashionable to make statements of that kind amongst a certain crowd, but it is not so among those with whom I have been in the habit of associating. It seems to me that too often the man who kow-tows to the most ignorant is the man who succeeds. When a man accepts a certain position, he must accept the responsibilities of that position. I fail to see where the responsibility comes in if a civil servant is to be at liberty to do what he pleases in regard to political matters outside the particular duties assigned to him. To my own knowledge, when prominent officers in certain assurance offices have been foolish enough to take part in party politics, the directors have thought it desirable to give them a hint that they had gone outside their functions. It is intended that civil servants shall serve the whole community, and the whole community expects to be served by them. The PostmasterGeneral has shown the danger of allowing officers who have charge of secrets to take part in party politics, and, although I am sure they do not disclose office secrets, I hope the Government will use all their influence to cause the amendment to be rejected.
– I was very interested in listening to the speech made by Senator Walker. While I think that I am honest, and while I certainly have no thought of my ultimate destination at the hands of the electors when I speak in the Senate, I am inclined to support the adoption of this clause. I am a free- trader, and 1 can see no distinction between the free interchange of commodities and the free interchange of thoughts; If a man is entitled to entertain certain views upon politics, I see no reason for disentitling him from becoming a member of a society where those views are freely expressed. I think that Senator Walker has lost sight of the very marked distinction that exists between liberty and propriety. It is one thing to say to a civil servant, “ You shall not join such an association,” and quite another thing to say to him, “You ought not, perhaps, to join it.” When a gentleman becomes an employe of the Government his liberty of action or thought should be restrained iu no greater degree than if he were the employe of a private individual. There may be circumstances when it would be unbecoming and unwise, and when an employe would make a bad servant if he became a member of a political association, but I take it that as masters, in these circumstances, we should be at liberty to take that into account. I maintain now, however, and I hope I shall always maintain, that we ought to give no encouragement to legislation on the supposition of dishonesty or fraud. I was not in the chamber when the PostmasterGeneral spoke on this proposal, but from the observations made by Senator Pearce, I understand that the honorable and learned senator pointed out some circumstances in which the temptation to defraud would be very strong on the part of an employe who was a member of an association of this kind.
– I think it would impair public confidence.
– Whatever the illustration was, I think that we who are making laws ought to assume in favour of every man that he will do whatever is right. If an employe takes advantage of his position of trust, and his means of acquiring knowledge, to do what is wrong to the public and wrong to his employers, he can be punished for it ; but it is not proper on our part to place on the face of an Act of Parliament a restraint on an individual whose onty offence is that he thinks he is worthy of earning his living in the service of his country instead of earning it in some of the other numerous classes of occupation.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I am sure we are all delighted to have Senator Harney with us again, especially in view of some of the opinions he has given us to-night. They are probably the result of the honorable senator’s recent visit to what is certainly the most democratic of any of the Australasian colonies. I cannot see what objection can be urged against this proposed new clause.
– It is unnecessary.
SenatorO’KEEFE.- Undoubtedly power is given in the regulations to guard against any difficulty. I would ask Senator Playford what he would do in the case of a civil servant who stood up on a public platform and said something against a Government of which that honorable senator happened to be a member.
– I should say that he was a discourteous blackguard.
– If a clause of this character were not in the Bill, I am certain that Senator Playford would be only one of a number of future Ministers in the Commonwealth who would act in the same way. I fail to see what right we have to gag a civil servant after he has completed the work set apart for him from day to day. When he has done that, he should be his own master, free to ventilate his opinion upon politics as well as upon any other matter.
– I am sorry to find honorable senators who profess democratic principles objecting to such an amendment as this. Of course I am not surprised with my honorable friend, Senator Walker, because he has always professed to be a good old conservative, with no desire to give anyone a vote save his own particular friends. Why should that honorable senator quote Great Britain as a example in this connexion? Politicians there holding views similar to those of the honorable senator would not give any one a vote if they could help it, and they do all they can to keep back democratic aspirations.
– I have always been a “ whig.”
– It does not matter. I believe that Senator Walker was connected with a bank himself, and if he never had any ideas in connexion with politics, how did he get here ? He must, for many years, have had political intentions. I have known, even in the model State of South Australia, banking institutions whose authorities were prepared to allow their officers to do any thing they liked so long as they were assisting a certain conservative association to carry out its propaganda work, but as soon as they went in the direction of assisting any democratic institution they were told that it was improper, and that it was not right that officers of such an institution should take any part in politics. It was not a question of taking part in politics, but of the kind of politics in which they took part.
– Not party politics.
– Is there any other politics known to the honorable senator than party politics?
– Certainly - national politics and social politics.
– National politics are always in the direction of encouraging one section of the community, in contradistinction to some other section of the community.
– There are social politics.
-I have never been brought up to this5½, 5¾ , and 5 kind of thing. I believe in general principles, and not in dividing 10 per cent, into so many eighths and sixteenths, and juggling with words in such a fashion. Take the position of the Postmaster-General himself. I was sorry tonotice what appears to me to be a fall from grace so faras the honorable and learned senator is concerned, when he objects to public servants becoming associated with organizations of a political or any other character.
– When performing certain duties.
– Neither Senator De Largie nor any other senator has any intention that an officer’s political or social duties should be allowed to interfere with his duties as a public servant. But what Senator De Largie wishes to do is to destroy in the minds of the public servants the feeling they have always had, that they are not allowed to take part in democratic politics.I should like to ask Senator Drake, or any other senator, if there has ever been any voice raised against a public servant becoming a member of one of the most influential and best associations in the country - the Freemasons ? Yet they have exercised political influence to a very great extent, and probably Senator Walker will not deny it. Has any one ever objected to a public servant, whether a letter sorter, a telegraph operator, or a Deputy Postmaster becoming affiliated with a Young Men’s Christian Association, with the Australian Natives or with any temperance society. Yet every one of these exercises a very great amount of influence so far as politics are concerned.
– Not necessarily.
– Not necessarily, but they do. There is not a temperance association I know of that does not attempt to influence politics. They have a perfect right to do so, and it would be good for the community if they could do it to a greater extent than they do. Not a word is said against anything of this kind ; but if men join a democratic association, if they form themselves into an association for the protection of their own interests, either by moral suasion, politics, or anything else, they are not doing right. If any of them dared to take the platform in the interests of a candidate who he might think would carry out his wishes not only with respect to his interests in the department, but with respect to his interests as a citizen of the
Commonwealth, he would quickly find out that he must not do it. I hope that if we take a division upon this question a very large majority of the members of the Committee will show the people of the Commonwealth that they are in favour of liberty so far as the public servant is concerned, and in favour of placinghim in exactly the same position as any other member of the community.
– Senator McGregor seems to me to have adopted a tone which, with all respect to him, is altogether extravagant upon this question. It is assumed that those opposing the introduction of this clause are opposed to the civil servants belonging to political associations, and exercising the right of combination for political purposes, or exercising their right as citizens to influence elections. But nobody dreams for one moment of placing any obstacle of that kind in their way. There were times when a man who was a member of a public service found it very difficult, if not impossible, to give effect to his political opinions, but that kind of administration has gone for ever. In any Government which is carried on under the control of Parliament, under the eye of the press and the influence of public opinion, such administration can no longer exist, and can never return. What is the proof of it? That all through the States of Australia it is recognised now that men in the public service as elsewhere, whatever their position may be, have a right to combine for political purposes in political associations. But Senator De Largie wishes to go beyond that. He wishes to place on the face of this Bill a declaration that -
Nothing in this Act shall in any way prevent an officer becoming a member of any properly constituted society or political association.
What is the meaning of that? I say that at the present time there is no necessity for it, if it is merely intended to give a public servant liberty to join political associations and act with them. But placed in the forefront of this Bill it is an intimation to every officer in charge of a department of the public service that every one of the employes has not only the right to belong to a political society, but may, as a civil servant, exercise that right in the most public way, it may be in the most indecent way, and it may be in the way least consistent with his duty as a public servant, and his superior officer cannot interfere with him in any manner whatever. Senator Walker put the matter upon its proper ground when he said that the public servant is the servant of the whole community, and when in connexion, with the duties of his office he is dealing with communications passing between every member of the community and every class in the community, he ought not to be placed in such a position as to be tempted to do wrong, and to do an injustice to persons who do” not happen to belong to the political party to which he belongs himself.
– What about the men in the Savings Bank?
– With all respect to the honorable senator, I do not see the analogy.
– The honorable and learned senator is talking of men falling because they are tempted. The men in the Savings Bank are tempted.
– I am talking of a man who may be placed in this position : He may be a prominent officer of one of these political associations, and a telegram may come through his hands containing certain information of immense benefit to his own political institution. He is put in the position of using that or not using it, and if in ordinary circumstances he does not use it, he is very much more, than most men are. If he does use it, he does a wrong to the public whose servant he is.
– Is he not under a pledge not to use it ?
– Of course he is ; but are we dealing with human beings or paste-boards ?
– With honest men.
– I am quite certain we are dealing with honest men, but at the same time I know that we are dealing with human nature, and I say we have no right to put these officers, whose duty it is to deal fairly with every person in the community, in a position of temptation in which they must be heroic, if they do not do some injustice.
– What kind of information does the honorable and learned senator ref er to ?
– I do not think it requires much imagination on the part of any honorable senator to suppose that during the heat of an election there may be communications of a most important kind going through the telegraph office. It is quite true that that information goes through now, and that a telegraph operator may be a member of one of these political associations now, and may receive that information and communicate it ; but I remind honorable senators that at the present time, if a man is a member of a political association, he may attend its meetings and take part in its work, but undoubtedly he would not be allowed to take such a prominent part in its proceedings as to be identified with them as a high official of the association, in such a way as to cause the public to suspect his fairness in the carrying out of his public duty. That is the position at the present time, and is it to be continued ? At the present time the head of a department would not interfere with a man who was merely a member of an association, but I think he would undoubtedly interfere with a man who was the president of some political association which held public meetings, at which he denounced his political head in the most violent way. How is it possible to carry on the business of Government with any decency at all, or with any security to the public interests, if that kind of thing is to be allowed? Honorable senators who have spoken have appealed to the illustration of private employers. I should like to know what private employer would allow an employe associated in some intimate way with him, and carrying out important duties of a confidential nature, to occupy some public position in which night after night and day after day he denounced his employer ? I should like to see the kind of employer who would allow that sort of thing to be’ done. Where the employer is the whole community, and the employes are put in a position in which they must do their duty fairly to the whole community, why should we put a clause into this Public Service Bill which would enable any man, no matter how prominent a position he took in political movements, to defy his official head and say - “ What right have you to say that to me? My rights are absolutely preserved under this clause, and you have no right to interfere with me. 1 am acting in the position of your private secretary ; I see all your official and confidential correspondence; I know all that is being done in connexion with the work of political parties, and every evening as the head of a political institution, I denounce you and your Government.”
– This clause would be no answer.
– Does noi the honorable and learned senator see that it would be an absolute answer? Otherwise, what is the meaning of it ?
– I think it is useless. It is merely a wholesome declaration.
– A declaration? Does not the honorable senator mean a placard? Why not call it by its proper name ? If it is a placard, I might suggest to the honorable senator that, seeing the views he has expressed, he ought not to put into a measure of this kind, which deals with such an important matter as the public service of the Commonwealth, something which, in his opinion, is a mere placard, but which may be a real danger. If I could see anything in the amendment which would lead to advantage to the community, I should make no objection to it. In the first place, it is not necessary, because there is already abundant
Opportunity, and abundant liberty to every public officer to carry out his political duties as a citizen. We do not want any more than that. A man must understand that if he becomes a member of the public service which serves the whole community, he must sacrifice a certain amount of his liberty to take a public part in political demonstrations. If he is not prepared to take up that position he has no right to be in the public service. I hope the day may be very far distant when it will be supposed to be the right thing for. any public servant to think that his liberty in regard to the discussion of public questions and public action in a prominent way is exactly on the same footing as that of a person who does not serve the public. I trust that the amendment will not be carried. Whether it is intended to be a placard, or in whatever way it is intended, I hope a majority of the committee will see that there would be a danger in its enactment, and that if we wish to have our public service preserved as a fair servant of the whole community, we shall have no such provision in the Bill.
– I do not share the opinion expressed by Senator O’Connor that there is anything to fear or dread from the enactment of this provision. It asserts the principle that no regulation which may be framed under the Act shall debar the citizens of the Commonwealth, who may be employed in the public service, from exercising to the full, not merely the right to vote, but the right to use the faculties with which Providence has endowed them. In this enlightened age we are told that something desperate is likely to happen if this principle is enacted. I always follow with the greatest possible interest anything that Senator O’Connor says. As a rule he is broad minded, liberal, and democratic, but on. this occasion he has preached doctrines which are not very democratic, and which, if followed out to their logical conclusion, would restrain any employe from expressing his opinion. In fact, no man who held land from the Crown or from a private person would care to express an opinion on a public platform contrary to the view of the lessor. Senator O’Connor says that there is no necessity for this amendment, inasmuch as there is no administration in Australia that debars a civil servant from exercising his full rights as a citizen. In Queensland to-day there is a regulation which has not met with the approval of Parliament, because it was never submitted, and it provides that a civil servant shall not take part in political matters except by recording his vote. Civil servants have not only been reprimanded, but in some instances a more extreme course was taken, because they had taken part in an ordinary meeting.
– Look at the case of Dodds.
– I could cite, a number of cases, but it is not wise to mention any names, because the men are still employed in the public service of the State. Again, in our Railway department, we have a regulation preventing the men from taking part in political matters, except by casting their votes. It is idle to say in this enlightened age that no administration in Australia debars persons from exercising their full political rights. They are debarred, and it is for the purpose of removing that barrier that this amendment is submitted. I have never yet been able to draw a distinction between a man who works for a private employer and a man who works for the Government. What is the difference between the two ? A man gives his services to the State for a certain remuneration, but has it any right to step in and say to him - “In addition to the service you render, the right of free speech is denied to you, and your reasoning faculties are to rust.” I have heard no argument to convince me that it was ever intended by the Creator that the best faculties with which a man is endowed shall lie dormant, that a puny man shall step in and dictate to his fellow men that those faculties shall not be used. For what reason? Because the servant may differ in political opinion from the head of the department or a Minister of the Crown. Surely that is a state of affairs which ought not to exist. Take the other argument which was advanced by the two Ministers - that it would be most dangerous to allow a telegraph operator to be president of an organisation. What is the difference between being a president of an organization and being a member of it ? The president is merely the official head of the body for the time being. Do not Ministers know that every one of these civil servants has some leaning or other, and if they are inclined to be dishonest, they will be dishonest whether they belong to an organization or not. In Queensland a large number of men occupy the position of station-master, telegraph operator, and postmaster. Many of these men are connected with the Railway Employes Association. This is purely a body for the purpose of advancing their interests so far as wages and hours of labour is concerned ; but the bulk of them have strong political leanings. Can Senator Drake point to one instance in the keenly contested elections of late years when public opinion ran exceedingly high, where a postmaster or railway employe occupying that position was guilty of dishonorable conduct?
– No ; but the rule has been always, I think, that they should not take an active part in politics.
– They have done so.
– My complaint is that no such rule should exist. I do not share the opinion expressed by Senator Walker in that beautiful tory speech he delivered. He claims to b a whig, but I would advise him to read the language of Daniel O’Connell respecting whigs. Certainly it was not very complimentary to the whigs, although it may be a little rough emanating from so great a man as O’Connell. The question is - Shall civil servants be debarred from exercising to the full their faculties, not only by speech and by vote, but also by writing to the press ? I have no fear that civil servants, in using political power to advance their own interests, will take any step that is likely to be detrimental to the best interests of the Commonwealth. I hope that Senator De Largie will press his amendment to a division. On more than one occasion in the Parliament of my own State I have brought forward an amendment similar in principle to this one, but perhaps a little more extended, for the purpose of protecting to the full the rights and liberties of the civil servants.
Senator HARNEY (Western Australia). - I was very glad indeed to hear the views expressed by Senator O’Connor, and it did occur to me that they were somewhat similar to my own. The question we are discussingreally seems to be not one of principle, but whether the new clause would not prove a danger. The Bill in no way prevents public servants from joining these associations. If there were, even by remote insinuation, any such provision in the Bill I should oppose it. But as I said before there is a distinction to be drawn between liberty and propriety. I think there are many circumstances in which a public servant out of selfrespect ought not to join certain associations. And if he does, it ought to be in the power of his employers to say to him, “ Your service and your membership of this association so collide that both cannot be allowed to exist.” If such a situation were to arise, and this provision were in the Act, it certainly does occur to me that it could be used with great force by the employe who was dismissed as grounding an action against the Government for so doing. If the Government in effect said, “ We dismiss you because, by reason of the association of which you are a member, it is impossible that you can be a good servant,” he could go into court and parade this provision, and the Judge would have to ask himself, “ What was that provision put in the Act for ? The Act did not prevent the man from joining the association, therefore the provision is meaningless unless it was intended by the Legislature to be an encouragement to join any such association - unless it was intended by the Legislature that, whatever might be the inconvenience, the damage arising to the public by reason of the employe being a member of such and such an association, under no possible circumstances could it amount to a ground for dismissal.” That would be the only reading given to the provision. I think that would be dangerous. While I am entirely in accord with everything which has been said by Senator McGregor and Senator Glassey, and indeed whilst Senator O’Connor is also in accord with everything they have said, I think that the provision ought not to appear in the BilL If it is wanted for the purpose of enabling employes of the Government to join such associations, then let us put it in. But if it is not necessary for that purpose; why insert it, when by doing so we may give effect to what is not our intention, namely, an express declaration on the face of the statute that not only ought civil ser>vants to be at liberty to join political associations, but that ib was our desire that they should be encouraged to join them, and that whatever the inconvenience arising from their joining might be, there would be no justification for the Government dismissing them. That would be the effect of- the amendment ; and therefore, while I. adhere to what I have said, I must vote against it.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania).- There are one or two points which have not already been mentioned, and which I should like to state to the committee. There are between a Minister and his officers certain confidential relations, and if Parliament declares in this Bill that it practically invites civil servants to join political associations it means, I suppose,, that civil servants may exercise their full rights by talcing part in private and platform discussions. That- is absolutely inconsistent with the confidential relations which must exist between a Minister and his officers. Suppose the time comes round when taxation has to be imposed. Every one is anxious to know what, the Government proposes to do. The Minister, of Customs sends- down to a clerk an intimation that he wants the statistics with regard to the importation of’ tea. There is nothing: in that, it may seem; but to the sharp business man it means a great deal. He will draw the inference that it means an extra duty on ten.. The Treasurer may send for the statistics with regard to the incomes of certain people. If that fact were divulged it would convey the information that in all probability the Treasurer intended to increase the income tax. Any information which a Minister asks for in that way is intended to be confidential. But if we invite officers of departments to join political associations they may make use of information received, not perhaps using it as a secret, but as a kind of every-day occurrence. Senator Walker has put the .matter so well that I do not think any one can improve upon it, that civil servants are paid by the whole community, consisting of free-traders and. protectionists alike. What right have they then, to get up and advocate free-trade for all they are worth 1
– What are they paid for 1
– “For doing their dutv ; and they draw their salaries from the whole of the taxpayers. They canvote just as they like, bub they ought not to take part in public discussions on matters of party politics. But. we are really making a great fuss about very little, because- no Minister in this country would be so tyrannical as to prevent civil servants -from holding meetings to say which candidate they would- support. Again and again civil servants do come together and resolve to. combine against a particular Ministry or to vote- for a particular candidate. This- is commonly done and is not interfered with. In England certain correspondence has lately been published showing that whilst certain trades unions do their duty well and protect the industry in- which their- members are concerned, there are others which exceed their duty and behave in the most tyrannical manner. We can understand that if we allow, civil, servants to form associations we shall presently have those associations determining that unless their members act in a certain way they shall be fined £5. That kind of . thing .is quite common in. England amongst the trades unions. If the Bill permits civil servants to join associations we do not know what the rules of those associations may be. Therefore, as Senator O’Connor has pointed out, we have no right to say in this measure that officers of the service shall be allowed to join properly constituted associations. A society may be properly constituted so long as it behaves itself properly, but by means of its rules and its pamphlets- it may at a certain time behave most tyranically towards the publicand its own members, whom it may compel to do certain things against their own judgment. That lias happened again and again. Let . civil . servants . band., .together- and resolve to vote for whom they like,, but they should not be allowed to go on the platform and endeavour to override at night the policy which they forward in the day-time by the assistance they lend to the Minister. The thing is monstrous and altogether opposed to common sense.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia). - The argument has been used that if civil servants are given the privilege asked for in my amendment, a breach of confidence may take between masters and the officers of their department. I do not expect that anything of the kind willoccur. If our civil servants were so unreliable that political secrets could filter out of a department into the hands of the opponents of the Government, that would take place now. The very fact that there has been nothing of the sort in the past isthe best proof that our civil servants ore not anything of the kind ; and I am sure that if they got leave to go on the public platform and address meetings’ they would be quite as honorable in dealing with departmental business as they are at the present time. There is really nothing in the argument, which is very weak, and only shows, that the opponents of my amendment are very, hard pressed for reasons to advance against it. In my own State not many months ago there was a very bitter strike of railway servants. The Minister in charge of the Works department tried to foist as a condition of employment on the railway men that they should have no right to enter any trades union. The men come out in defence of their rights, and the result was one of the bitterest strikes that ever took place in that State. I am glad to say that eventually the civil servants came out on top, and to-day there ore no more active politicians in Western Australia than those very railway men. Yet we have the testimony of the Minister at the head of that department that the men carry out their duties in a very satisfactory way, and do not interfere, with thedepartment in any wrong manner. It is only right and proper that when civil servants are off duty’ they should have the same privileges of citizenship as are accorded to other workmen. I have yet to learn why a railwayman or a Customs officer or a postal official should not hove the same opportunity of exercising his rights of citizenship as a miner or a carpenter. If the public official is paid for eight hours’ work, he gives that service loyally to the Government, and that is all that the Government have the right to claim, from him. The other sixteen hours should be passed as he pleases. It is nothing, short of political tyranny to say to our public servants - “You shall not interfere in politics.” This is the very thing that time and again in every part of the world we have fought against, when employers have endeavoured to interfere with the political rights of their employes. Senator O’Connor has referred to the position of affairs that would arise if public servants were permitted to take part in politics. He has asked what would be the position of a workman who denounced his employer out of business hours.
-I did not say that. I put the illustration of a clerk in confidential relations with his employer. I did not mention a workman. Of course, we all. know that there may be hundreds of workmen who denounce their employers every day. This is a very different relation.
SenatorDE LARGIE. - The emancipation of the workers has been a matter of slow growth, and this is another, step further in that direction. We can look back to the time when workers were looked upon as having no soul of their own. One of the old Greek philosophers - either Plato or Aristotle ;I do not remember which - said, that the workers of his day had only half a soul. The Postmaster-General and those who are supporting him in his objection to this, amendment, seem to share the opinion of that old philosopher. They say to the workers in the civil service -“ You have a right to vote, but you must not tell any one, about it.” In other words they say that civil servants must, not express their thoughts. That is an intolerable state of affairs, and is certainly not in accordance with common sense and reason. The Government say to the civil servants - “ You have the right of citizenship, but at the same time we put a gag upon you.” That is an illogical position, and one from which the Government should back down as quickly, as possible. I hope the committee will accept the amendment.
-The statement just made by Senator De Largie contemplates, a state of affairs which does not exist in the Commonwealth, and has never existed. At all events, I can say with every confidence that, in none of the departments of the
Commonwealth have any steps ever been taken to debar members of the civil service from becoming members of associations. What I object to more strongly than that is, that we have been told by Senator De Largie and one or two other speakers, that officers of the civil service are perfectly trustworthy, and have always shown themselves to be so. I admit that, and strongly resent the idea that I have ever represented anything to the contrary.
– The honorable and learned senator is afraid that they will be different.
– I do not doubt that they will always -prove trustworthy. What I lay stress on is not that any member of the service would prove untrustworthy, but that if the officers of the service were taking an active part in politics in a time of excitement it might impair public confidence in them. I think the committee must see that such would be the effect. If in the Postal department, or in the Telegraph department, men were to proclaim by the positions they had taken up that they were strong political partisans, it would tend to impair public confidence in them.
– The Bill does not say that cannot be.
– No. That brings me to the other point, to which I shall refer briefly, namely, that whereas the statement that charges of want of trustworthiness had been made are purely imaginary, so it is purely imaginary to suppose that officers of the public service have been prevented from exercising their right to become members of associations. No attempt has been made to prevent them, at all events since the establishment of the Commonwealth. No member of this Government has used his authority to prevent members of the service from joining associations. Then why not leave the matter as it stands? Regulations will have to be mode under this measure and laid on the table of both Houses. If any of those regulations are thought to be inadvisable it will be for Parliament to reject them. The regulation which ‘ has existed under some of the State Public Service Acts is to the effect that, whereas every political right is secured to officers of the public service^ and they can- express their views as freely as they like, they are not expected to take an active part in politics. That is a very proper regulation, and is probably the kind that would be made under this Bill. I do not think Parliament would object to a regulation of the kind. What is the use, therefore, of inserting this proposal ? Its effect, if it had any, would be to create in the minds of a number of civil servants a feeling that the statutory right to become members of a political association carried with it a statutory right to exercise all the powers and privileges of that association.
– The honorable and learned senator has argued already that they have that right without this amend-‘ ment.
– They have the right to become members of an association, but not to take an active part in politics. This amendment would be an intimation that there was nothing to prevent a member of the public service from taking what is described in the regulation to which I have referred as “an active part “ in politics.
– Then the Government are going to restrict them ?
– There has been a regulation in Queensland similar to that which I have mentioned, and no objection has been taken to it.
– Great objection has been taken to it.
– If there are honorable senators who think that a regulation of the kind should not be supported, let them wait till it comes before them.
The PRESIDENT laid on the table the following paper’ : -
Agreement for the use by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of tho Parliament House, Melbourne.
Ordered to be printed.
Senate adjourned at 10.21 p. in.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 January 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020129_senate_1_7/>.