8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers. ,
Staff in Great Britain.
asked the Minister representing- the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What officers are employed in Great Britain in the Immigration i Department; what salaries and allowances are paid to them; and also what rents are there paid for this Department?
– The desired information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
Position of Mb. Peterson
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice-
– The answers are as follow: - 1 and 2. I have seen statements by Mr. Ashworth in the press, but am not disposed to order any inquiry upon the reckless utterances of irresponsible people. If Mr. Ashworth has any information connected with the matter being inquired into by the’.joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts, he should at once place that information before that body. This, I suggest, would be a much fairer .course than publicly impugning either the integrity or capacity, of individual officers.
Motion (by Senator Senior) agreed to-
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on the 7th July, 1921, be adopted.
In Committee (Consideration, resumed from 7th July, vide page 9783) :
If -the permanent head does not approve of or adopt the recommendation, report or suggestion he shall within a reasonable time inform the Board of the reasons therefor.
Thereupon the Board may, if it’ thinks fit, make the recommendation, report or suggestion to the Minister administering the- Department, and if the recommendation,- report or suggestion is not approved or adopted by the Minister within a reasonable time, the Board may report the matter to both Houses of the Parliament, either in a special report or in its annual report.
On which Senator Elliott had moved* by way of amendment-*-
That the following words be inserted at the end- of sub-clause (3) :- “ and if the Board does not agree with the reasons given it shall so inform the permanent head, and request that the matter be referred to the Minister, and the permanent head shall thereupon refer the matter to the Minister accordingly.”
[11.51. - I hope the Committee will not accept this amendment. It would mean the end of Ministerial control of the Departments. If the’ head of a Department doeS not accept suggestions of the Board for its reorganization he must, within a reasonable time, give -1119 reasons, and the Board will then have power to report to the Minister. If the Minister does not take action within a reasonable time a report will be made, to Parliament, which will deal with the matter in the ordinary way!
If the Minister, in hia discretion, decides that the recommendation of the Board is hot likely to be very successful, he can ask the Board to withdraw ‘it. That is what the honorable senator proposes, but surely the Board would not withdraw tHeir report if they believed in it. Under the honorable senator’s proposal the Minister would have to bring the recommendation before Parliament within a certain time, and I suppose he would be expected to advocate it although he did not believe in it. I do1 not think that a Minister should ask any public; servant to withdraw a report. We have had trouble in the Commonwealth Service by the adoption of such a practice. If a Minister has the right to demand the withdrawal of a report he will .have the right to suppress the officer making it in the interests of the administration of the Department. Senator Elliott’s proposal would make the Minister a message boy for the Board. The Minister would be expected to do what the Board told him. That is opposed to the principle of representative government. If the Board makes a recommendation it should stand by it, and it is a wrong principle to provide that the Minister shall have the power to ask the Board to withdraw a recommendation. I am hopeful that by collaboration and consultation between the Minister, the Board, and the heads of the Departments, the work of the organization of the Service will proceed smoothly. Senator Elliott’s proposal is, in my opinion, quite unnecessary. If the Board came to me with a proposal for the organization, of -any Department I was in charge of, I should say: “ Very well, let us have a little chat about it.” The Board, after discussing the matter, might say that in the light of the further information they had on the subject they would be prepared to withdraw their proposal. We have had a case of that kind. The Economies Commission inquired into the working of the Taxation Department, and made certain proposals to Mr. Ewing for its improvement. He went into the matter with them fully,’ and the members of the Commission subsequently withdrew their suggestions, and offered their congratulations to Mr. Ewing, whose Department ,they admitted is one of the best organized and conducted
Departments in the Commonwealth. The final responsibility for,a Department must rest with the Minister in charge, and he should not be made a messenger boy for the Board, as Senator Elliott proposes.
– I do not regard the’ amendment moved by Senator Elliott in the same way as the Vice-President of the Executive. Council (‘Senator Russell), although thelast portion seems to convey what he suggests. If the Board of Management submits a recommendation in the interests of efficiency or economy with which the Minister and the permanent head of the Department do not approve, the Board should have the right to bring their recommendation directly before Parliament. In certain circumstances the Minister and the permanent head may be able to persuade the Board that they arewrong, in which case the recommendation could be withdrawn, and I do not know why that should not be done. The Minister said that it would not be right to withdraw a report or recommendation. ,
– I did not suggest that if they were still of the opinion that their recommendation was sound it should be withdrawn. _ Senator THOMAS.- I believe the Minister would fully consider the suggestions submitted to him by the permanent head of a Department, but a question of policy or finance might be involved, and the - suggestion, although of value, might be impracticable. Senator Elliott desires to provide that in the event of the permanent head of a Department and a Minister disagreeing with the Board the report shall be brought before Parliament.
– The Bill now provides for the Board to report to Parliament.
– That is all the amendment provides.
– No. It compels the Minister to report for the Board.
– Senator Elliott desires a recommendation which has been turned down by the Minister and the permanent head to be brought before Parliament, so that we may know what has been rejected.
– I prefer the Minister to bring the matter directly under our notice - instead of laying a. report on the table. He would, then have the opportunity of giving his. reasons for disagreeing, and asking for support.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that every recommendation to the Board should be brought before Parliament I
– No. Only matters on which the permanent head of the Department and the Minister disagree with the Board. This amendment does not provide that every recommendation of the Board must be accepted. If a head of a Department is opposed to the recommendations of the Board, and he has the support of the Minister, I do not think Parliament will bother very much. I do not think we would be able to do much, even if resolutions to- which the Government were opposed were passed. There are occasions when suggestions made by the heads of Departments are turned . down, sometimes for political reasons.
– Would not all the recommendations of the Board be embodied in an annual report-?
– Yes. In a report which no ohe would read, and probably if the recommendations of the Board were submitted from time1 to time they would not be read.
– Is not the AuditorGeneral’s report read? Every time it is brought before Parliament there is a good deal of criticism in the newspapers.
– If the annual re-‘ port will not be read, a continuous stream of interim, reports or recommendations will have little consideration. ‘
– Certain, suggestions made by the Public Service Commissioner have never been considered.
– Every suggestion of the Public Service Commissioner has been considered, and many are embodied in. this measure.
- Mr. Mclachlan / in one of his annual reports suggested that the post-offices in all States should close at 6 o’clock, as was the case in Queensland, but it was many years before the other States adopted the practice.
– That is a matter of policy, and the Minister, and not the Public Service -Commissioner, would be responsible.
– The recommendation was made, but apparently it was never considered by Parliament.
– This amendment means that whenever a report or recommendation is laid on the table with which the Minister disagrees, a resolution must be submitted in both Houses.
– That is very necessary, because the matter . is then brought under the notice of members.
– That is why I have submitted the amendment.
– If a resolution were submitted the Minister would have to give reasons for disagreeing.
– The Bill provides for that. If the Board is dissatisfied with the Minister’s decision they, can go direct to Parliament.
– Some means must be devised for overcoming the difficulties which will be created when the Board and the Minister disagree.
– It might be over the appointment of additional messengers. :
– Surely a Board’ which has to carry out the . important duties mentioned in clause 15 would not create dissension over such a trivial question as the appointment of additional messengers !
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I am a little -surprised that the Minister (Senator Russell) has not seen his way clear to accept the amendment, or, at any rate, to. treat it sympathetically. The procedure laid down in the clause ,is,–.in effect, that when any difference arises between the Board’ and the permanent head the matter must be referred to the Minister; and, that if a difference then occurs between the Board and the Minister, it must be taken before Parliament.
– And then; the honorable senator stops short of the interesting part!
– The matter is reported to Parliament.
– And what has the Minister to do then?
– The implication is that it will be for Parliament to decide upon the difference of opinion.
– Parliament is to be informed.
– There is’ no assurance’ that the attention of Parliament will be secured.
– It will be for members of Parliament to do their duty.
– Senator Elliott’s proposal would throw responsibility on members with much greater force and certainty. According to the clause as it stands, the Board makes a recommendation, suggestion, or report. In the first instance, it has to present that recommendation to the permanent head; and, if he does not agree, he notifies the Board of his reasons for disagreement. The Board can then turn to the Minister, and, if the latter does not approve of the recommendation, the Board is for the second time at a dead end. Next, it may turn to Parliament, and, either in its annual report or in a special report, it may bring the matter before members. Once more the Board is at a. dead end. Here, Senator Elliott’s proposal is in the direction of giving vitality instead of mere formality to the whole procedure. The report of the Board would come before Parliament, but there would be no special obligation resting on Parliament within any particular time to take action. As a matter of fact that might prove advantageous, for the reason that if the whole matter remained over for a session or a year action might be taken in accordance with tire terms of the report. Time, however, might be the essential consideration.
The obligation implied under the proposed new sub-clauses is for either House, if it disagrees with the Board’s recommendation, and so .upholds the Minister or the permanent head, to say so within a specific period.
As now proposed in the Bill, when “a report is laid upon the table there is nothing to indicate to the Board which has so reported whether the subject-matter therein finds favour or not. Responsibility is thrown upon the Board to approach members, and say, “Did you see that paragraph in our last annual report? If you agree with our views can you ‘-riot advance the matter in Parliament, and so vindicate us 9 “ Thus the responsibility of moving, falls upon individual members; and what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business* According to the proposed sub-clauses Parliament must take action within a certain .time, or the Minister responsible must do the same ,if he desires his attitude to be approved. Responsibility is made more clear. Both Houses are given an opportunity to consider, the subject-matter of the report or recommendation, and in a much more direct and specific form! So the chance of its being nobody’s business becomes considerably lessened. I see no conflict between this amendment and those which are to follow it, and the obvious intentions of the Government, but the new sub-clauses would more satisfactorily bring about the purpose of the Government.
– Is it not necessary, according, to the terms of the Electoral Act, for the Government to lay on the table of Parliament the report of the Electoral Commissioners, whether they agree with it or not?
– That is so, and that is what the Bill provides.
– It is provided, in the Bill that Parliament shall be made acquainted with the report and the difference, but the procedure does not go. so. far as it should.
– Will the honorable senator again refer to sub-clause 6 ?
– It proposes that the Board may, although it has withdrawn its recommendation at the request of the Minister, report the matter to both Houses either by means of a special report or by inclusion in its annual report. That procedure is perfectly correct.
– A resolution would then become necessary.
– There is no pro-, vision for a resolution, but there may be reasons for withdrawing the report. The Board may perceive that, by insisting upon its recommendation, the Department concerned may become embarrassed with respect to administration. I emphasize that the proposed new sub-clauses are an amplification of the proposals ‘ of the Government, and that they are designed and almost certain to be more effective in securing those ends.
– I have had some experience of working with a Board, and I have always paid considerable attention to any of ‘its recommendations - much more, .indeed, than to those of an official. The Board to which I refer was specially selected. Its members Had had wide experience, and were dealing with a subject which they were particularly well qualified to handle. While I was in England Senator. Russell carried the. responsibility of administering my Department; and he, too, came into contact with the Board. On occasions we would not agree with its ‘recommendations. Sometimes Senator Russell or I would be impelled to send for the members and enter into discussion with them ; and, as an .outcome, the recommendation under review might be amended or withdrawn. Occasionally those recommendations would have to do .with questions of policy, and the Government would not be able to see their way clear ‘to give effect to them. During a year there might be hundreds of. recommendations, having to do both with important and trivial subjects. When a Board has been given authority to deal with a particular class or range of subjects’ no Government would draw a line and say, “ This particular matter is. so small that we do not require the Board to deal with. it.”. A Board must handle unimportant as well as important matters, and its recommendations must touch upon both great and small. Probably, in the course of a year, a’ Board may make hundreds, if not thousands; of recommendations. The Public Service Commissioner, who has been dealing with one class or section of those matters which the proposed Board will handle, annually makes great numbers of recommendations, which go before the Minister controlling the Public Service. Of these 95 per cent., perhaps; would not go beyond the Minister; many of them may have to do: with minutiae. The remaining 5 per cent., being, more important, may be dealt with by Cabinet. I am surprised to find that Senator Thomas, apparently, possesses an idea that Ministers do not get enough work and that, they should have their time further filled up; also, that Parliament has not enough to do. In the best interests of administration, Ministers should be re: lieved of many of the more or less petty matters which now devolve upon them.’ I was astonished while in the United Kingdom to note the amount of time which Imperial Ministers obviously had to spare compared with the crowded obligations of Commonwealth Ministers. The practice has grown in England of relieving Ministers of details, while the system in Australia has been to crowd upon us every petty consideration of administration. The proposed new subclauses will intensify one hundred fold this unsatisfactory state of affairs. If Australia desires better government, efforts . should be made to . relieve Ministers pf much administrative detail so that they may get’ their heads above the masses of papers which are how showered upon them, and so secure opportunities for concentrating upon questions of policy. The proposed Board will deal with administrative matters, small and great; and any Minister, if he seeks long Ministerial life,, will wisely trust to the Board. In the great majority of cases he will be guided, by it. . There may be occasions, however,, when the Minister disagrees, and’ that disagreement may be upon petty administrative details. Though in themselves unimportant, however, they may open up a procedure affecting policy. Senator Elliott holds that on every occasion when a Minister rejects a recommendation and the Board reports that rejected recommendation to Parliament, the Minister must move to disallow it; and that, unless he does so within a specific period, the recommendation of the -Board must take effect. It ‘ means that the Minister knows that every recommendation of the Board laid upon the table of Parliament will have effect forthwith, unless a . resolution ia adopted disagreeing with it. It means that the Minister will be required to spend much of his time in examining every recommendation in,ade by the Board, no .matter what petty detail may be involved in it, because he will never know that some question of policy may not be concealed behind it. It means also a debate in Parliament upon every occasion that he disagrees with -a recommendation by the Board. The particular matter at issue will probably be made a party one, and will be seized upon by an active Opposition to delay the business of Parliament, to harass the Government, and to obstruct and. side-track some other matter of infinitely greater- importance: If Senator Elliott wishes to put emery powder into 3he parliamentary machine of this country he cannot achieve his object more effectively than he will do by the adoption of his amendment. If his proposal be carried, more than half the time of Parliament, instead of being occupied with general criticism of the Administration of the country, will be occupied in the discussion of the petty details of civil servants. I warn honorable senators that that is what is behind his amendment. Senator Seating made, what was to me, a most astonishing statement, namely, that under the Government proposal the responsibility will be thrown upon Parliament. Certainly it will be. I thought that that was what honorable senators desired. Have we not heard a good deal lately about the restoration of responsible government and of the right of Parliament to control the Ministry?
– I did not complain of that.
– Under the Government proposal the responsibility will be thrown upon Parliament.
– But not sufficiently.
– But under Senator. Elliott’s amendment the responsibility will be thrown upon the Minister.
– Oh, no. The Minister has misread it.
- Senator Thomas, in viewing the position, has inverted the telescope. Under Senator Elliott’s amendment, the Minister will have to read all the reports submitted by the Board, and, if he disagrees with any of them, he will have to move a motion in Parliament, so that honorable senators will be in a position to say that they do not need to bother with them. iSenator Foster. - Will the Government set aside one day a week to enable us to discuss such matters ? ‘ ‘
– Parliament has already done that. In this Chamber, under our Standing Orders, every Thursday evening is devoted to,’ private members’ business, and honorable senators also have an opportunity of bringing forward, under a motion for adjournment, any matter of urgency every day that we meet.
– Under the amendment proposed by Senator Elliott every report by the Board would have to be accompanied by a report from the Minister.
– - Exactly. He would be a very foolish Minister who allowed a report adverse to himself to be laid upon the table of Parliament without seeing that it was accompanied by a reply. What does Parliament do in regard to the important matter of finance? As* honorable senators are aware, we have the Auditor-General’s report. That is the report of a constituted tribunal which is practically upon all fours with the tribunal proposed to be constituted under this Bill. His report is laid upon the ‘table of Parliament. It is the report of an independent authority, in which Ministers are freely’ criticised. Do not honorable senators read that report? If they do not, that is the greatest admission of their neglect to efficiently discharge their duties which has yet come under my notice. But even if they do not read it, I am satisfied that the press of this country read it. ‘ Upon the day following its submission to Parliament there is scarcely a newspaper in the Commonwealth which does not contain all the spicy portions of it, with comments upon them. When honorable senators desire to back up their criticism of the Government, do they not frequently turn to the Auditor-General’s report ? 1 So with the report of the Board which it is proposed to create under this Bill. Honorable senators will be armed with its’ annual report, and will have abundant opportunity for criticising the Minister’s action: I ask honorable senators to pause before further loading up the parliamentary machine. All over the world that machine is showing signs of breaking down by reason of its own weight, and nothing will accelerate its breakdown more than the need for a. Minister moving a large number of unnecessary motions. Those motions may require to be moved at most inopportune times. It might even be necessary to postpone the delivery of the Budget for the purpose of discussing such petty questions as the hours of telephone attendants, or the tea money of civil servants, in regard to which the Minister has disagreed with the recommendations of the Board. The Opposition would seize upon these things readily in order to initiate an almost interminable debate. In all the circumstances, the proposal of Senator Elliott is an unwise one, and I hope that the Committee will reject it.
– I fail to see that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has advanced any sufficient reason in opposition to my amendment. All the criticism which has been levelled against it has been to the effect that the members of the Board, which it is proposed to appoint from the best possible men available at unknown salaries, will be composed of utter fools, who are going to spend their time arguing with the heads of Departments and with the Minister who is over them. My amendment expressly provides that, should a dispute arise.in respect of some trivial detail, the Board may withdraw its recommendation at the request of the Minister, and if its members are reasonable men they will do so. Again, if the dispute be in regard to some matter of substance, but not of imperative urgency, which the Board thinks should be brought under the notice of honorable senators, it can achieve its object in a quiet manner, either by making a special report, or by mentioning it in the ordinary annual report. My proposal for direct and immediate reference of the matter to Parliament by the Board is intended to cover only those cases in which matters of great and serious importance to ‘ the country are involved. For political or other reasons the Minister may desire to shelve a recommendation by the Board, but, whatever his reasons for so doing, he ought not to be afraid to come out into the open and tell us exactly what they are. Having done that, if we turn him down he will have the opportunity of retiring from office. The remarks of Senator Keating w,ere so much to the point that I cannot usefully add to them, but I desire to thank him for his excellent support.
– I give Senator Elliott credit for good intentions in regard to his amendment, but we know that the road to a certain place is paved with those intentions. T entirely agree with what Ministers have said, to the effect that both Parliament and Ministers have quite enough to do at the present time. The Board proposed to be appointed is intended to insure economical administration in our Public. Service. Senator Elliott has said that under the Government proposal the presumption is that the Board will be composed of utter fools; but it seems to me that his amendment presupposes that the Minister himself will be a fool. The position is that the Minister will know that the public are behind the Board which it. to be constituted under this Bill, and he is, therefore, not likely to disagree with its recommendations lightly. He will disagree with’ them only when he has a really good, strong case. Should such a disagreement occur, he knows that the fact will be given a place in the annual report of the Board. Senator Thomas has stated that nobody ever reads this class of reports. I do not agree with him.
– Perhaps he was speaking only for himself.
– Any disagreement between the Board and the Minister, I repeat, will find a place in the annual report of the Board, but the news of it will leak out long before that report is submitted’ to Parliament.
– Under the Government proposal the Board will have power to make a special report at any time.
– Then I do not need to say any more upon the matter.
– I am somewhat amazed at the speech which has just been delivered by Senator Fairbairn, because I had always looked on the honorable senator as one who desired to bring about- efficiency and reform. The only way in which we are likely to have reform is by the Board of Commissioners attempting to do” something. t The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) says that Ministers will have to spend a lot ‘of their time listening to the Board’s recommendations, but no recommendation of the Board can come before the Senate under Senator Elliott’s amendment unless a Minister has first dealt with it and refused it.- Therefore, if Senator Elliott’s amendment is carried, it will not take -up one single minute more of the over-burdened and over-taxed time of a Minister outside -the House, because he must discuss these things with the Board . before he can disagree with them. Reforms of some importance have been suggested and have not been carried out, because they have not been prominently brought before Parliament. The report of the Economies Commission criticised the Postal Department very severely in some regards. Amongst other thing?, the Commission state that the Government asked Sir Robert McC. Anderson to report upon the Army and Navy Departments and the Post Office, and that he suggested economies running to somewhere from £200,000 to £400,000 a year, but that when the Commission looked into those Departments they found that absolutely no attempt had. been made to see whether the savings recommended by Sir Robert Anderson could be effected or not. Mr. Webster, the ex-Postmaster-General, took considerable trouble to reply to the Economies Commission, and on one point of their report he said : “I am in favour of that, and I have had a proposal ready which is even an improvement on the Commission’s recommendation, but I have had no opportunity of bringing it before Parliament.” It waa some very great reform - adding 3d. to the charge for telegrams, or something of that sort - but, as Minister, he said he had had no opportunity of putting it before Parliament.
– If this Board had reported, the Minister would have had an opportunity of bringing it forward then.
– But the Minister said he had not an opportunity on account of other Ministers wanting various things done.
– How often in your experience has Parliament had an opportunity of dealing on a direct motion with reports from Commissions or Committees?
– Not one that I know of. The only chance we usually get is to say a few words on Supply.
– Under this Bill, we are giving effect to the report of the Economies Commission. - .
– Not as regards economies within the Departments. When I was Postmaster-General I asked a good business man in Melbourne to go into the Department, and see .if he could’ suggest improvements. He told me that” one feature of the Public Service which stag- gered him, and which he could not see is way to get over was this: - In a private business, if an employee showed the owner that certain work could be dome ‘ with three men instead of four, the owner would get rid of the superfluous man and raise the salary of the man who had shown him the, saving, but in the Public Service it was tie other way about. If you had three men, he said, you looked around to see if you could not find work for four, and then the person in charge asked for an increase in salary because his responsibilities had been increased.
The report of the Economies Commission says -
A number of officers in the records and correspondence section and the mail branch are of mediocre ability, and it is difficult to understand how, with their limited qualifications and their inexperience with such duties as those with which they are at present charged, notwithstanding their relatively unimportant nature, they could possibly have been selected for such positions. In brief, it may be said that the system in operation is a distinct and successful inducement to officers to endeavour to create work to justify their existence. One and all practically concur that there is far too much registration of papers, far too many references, and much unnecessary work.
Has anything ever been done to. meet that criticism in the Department? Not a single economy suggested by that report has been brought about in any Department.
– We are appointing this Board to do it.
– To do something in the distant future, although,- according to the Minister for Defence, the Board may take up all its time dealing with trivialities. The more I see of Senator Elliott’s amendment, the better I like it. It will give us a distinct and definite opportunity of dealing with some of the problems, which the’ Board will bring before the permanent heads. If it is anything worth while, a permanent head will be careful before he turns it- down, if it can come before Parliament in this direct way. The permanent heads and the staff do- not welcome recommendations from people outside.
– And Ministers often back them up.
– Sometimes, but sometimes a Minister will turn down their recommendations merely for political purposes. Under ordinary circumstances I would just as soon expect the proposed Board of Commissioners to bring about great ref onus as I would expect lightning out of burning incense, but this amendment gives us some hope of something definite being done from time to time. We may be able to help the Board to do its work efficiently, and .to bring about reforms.
– I should be satisfied if the Minister (Senator Russell) would include in this, or some other clause, a provision which would enable the Senate to deal directly with a special report made by the Board on any matter where there was disagreement between the Board and the Minister. We have heard a great deal about the Board being an efficiency Board, and how it is to bring about economy and better control in the Departments, but, judging by the procedure which has to be gone through, the powers of this Board of Commissioners will be very limited indeed. If the Board makes a special report to Parliament it will be like any number of other reports that come before us, which we do not have an opportunity of discussing except on Supply or on adjournment motions.
– If the Board made a special report concerning a Minister, would he not be anxious to have the matter dealt with and settled?
– Yes, if it was a report directly affecting the Minister; but the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) suggests that the difficulties arising, between the Board and Ministers may be about a small matter such as the appointment of a messenger. If that is so, then there will be some “ darned “ fools knocking about, either on the Board or, among Ministers. If in trivial matters of that sort, agreement cannot be reached between , a Board of experts, and the Minister, it is surely evidence of a lack of mentality somewhere.
– The messenger boy may be considered a joke, but he cannot be dismissed to-day.
SenatorFOSTER. - I am quite aware of that. A Board of business men will recognise that a messenger boy has certain rights. These trivial matters are not likely to come before Parliament, and it is very unlikely that they will be made use of by a strong Opposition to embarrass the Government. On big issues there may be a reasonable difference of opinion between the Minister and the Board, and the question upon which ‘they differ may be one of policy. In my opinion, the Senate should have an opportunity of discussing such matters.
– Suppose the Board made a report upon my Department, every one would be. curious to know what was the nature of the report. How long could I remain here without giving the Senate information on the subject?.
SenatorFOSTER.-I suppose that a report made to the Senate would be addressed to the Presiding Offi cer, but I am inclined to think: that the members of the Board would be but very poor politicians if they set themselves definitely against the Cabinet, which would have the right to reappoint them at the expiration of their terms of office. Some members of this Parliament hold very strong opinions as to the necessity for reforms of the Public Service to bring about economy. A report on this subject might be submitted by the Board to the Presiding Officer of the Senate, but it would not be possible for a private member of the Senate to deal with it except by a formal motion for adjournment. I want some assurance that reports submitted by the Board may come before this Parliament for discussion. In the present composition of the Senate, I do not anticipate that a vote would be carried against Ministers, but we should be in a position to say whether or not we agree with the reports submitted by the Board.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator Elliott’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, further amended verbally, and agreed to.
Clause 16- (1.) The Board shall furnish reports or recommendations on all matters required to be dealt with by the Governor-General under this Act, and no such matters shall be submitted for the consideration of the Governor-General unless accompanied by a report or recommendation of the Board.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That after the word “ Act “ the following words be inserted : - “ or referred to ‘the Board by the Governor-General”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 negatived.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted - “ 18. If at any time the Board finds that a greater number of officers is employed in any Department or Branch of the ‘ Public Service than is necessary for the efficient working of that Department or Branch, any officer whom the Board finds is in excess may ‘ be transferred to such other position of equal classification and salary in the Service as the officer is competent to fill, and if no such position is available the officer may be transferred to a position of lower classification and salary.If no position is available for the officer the Board may retire him from the Public Service.”
It will be quite clear to honorable senators that, under this clause, which will take the place of the clause we have just negatived, any officer who is’ undesirable, unfit, or inefficient, may be dismissed by the Board. When we were considering the previous Bill, one of the principal criticisms of its provisions was that the Board would not have the power to sack a man who was not wanted in the Public Service. This clause , will put the Board in a very strong position to deal with the dismissal of inefficient or undesirable officers.
– Is not this a departure from the established practice in the Public Service under which the services of an officer cannot be dispensed with unless the position has been declared vacant? An office could be abolished, and the officer would have to go; but under this provision - while it meets with my, support up to’ a certain point - any officer in any Department might be pushed out by men being placed in that particular Department to create an excess of officers, it would not be a difficult matter for a number of junior officers to be placed in a Department, and then a particular officer to be informed that, as there was an excess of officers, his services were no longer required. While I do -not think we should retain the services of inefficient men, I do not wish the Board to have the right to exercise authority at the instigation of the head of a Department. ‘ Under this provision, an excess of officers could be deliberately brought about. All public servants are not angels, and as personal feeling has existed in the past, provision should be made for the last man to be appointed to be the first to be dismissed.
SenatorRUSSELL (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council) [12.33]. - Section 41 of the existing Act reads -
The Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Commissioner, after obtaining a report from the permanent head -
create a new office in any Division in any Department; or
abolish any office in any Department; or
raise or lower the classification or grading of any office the duties of which have been materially changed; or
with the consent of any officer, transfer or promote him, from any one Division to any other Division, and, in the case of transfer or promotion from the General to the Clerical Division, after such examination . as may be prescribed.
Nothing couldbe done until the office was abolished;, but under ‘this amendment it must depend upon, the administration. An officer in a Department may quarrel with the head of that Department, who may be glad to take the opportunity of dispensing with his services ; but his recommendation would have to go before the Board. Members of the Board will be quite impartial, and will have no personal knowledge of 30,000 public servants. They will decide the. issue on its merits. I do not think any one would suggest that efficient ‘ officers of good character would be dispensed with while less capable men were retained.
Proposed newclause agreed to. .
Clause 19 - (2). The Board shall, in the month of . August in each year, forward to the GovernorGeneral, and publish in the Gazette, a list of all officers in the Commonwealth Service on the30th day of June in that year, together with the particulars so recorded with regard to the service of each officer.
.- I move-
That after the word “ year “, first occurring, the words “ or as soon as practicable thereafter” be inserted. .
This amendment is to provide that the Board shall, in the month of August in each year, or as soon as practicable thereafter, forward to’ the Governor-General a list of officers in the Service on the 30th June in that year. It is quite possible that unforeseen, circumstances, such as an Arbitration Court decision, may cause delay, and to insure the list being forwarded before the following year it can be submitted as soon after the month of August as is practicable.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 20- (1.) The Board shall furnish to the Minister at least once in each year, for presentation to the Parliament, a report on the condition and efficiency of the Public Service, and of the proceedings of the Board,
.- I move-
That before the word “ Minister “ the word “ Prime “ be inserted.
This amendment does not increase the powers of the Prime Minister’s Department, but merely provides that the Board shall furnish their annual report to the Prime Minister, who is responsible for the administration of. the Act.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 21 agreed to.
Clause 22- (1.) The Firs t Division shall include all Permanent Heads of Departments and all Chief Officers of Departments. (2.) The Second Division shall include officers who, under Permanent Heads or Chief Officers, arerequired to exercise executive or professional functions in the more important offices of the Service, and whose offices the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Board, directs to be included in that Division.
– I move-
That the words “ all, Chief Officers of Departments” in sub-clause (1) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ such other officers as the GovernorGeneral determines.”
This amendment is necessary, because a chief officer in a Department in an isolated locality does not have the same responsibilities as a chief officer in an important centre. The Customs Officer at Port Darwin is a chief officer, but we do not regard him as a chief officer of the
Department, although he has authority. Chief officers are those immediately under the head of the Department.
– If the amendment moved by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is adopted, the First Division of the Service will include the permanent heads of Departments, and such other officers as the Government - for that is” what it means - may determine. We have constituted a Board, and it should have the power to classify officers. Under this amendment that power will revert to Cabinet, which is undesirable.
– At present the Executive Council appoints heads of Departments, but it must not be assumed that the Government do not obtain a recommendation from the Public Service Commissioner.
– Such a recommendation should come from the Board to Cabinet.
– And so it will.
– It does not so provide.
– The practice is as I have said, and it is one that will be continued in the future.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the words “or Chief Officers” in “subclause (2) be left out.
– Chief officers have been struck out from the First and Second Divisions. Goodness knows where they are to be included; possibly inthe Third or Fourth Division. All other officers are referred to, but chief officers have been excluded. Sub-clause 3 provides that the GovernorGeneral, on the recommendation of the Board, shall direct what officers are to be included in the Third Division. Are the Government to decide in which Division chief officers are to be placed? The implication is that the Board has nothing to do with the control or appointment of officers in the first and second Divisions. This Board of three wise men is not deemed fit to have supervision of the two senior Divisions, but it may be given some authority in respect of the third. What is the good of a Board whose powers are to be so: clipped ?
– The honorable senator misunderstands the position. The , words “chief officers” are being left out because, otherwise, all chief officers would be embraced here. A chief officer may be, in some branches, and in some places, chief over only a very small realm of authority. Certain positions of a character to which chief officers are appointed may be created by the Board.; and it i6 pro-, videdthat, upon the recommendation of the Board, the Governor-General in Council may confirm those appointments.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 23 - (4.) The Chairman of the Board anc! the Auditor-General shall severally have all the powers of a Permanent’ Head under the provisions of this Act, so far as relates to the branches of the Service respectively under their direct control.
.- I move -
That the word “and”, in sub-clause 4, be left out, and that after the words “ AuditorGeneral “ the following words be inserted: - “ and the .Commissioner of Taxation.”
My purpose is to bring taxation officers under the control of the Board in regard to staff matters.
– The AuditorGeneral’s Department is regarded as a water-tight compartment. Are similar bulkheads to be built around the Taxation Department f
– No. The intention is to give the head of the Taxation Office, namely the Commissioner, certain powers which he should possess as head of his staff, but which, hitherto, have not been conferred upon him.
– What power has the permanent head of the Department of Home and Territories that the AuditorGeneral and the Commissioner of Taxation have not?
– Those two officials have not the authority in certain directions which other permanent heads of Departments possess. The Commissioner of Taxation has no authority at present concerning staff matters, for the reason that his branch is under the Treasury Department, whose Secretary (Mr. Collins) controls- Taxation staff affairs.
-Then, the Government are practically creating a new Department?
Senator- RUSSELL.- Certainly nott The added powers will have regard only to such matters . as disciplinary control.
– The ‘Taxation Branch is practically a sub-department of the Treasury; but now, apparently, the Government are making it a Department in itself.
– That is npt so. It might be desirable,, later, to confer similar staff authority upon the Deputy Postmasters-General in the different States. At present all matters such as I have indicated must go before the Central Administration. But, surely, there would be no suggestion that a different Postal Department was being established in every State.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 -
– This clause requires some explanation. It is not made clear when classification shall take effect. There is provision for classification being commenced as soon as possible after assent to the Act, and there is further provision that the particulars of classification shall be notified in the Gazette; but there is no indication concerning when the classification shall really . take effect, so far as individual officers are concerned. The point has been raised that, in some of the more remote parts of the Commonwealth, classification may occupy longer than in the nearer portions.
.-I take it that officers grouped in any branch would be, so far as possible, classified at the same time. But the classification of some branches would necessarily take longer than in regard to others. I move -
That the - words “ or grade “, in sub-clause (1)-, be left out.
The reason for the deletion of reference to grades is that they have* no application to the Bill.
– In the classification of any branch, officers have hitherto been graded in the Division in which they have been placed. They would be in .grades 2, 3, or 4 of a particular division in a ‘particular branch of a Department. If grading is done away with, before an officer can be promoted from one division to the next, the standard of excellence required of that officer may be taken to be the maximum applying to higher classes, in which, however, he has had no chance of gaining experience.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.S0 p.m.
– There are several matters arising out of this clause which we shall require to watch very carefully. For instance, it provides for classifying the Service, which will* mean altering the present grades. Provision should le made in it to insure that, under the new classification, any. officer who may be placed in a lower grade than that in which he is now serving, shall continue to be paid his present remuneration. It will not be the fault of any officer that he is placed in a lower grade’ than that in which he is now serving, because the classification will be undertaken by the Board with a view to economy.
– Whilst it is proposed to eliminate the words “ or grade “ the principle involved will be in no way affected, because “ classification “ means “grading.”
– But classification largely has to do with the work of an officer, whilst grading has to do with the officer himself.
– Every officer will be graded.
– By omitting the words proposed by the Minister it is quite possible that we may alter the whole arrangement of the Service. The honor able gentleman has intimated that the Board will probably commence classifying one division- -
– The divisions will continue as they are to-day, but the classification will -be gazetted in sections.
– But if the classification of the Service is to be gazetted in sections, the time within which objections may be urged to it will expire in thirty days.
– When . I said that the classification will be gazetted in sections, I meant that it will be gazetted by Departments. ‘
– Then one officer will be afforded an opportunity of appealing against his classification, whilst another officer will not. To my mind the whole of the classification should be gazetted simultaneously, so that every officer may be placed in the same position.
– I hope that the Committee will not waste time upon this amendment. What Senator Senior has said is extremely interesting, but, unfortunately^ it has no relation to the proposal which is before us. The. term “classification’’ relates to every officer in the Service, and every officer will be classified. “ Grading “ means practically the same thing. The amendment is a simple drafting amendment. The words “ or grading “ are useless, and we merely desire to omit them.
– Up to the present moment the word “classification” has been applied almost exclusively throughout the Service to the character of the work performed by an officer,- whereas the word “grading” has been applied to the officer himself. An officer was either in the first, second or third grades of such and such a classification.
– But the word “grading “ has no different meaning from the word “ classification.” May I tell the honorable senator that I- have accepted this amendment upon the re* commendation of the Acting Public Service Commissioner.
– If that is to be regarded as a convincing argument there is no reason why the Government should submit the Bill for our consideration at all.
– The Acting Public Service Commissioner is the officer who has had most experience of .the working of the Service, and he desires the amendment to be made.
– If we strike out the words- “ or grading “.we shall make the word “classification” cover the whole position. The Minister cannot deny that there are grades in the Service to-day. The term classification distinguishes between the different classes of work, yet the honorable gentleman nowadvances the argument that these words mean one and the same thing. “ Grading,”. I contend, applies to the officers themselves, and “ classification” to their work.
Amendment agreed to. ‘
Consequential amendments agreed to.
– I moveThat the word “may,” line 12, sub-clause (i), be left out with a view- to insert in lieu thereof the word “ shall,” and that all the words after “ gazetted “ be left out.
– I trust that the amendment will not be accepted, because the principle for which the honorable senator is contending has already been embodied in the Bill. The clause itself sets out that “ the salary of the officer shall be notified in the Gazette.” I take it that in gazetting the new classification, every Department will be treated as a section. Obviously ‘ the Board cannot start upon the work of classifying all Departments simultaneously. When they have completed their work in one section the results of that work will be gazetted. It would be foolish to defer gazetting the new classification until” the 30,000th man in the Service had been classified. As classification is compulsory, there is no need for the second part of the honorable senator’s amendment.
– I would remind the : VicePresident of the’ Executive Council that the previous classification of the Service occu-pied considerably more than two years. If the new classification is to do justice to all officers, it will require to be speeded up. I am anxious to see every officer get a square deal. I recognise that the work of classification cannot be completed in a day. But the idea of gazetting the new classification in sections would simply mean that officers in the higher divisions would get their classifications gazetted forthwith, whilst officers in the lower divisions would be kept in suspense, perhaps, for three or four years.
– I understood the. VicePresident of the Executive Council to tell the honorable senator that the classification would be gazetted in Departments.
– A Department will be classified) but the classification of its officers will be gazetted in sections.
– What the honorable senator really wants is an assurance that there will be no delay in gazetting?
– No. What is required is an assurance that the classification of every officer will be gazetted at the same time.
– We have so frequently had promises given by Ministers in good faith which have not been carried out that I want provision made in the -Bill itself by which any classification which takes place shall be done as one unit, and at one time, and all officers affected by that classification shall start with the same chance.
– This is not a measure for delay. Rather it is a measure to make haste. The people have asked for reform in the matter of controlling the Public Service, and I believe that Parliament indorses that request. Now it is suggested that, because we cannot do the whole job in one day, or even in six or twelve months, we should hold every man up for two years before he can be classified and gazetted. It may take two years, ‘ or even- longer.
-brockman. - The first ones classified will be due for a reclassification by that time.
– Worse than that, in the meantime increments will be stopped. The Government do not want delay, and I urge the Committee to give us, an opportunity to bring this reform into operation at the earliest possible moment. I think the general principlewill act satisfactorily. ‘
– If the Government are going to gazette in sections, the persons who arefirst gazetted will become senior to all the others.
– Nothing of thesort.
– I can quote cases within my own knowledge. A 5th class clerk was appointed to a position higher than the one he was working in, and an advantage was given to him ,by. anincre ment, which gave him a chance to- be graded as a 4th class officer. The appointment was given to him, although he was years junior to a ‘number of other men who were passed over. It is a very serious matter to officers of lower grades to lose their chance of increment or promotion.
– Sub-clause 3 provides: -
The Board shall, as prescribed,’ consider the appeal in conference with a representative of the Permanent Head of the Department concerned, and with a representative of the organization to which the appellant officer belongs (or, if the appellant officer does not belong to any organization, with the officer himself), and following upon such conference the Board shall determine the appeal.
I move -
That the words “ a representative of the organization to which the appellant officer belongs (or, if the appellant officer does not belong to any organization, with the officer himself)” be left out, and the following words inserted in lieu thereof: - “the appellant or, if he so desires, with a nominee of the Public Service organization to which the appellant belongs, or with an agent (who is an officer) of the appellant.”
The object is to give the officer the greatest possible freedom in selecting somebody to represent him in ah appeal case. He can have a member of the organization, or an agent who is an officer of the Department.
-brockman. - Why not go one step further and allow him to have counsel?
– Not in ordinary departmental appeals.
– In this sub-clause, covering appeals against, classification, the appeal is from Caesar to Caesar. It is an appeal from the classification by the Board to the Board to ask them to undo their classification. That is not British justice. We have a Public Service Arbitrator. Why not let the appeal lie from the decision of the Board to the Arbitrator, who is independent?
– Why hot let the officer classify himself , and then he will be satisfied ?
– It should appeal to the common sense and British fair play of the Senate that an appeal from the Board’s classification should go before an entirely disinterested party.
-brockman. - You would need to appoint a .dozen more Arbitrators, and jet you want economy.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that there will be so much injustice in the classification of the Service by the Board that a dozen Arbitrators will be needed to hear appeals ? .
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further amended consequentially and agreed to.
With the case of any officer who is in receipt of a greater salary than the maximum salary determined under the classification to be appropriate to the office occupied by him, the Board shall deal in the following manner : -
If any such reduction of salary is cer tified by the Board to have been made on the ground only that no such office was available, the officer shall, notwithstanding the reduction, remain eligible for promotion as from the class or position to which his salary before reduction was incident, and shall be entitled to employment on the class of work to which his previous salary was. appropriate, as soon as a vacancy occurs therein, in preference to any other officer of the same ‘ or a lower class or position whose’ salary has not been so reduced;
If any officer whose salary has been reduced under the provisions of this section, and as to whom the Board has given a certificate under. the last preceding paragraph, retires from the Commonwealth Service, his salary at retirement shall for all purposes under this Act be taken to be the salary received by him prior to such reduction.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) proposed: -
That in paragraph (c), after the word “therein”, -the following words be inserted : - “which, in the opinion of the Board, he is competent to fill.”
– Paragraph c makes provision for the reduction of salaries. The Committee should consider not only the effect of a reduction of salary on the officer at the time, but also the fact that it will mean a large difference to his retiring allowance. We should provide that his retiring allowance shall not be affected by the reduction of salary, unless that re,dution is due to his own incompetence/”
– Does not the clause meet that difficulty in paragraph d ?
– The honorable senator overlooks the fact that the Minister proposes to’ strike out paragraph d. An officer may suffer a reduction of salary through classification, and he may also suffer later on by receiving a reduced retiring allowance.
Amendment agreed to.
That paragraph (d) be left out.
The reason for omitting this paragraph is that an officer may not retire after receiving a reduced salary, and it would not be equitable to give him compensation in lieu of furlough at the rate of a salary he received years before.
-Bkockman. - Could the Minister not make better provision by saying that the officer must retire within a given period?
– The difficulty is that some of them have nothing, and they want to hang on.
Question- That the paragraph proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved, in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed: to.
Clause 27 consequentially amended and agreedto.
Clause 28 agreed to.
Clause 29- (1.) Increments ofsalary which are prescribed within the limits- of- the. class . or in any: respect to any particular office, shall be annual, except. ‘where otherwise prescribed, and no incrementshall accrue to any salary until the officer in receipt of the salary has received the, salary,, for, a period-, of twelve months,-
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the word “ any,” line 2, be left out.
.- I move-
That the words “ except where otherwise prescribed “, sub-clause 1, be left out.
If this amendment is agreed to, it will involve that every increment in respect of any office shall, in . future, ‘ be annual. The. clause provides that an officer in receipt of an increment must be paid that increment for at least twelve months before he can be further advanced, and so be. made senior to other officers; If we retain in the clause the modification covered by the words “ where otherwise prescribed,” we may have increments provided for by regulations which may never come under our notice. My amendment, if agreed to, would strengthen the position of members of the Public. Service. It would’ prevent rapid promotions with a purpose behind them, which might be unfair- to the. Service generally.
.- The. point raised’ by Senator Senior is worthy of consideration. It would be: more satisfactory if- we had a definite rule controlling, the payment of salaries and increments throughout the Service. I do not. think that it would bet at all a” bad thing to make provision in the- Bill itself for- annual increments in allcases:
– Would the honorable senator grants an, increase- of salary- every year.. to a, man whether-, he deserved’ it or not?-
SenatorPAYNE. - The interjection shows , that: Senator.Cox. has not read the clause very carefully. It provides that, under departmental regulations, or By order, of the Governor- General, in Council, increments other than- annual increments may. be granted. Senator Senior wishes to, provide that, only annual increments shall be granted.
– Irrespective of financial considerations? The honorable senator would handicap Parliament.
– I should be glad to hear Senator Pearce’s objection to the proposal.
– There will be a regulation controlling increments, and we provide in the clause that they shall be annual, except where otherwise prescribed.
– I confess that Senator Senior’s amendment seems to me a very reasonable one.
.- I have pleasure in supporting the amendment. If Senator Pearce means by his interjection that increments must be governed by financial considerations, that should be dealt with in a separate provision. Under the clause as it stands, some regulations which we may never know anything about, may be passed . providing for the, granting of increments other than, annually - perhaps every three months, or every six months. I am prepared to support the amendment, retaining the right to vote for a new clause that all increments shall be subject to financial provi-sion to meet them being made by Parliament..
– There seems to be the usual misunderstanding about this clause, which indicates that honorable senators generally do not give much attention to the Public Service Act. When a boy enters the Service at from sixteen to. eighteen years of age, he. requires an increment each year to meet his growth and development, and his increase of experience. But when, we come to consider the case of heads of Departments paid, it may be, over £1,000 per year, are we to continue giving them annual increases? Not at all. They have reached the maximum salary of their offices. In growing Departments it is possible that officers in receipt of high salaries may be granted an increase of £50 or £100; but that is not usual. We should not be compelled to give such officers annual increments, but it is essential to grant annual increments to officers in lower positions whose responsibilities are increasing from year to year. The exemptions in the lower grades are few, because officers can only be prevented from receiving increases when the permanent head of their Department reports that their work or conduct has been ‘ unsatisfactory.
– I know of instances in which officers have received more than one increase in a year.
– And so do I. If a public servant is performing his work satisfactorily, and his conduct is good, he is entitled to an annual increase; but if his conduct has not been all that should be desired, the increase should be withheld. If the amendment moved by Senator Senior is adopted,*, we would be compelled to give officers who are already in receipt of the maximum salary annual increments, which we do not desire to do.
– The first portion of the clause reads : “ Increments of .salary which are prescribed within- the limits of a class ….. .” That is one prescription, and there is a rule or regulation in- Departments governing’ increments, which provide that they shall! be annual. The Government are perfectly free to: say ‘ whether increments, shall be ls. or £5 per annum. If the words “ except where otherwise prescribed “ are allowed to remain in the clause, an officer may receive more than one increase in a year which’ would enable him to be promoted to the 4th Division, when he would be eligible for promotion to the 3rd Division. That could all be done within twelve months. The Minister referred to annual increases, but there are many known cases in which more than one increase has been given in one year because of the existing regulation.
– This gives the power to prescribe that increases shall not be granted annually.
– And it also gives the power to grant increases more than once a year. I do not wish an officer to reach a superior position merely by having his salary raised, unless he is worthy of the position, and if we leave a loophole such as this, that can, and will, be done.
– Will the honorable senator refer to the latter portion of subclause 1.
– It reads, “ and no increment shall accrue to any salary until the officer in receipt of the salary has received the salary for a period of twelve months.” That may be altered by prescription, and officers have been granted increases more than, once a year under this provision. That is what I object to.
– The clause provides that increases shall be annual except where otherwise prescribed, and no increment shall accrue to any salary until the officer has been in receipt of that salary for the period of twelve months.
– The words except where otherwise prescribed” govern that also.
– That is not fair. Although the words to which I have referred are in the centre of the clause, they affect the latter portion, which provides that no increment shall be paid to any officer until he has received the salary for a period of twelve months.
-Bboqkman. - The words “except where otherwise prescribed” govern that.
– If such is the case, I intend to support Senator Senior’s amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out; - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the following words bo added to subclause (2) : - “and the period of attendance for duty during that year.”
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the words “ Chief Officer “ in sub-clause (3) be left out with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words “ Permanent Head.”
– I move -
That after the word “order” in sub-clause (3) the words “in writing.” be inserted.
This amendment provides that if the permanent head of a Department reports against an officer receiving an annual increment, he shall submit a report in writing concerning the offence with which the officer is charged.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Senator Russell) agreed to: -
That, after the word “increment” (first occurring) in sub-clause (3) the following words be added: - “ for such time as the permanent head considers justified.”
That the words “ Chief Officer “ in subclause (5) be left out , with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words” Permanent Head.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 30 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to: -
That the ‘words descriptive of Division (4), ” Examination- and Appointment of Officers,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Entrance Examinations and Appointments.’’
Clause 31 (Admission to Commonwealth Service).
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to: -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “(2.)The Governor-General may from’ time to time, on the recommendation of the Board, appoint such examiners as are necessary for the conduct of the prescribed examinations, and may at any time remove any examiners so appointed.”
Clause . also verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 32 (Examinations for Commonwealth Service).
– It is desired that this clause shall be inserted in a more appropriate part of the Bill.
Clause 33 - (1.) Separate entrance examinations shall be held in connexion with the Third and Fourth Divisions respectively,’ and shall be designed to test the efficiency and aptitude of candidates for employment generally or in particular offices in those Divisions, but the educational examination for the Fourth Division shall be of an elementary character……
.Will the Minister (Senator Russell) explain sub-clause 1?
– Officers in the Third Division are considered to be of a higher standard titan those classified in the Fourth Division; moreis required of them educationally. The Fourth Division largely embraces tradesmen, who are possessed of manualskill rather than of considerable educational qualifications. It is necessary, therefore, to conduct separate examinations.
-In Mr. McLachlan’s report there is a suggestion that certain alterations should be made in our Public Service legislation, and those proposed amendments I consider admirable. At present, persons who enter the clerical division must do so at the age of not less than sixteen. Mr. McLachlan suggests that opportunity should be provided for youths who are older, who have had longer school experience, and have undergone higher public examinations, to enter at a status and salary in keeping with those qualifications, rather than at the minimum in respect of a newcomer aged sixteen.
– There is already provision for that in the Bill. - If a youth remains at school and passes higher examinations than are ordinarily expected of him he receives consideration over and above that given to another lad upon entering at sixteen.
– I referred to this matter . in my second-reading remarks’ and was given to understand that the proposal would be adopted by way of a regulation.
– The Government are not averse from the proposition ; and, should -there be no . specific provision in the Bill, I shall undertake that the omission be remedied.
– The Board will be given considerable- power - and rightly so - to make regulations.- It may make them with respect to entrance to the Service.
– Special provision iri the direction indicated will be made’ in the . syllabus’ of examinations. For example, candidates who have passed the higher standards will not be automatically placed on the same basis as those who have not done so.
-I understand that this provision means that if a young man who has passed, a higher examination than that for the Fourth Division, enters the Service, he will be obliged to. start at the minimum salary?
– If the honorable senator will refrain . from discussing the matter now, I promise to make a definite statement upon it before . the Bill goes through this Chamber,
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council knows the point at which I am aiming?
– Yes. The honorable senator’s contention is that the boy who remains’ at school for . a couple of years after he has reached the age of sixteen years ought to be able to command a better wage!
– ‘Undoubtedly it is better that we should have in our Public Service youths of seventeen or eighteen’ years of age, who have had the benefit of additional education. However, as the honorable gentleman has promised to make a full statement upon the matter, I shall say no more.
Sub-clause 8 verbally amended.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 34 -
.- I do not know why it is necessary to retain this clause in, the Bill. I understand that it has been inserted principally for the benefit of young fellows who qualified for admission to the Public Service some time ago, and who afterwards enlisted. Seeing that it applies only to a period of nine months . after the declaration of peace, it seems to me to be entirely superfluous. I notice that a suggestion has been put forward that if it be retained, it should be made to apply to females as well as to males.
– We are still technically at war either with- Turkey on Bulgaria.
– I am very glad to know that, because it means that there ia still a future before some of these people. I therefore move-
That the word “male” be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 35 and 36 agreed to.
Clause 37 - (1). Except as hereinafter provided, every person admitted to the Commonwealth Service shall in the first’ instance be appointed by the Board on probation only, and may be continued in such probationary position for a period of six months, but his services may be dispensed- with, by the Board at any time during that period.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) proposed -
That the words “ in such probationary position,”’ be left out, with a’ view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ on probation.”
– la moving
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I regret that it has not . been possible to get the Tariff Bill to-day. It is not quite ready . for transmission to this Chamber, but lt is expected that it will be ready on the first day upon which we meet next weak.Of course; . the motion for- the first reading of the Bill will be merely a formal stage. ‘ There will be ample opportunity therefore between its first reading and the initiation of discussion upon its second reading, for honorable senators to make themselves familiar with the main principles of the measure.
– What business shall we go on with after the first reading of the Tariff Bill ?
– We shall proceed with the consideration of the Public Service Bill,
– Is it intended to finish . the consideration of that Bill before dealing with the Tariff ?
– That will be largely determined by the progress we make.
.- I should like to know the form which the discussion upon the Tariff Bill will take.
It will be the first time that I have . had the pleasure of participating in a Tariff debate, and I desire to know whether hon-. orable senators will have the same latitude extended to them as is extended to them upon a motion for the first reading of. a. money Bill?
– I may inform the honorable senator that’ the rule is that upon the motion for its first reading, honorable senators may discuss at large any Bill which the Senate may not amend. The Tariff is a Bill of that character.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210708_senate_8_96/>.