8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 11 of 1922- Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at West Kempsey, New South Wales.
Senator NEWLAND brought up a report from the Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence relating to the proposed establishment of an automatic telephone exchange at Box Hill, Victoria.
SenatorROWELL (for Senator Lynch) asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Whether the Government will authorize the Commissioner of Taxation to accept evidence of the unpaid balances from the Wheat Pools since 1916 as a ground for extending the time for payment of income tax by the taxpayers concerned ?
– The answer is: -
The Income Tax Assessment Act fully authorizes the Commissioner of Taxation to allow extensions of time to taxpayers for payment of their taxes wherever the circumstances warrant it. The Commissioner of Taxation has already delegated authority in this connexion to all his deputies, who consider each case on its merits.
asked the Minis ter for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The . answers are: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Regarding the Commonwealth’s annual or periodical financial contribution to the League of Nations -
If in arrear -
– The answers are : - 1-7. An amended allocation of the expenditure of the League was adopted by the Assembly of 1921, subject to ratification by the adhering countries in the usual way.
Australia paid £14,465, her full contribution for the year 1922, in accordance with the amended allocation on 7th March, 1922.
Subsequently advice was received that the amended allocation had not been ratified by some of the adhering countries, and that it would, therefore, be necessary for Australia to contribute for 1922 on the old basis.
The amount due to the end of 1922 is, therefore, approximately -
Provision for this amount hasbeen made on the Estimates for1922-23, and payment will be made when the Estimates have been passed.
Bill read a third time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th October, vide page 3237) :
Clauses 16 to 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 -
– I should be glad if the Minister (Senator Pearce) will explain what persons can possibly be affected by sub-clause 3 of this clause. It prescribes what is to happen where the pension calculated in accordance with this Act is “ less than the prescribed minimum.” Can there bo under this Bill a pension calculated in accordance with the measure less than the prescribed minimum?If so, what class of persons will be affected thereby?
– If the honorable senator will look at sub-clause 2 of clause 28, he will find that it provides that -
The minimum amount of pension to any contributor shall, except where this Act requires a pension to be actuarially determined, be two units, and the minimum amount of pension to the widow of a contributor or pensioner shall be one unit.
That covers the class of cases referred to, and clause 48 also has a bearing on this clause. It provides that -
Except where otherwise provided in this Act, in any case where in this Act provision is made for the pension of a person to be. actuarially determined, any pension under this Act to his widow in respect of her own life shall be one half of the amount so actuarially determined, but not less than one unit.
As I am on my feet, I may give an explanation of some words in sub-clause 1 of this clause which are a little obscure. In the case of an employee over the age of thirty years the following is an example of the method of calculating the Commonwealth contribution to the fund : - An employee, whose age is fifty years next birthday, contributes for four units at the rate for age thirty years. Twice the rate for age fifty years - four units - would be 50s. 8d. ; contribution for four units at age thirty, 8s. 5d.; difference 42s. 3d. The ratio is 42s. 3d. divided by 50s. 8d, which gives 507 over 608 as the fraction of pension payment to the fund, which in this case is practically five-sixths.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 to 22 agreed to.
Every contributor shall be entitled to a pension on his retirement on or after attaining the maximum age for retirement.
.- In view of the fact that a superannuation fund is to be established under this Bill for the benefit of members of the Public Service, will the provision of the Public Service Act for compulsory retirement at the age of sixty-five years be enforced without any exception?
– I intended to invite attention to this matter also. As honorable senators are no doubt aware, a recent decision of the High Court in the case of Le Leu versus The Commonwealth a South Australian case - was that the provision of the Public Service Act fixing sixty-five years as the age for compulsory retirement is inapplicable to officers transferred from the South Australian Service to the Commonwealth Service, because the Public Service Acts of that State, I think of 1881 and 1884, make no provision for retiring officers of the South Australian Public Service at the age of sixty-five, or, indeed, at any. age. As a matter of fact, members of that Service, so long as they are efficient, in good health, and ready to do so, may continue in the service of the State. On the transfer of South Australian public servants to the Commonwealth Service by the operation of the provisions of the Constitution, they retained that right. This Parliament legislated, fixing sixty-five years as the age for compulsory retirement, but it was held that the right which South Australian officers carried over under the Constitution enabled them to remain in the service of the Commonwealth after they had attained the age of sixty-five years. I take it that Senator Foil’s question is directed to that matter, and he desires to know whether officers who are now in a position to claim this transferred right will, in common with all others, when the superannua- tion scheme is established, be required to retire at the age of sixty-five years.
– There are two questions involved. The first is whether it is the intention of the Government, when the Superannuation Act is in operation, to insist in all cases on retirement at the age of sixty-five years. I am not prepared to answer that question in the affirmative. There may be cases where, in the interests of the Commonwealth, and not of the employee, it may be necessary to retain the services of a public servant after he has reached that age.
-Men have been so retained in the Service in several instances.
– In such a case, the Government would retain the services of the officer after he had reached the age for compulsory retirement under the Public Service Act. It is intended, of course, in the general run of cases, that officers shall be retired when they reach the age of sixty-five years. Whether a public servant is retained beyond the age of sixtyfive years, because of provisions in a State Act, and the constitutional application of such an Act, or by the action of the Commonwealth Government, does not affect the question. The answer in both cases is the same. He will not be required to continue his contributions after the age of sixty-five years, nor will the Commonwealth pay in any contributions after that age, and his pension will commence, not as from sixty-five years of age, but as from the time when he retires from the Service.
– I do not think that the . statement by the Minister (Senator Pearce) quite answers the questions I put. Doubtless the Government may exercise its right to retire a man compulsorily at or before sixty-five years of age. The High Court has held, in the case of transferred officers from South Australia, that the section of the Commonwealth Public Service Act which makes it obligatory for a public servant to retire at sixty-five years has no application to them. They are entitled to remain in the Service under the conditions applicable to officers in the Service of the South Australian Government under the Acts of 1881 and 1884. They had that right before Federation, and when they came over to the
Commonwealth as transferred officers, they carried their rights with them. Does the superannuation scheme involve, in its application, a uniform retiring age of sixtyfive years for all officers, or will the Commonwealth be in the position that it is in at present? At present transferred officers from South Australia, so long as they are efficient, able, and willing, may remain in the Service after reaching sixtyfive years of age. Will an officer, if this Bill is passed, be able to refuse to retire at sixty-five years? Will the question of retirement rest with the Commonwealth or with the officer?
– I do not think that any purpose would be served by pursuing this discussion, because the Bill does not affect the question one way or the other. The effect of the Bill is that if a servant should, under the judgment referred to, or for any other cause, continue in the Service beyond the age of sixty-five years, he would not make any further contributions, and his pension would commence from the date of his retirement.
– I realize that the reply given by the Minister (Senator Pearce) is practically the only one he can give until the main Public Service Bill has been amended to make retirement at sixty-five years of age compulsory for all officers. We have had the spectacle, in the State which I assist to represent, of officers being retired who have rendered long and faithful service. In view of the fact that we are providing for a superannuation scheme, and that, generally speaking, progress in the Publio Service is slow, I think it is fair that men who reach the age of sixty-five should be called upon to retire so as to increase the opportunity for younger men to advance. We know there have been many cases in which representations have been made by Heads of Departments, sometimes in the interest of the Department, and sometimes in the interests of the officers concerned, to retain men in the Service beyond the usual age for retirement. I have nothing to say against that in present conditions, but seeing that officers who have rendered long and faithful service, will, now be rewarded with a liberal pension, retirement at sixty-five years of age should be compulsory, except in very exceptional circumstances. I do not want to see old and faithful servantsthrown upon the world as they have been by the Labour Government of Queensland.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 24 agreed to.
Clause 25 (Retrenchment and discharge).
– This clause makes a distinction between “retrenchment” and “discharge.” In the case of retrenchment, the officer affected would be entitled to a pension, but in the case of discharge the pension would be on the basis of an “ actuarial equivalent.” The point is affected also by the following clause, the two clauses being practically inter-related. Three different terms are used - “retrenchment,” “ discharge,” and “ dismissal.” Why should there be a differentiation ? It is stated that acontributor shall be deemed to be “ retrenched “ if he has been in the Service “ not less than ten years,” and it ‘also says that he shall be deemed to be “ discharged “ if he has been in the Service “ for less than ten years.” It is a matter of time, but it might make a very great difference to the contributor. There might be a very small margin of difference between two men, one of whom would be subject to “ actuarial equivalent,” while the other would not. There might be a great deal of difference between the effect of this line of demarcation upon different individuals. [ do not like the look of the clause, because I can see cases of hardship resulting from it looming up ahead.
– Whether we think there should or should not be differentiation between those public servants who are “retrenched” and those who are “discharged,” it is obvious that we cannot deal with the matter on this clause, which is in the nature of a definition clause. I suggest that we postpone this discussion until we reach the clause which makes the differentiation. The only question which arises is the provision relating to ten years. If honorable senators will look through, not only this Bill, but the various Superannuation Acts, they will find that the period of ten years is generally employed. Persons who have served for a longer period than ten years are placed in a better position than those who have served for a shorter period. The object is to give some recognition to length of service. That is the only explanation I can supply of why the period should be ten, instead of eleven or twelve, years. Ten years is deemed to. represent a fair length of service, but it is necessarily an arbitrary period.
– My reason for calling attention to this matter is that I happen to know men in the Public Service who are not classified, and are regarded as temporary hands. They are not employees in the sense in which the Bill uses that word, but in their case a distinction is made which is almost a reflection on the individuals concerned. It occurred to me that the clause under discussion might operate detrimentally to such persons. I know it has been to the disadvantage of these public servants that they have been called employees when they are really unclassified officers. The line of demarcation proposed in the clause is exactly similar.
– Senator Senior has touched incidentally upon a matter that I intended to bring forward. What is the position of men who are employed temporarily in the Service for two or three years and are afterwards put on the permanent staff ? Will the period of ten years’ service date from the time whenthey were engaged as temporary hands or when they were appointed permanent?
– It will date only from the time when they became permanent employees.
– Some of these officers have been employed in a temporary capacity - notably, in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department - for three years. I am referring particularly to a number of returned soldiers, who were appointed temporarily to positions in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department during the period of the war. The policy of the Government, at that time, was not to make permanent appointments, so that no departmental employee at the Front would be debarred if he returned to take up his old position.
– It affects those men whose appointments could not be made because of the policy of the Government during the war not to make permanent appointments.
– That is so. I know of many men who have been doing permanent work for a number of years, but who were employed only in a temporary capacity. If they have qualified for appointment as permanent employees1, I think that, for the purposes of this Bill, their appointments should date from their entrance into the Service in a temporary capacity. This question cropped up when I was a member of tha State Railway Department in Queensland. When men who had served for a considerable period during the war as temporary employees were afterwards appointed to the permanent staff, their appointments dated as from the date of their entry into the Department; that is to say, their .service was regarded as continuous for Retirement and leave purposes. In many cases temporary employees in the Commonwealth! are actually employed: on permanent work. If a man has, say, three years’ temporary service, before: being appointed to the permanent staff, his period of employment iri a temporary capacity, for the purposes of this Bill, will not be taken into account. I contend that if a man so employed passes the necessary examination, and becomes a permanent employee, his service should commence from the actual date of his first employment, otherwise a great deal of injustice will be done to a large number of men, very many of whom are returned soldiers.
– They cannot be appointed if they are over the age.
– As honorable senators are aware, we have passed various Bills amending the Public Service Act, and in one we made provision that returned soldiers should, in certain circumstances, be allowed to join the ‘ Service over tha age limit fixed for civilian candidates foi admission. I think their case should be considered.
.- I do not know that this Bill applies to temporary employees at all.
– It does not.
– If not, then I think we shall be creating a difficulty and complicating the measure immensely if we attempt to include the service of a temporary employee in the term of service to be calculated in respect of him as an employee and a contributor. Senator Foll has quoted the case of men who may have been three years employed in a temporary capacity before they became permanent employees. It might so happen that instead of being only three years in temporary employment, an employee had been upwards of ten years in a temporary capacity. I observed the case the other day of a witness in one of our Courts stating, in reply to a question as to the nature of his employment, that he was a “ temporary caretaker “ or “ temporary doorkeeper,” and when he was asked how long he had been in that position he replied, “ Thirty-two years.” Suppose an officer in the Public Service had been in temporary employment for a considerable number of years - it is conceivable that he may. have been employed in that capacity for ten years - the introduction in a measure of this nature of any provision to regard his temporary employment as service for the purpose qf this Bill would necessarily complicate the whole scheme.
– There is continual pressure on Parliament to water down the provisions by which we attempt to insure an efficient Public Service, and I know of nothing more dangerous than this request to recognise temporary employment as permanent service, because, if acceded to, it will gradually do away altogether with the proper method of entering the Service. It opens the door to political patronage, which is the shortest cut. If Parliament agreed to the course suggested by Senator Foll, it would only be the beginning, not the end, of our troubles.
– I do not suggest that these men should be transferred from temporary to permanent employment without examination.
– No; but it will lead to that. If we break down the line of demarcation between temporary and permanent employment, we at once vitiate the principle upon which the Service is based. There is, too, a tendency, I am afraid, to speak of temporary employment as if it represents an injustice upon those who are given temporary work in the Public Service, whereas it is the one thing that so many people are asking for. They make one’s life a misery with their requests to get into the Public. Service, and immediately they secure employment very many of them turn round and suggest that some hardship or injustice is being inflicted upon them. I remember a case in point that amply bears out what I am saying. On one occasion, some few years ago, a man pestered me to get him some work, on the plea that he and his wife and children were in extreme need. He told me that if he could only get twelve months’ employment he would be a happy man. I went out of my way - I was not then a Minister - and managed to get him a temporary job.
– Was that a Government billet f
– Yes. Well, this man, as I say, got twelve months’ work, which was extended until finally he had three years’ employment in the Public Service. Then, when his services had to be dispensed with, he came to me and wanted1 me to bring up the question in Parliament and pester the Minister. I refused, and, as a consequence, I have made that man a bitter, lifelong enemy, simply because I would not use political influence to make his temporary job, which, when seeking it, he regarded as a blessing, into a permanent one.
– That would be using the back door for entrance into the Service.
– Attempts are always being made to do that. I have no doubt that every honorable senator could detail similar experiences.
– Was it not the policy of the Government not to make permanent appointments during the war period ?
– Yes, it was. But for that policy, many of these men would have been appointed permanently, and our soldiers, upon their return from the war, would have found their positions filled. This principle of not making permanent appointments during the war was strongly pressed on behalf of the returning soldiers themselves, and I suggest that what Senator Foll is proposing will only be the thin end of the wedge. If, for the purpose of this Bill, we regard temporary service as permanent, many other requests of a like nature, and which could not logically be refused, would be made.
– I have in mind cases in which, through no fault of the individual con cerned, permanent appointments were not made to the Service, because it was not the policy of the Government during the war to do so. If appointments had been made then, the ten years’ period of service would have been reached by many of these men three or four years earlier, and, therefore, they would have been entitled to the privileges of this measure. I know of hundreds of cases in South Australia of officers who were doing permanent work, and who were transferred with their offices to the Commonwealth. I mentioned this matter when speaking on the Public Service Bill, and I mention it again because of its effect upon these men in connexion with the superannuation scheme. As Senator Foll has pointed out, very many returned soldiers are affected. And suppose it is the thin end of the wedge, is that any reason why a manifest injustice should be done to a section of employees in the Public Service?
.- 1 do not think the Minister (Senator Pearce) had any intention oi misrepresenting me, but I can assure him that I was not speaking disparagingly of the policy of the Government to keep appointments open for soldiers who were away at the Front. That was quite the correct thing to do, and that course was heartily indorsed by the whole of the people. I merely pointed out that < had there not been a war many of these men would have become permanent employees, and would have had a recognised status in the Public Service. I still contend that their period of service should date from the date of their first appointment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 26 (Dismissal).
– In view of the ugly nature of the word “ dismissal,” and seeing that dismissal arising from any circumstances, other than those mentioned in the clause, might be from a cause which is not ordinarily responsible for dismissal - such as some misdemeanour on the part of the officer - I would suggest an alteration. In order that it shall not go forth to the world that an officer has done something of a nature that would be derogatory to his character, and to take some of
That after the word “ dismissal “ the words “for the purposes of this Act” be inserted.
– I have no objection to that.
Amendment agreed to. .
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 27 agreed to.
– I suggest that the words “except where this Act requires a pension to foe actuarially determined “ are not required, because the minimum pension in this case cannot be less than two units. I draw attention to clause 19, sub-clause 3, which provides that where a pension calculated in accordance with the Act is less than the prescribedminimum, and where the Act provides that the prescribed minimum shall be paid, the amount necessary to bring the pension up to the minimum shall be paid by the Commonwealth.
– Those words are necessary. If an employee were retrenched after contributing for only two or three years, he would get less than twounits of pension. If an employee were a beneficiary under a State pension - a transferred officer, for instance - the Commonwealth might only have to make up the difference, and that might be lees than two units. There are one or two other cases of a like character.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 29 (Amount of pension on retirement).
– I wish to be clear as to the pensions payable in the case of two classes of officers - those having reached the age of forty years at the commencement of the Act, and those subsequently entering the Service at the age of forty years or over. Officers in the former class would not necessarily be called upon to subscribe for a greater number of units than
– The amount of pension such officers would receive would be determined by the number of units for which they had been contributing. After the age of forty years, the officer has the option of increasing the number of units up to the maximum allowed.
– Coming under the Act after the age of forty years, will he be entitled to a higher pension than is prescribed for his unit contributions?
– He will only be entitled to the number of units of pension for which he has been contributing.
Clause agreed to.
Where a contributor, who has been in the Service for at least seven years, is retired on the ground of invalidity or physical or mental incapacity to perform his duties, he shall -
If the invalidity or incapacity is due to his own fault, be entitled to a pension which is the actuarial equivalent of the contributions made by him up to the time of his retirement.
– It seems to me that the contributor who is retired through sickness due to his own fault is to be in a better position than the unfortunate man who is discharged for a cause for which he was in no sense responsible. I thought at first that this disability might have to do with the length of service, but I notice that: under this clause a contributor who has been at f ault has only to be in the Service for seven years to enable him to retire and receive the pension, whereas a retrenched man may be in the Service for nine years and 364 days, and still be in the position that he only gets back the amount of the actual contributions made by him. I would like sub-clause (b) made quite clear as to whether “the actuarial equivalent of the contributions made” means that in this case the Commonwealth does not contribute anything towards that actuarial equivalent.
Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister for Home and Territories) differentiation. In the case of the man who is discharged, we give him hia money back. Where the man becomes invalided through his own fault, he gets the actuarial equivalent of what has been paid in. The contributor who receives his money back can put it into some annuity society that will give him the actuarial equivalent.
– I have been looking into the point raised by Senator Garling, and intended making certain observations at a later stage, but I think it would be well to recognise now that many of these clauses are so closely related that it is necessary to draw attention to certain points at this juncture. Senator Garling has mentioned that a public servant who has to be retired or discharged through invalidity due to his own action, is placed in a better position.
– How is he?
– Clause 40 refers to contributors who have resigned or have been dismissed or discharged, and that may include persons who have rendered nine and a half years’ service. A person retrenched will have the contributions returned to him, but a person who, perhaps, has to leave the Service in consequence of wilful neglect or misbehaviour causing invalidity, has an advantage over the man who is retrenched through no fault of his own.
– What is the difference?
– A man retired in consequence of invalidity due to his own fault will be in a better position, because he will, receive more than his actual contributions.
– If I say that I will pay a person £25, or allow him an actuarial equivalent weekly, what is the difference 1
– Does the Minister think that a public servant dismissed in consequence of invalidity occasioned by his own neglect should be granted the same benefits as one who is retrenched?
– One is incapacitated and the other is not.
– It may be that a man retrenched may have a large family, whilst the one retired in consequence of invalidity due to his own action, may have no responsibilities, and there should be a distinction.
– The position may b» reversed.
– I agree with Senator Garling nhat this clause opens up an important phase of the whole question.
– Will the Minister, (Senator Pearce) be good enough to explain the second point I raised when previously addressing the Committee. In the case of invalidity, will a public servant receive a pension based on his contributions only, or upon any payments which the Government may contribute to the scheme ?
– Only upon his own contributions.
– The Minister is probably right in saying that the actuarial equivalent does amount to the same, because we can assume that a man who ha» been in the Service ten years, and has contributed £i per annum would., when discharged, receive £40. It would represent a very small pension; but the other man would be getting the actuarial equivalent.
– In some cases the actuarial equivalent may mean that the person is getting his money back, or a pension on what he has contributed alone, whereas in another case it may mean, plus the contribution of the Government, and as the> same term is used in both instances, it is somewhat confusing. In the case of a, public servant who is retrenched, I should imagine that the actuarial equivalent would be plus the amount contributed by the Government. In the case of a person who has a pension on retirement necessitated by his own actions, I understand that he will be paid only the actuarial equivalent of his subscriptions.
– Is not the payment suggested somewhat similar to that offered as the surrender value of a policy taken out in. a life assurance society?
– The actuarial equivalent, as Senator Reid suggests, might be in the form of a lump sum or a pension based on a lump sum ; but in regard to the contributions handed back it is clear it is only his own money. Where the Government contribution is also included, it is distinctly stated in the Bill.; and if honorable senators will refer to the concluding paragraph of clause 29 they will see the position clearly set out. In this instance it is a return of the public servant’s contribution.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 31 (Pension to widow and children on death of contributor).
– (Tasmania) £12.10]. - I desire to direct the attention of the Minister (Senator Pearce) to the fact that this clause is limited in its application to the widow of a male contributor. I have no doubt that the Minister and honorable senators are aware that there are many cases in which officers in the Service are not married, but who have persons dependent upon them quite as much as would be a wife. A male contributor to the fund may be the mainstay of the household, which might consist of a mother, sisters, and younger brothers. When we were discussing an earlier clause, I read what I considered an interesting letter from a returned soldier, who placed his budget before me, and I was able to bring before the Committee this man’s responsibilities, particularly in the matter of paying for a War Service Home and meeting the premiums on a life assurance policy. This communication is written in a very temperate and calm way.
– Senator Fairbairn brought up similar cases, and I replied to the point raised.
– Yes, I have been waited upon by officers in the Central Administration in Melbourne, and I referred them to Senator Fairbairn and other Victorian senators. This officer, whose budget I submitted to the Committee yesterday, wrote, inter alia -
Another desirable amendment without which the Bill seems to be incomplete, is in the direction of pensions to dependants other than wife and children. From the information to hand, the parent or parents who are dependent upon a public servant wholly or in part, are not entitled to a pension in the event of the death of that public servant. Take as an example my own case. If I am a contributor to this fund, and my life policy is cancelled, my mother would get absolutely nothing in the way of a pension, and there are in the Launceston office several similar cases. This seems to me a very undesirable feature of the proposed Act.
The writer of the letter from which I have quoted, and which I mentioned yesterday is the sole support of his mother ; in fact, of the whole household, and all expenses were met by him out of his salary, which is £168 per annum, but which is brought up to £210 per annum- by adding the basic wage and other allowances. After he pays for the maintenance of the household, meets his payments for a War Service Home, discharges his obligations in the way of insurance and life assurance, he has approximately £21 left per annum for clothing and meeting sundry and emergency expenditure. It seems to me that there should be some provision in the Bill to enable a bond fide dependant of a single man to derive the benefits to be paid to a widow of a male contributor. There are cases where officers in the Service have palpably remained single because they are the sole support of a widowed mother, and in such instances the Government should have power whereby when satisfied .with the bona fides of a dependant, to pay to the mother what would in the case of a married man go to the widow. The Minister has had a good deal of experience in connexion with similar cases in relation to War Service Homes administration, and he possibly encountered a number where the Department was imposed upon. In this case, however, the Government would - be- dealing with officers under their immediate observation, and if there was a provision in this measure which would enable an officer to acquire the benefit for his widowed mother, it would meet many deserving cases. Ho would, of course, have to notify the Department long before the benefit would accrue to . the dependant, and the Department- would have every opportunity of checking the bona fides of the claim. The Government should give some consideration to the matter before the Bill leaves this Chamber. In the case of military service, a man who went abroad made his allotment, and in a great number of instances he was not known to any one in the Defence Department until the time of his - enlistment. Here we are dealing with officers of the Public Service who will be under daily and hourly observation. If an officer can establish the bona fides of his claim that his mother is dependent’ upon him, I think we should provide that in the event of his death, she should be given the pension which would be given to his widow if he had been married. I am not dealing with an. isolated case. I suppose that .every member of the Committee knows some public servants who are the absolute support of widowed mothers, and perhaps of sisters or other members of the family to which they belong. The Government could protect themselves in the case of these permanent officers of the Public Service, in a way which would have been impossible in the case of members of the Australian Imperial Force.
– Such cases as the honorable senator has referred to appeal to the sympathy of us all. There can be no doubt that if the Committee decided that this Bill should cover such cases, regulations could be drafted which would fully protect the Department against imposition. There would be no difficulty about that. But I remind honorable senators that to do so would immensely widen the scope- of the Bill, and must involve increased contributions. The Bill is drafted to cover certain definite cases, and every extension of its scope must increase the contributions. Senator Keating has himself expressed doubt as to whether the officer to whom he specially referred would be able to pay even the contribution for which he will be liable under the Bill as it stands, and, if the rate of contribution is to be increased, there must be many who will have great difficulty in meeting it. It should not be forgotten that the man who is the support of a widowed mother derived considerable benefits under the scheme. He is insured superannuation benefit on his retirement, and invalidity pension at any time should he become an invalid. Ho may marry, and in that event he is insured a pension, should he die, for his widow and children. So that, for the modest contribution he is called upon to make under the Bill, he is given substantial benefits. I have looked through a great many superannuation schemes, and I know of none that covers such a claim as tha.t put forward by Senator Keating. They are all limited to the class of cases dealt with by this Bill. I suggest to the Committee that it would be unwise to make provision in this Bill for such cases as Senator Keating has referred to, because, to do so, must increase the rates of contribution, and this would mean that the Bill would have to be withdrawn temporarily, in order that an actuarial investigation might be made to estimate the increase of contribution that would be necessary. We should have to find out the number of single males in the Public Service, and then, in some way, the number pf them who were supporting their mothers. If such a provision were inserted it would mean that the Bill could not be passed this session. The matter is one which can be looked into, and I have 110 objection to it being considered fully, but it is impossible to deal with it in this Bill if the measure is to be passed this session. The case submitted by Senators Keating, Fairbairn, and other honorable senators has merits, but I ask that it should not be pressed at this juncture.
– After hearing what the Minister (Senator Pearce) has said concerning the difficulties surrounding the introduction of ‘a provision for pensions’ for the widowed mothers of unmarried male contributors, I realize that to press the matter at this stage might prejudice the passage of the measure altogether this session. I agree with the suggestion that the Bill should be passed in its present form, and the matter to which Senator Fairbairn and I have referred can later .be considered and determined. If it is thought desirable by a future Parliament to make such provision as I have suggested, an amendment of the Act can be proposed and dealt with.
– I agree that it would be unwise to press the amendment of this Bill in the way which has been suggested. To make provision for a pension for a widowed mother would add an additional burden to the fund. The number of such cases would represent but a small percentage of the total contributors to the fund. I hope that the matter will be gone into and fully considered at no distance date.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 32 agreed to.
Clause 33 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 34 -
On the death of a female contributor before retirement, there shall be paid to her personal representatives, or, failing them, to such persons as the Board determines, a sum equal to the actual amount of the contributions paid by her to the fund.
– I am going to suggest that this clause should be left out. The position in the case of an unmarried male contributor who dies in the Service is that his contributions remain in the fund. I do not see why we should burden the fund with the contribution in the case of an unmarried female contributor for the benefit of her personal representatives or such persons as the Board may determine, if she should die in the Service. It appears to me that the clause draws an unnecessary distinction between the unmarried man who dies before retirement from the Service and the unmarried female who dies before retirement. It may be regarded as ungallant to speak in this way, but the Bill has been drawn up to give simple justice to the contributors, and I do not see why one sex should bo favoured more than another. I can see no reason for the discrimination. The Minister may be able to give some instances in support of this clause, but failing a satisfactory reason for it, I shall vote against it.
– I do not think that we can leave this clause out. If a male contributor dies in the Service, unmarried his contributions romain in the fund. He is in any event given a right to secure a pension for his widow and children should he marry. That is not a right which can be enjoyed by the female employee. We have to take into consideration the circumstances which cause the female employee to be working in the Public Service for her living. It will generally’ be found that it is because she has to contribute to the upkeep of a home.
– I should think that might be said with greater force of the male employee.
– I do not think so. I believe there are more selfish bachelors than selfish spinsters. The unmarried male has a duty to the community and to the fair sex which he has not discharged. In the case of the spinster, except it be in leap year, she is not given an opportunity of putting an important question. There is some ground for differentiating in favour of the female contributor i’’. the way this clause does.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 35 -
. - This is to some extent a machinery clause, and 1 am somewhat puzzled by the drafting of sub-clause 3. I would like the Minister (Senator Pearce) to explain exactly what it means. It seems to me to mean that the payments, which are made by way of pension out of the Superannuation Fund after it is established, shall be repaid to the Superannuation Fund out of the Consolidated Revenue. The clause is involved, and perhaps my question is also. Should not the expression, “ the payments from’ that fund,” be limited to so much of such payments as represent the Commonwealth’s share thereof? Will there not be instances of payment of pension out of Consolidated Revenue prior to the establishment of the Superannuation Fund, and for which the Treasurer will have to be recouped as to that portion of such payments as represent the contributor’s share thereof?
.- When this Bill is assented to,, there will be no Superannuation Fund in existence, but certain payments will be due to persons who have retired. The whole of those payments will come out of the Government’s, and not the employees’, contributions. Therefore, there is no necessity for the payments to be made out of the Superannuation Fund, and that fund to be afterwards recouped from the Consolidated Revenue. The payments might just as well be made in the first place from the Consolidated Revenue. That will be done. On the Act becoming operative, steps will be taken to establish the Superannuation Fund, but there will be a period during which there will be very little in the fund. During that period, the payments will have to be made from the Consolidated Revenue. There will be some employees who will retire almost as soon as the Bill becomes law, and this clause has been drafted by the Treasurer to provide for such contingencies.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 36 (Employee attaining maximum age and retiring on or after 31st December, 1920, and before passing of Act).
– I desire to draw the Minister’s attention tosub-clause 2 of this clause, which reads -
A pension under this section shall be payable only from the passing of this Act, and shall carry widows’ and children’s benefits in accordance with this Act.
Seeing that the section is intended to meet the case of those employees who, on or after the 31st December, 1920, and before the passing of the Act, have been retired or permitted to retire, does the sub-clause mean that if a man is retired . on, say, 31st January, 1921, his pension will be made retrospective to the date of his retirement or to the date of the passing of the Act? Will the. man get no consideration for the period between the 31st January, 1921, and the date of the commencement of the Act? I understood that the object of those who drafted the Bill was to insure that all men who were in the Service on the 31st December, 1920, and who have since retired, should be placed upon the same footing as though we had passed the measure into law at the date of their retirement.
– The honorable senator’s first interpretation is the correct one.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 37 and 38 agreed to.
Clause 39 (Retrenchment of contributor - choice of benefits).
– I desire again to ask for information, so that we may clear up a slight apparent ambiguity between two paragraphs of sub-clause 3, which provides -
Where an employee, who has been retrenched and is in receipt of a pension, re-enters the Service the following provisions shall apply: -
the pension shall not cease to be payable; and
Paragraph b appears to contradict the immediately preceding paragraph a, and I would suggest to the Minister the advisability of adding a few words to the end of paragraph b so as to make it read -
He shall contribute as provided in Fart III. of this Act, but shall not be entitled to claim any further benefit in respect of his previous service other than is provided in paragraph (a) hereof.
The words “ further benefit “ are apt to be wrongly construed, but could not be wrongly construed if we added to the paragraph the words I have suggested.
– The representative of the Crown Law Department expresses the opinion that the additional words suggested by Senator Garling are unnecessary. An officer should clearly have the right to contribute fora further benefit if he is entering upon a further period of service. The clause simply means that he would not get two pensions in respect of his previous period of service.
– As I have the Minister’s assurance that the amendment I have suggested is not necessary, I shall not press it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 40 -
– This clause states that where an employee resigns, or is dismissed or discharged, he shall get his contributions back. No two meanings can be attached to the word “resigns,” but “dismissal” is an ugly word, and has a very clear import. If an employee is “dismissed” or “ discharged,” it carries the implica- tion that he has done something wrong. Sub-clause 2, however, provides that he may re-enter the Service. Clause 29 deals with employees who elect to retire or are retired. Tn these cases, the Department says, “ Please leave our employment,” and the man receives a pension on an actuarial basis. In the other case, the Department says, “ Leave the Service, you have not done your duty,” and then we make provision for him to re-enter the Service. If a man is discharged for convenience of the Department-
– That would be “ retrenchment,” not “dismissal.”
– It seems to be something like the grocer’s eggs. There are eggs, fresh eggs, new-laid eggs, selected eggs, country eggs, and other eggs. Which class of eggs are we defining? However, I think I will leave this matter to the legal members of the Chamber to determine.
– This clause gives me an opportunity to bring under notice a matter that I referred to earlier in the debate on a previous clause. Senator Lynch has raised the question with regard to the refund of the amounts paid in by those who may be dismissed or discharged. There is a very great deal of difference between a dismissed and a discharged officer; but, according to clause 25, if, through a policy of retrenchment, the services of an officer are dispensed with -after he has served, say, nine and a half years, he is regarded as having been discharged from the Service. Under this clause that officer will be placed in exactly the same category ‘as an officer who has been dismissed through misbehaviour and inattention to duty. Both, so far as the return of their contributions to the Superannuation Fund is concerned, will be treated alike, although in the one case an officer may have lost his employment through a policy of retrenchment and through no fault of his own, while the other man may have been dismissed for misconduct. I think a discharged officer should receive something more than his contributions to the fund.
– Evidently the honorable senator has not noted the provisions of clause 39, which meet the case mentioned by him.
– The point I am making is that, according to clause 25, no differentiation is made between a discharged officer, that is to say, one who may ]cse his employment through misbehaviour, and an officer who loses his employment through a policy of retrenchment. According to paragraph b of clause 25, if a contributor to the fund loses employment through retrenchment, and if he has not been in the Service for ten years, he will be deemed to have been discharged’.
– If his loss of employment is due to retrenchment, clause 39 will operate.
– According to clause 26, the compulsory termination of the services of a contributor, however expressed, other than retirement on a pension, retirement for invalidity, or retrenchment or discharge, shall be deemed to be dismissal. Clearly, it is unfair that an officer who is discharged through no fault of his own should be on the same plane, in so far as the return of his contribution to the fund is concerned, as a man who has been dismissed from the Service.
– Undoubtedly, owing to the absence of any differentiation between the case of a man who has been dismissed and an officer who has been discharged, instances of hardship will crop up; but I am afraid that we shall have to take the rough with the smooth. I want to direct attention to the first paragraph of clause 29, which provides .that any contributor who has attained the age of sixty years and elects, or is called upon, to retire before attaining the maximum age for retirement, shall be entitled to a pension which is the actuarial equivalent of his contributions; and this clause, which has to be interpreted according to its own words, stipulates that where a contributor resigns from the Service, there shall be paid to him the amount of the actual contributions paid by him under the Act, irrespective of the cause of his resignation. We will assume .that an officer resigns ,at the age of sixty years. This clause will cover his case, but if we look at clause 29 we shall find that we have already made provision for the case -of a man who has attained sixty years of age and elects to resign, in which case he would get a pension according to the actuarial equivalent of his contributions. to the fund. Clause 40, standing alone, is not capable of being read alone, as it should be, and therefore we should insert these words at the commencement of the clause -
Except where otherwise provided under this Act.
I urge upon the Minister that, as fan as possible, we should frame each clause to read as if it stood alone.
– The clause quoted by the honorable senator deals with different cases - one with resignations and the other with retirement. A man at sixty years of age does not resign - he retires.
– But we have no definition of what is meant by retirement in this Bill.
– In the Public Service Act I believe there is a differentiation indicated between resignation and retirement.
– I am not going to press the matter, as I have no legal supporters in the Chamber to bear me out. But, clearly, the ordinary interpretation of the word ‘ ‘ resign ‘ ‘ covers the case of a man who, having reached the age of sixty years, retires from the Ser.v10e
Clause agreed to.
Clause 41 (Desertion by male pensioner of wife or child).
– I regret that more liberal provision is not being made for the wife or children of a pensioner who deserts her or them. In common fairness a deserted wife of a pensioner should get something more than would be payable in the case of a widow of a pensioner. This, undoubtedly, is a case of manifest hardship, and is one in which something may be done without any undue interference with the basis upon which the Superannuation Fund has been built, because .no actuaries can possibly have any actuarial basis upon which to determine what proportion of men in the Service are likely to become wife-deserters. There1 is adequate provision made in clause 63 in the case of a man who does not desert his wife and children, but who, through mental disorder, is confined in a lunatic asylum; and I suggest that treatment on the same lines should he given the widow or children of a deserting pensioner. Clearly, then, it is infinitely better for the unfortunate wife or children for the pensioner to .become mad than for him to take the law into his own hands and desert the family ; because, in the case of a deserted wife and children, the pension payable to the deserting father, who ought to be the breadwinner of the family, does not go to him at all. It is simply retained in the fund, and a certain proportion only is payable to the wife and children. I urge the Minister to reconsider this clause, which may impose a grave injustice upon the wives or children of some pensioners in the fund.
– I cannot follow the logic of the honorable senator’s argument. It seems to me that the argument should be all the other way. In the case of a deserted wife, there is always the possibility of being able to recover something from the husband. She can sue for maintenance.
– But under this clause he will lose his pension.
– In some cases the wife may be contributing to the reason for desertion.
– That is so. If the husband leaves her she has her legal remedy. But if he dies, clearly she is in a much worse case. As regards the comparison between a deserted wife and the wife of a man who becomes insane, there is every reason why greater consideration should be shown to the ‘ latter, because she may be called upon to contribute something towards the maintenance of her husband in an asylum. I think that if the honorable senator looks at this clause again he will admit that there is very good reason why it should stand.
– I have already considered that aspect of the matter. I note that clause 43 provides for the retention of an insane male pensioner in a Government hospital. We have hospitals in New South Wales that, are not Government hospitals. Possibly those responsible for the draftsmanship of the Bill took very good care that in the unfortunate case of the lunacy of a contributor he would require to go to a Government. hospital, because the Government would then be recouped to some extent from the fund. I repeat that this clause may work a serious hardship upon the wives of certain contributors to the fund, and it is one which, in common justice, should receive the most careful consideration of the Government.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
Clause agreed to.
Where a male pensioner is sentenced to imprisonment for any period exceeding one month, payment of his pension under this Act shall be discontinued during the period of his imprisonment; and
if his wife is alive, she shall, during that period, be entitled in accordance with the provisions contained in section thirty-two of this Act, as if the pensioner were dead, to pension for herself and for children who were dependent upon the pensioner, unless the. Board is satisfied, after making such inquiry as it thinks fit, that payment to the wife is undesirable ; or
– The same principle prevails in connexion -with this clause as with clause 41, but I wish to draw attention to the provision made in sub-clause a, which accentuates the harshness of the previous clause. The children, unfortunately, would be the sufferers. We should not legislate in a way that would operate harshly against innocent persons. I put it again to the Minister that it would not prejudice the foundation of the scheme if we permitted the pension to be paidto the wife or children during the husband’s period of imprisonment.
– Each case must be considered on its merits or demerits.
– What is the position of the wife now when the husband goes to gaol ? She receives nothing, and has to be satisfied with any money that may have been saved up. But under the Bill she will have £1 per week, and £13 per year for each child under sixteen years of age. There may be good reasons why a wife should not receive any pension in such circumstances. I cannot conceive of any Board being so heartless as to leave children unprovided for.
– To adopt the suggestion of Senator Garling would be placing a premium upon dishonesty.
– It would be a scandal on the whole scheme.
Clause agreed to.
Where a male pensioner is detained as a patient in a Government hospital for the insane, the Board may cause his pension, or any part thereof, to be paid, during the period of detention, to his wife if alive, or if his wife is dead or divorced, to some person for the use of such of the children of himself or of his late wife as are under the age of sixteen years, in such proportion as the Board thinks fit.
– Is there not a possibility of a pensioner, who has been placed in a house of detention through being considered insane, reaching that stage of convalescence that would enable him to return to his home, though not to his position in the Service ?
– If he were not insane, he would come under the invalidity provisions. I do not see why the word “ Government “ should be retained. I move -
That the word “ Government “ be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 44 to 48 agreed to.
Clause 49 (Break-down pensioner to be deemed to be on leave).
– I would like to know if this clause would apply even if the contributor had had to go on leave through incapacity occasioned by his own fault. It would appear to me that if a man were invalided out of the Service, through his own fault, he would get the very considerable concession provided under this clause. Does the clause mean that if a contributor is restored to his position he is to be treated as thoughhe had never gone out of the Service?
– Whether he returns to the Service or not is to be determined, not by this Bill, but by the Public Service Bill. If he does return, provision is made for him under this clause. A man may break his arm in playing football and be away from the Service for a mere matter of a week or two.
– He might be absent for a considerable period on account of some illness which would make it undesirable for him to associate with his fellow employees. I want to know whether the officer is to be treated on these very liberal lines.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 50 agreed to.
Clause 51 -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, an employee who has a vested or contingent right to a pension, superannuation allowance, or gratuity under any other Act (not including the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act 1920-1921) or State Act shall not be required or permitted to contribute for units of pension under this Act, except in pursuance of the provisions of this Division, nor shall pension under this Act be payable to or in respect of any such employee except in pursuance of those provisions.
.- The Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act is excepted, but the War Gratuity Act is not excepted. There are many men who have not received ‘the entire amount of the gratuity, and they have still a contingent right under that Act. Is there any reason for not excepting that Act also?
– There was a date fixed by which claims under the War Gratuity Act had to be made, and I think that that date has expired.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 52 -
Any employee referred to in section fiftyone of this Act, who-
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert after the words “ fifty-seven “, line 9, the words “or fifty-eight.”
The reason for this and succeeding amendments is thatclause 51 of the Superannuation Bill excludes from the general provisions of the Bill any employee who has a vested or contingent right to a pension, superannuation allowance, or gratuity under an Act or State Act. Clause 57 empowers an employee who has a right to a pension or superannuation allowance under any such Act or State Act to convert to a right under this Bill, while clause 58 gives a similar right to an employee who has a right to a gratuity under any such Act or State Act. Some of the clauses intervening between 51 and 57 give an employee, who has a right to convert under clause 57 a right to receive or elect for the difference between the value of that right and the right which, but for that right, he would have under this Bill. No similar provision is made in respect of employees who have the right to convert under clause58, that is, those who have a right to a gratuity, though not to a pension or superannuation allowance. Under the New South Wales Act both classes are provided for. In New South Wales, when, in 1895, pensions were abolished, inducements were held out by the Government to contributors to cease contributing to the fund, and, if they did so, provision was made for them to receive a gratuity and a refund of their contributions. The majority of the New South Wales officers ceased contributing, and are, therefore, entitled, not to a pension, but to a gratuity. A correspondent has urged upon the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Milieu) the desirableness of the Bill being amended to permit employees who have a right to a gratuity, as well as those who have a right to a pension, to receive the additional benefits. The Statistician states that this alteration would not affect the actuarial basis of the scheme. He fur-! ther states that it would not render necessary the revision of the estimate of the cost to the Government, for the reason that the actuaries’ estimate was based on the assumption that no employees had any State rights, and that all wouldbe eligible to contribute to the full to the Commonwealth scheme. In view of the statement of the Statistician, and the fact that the suggested alteration is, in my opinion, equitable, and brings the Bill in this respect into line with the State Act, I recommend that the suggested amendments be made.
.- Clause 51 refers to employees who have a vested or contingent right to a pension, superannuation allowance, or gratuity under any other Act. Several officers who were originally in the employ of the Tasmanian Government were transferred to the CommonwealthService with some consideration in the form of a gratuity, which was not granted under an Act, but by a resolution of the twoHouses of the Tasmanian Parliament. I should like to know what the position of such officers will be under this Bill, because the clause distinctly states, “ under any other State Act.”
– They would come in in the ordinary way, and no notice would be taken of the fact that they received consideration under a resolution, and not under an Act. They would be able to convert their rights under the division we are now dealing with.
– Are we to understand that the amendment has been moved because of an omission from the original Bill?
– Such provision was not made originally in the measure. The matter had been overlooked, but representations have since been made.
– This morning I received a communication from New South “Wales in regard to an important amendment in connexion with clause 51, concerning which representations have been made to the Attorney-General, I presume, of theCommonwealth (Mr. Groom). I understood those representations had been submitted by letter, and that the communication was due here today. As the wire does not disclose the nature of the amendment, I was wondering whether that which the Minister has moved is the result of representations of that character?
– In connexion with the point raised by Senator Payne, did I understand the Minister to say, in regard to officers transferred from the Tasmanian to the Commonwealth Service, that the rights they possessed in regard to gratuities or retiring allowances would be preserved to them, notwithstanding the provisions of this Bill?
– Senator Payne put the case of a gratuity, and not of a pension, granted under a resolution of both Houses, and not under a State Act. I said that they would come in as ordinary contributors.
– I was not quite clear as to the Minister’s reply, as I was interrupted at that particular moment; but there should be no doubt as to their position. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth a resolution was passed by both Houses of the Tasmanian (StateParliament providing for a gratuity or retiring allowance to officers leaving the Service on completion of their full term, and the basis of calculation was set out in the resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council. It has always been acted upon, and after the establishment of the Commonwealth was applied in connexion with officers who did not transfer. The question, I understand, raised by Senator Payne, is whether the claims of these persons, transferred from the State to the Commonwealth Service, will be considered, as their position is totally different from that of any other public servant who came over from a State with corresponding rights secured by Statute.
– My advice is that it does not affect them.
.- I understand that these officers were taken overby the Commonwealth after provision had been made by resolution to grant them certain retiring allowances, and that the pensions created by those resolutions were, to be honoured by the Commonwealth. If they retired before this measure came into operation they would, in some instances, have fairly substantial sums due to them, which were supposed to be met by the Commonwealth. They are anxious to know if the consideration given them by the Tasmanian Parliament will be honoured or not, and whether their rights will be preserved to them.
– They were not rights under the Constitution, but given as a matter of grace.
– They have been continuing in the Service of the Commonwealth in the belief that the benefits provided under that resolution would be honoured.
– I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter. I do not knew what legal rights, if any, such officers have, and I am not in a position to say whether the Commonwealth will or will not do what the State Parliament proposed on their behalf.
– Their claims have been honoured in the past.
– That may be so; but I wish to make it quite clear that this clause does not affect them either way.
– Clause 57 might.
– This clause does not either take away or add to any rights, and, therefore, we cannot prejudice whatever claims they may have by passing it.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [2.56].- I know of a Queensland officer who has retired from the State Service, and is drawing a pension, and who has since entered the Commonwealth Service. “Would such an officer be debarred from subscribing to this fund?
– That is dealt with in clause 51.
Request agreed to.
Clause agreed to, subject to a request.
Clause 53 agreed to.
Clauses 54 and 55 agreed to, subject to requests for consequential amendments.
– Why is it provided that clause 55 and certain other clauses should come into operation on the day on which the Act receives the Royal assent, and not when it is proclaimed, as in other cases?
– Provision is made that clauses affecting those who retire immediately after assent is given to the Act shall come into operation when assent is given to it.
Clause 56 agreed to.
Clause 57 -
Consolidated Revenue Fund for all such payments less the actuarial equivalent of the contributions made under the last preceding subsection.
– The point mentioned by Senator Payne and myself on clause 51 arises under sub-clause 1 of this clause. There are a number of transferred officers, with rights under State Statutes which they carried over on their transfer to the Commonwealth Service by the operation of the Constitution. This clause will apply to them, but the Tasmanian. officers to whom reference has been made are not in that position; there was no Public Service Act in force in Tasmania at the time Federation was established.
– Was the resolution which has been referred to passed on the eve of the establishment of the Commonwealth ?
– No; it was not passed in anticipation of Federation. The resolution was passed by both Houses of the State Parliament long before the establishment of the Commonwealth, and before the passing of a State Public Service Act. That measure was passed in 1900, but it was held up for the Royal assent, which was not given to it until the middle of 1901. An Act had been promised for many years in Tasmania, but the promise was not completely fulfilled until 1901. There was, however, provision made in the meantime for retiring officers by the passing of a joint resolution, of both Houses of the State Parliament. Since the Commonwealth has been established, the Federal authorities have never at any time objected’ to act upon the resolution referred to, and have paid retiring allowances to transferred Tasmanian officers according to thescale provided in the resolution. The question is whether any advantage would be gained by transferred Tasmanian officers from commuting theirso-called right under this clause, and whether they might do so under the clause as it stands. If they have not the right to do so, we might consider whether it is desirable to insert soma words in this clause to secure to such officers a right corresponding to that which will be enjoyed by officers transferred from the other States where Public Service Acts were in operation before the establishment of the Commonwealth.
S3. 4]. - Senators Keating and Payne lave raised a point that is new. I understand that the payment of the retiring allowance to Tasmanian officers to which ‘they referred might be stopped at any time by either the Commonwealth or the Tasmanian Government. They are payments made merely as an act of grace, and are quite different from allowances paid in accordance with legal rights given by State Acts such as are referred to in this clause. I think it should be left to the Board to decide how these cases should be treated.
– Would the Board have any discretion to decide under this clause 1
– I presume that they will have the same discretion as the Commonwealth Government exercise now in accepting responsibility for the payment of the Commonwealth’s share of such allowances. If they have not that discretion, the matter would have to be determined by the Government.
– The Commonwealth Government has never once questioned their responsibility in the matter. The first application made under the resolution of the Tasmanian Parliament was investigated very thoroughly.
– Senator Keating will see that if we stipulated in this clause that the officers referred to should have the power of commutation of their allowances under this provision, the effect would be to make the Commonwealth permanently liable under this Act for the payment of a retiring allowance to which the Government of Tasmania might refuse their assent at any time. The Tasmanian Parliament did not make the payment of these allowances a statutory obligation, and I do not think that we should do bo under this measure. The officers have no legal right to the allowance, though the Commonwealth Government have hitherto recognised the justice of claims based on the resolution of the Tasmanian Parliament.
– I realize that the position is somewhat complicated. Very 80011 after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the question of the payment of retiring allowance to a Tasmanian transferred officer came up for consideration. The matter was referred to the Attorney-General of tho Commonwealth at the time, and such allowances have been paid from that time. The right, as it is called by the officers concerned, has been recognised, and payments have been made by the Commonwealth Government, as well as by the Tasmanian Government, according to the scale laid down in the joint resolution of both Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament.
– The Commonwealth Government in such cases pays only an amount proportionate to the time during which the transferred officer was in theemploy of the Commonwealth.
– That is so. The resolution I have referred to was not hurriedly passed by the Tasmanian Parliament. It was passed prior to Federation, and payments were made under it to many officers who had retired from the State Service before Federation. I have explained that the first Public Service Act passed in Tasmania was assented to in the middle of 1901, and clearly all the officers who were transferred “willy-nilly” with their Departments under the Constitution at the commencement of the Federation had no rights under that first Tasmanian Public Sen-ice Act. Subsequently, Public Service Acts were passed by the State Parliament of Tasmania in 1905, 1913, 1918, and 1920, and those Acts have made some provision for superannuation. Since those State Acts came into force, certain officers serving under them have been transferred to the Commonwealth, and they have carried with them the rights conferred by the State Acts. The result is that Tasmanian officers who were transferred at the beginning of Federation are not in the position of advantage which is held by other Tasmanian officers who at the establishment of Federation sat back and took time to consider whether they ought to join the Commonwealth Public Service. Those officers, having subsequently been transferred to the Commonwealth Public Service, will enjoy both rights. It is desirable to promote harmony and good feeling in the Public Service, and we want to know how far these provisions will apply to officers transferred from the Tasmanian Service who enjoy the right to a retiring allowanceunder the resolution of the Tasmanian Parliament ? We have no desire to add to the complexity of this measure in any way, but it would be desirable if, without straining the construction of these provisions, such officers could be put in an equivalent position with those who did not come over with Departments transferred under the Constitution at the beginning ofFederation, but chose their own time to come over. Transferred officers wish to know whether they will be able to commute what they regard as their right under this Bill. It may or may not be an advantage to them to do so, but they would like to know where they stand.
.- This matter is one of great importance to Tasmanian officers who came over to the service of the Commonwealth with the transferred Departments at the inauguration of Federation. Some of them have already retired from the Public Service of the Commonwealth, and have been in receipt of their retiring allowances in full. To these, the Commonwealth Government have contributed their proportion. If the public servant was ten years in the service of the Tasmanian Government and twenty years in the. Federal service, two-thirds of hie retiring allowance is borne by the Federal Government, and. one-third by the State Government. It has been recognised that these Tasmanian officers have a moral right to the retiring allowance granted under the resolution which has been referred to. They want ‘to know what their position will be under this Bill. If they may commute their allowance under this clause, they can decide whether or not they will contribute to the fund. It might pay an officer to refrain from contributing to the Superannuation Fund and rely, instead, upon the retiring allowance granted to him by resolution of both Houses of Parliament. I do not think the Minister (Senator Pearce) for one moment would try to get away from the fact that these are not legal rights, or that he would contend that the Commonwealth would be justified at any time in ceasing to carry out the agreement made with the States.
– That question does not arise on this clause. I am not pre pared to allow the Bill to be used toconvert an act of grace into a statutory right.
– The Minister will, no doubt, be able to see quite clearly how exercised in their minds these officers must be. Seeing that they have a substantial sum due to them under the resolution of Parliament, they want to know whether it will be jeopardized in any way. Personally, I think it should not be. The agreement was expected to be honoured for all time.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Home and Territories) [3.171. - I have already answered the points raised by Senator Payne. Senator Keating referred to officers transferred before a certain date and after a certain date. Tasmania is not alone in that respect. There are instances of that kind in almost every State of the Commonwealth. The Queensland Superannuation Act was passed in 1912. For the Queensland officers who were transferred to the Commonwealth at the inauguration of Federation there was no Superannuation Act, but officers who have come over to the Commonwealth Service from the Queensland State Service since 1912 possess rights under that Act.
– Cannot the Minister say whether the rights of these officers will be jeopardized?
– I cannot do that. I am advised that they have no legal rights. The payments which have hitherto been made are an act of grace. For me to say that these officers have a right would be for me to say what is not true. There is a moral right based upon a resolution - not a Statute- which the Commonwealth and States have honoured up to the present. The question Senator Keating raises is: Have these officers a right of commutation ? I object to using this Bill to give these people a statutory right which the Parliament of their own State did not give them. Any decision in this respect will be subject to the criticism of honorable senators, and the officers concerned will be able to make representations.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 58 to 60 agreed to.
Headline to Part V. verbally amended.
Clause 61 ( Constitution of Board).
– I would like some indication from the Minister (Senator Pearce) regarding the way in which the members of the Board, more particularly the member to be appointed from the Public Service, will be selected. In my opinion, the method adopted by the Government to secure nominations from among the employees is most important. Will it be left to the Public Service organizations to make the recommendations, or will the whole Service be consulted by means of a ballot, in order that suitable nominations may be re- ,ceived by the Minister? It might be argued, and no doubt will be argued by the Public Service organizations, that they should be permitted, as organizations, to make the necessary recommendations to the Minister. It is, unfortunately, only too true, as I know - and I have had a pretty wide experience of the various Public Service organizations - that, almost without exception, they have fallen into the hands of a certain section of the community. If it is left to them to make the nominations from which the Minister will select the representatives, the nominations will be all of one kind, and there will be little choice left to the Minister. If a ballot of the whole. Service were taken, after nominations had been called for by the Government, we would get the real opinion of the whole Service and a wider and better choice from which the Minister could make his final selection. I would like to see that method adopted. Has the Government made up its mind regarding the method it will adopt ? The method of electing the representative of the Public Service is about the most important question that can be considered, if we have in view the proper working df the superannuation scheme and the necessity for giving satisfaction to the whole of the Service. I urge upon the Minister the necessity for adopting the course I have suggested, and of not leaving the matter entirely to the Public Service organizations as such.
T3.25l. - The Government has not yet given consideration to the method of electing representatives to the Board, but the suggestions which the honorable senator has made will be fully considered.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 62 to 79 agreed to.
Clause 80 -
Pensions and other benefits under this Act shall not be in any way assigned or charged or passed by operation of law to any person other than the pensioner or beneficiary, and any moneys payable out of the fund on the death, of an employee or beneficiary shall not be assets for the payment of his debts or liabilities.
Senator GARLING (New South Wales) (“3.28]. - Is it the object of this section to relieve pensions from the operation of any Acts of Court, such as an execution or a garnishee order? The expression “ charged or passed by operation of law “ would appear to include such consequences as would follow the obtaining of judgment, the issuing of execution, or the securing of a garnishee order. Is it intended to go to that length ?
– Yes, the clause does go to that length.
– Then I shall divide the Committee on the question. It is a most iniquitous provision, to which this Chamber ought not to agree. The pension under this scheme is not like an old-age pension, which is a mere pittance. A man may be drawing a pension of £416 per annum, and lie would be able, under this clause, to snap his fingers in the face of his creditors and say, “ My pension is absolutely free. You cannot touch it.”
– Could the honorable senator frame an amendment which would achieve his object -without permitting the pensioner to mortgage his pension ? That is what we want to avoid. There is no desire to give the pensioner an opportunity to defeat his creditors.
– Of course, we can alter the clause, but I would not like to say that I could do it in a few minutes. As it stands, the clause appears to be aimed to defeat creditors. I do not say that the Government desire to help pensioners to do that, but that would be the effect of the clause in operation. In other clauses of the Bill there is provision that benefits under the Act shall not be assigned or parted with. I think that if we leave out the words “passed by operation of law” we shall accomplish what I desire to see done, and that is, that in the event of a pensioner attempting to “ outrun the constable,” the law may be invoked for the protection of his creditors. In view of the fact .that the community will contribute more than one-half of a very liberal pension to be paid to public servants on retirement, I am afraid that if we allow it to be thought that pensions are going to be free, and that a man who gets out of the Service on a good pension may carry on as he pleases, we shall be establishing a very bad principle. I undertake to say that no pensions scheme in the community gives any such liberty for a man to evade a natural obligation, and that is to pay his debts.
– A pensioner would not get very much credit with this clause as it stands.
– Perhaps he would not, but how many storekeepers, for instance, would have sufficient knowledge of the provisions of this Act to safeguard their own interests.
– I am in complete sympathy with the honorable senator, and though I am always afraid of amendments framed whilst we are talking, I think we can provide for the point raised by the honorable senator. I move -
That after the word “ law “, line 3, the words “ other than by proceedings in the nature of garnishee proceedings” be inserted.
We can pass the clause in this amended form and I shall have it examined to see that it is in proper order. We can take the Bill to report stage, and on Tuesday, if necessary, re-commit it for the further consideration of this clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 81 agreed to.
Clause 82 (Regulations).
– When we are dealing with the second reading of the Bill I brought under the notice of the Minister (Senator Pearce) the possibility of public servants, at some time or other, being transferred to one of the Mandated Territories’, and I asked if, in that event, they would be permitted to continue their contributions to the fund. The reply then given was that there were special provisions as to superannuation allowances for public servants in Papua, and in all probability special provision would be made for officers in the. Territory of New Guinea and other Territories under the control of the Commonwealth.
– Consideration is being given to that matter now.
– The Minister, I think, mentioned that the climatic risks in the Mandated Territories were greater than in Australia, but what. I want to know is, could not provision be made in the regulations allowing officers to continue their contributions to the Superannuation Fund under the conditions to be prescribed.
– If they remain in the Commonwealth Service, their contributions will go on.
– Will that condition apply to men who have been transferred?
– If they are transferred they go out of the Service. Some officers in the Mandated Territories are still in our Public Service; they are simply lent. If they definitely enter the service of the Mandated Territories they go out of our Public Service.
– Then there is no such thing as a transfer from the Public Service to the Mandated Territories.
Clause agreed to.
– I should like the Minister to explain the third column in the schedule, “ subsequent increments, £52 pension to member, £26 to widow.” I notice that the provision of £13 for each child, to the age of 16 is left out. I take it this means that the widow gets a corresponding sum by way of pension up to half the amount of the husband’s pension, and that the amount allowable to each child is statutory.
– That is the explanation.
Schedule agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments and requests.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
– I move -
That the Senate donow adjourn.
Perhaps I might take advantage of this opportunity to state, for the information of honorable senators, that it is proposed on Tuesday to take the report of the Superannuation Bill, then consider the message from the House of Representatives with regard to amendments in the Public Service Bill, and afterwards deal with the Budget-papers. That will probably be the last full opportunity honorable senators will have of discussing the finances.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 October 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19221006_senate_8_101/>.