9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
– Has the Leader of the Government yet received replies to the questions -which I asked on the 2nd inst., relating to holiday pay at Cockatoo Island Dockyard?
– The honorable senator asked the following questions : -
The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies: -
6, 7. The particular matter of payment for Eight Hours Day was referred to the Tribunal by the men, and was decided in their favour. The Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board, however, held that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction as regards payment for holidays, but as the notice to employees of the withdrawal of .payment for Eight Hours Day was very short, it was decided by the board to pay for this day as a particular case. At the same time a notice was exhibited in the dockyard that in future holidays would not be paid for.
– (By leave). - On the adjournment last night, Senator Foil referred to tenders for locomotives that had been invited by the Government of Western Australia. The hour was late, and I can assure the honorable senator that I intended no discourtesy by my failure to reply to him. I meant to state that I would bring the matter to the notice of the department concerned. I realize the importance of the statement which he made, and I shall bring it before the department without delay.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Ivanhoe mine, on the eastern gold- fields of Western Australia, has been shut down, and that 600 men have been thrown out of employment thereby? Has the closing down been due to the commandeering of gold by the Commonwealth Government ?
– The fact that the Ivanhoe mine has been closed down has been brought to my notice, and I have referred the matter to the Minister for Works and Railways with a view to seeing if anything can be done to alleviate the consequent distress. I was not aware that the reason given for the closing down was the commandeering of gold ; I understood that it was due to the amalgamation of this and another mining company.
– Before asking the question in regard to the cost of the Fordsdale and Fern dale, that appears in my name on the notice-paper, I should like to be advised for my future guidance as a new member of the Senate, why the form of the question has been altered. When I submitted it, it was framed in the following maimer: -
Senator Kingsmill to ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether lie will obtain from an authentic source of information, unci disclose to the Senate, answers to the following questions: -
Then followed the questions as they now appear on the notice-paper. Was I out of order in so framing my question ?
– I may explain to Senator Kingsmill and to other honorable senators that the rule which governs the submission of questions is that they must be asked only for the purpose of obtaining information, and must not contain any argument, inference, or imputation. The Standing Orders confer upon me the right to revise every question submitted, so that it shall strictly conform to this requirement. As a matter of fact, however, it would be impossible i for me to supervise every question, and they are placed before me only when the officers of the Senate are doubtful regarding the terms in which they are worded. When they are so submitted I endeavour to make them conform as nearly as possible to the Standing Orders. Senator Kingsmill’s question as it now appears on the notice-paper complies with the rule that questions may be asked only for the purpose of obtaining information. All the information originally sought can be obtained by asking the question in its present form.. The only part that has been c-ut out is what might be termed an unintentional insinuation that the Government may supply unauthentic information to honorable senators. I do not think that the honorable senator intended to make that insinuation.
– I did not, intend to make any insinuation in the preamble - if I may so term it - to my question. When I have reason, to suspect, that the Government is about to supply, or has supplied, inaccurate information–
– The honorable senator is now repeating the insinuation.
– I must be involuntarily a very ‘insinuating person. At, all events, if I had any such suspicion I should inform the Government directly. I now ask the question that stands in my name.
Cost., and Price to Commonwealth Shipping Board
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following reply: -
The details advised the honorable senator on the 28th May, were received from the Commonwealth Shipping Board, Sydney, which has been urgently asked for further information on the lines desired by the honorable senator. As soon as a reply comes to hand, the additional information asked for will bo furnished to him.
Bill (on motion by Senator PEARCE read a third time.
Motion (by ^Senator Payne), agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1022 for the purpose of making provision for compulsory voting.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Wilson) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd July, vide page 1819) :
Section 50 of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - (7.) Any appeal under this section shall be forwarded to the board by the permanent head of the department in which the appellant officer is employed.
Upon which Senator Needham had moved by way of amendment -
That sub-section 7 be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following: - “ (7.) (a) Any appeal under this section shall be determined by a conference consisting of a representative of the board, a representative of the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy occurs, and a representative of the organization to which the appellant belongs or may belong, and any such appeal shall be forwarded to the representative of the board on such conference by the permanent head of the department in which the appellant is employed.”
The appellant may attend such conference in person or be represented by a member of the Commonwealth Public Service organization to which he belongs or by an agent who is an officer.”
– The Government cannot accept the amendment because it would lay down a form of procedure quite foreign to that which is set out in the rest of the clause. The clause provides that a transfer or promotion to fill a vacancy in a department shall be made by the permanent head of that department, and that if an officer concerned feels he has been overlooked or wrongly treated, he may appeal to the board which so far has not appeared in the matter. It is upon the appellant’s representations that the board comes to a decision. The amendment proposes that the permanent head who has made the promotion and has therefore committed himself, shall sit in conference with the appellant, but as a matter of fact, there are two persons concerned, the officer promoted as well as the appellant. The honorable senator would permit the appellant to take part in the proposed conference, but not the officer who had been promoted, and who would have ju3t as much right as the appellant to take part in the conference. If the appellant succeeded the other officer would lose his position without having had the opportunity to say a word in his own defence. As that obviously would be most, unfair to the officer promoted, I ask the committee to reject the amendment.
– If an officer of the Public Service is dissatisfied with his classification and appeals, the appeal should not he a mere formal appeal in writing to the board. At present, the main recommendations in regard to promotions in the service are made by the Public Service inspectors. Therefore, when an officer appeals against his classification, it is practically an appeal from Caesar to Caesar.
– Under the new act promotions are made by the permanent heads, and are later on confirmed by the board.
– Do not the Public Service inspectors take a hand in the classification of the Public Service?
– Yes, but this clause relates to promotions only.
– Classification amounts to promotion in many cases. The permanent heads may have a voice in the matter, but the work is done by the inspectors.
– This provision does not refer to classification.
– It concedes the right of appeal.
– Yes, against the promotion of another officer. It has nothing to do with classification.
– Classification means promotion in some cases, and a reduction in salary in other cases. The amendment would prove helpful to the board. If officers of the Public Service feel they are not getting a fair deal, the best results will not be obtained from them.
– As a matter of fact, a conference in regard to classification is provided for elsewhere.
– I know that section 27 of the act says clearly that the board must classify the Public Service, and that when that classification is completed it must be published in the Gazette so that all members of the’ service may see it, and if dissatisfied may appeal against it. This work, however, has not yet been done. The Minister says that, the reason for the delay is that the act is defective, and that the board is possibly submerged by work - work which, I remind the committee., was formerly undertaken by one commissioner. There are three members on the board, and we are told that additional inspectors have been appointed, yet the task of classifying the service cannot be completed . I think the board has set about, its work in I he wrong way. The Government, instead of introducing an amending bill, should compel the board to complete the classification so that all members of the service may have the opportunity to appeal as they had the right to do before the act of 1922 was passed.
– The amendment will inflict no injustice on an officer who has been provisionally promoted; nor will it prevent him from being heard if he chooses to be represented at the conference for which the amendment provides. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) reads my amendment carefully he will see that the representative of the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy occurs and a representative of the organization to which the appellant belongs will sit in conference. The appellant need not be there in person. He will possibly be represented by the general secretary of the Public Service Association. The adoption of the amendment will prevent a recurrence of the old system, of an appeal from Caesar to Caesar. The men who sit in conference will have a particular knowledge of the work performed by both the appellant and the officer who has been promoted, a knowledge which the board cannot be expected to have. The claim of an officer who feels that he has been unjustly treated in the matter of promotion should be determined only by those who have an intimate knowledge of his qualifications. The board cannot be expected to have that intimate knowledge which is necessary to determine such a case.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - (Senator NEED-
HAM’S amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clauses 14 to 17 agreed to. Clause 18 -
Section TO of the principal Act is amended -
Provided that no period off duty in respect of work performed on any holiday shall be less than one half day”; and (/) by inserting after sub-section (7) thereof the following sub-section : - “ (7a) The Regulations may prescribe that the payment of any amount or the granting of any period off duty in consequence of the attendance and services of an officer during a holiday or a halfholiday, shall be subject to the approval of the Board if the salary of the officer concerned exceeds tin amount to be prescribed.”
.- J move-
That paragraph (c) be left out.
This clause embodies the obnoxious system that public servants shall take recreation leave in lieu of being paid for overtime. The universal practice of the Arbitration Court is to award that work performed on holidays shall be paid for, and that is the principle which I am sure appeals to honorable senators. The practice that overtime worked shall be taken out as recreation leave at some other time means that when a public servant is absent the other members on the staff have to do his work, which is not in the interests of the Department, neither is it a proper procedure. The practice of granting leave at some other time is not desired by public servants, neither is it a good one, as a holiday on some other occasion is not equivalent to absence from duty on a public holiday. On a public holiday it is the custom of members of a family, or of officers in a particular department, to arrange picnics or other outings, and it is of greater benefit to have a holiday on such days when provision lias been made for the people’s enjoyment.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment. The alteration of the principal act for which the amending clause provides is, as a matter of fact, slightly in favour of the service as against the present system under which twelve is the maximum number of holidays for which public servants may be paid. Under this clause the paid holidays will number nine, but there are four other holidays for which public servants may get time off, making a total of thirteen as against twelve The only difference is that the four days for which they get time off may be added to the annual recreation leave, in respect of which they receive full pay. On the whole, therefore, the Public Service will gel a little benefit under the amending bill. The money paid for holiday service is excessive; it amounts to £37,000 per annum. This is a fair compromise. There are nine statutory holidays for which public servants are paid, but they may be given four other holidays, which can be arranged according to the- requirements in a particular state. . In Melbourne, for instance, there is a holiday on Cup Day, and in Perth and Sydney a holiday for the Royal Agricultural Show. If a holiday is granted on those days it is added to an officer’s annual leave. To grant nine statutory paid holidays is a fairly generous proposal, and I trust the committee will agree to the clause in its present form.
– There is a good deal to be said in favour of the amendment submitted by Senator O’Loghlin. In all awards made by the Arbitration Court and by wages boards operating under the Factories Act, provision is made for extra pay for holidays. If it were suggested that the acts I have mentioned should be amended so that workers should be given time off instead of payment for work done on holidays, there would be such a strong agitation against the proposal that there would be little prospect of its acceptance. We hope that the Government will treat public servants in the matter of holidays in the same way as employees outside ate treated. The average man, whether in the Public Service- or outside, wishes to be free on a holiday when thousands are on pleasure bent. It does not seem in accordance with the fitness of things that some should be working when thousands of their friends and relations are enjoying themselves. But, when necessity compels the Government to work their employees on holidays, extra payment should be made, instead of time off being given at a later period. The proposal submitted by Senator O’Loghlin As a reasonable one, and if the Government will not accept it at this juncture, perhaps they will consider it. If there is anything the Government should desire it is uniformity in regard to payments made to those engaged in the work-a-day world. Public servants are citizens of the Commonwealth, and are entitled to the same consideration as other citizens. To differentiate merely because public servants are working under an act of Parliament, whilst others are working under Arbitration Court or wages board awards, is wrong in principle.
– How many working under Arbitration Court awards get nine statutory holidays on full pay?
– I cannot give the information now, but the Minister would be surprised to know the number paid for holidays. There are thousands to-day working in different parts of Australia who are paid for holidays under Arbitration Court awards.
– For how many holidays 2
– From memory I think quite as many as stated by the Minister. I remember when an agitation was being conducted by the Single Purpose League that statements were made in regard to many trades that if the league were successful in achieving its objective many holidays would be lost.
– Some employees get ten or eleven statutory holidays on full pay.
– The number is, I believe, greater than the Minister states.
– Why does not the honorable senator quote them ?
– I know that thousands of persons in private employment, working under Arbitration Court awards, get holidays on full pay. Since Ministers seem to be in a reasonable frame of mind this morning, I am hopeful that they will not ask their supporters to put their hacks to the wall and vote against this amendment, but that, on the contrary, they will be free to vote as they please.
– The request is _ a reasonable one. The more one studies the clause, the more one is convinced of this fact. In 6 a there is this provision -
Where the attendances and services of any officer of the Department are required during any holiday or half-holiday authorized under the provisions of sub-section 3 of this section, that officer shall be granted a period off duty in lieu of the holiday or half-holiday, or portion of a holiday, so worked, and the period off duty should bo added to the officer’s next ensuing recreation leave.
What effect will this clause have upon the recreation leave of an officer? I have here a memorandum on this question of recreation leave from the secretary of the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is to the following effect : - “ The following is a. copy of a communication received from the Secretary, Public Service Board (PSB. Circular” No. 24/19, F.24/2380) :-
The Board has given the following decisions: -
An application for recreation leave by an officer who has submitted his resignation, or whose retirement is to be effected under Sections 20, 67, 85, or 80, of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922, should not he granted if the leave applied for is on account of the calendar year in which his service will terminate.
If, however, the officer submits his resignation, or his retirement is proposed, while he is on recreation leave for the current year, he may complete his recreation leave before his services terminate: and the date of his retirement should bo arranged accordingly.
Recreation leave which has been deferred from a previous year or years under Public Service Regulations 4S. 49, or 98 (d) may be granted prior to resignation or retirement. (rf) It should be noted that there is no provision in the Public Service Act or Regulations for the grant to permanent officers of salary in lieu of recreation leave not availed of, and that applications, for such payment cannot be entertained.
– I invite attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum jormed.]
– In the event of Senator O’Loghlin’s amendment not being adopted, how will the recreation leave of officers concerned be affected by the clause? I think there is danger of an injustice being done to them.
– The memorandum read by the honorable senator does not touch the question of recreation leave, for the obvious reason that it referred to officers who were resigning from the service. Recreation leave is given to an officer in order that he may fit himself for his work during the ensuing twelve months. Officers who are about to retire do not get recreation leave, as they are about to leave the service.
– I impress upon honorable senators that there is an important principle involved, namely, pay for work on holidays, or a transfer of the obligations by granting leave on another occasion. The Minister admitted that certain additional privileges are to be given to public servants under this bill. Those privileges will not be given at the expense of the Government, but at the expense of fellow public servants.
– Officers will be paid for the four days on which they render no service, because they will be on holiday leave.
– An officer will be entitled to that leave. Actually, it will be no concession at all, because fellow officers will do the work of officers on holiday leave, and assuming that the service is not overmanned, I do not think it ie in the interests of the administration that fellow servants should be called on to do extra work on those days. There is, as I have said, an important principle involved. It has been established by the Arbitration Court, and is recognized universally outside the service. I trust the committee will vote for my amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator O’Loghlin’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative. Amendment negatived. Senator O’LOGHLIN (South Australia) ril.59].- I moveThat paragraph (/) be left out.
The memorandum which I have on this matter states that power is given in the bill to the Public Service Board to compel certain officers to work on holidays without extra pay or leave in lieu thereof. Such power did not rest with the administration authorities under the two previous acts, and it is urged that the wide discretionary power proposed to be given to the board in the proposed new subsection 7a is altogether too drastic. This is a new and very drastic provision, and unless the Minister can show strong reasons for its inclusion in the bill, the committee should strike it out.
– Paragraph /, if agreed to, will enable the Public Service board to exercise a check on the granting of holiday pay to responsible officers who receive not less than £450 per annum. It is obvious that an officer holding a responsible position should not be permitted to decide for himself whether, on certain occasions, he should draw holiday pay; and it is wise that the board should have the power to regulate the granting of this pay, otherwise the officer may grant himself holiday pay to which he is really not entitled. Under certain circumstances, the board will have the power to grant holiday pay to officers receiving not less than .£450 per annum.
– Has the existing provision proved to be insufficient?
– Yes. I ask the committee to retain paragraph / as it stands.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 19 to 21 agreed to. Postponed clause 7 -
Section twenty-seven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (8.) thereof and inserting in its stead the following subsections : - “ (3.) An appeal under this section shall be considered by a representative of the Board in conference with the Permanent Head, or a representative of the Permanent Head, oF the Department concerned, and with the appellant, or, if lie so desires, with a nominee (who is an officer) of the Public Service organization to which the appellant belongs, or with an agent (who is an officer) of the appellant.
Upon which Senator FINDl.EY had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ or, if he so desires, with a nominee (who is an officer) of the Public Service organization to which the appellant belongs, or with an agent (who is an officer) of the appellant” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ and if he so desires, and a nominee (who is an officer) of the Public Service organization to which the appellant belongs, or if he so desires with a nominee or agent (who is an officer) of the appellant : Provided that the general secretary of any Commonwealth Public Service organization’ (who is not an officer) may act as the nominee or agent of the appellant.” .
Section proponed to be amended -
Section 27 -
– When dealing with this cla.use in committee, Senator Findley moved an amendment which I promised to consider. I am prepared to suggest an amendment which perhaps the honorable senator may see his way to accept. I suggest that after the word “is”, last line of sub-clause 3, the words “the general secretary of the organization or is “ be inserted. That practically meets Senator Findley’s wishes.
– I do not think it does. I want the appellant to have the right, if he so desires, to have his agent, or the general secretary of the association, present at the conference.
– We cannot allow the ag6uE. to be present.
– The general secretary of the Public Service Association would probably have an extensive knowledge.
– He is provided for.
– I know he is; bub if he appears the appellant is shut out. If the Minister will say that both the appellant and the general secretary may be present, I shall have noi objection to the amendment.
– The two cannot appear together.
– I desire that the general secretary of the Public Service Association should have the same right to appear as is given to secretaries of every other association. The Government is giving away nothing.
– In the amendment suggested by me we are allowing the general secretary to appear.
– The general secretary of every association has that right.
– Not under the clause as drafted.
– That is true. I should like the Government to agree to the amendment that I have already submitted. The amendment suggested by the Minister shuts out the appellant if the general secretary appears, so that it is little or noi help in that direction.
– Am I right in concluding that under the suggested amendment the genera] secretary or some other officer of that organization may appear at a conference ?
– The Public Service Association want the right for the general secretary to appear and that right is given under the suggested amendment.
– Who would appear in the event of the general secretary not being able to be present?
– The appellant himself, or some other officer of the Service.
– There is the difficulty. The general secretary may be detained in Perth through illness when a case is pending in Melbourne, and surely in his stead the acting general secretary, or some other executive officer of the organization, may. be allowed to appear.
– The acting general secretary is the general secretary.
– If the term “general secretary” will cover any other officer of the organization, I am willing to agree to the amendment.
– We cannot allow that, as it would give anybody the right to appear.
– I want an executive officer to have the right to appear, if necessary, in place of the general secretary.
– I a,m prepared to accept the amendment suggested by the Minister, and I ask leave to withdraw’ the amendment that I have already submitted.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That, after the word “ is “, last occurring, in sub-clause 3, the words “ the general secretary of that organization or is” be .inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to. Postponed clause 11 -
Section forty-eight of the Principal Act is amended by adding, at the end of sub-section (1.) thereof the following proviso: - “ Provided that a person appointed to the Commonwealth Service, either before or after the commencement of this Act, who owes his appointment to the passing of a competitive examination, shall not be entitled to have any period of employment which is permanent service or service in a permanent capacity within the meaning of paragraph (a), (b),
or (</) of this sub-section reckoned for the purposes of this Act as service in the Commonwealth Service.”.
Section proposed to be amended - 48. (1) Where a person becomes an officer of the Commonwealth Service and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with- («) permanent service in the Public, Railway or other Service of a State; [b) permanent service in a Territorial Service or the Commonwealth Railways Service ;
permanent service in a civil capacity in the Department of Defence; or (<() service in u permanent capacity in the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth, the continuous service of that person in any service specified in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or
of this subsection shall be reckoned for the purposes of this Act as service in the Commonwealth Service :
– As promised, I have reconsidered this clause. Its object is to settle definitely the question of entry to the service by competitive examination of persons previously in the public, railway, or oilier service of a state, or some other service of the Commonwealth. Section 48 of the principal act meets the case of an officer whose service is continuous, but not that of an officer who enters the Commonwealth Public Service as a result of a competitive examination. Persons who may be in the naval, railway, or some other service of the Commonwealth or the states decide for themselves whether they shall enter for the competitive examination. The man who decides to go up for a competitive examination, and, if successful, to leave the service in which ho is employed and enter another service, is in quite a different position from those who are transferred. He may have had ten years’ service in the naval service or in the railway service of a state. Supposing there are five vacancies, and he and four others from outside pass the examination and are appointed. Why should he have ten years’ seniority over the other four? This is the main entrance door to tho Commonwealth Public Service. Because this man elects to come from, some state or other service it is proposed that he shall start off in the Commonwealth Public Service with ten years’ seniority. That would be obviously wrong. There is provision whereby if an officer is transferred from one of those other departments to the Commonwealth Public Service, his service is regarded as continuous. The Government feels that a man who submits himself to a competitive examination should not be given an advantage over others who are, perhaps, equally as well qualified, who pass a similar examination just as meritoriously. Tho adoption of the clause will not prejudice any officer now in the Public Service, as any claims for the recognition of state or other service by entrants to the Commonwealth Public Service as the resuit of competitive examinations have invariably been refused first by the Commissioner and later by the board. The clause definitely clears the matter up, and removes any doubt that may previously have existed. In order that state service shall count as Commonwealth service the Commonwealth appointment must flow from the state service. If, however, a person enters for a competitive examination, he stands on the same footing as other competitors from outside the Public Service, and enters the Commonwealth Public Service without credit on account of previous service in a state. Section 44 of the principal act provides -
Any officer of the public, railway, or other service of a state employed in a permanent capacity, whether appointed thereto before or after the commencement of this act, may be appointed to the Commonwealth service by the board, without examination, and, if the board think fit, without probation.
Persons appointed to the Commonwealth service under that section are entitled to carry their state service with them. The clause does not affect the operation of those provisions or of the provisions of section 45 of the principal act. The object aimed at is to place the matter on a definite legal basis, and to establish on that legal basis what has hitherto been the invariable practice. I hope that, with this explanation, the committee will allow the clause to pass.
– I ask the committee to negative the clause, notwithstanding the explanation of the Minister (Senator Pearce)., Men who enter the service in the manner indicated by the Minister will suffer an injustice because their other service will not count. The Minister has laid stress upon the fact that these men of their own volition elect to submit themselves to a competitive examination. He says that that examination is open to all citizens of the Commonwealth. It is, then, open to every member of the Commonwealth Public Service as well as to every member of the State Public Service. If a certain number of these citizens have the ambition, the initiative, and the energy to study and to compete for positions at a competitive examination in order to assist the Commonwealth Public Service, why should they, after having won their spurs, lose the advantage of the period they have spent in another employment ?
– Why should the others lose it?
– Either they are afraid or they have not the ability to compete at the examination. I presume that the Public Service Board will not appoint to positions in the Public Service men who will not be a credit to it. I therefore think that the clause should be negatived.
Question - That tho Clause stand as printed - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to. Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That tho order of the day for the consideration of the report of the committee be discharged, and the bill withdrawn.
.- I moveThat the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday, 16th July, 1924.
It is hoped that by that date the Senate will have other business to engage its attention .
Question resolved m the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 12.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240704_senate_9_107/>.