9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister in a position to make the statement which he promised as tothe decision of the Government concerning the extension of the north-south railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs?
– The Government has considered the question of the construction of the north-south railway, and has communicated on the subject with the South Australian Government. Once more, as it did in previous communications’, it has indicated that it regards itself as being under an obligation to build the line because of an agreement with the State of South Australia.
It has further intimated that, as a matter of immediate policy, it is prepared to proceedwith the construction of a line to the Macdonnell Ranges. The proposal of the Government was sent to South Australia on Thursday or Friday of last week, but I have not yet had a reply to it from the South Australian Government.
Use of Queensland Pine
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs is it a fact that his Department has registered a decision that boxes made of Queensland pine, when used for packing butter, must in future be lined with paraffin wax. If Queensland pine, which is now being used, is regarded as beyond doubt unsuitable for butter boxes, will the Minister instruct the Institute of Science and Industry to make inquiries as to whether any of the numerous soft woods of Australia are suitable for the purpose? I should like to point out that the boxes which are now being used are lined with paper, and for many years have been used in the export of Queensland butter, which frequently has brought the highest price on the London market.
– A warning was issued in connexion with some faulty packing discovered in the export of Queensland butter packed in pine boxes, and a suggestion to overcome the difficulty was made by the Department. I inform the honorable member that no drastic action will be taken in the matter until the fullest inquiries have been made.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs considered the parlous condition of certain branches of the textile industry, due to the alleged inadequate protection under the Tariff ? In view of the great urgency of the matter to the workers in a very important Australian industry, does the Government propose to take early action to relieve the situation ?
– The fullest consideration has not yet been given to the position of the textile industry, but I believe that some considerable relief will be experienced as a result of the alteration in the proportion of British manufacture required to secure preference under the tariff for British imports. A good deal of competition has been experienced by the textile industry from so-called British goods which were made of continental materials. That competition will be met by the alteration referred to. During the recess I propose to devote a considerable amount of attention to the position of the textile industry.
Dismissal of Linesmenin South Australia
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– A letterin the terms mentioned was dispatched to a certain number of men, but action in connexion therewith was countermanded. None of the men concerned will suffer, either in regard to wages or privileges enjoyed prior to the issue of the letter.
Effect of Section 12.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Does “ suitably transferred,” as referred ito in section 12 a, paragraph 2, of the Income Tax Collection Act Amending Bill, mean that officers who are transferred back to the CommonwealthService will be placed in positions of similar status and salary to those now held by them; and will a Victorian officer be absorbed within Victoria?
– The words “suitably transferred” mean “transferred to a position of similar status and salary to that now held by the officer.” All officers of the Commonwealth Public Service are at the present time subject to transfer to a branch of the Commonwealth Public Service in another state, and it is, therefore, not desirable to promise that all Victorian officers of the Taxation Branch will be absorbed within Victoria. As far as practicable, however, Victorian officers will be absorbed within Victoria.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When will areply be received by the deputation of taxation officers who waited on him on 20th March regarding losses by assessing officers, payment of child endowment, rights to participate in certain arbitration awards, and status of. General Division and female officers ?
– I hope to be able to send a reply in a few days’ time.
Increments Due to Officers Transferred to the States.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Why have not the increments prescribed under the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator’s Determination No. 6 of 1923, respecting salaries to be paid to officers of the Assessing Branches of trie Treasury Department, yet been paid, seeing that clause 4b (ii) of the income tax agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria, dated 12th September, 1923, provides, inter alia, that “ an officer transferred from the service of the Commonwealth to the service of the state shall preserve all his existing and accruing rights as at the date of this agreement,” and that the determination in question was in operation at the date of the agreement, and, therefore, constitutes one of the “existing and accruing rights “ specified in the agreement, yet increments due to certain of the transferred officers have been withheld?
– The SolicitorGeneral has recently given an opinion that, so far as automatic increments under the award referred to are concerned, an officer’s right is to receive from time to time a salary not less than would have been received in the Commonwealth Service. All Deputy Commissioners concerned have been advised of the nature of the opinion above referred to, and asked to submit the necessary recommendations to give effect thereto.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Reduction of Price to Growers
askedthe Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - 1.Yes.
The following papers were presented : -
Petroleum Prospects in the Kimberley District of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory - Report by Arthur Wade, D.Sc.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Canowindra, New South Wales - for Postal purposes.
Railways Act - By-law 31.
In committee (Consideration resumed from 7th October, vide page 5227) :
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Section 20 of the principal act is amended by inserting after the word “ officers “ the words “of a particular classification.”
Section proposed to be amended -
If at any time the Board finds that a greater number of officers is employed in any Department or Branch of a Department than is necessary for the efficient working of that Department or Branch, any officer whom the Board finds is in excess may be transferred to such other position of equal classification and salary inthe Service as the officer is competent to fill, and if no such position is available the officer may be transferred to a position of lower classification and salary. If no position is available for the officer the Board may retire him from the Public Service.
– I move -
That the following paragraph be added to the clause: -
by inserting therein after the word “ available “ the words “ within twelve months.”
To understand the effect of my amendment, it is necessary, to refer to section 20 of the principal act, under which the Public Service Board is given certain powers with regard to excess officers. My amendment is intended to meet a situation under which injustice has been suffered, and may continue to be suffered, by members of the Public Service. There can be no doubt that, as a result of the reclassification, a great number of officers will be regarded as excess officers, and there may be some difficulty in transferring them to other positions in the Service. Under section 20 of the principal act the Public Service Board has the power to transfer an excess officer from one department to another, or to dismiss him from the Service without compensation. The amendment I submit, if accepted, will have the effect that a person regarded as an excess officer will have his name placed on what is known as the unattached list for twelve months, and will be eligible for appointment to any vacancy in the Service that may occur during that period. He will not be suspended or dismissed from the Public Service until a reasonable opportunity is afforded to place him in some other position in his own or some other department. I ask the Prime Minister to recognize the merit of the claim for this consideration which is made by members of the Public Service, and I trust that the committee will accept the amendment.
– The amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is to provide that excess officers for whom a suitable position is not available shall not be reduced in status or retrenched for a period of twelve months, and that during that period they shall be entitled to draw the salaries they were receiving when declared to be excess officers. The Government cannot accept the amendment. A public servant is declared to be an excess officer only after the fullest inquiries have been made by the board, and it is only when a position of similar or lower status is not available that public servants will be retired. It would be absurd to allow officers to remain in the Service and draw their salaries for twelve months after they had been declared to be excess officers. The amendment is contradictory of that provision of the Public
Service Act, which says that the board shall effect economy wherever possible, and we should not be carrying out the intention of Parliament if we accepted the amendment.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) should accept the amendment, as I believe excess officers are, in most cases, easily absorbed by other departments.
– I believe they are.
– Vacancies in departments are continually being caused by death, retirement, invalidity,, and for a number of other reasons. For instance, many ex-taxation officers are now carrying on lucrative businesses in advising taxpayers how to prepare their returns. The Prime Minister, perhaps quite unintentionally, endeavoured to make the committee believe that if the amendment were adopted a number of excess officers would be drawing their salaries for twelve months while not performing any useful work. If the services of a clerical officer in the Postal Department were no longer required, it should be an easy matter to place him in another department where a vacancy existed. The Public Service Board ought to be very careful before dispensing with the services of well-trained men.
Mr.Seabrook. - How long would a business firm retain a man whose services were no longer required?
– Many of the large business houses in Melbourne send excess officers to their Sydney houses where work is available.
– Many firms retain men in their employ during slack periods because of their experience.
– Exactly. The fact of a. man having been trained in a particular business makes him valuable to his employers. I presume the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) has heard of contractors retaining the services of their best men during slack periods to enable them to commence work immediately they secure another contract.
– How many do they keep on?
– I have known contractors retain the services of their best men for several months. When retrenchments are necessary the heads of departments are asked to select the men whose services can be dispensed with ; and I have known of men in permanent positions being discharged one day and being engaged as temporary employees in the same department on the following day to undertake the work they were performing as permanent hands. It is suggested that excess officers should be placed on an unattached list for twelve months to enable the Public Service Board to make the fullest possible inquiries as to the positions available before officers are reduced in status or are retired. Provision ismade for the retirement of public servants notwithstanding the fact that many vacancies may occur immediately after officers have been retrenched. Section 20 suggests that public servants do not hold permanent positions, as is generally supposed, as the board has the right to dispense with the services of any public officer under its control. Sometimes the work in one department is slack, but in other departments there is increased activity, necessitating the employment of a larger staff. In such cases, transfers could easily be made without imposing any injustice upon public servants. I have heard heads of departments say that after permanent officers have been dismissed they have been compelled to engage temporary hands, whose training necessarily involves a loss of time and money. I trust the committee will accept the amendment and thus protect excess officers whilst the board is endeavouring to place them in another department.
– When this matter was discussed at an informal conference of some members of this party with the Prime Minister, I was under the impression that the board was agreeable to an amendment to prevent officers from being placed at a disadvantage. It was thought that the period of twelve months suggested by the Public Service Clerical Association was too long to be seriously considered. I certainly was under the impression that he was agreeable to a provision being inserted whereby redundant officers would be given some consideration. A term of three months was suggested as being fair, and I fully expected that the Government would submit an amendment to that effect, thus enabling officers whose services had been dispensed with an op- portunity to obtain another position without being subjected to rigid monetaryloss. A period of three months would give the board sufficient time to ascertain if an officer could be employed in another department, and if he could not be so employed, the payment of his salary for three months could be regarded as compensation for the period during which he would be likely to be out of employment. I am surprised that provision to this effect is not made in the bill, or, alternatively, he might be given three months’ notice of termination of his services to enable him to seek another position.
.- The Government proposes to alter the section by inserting the words “ of a particular classification.” That will narrow the possibility of public servants being placed elsewhere by the board. If we had a big industrial depression in Australia, the business of the Post Office, as well as of other government departments, would decline, and if the excess officers were placed elsewhere for twelve months there would be no difficulty, at the end of that period, in absorbing them, for all our departments are, over a period of years, expanding. If the Government and the Public Service Board oppose the amendment there can be only one explanation of their opposition. They must have in view the marking of certain men as excess employees. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) has suggested a period of three months, and has sought to give it the colour of compensation. The public servant does not want compensation, he wants his job. If an excess officer was transferred, without restriction, to another position, he could eventually be absorbed. If it is intended to mark certain men, why not be honest about it? If the services of an employee are not required, a charge should be laid against him.
– He might be a redundant employee.
– If a man is kept on for only three months, and is then turned out, he is not treated as the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) proposes that he shall be treated. In a service that employs 25,000 men, an opening can always be found for the employment of officers not required in a particulardepartment.Ithasbeen asked,, “Would a private employer continue to employ a man who was not wanted ? ‘ ‘ There is no comparison between the position of a Government servant and that of a private employee. A man goes into the Public Service at a low salary with a view to making it his life’s work. The Public Service to-day is not sufficiently attractive to induce any honorable member, for instance, to place his son in it, and we ought not to make it worse. While we do not desire to make the Public Service a coddling-ground for men in easy jobs, those who have made themselves efficient in a class of work that would be no good to them outside the Service should be given reasonable security of tenure for as long as they do their jobs satisfactorily.
.- The Government would be well advised not to persist in the amendment of the section. The inducement held out to smart young men to devote their lives to the Public Service has been the permanency of the appointment. Although permanency has never been laid down as a legal right, it has not previously been suggested that an officer could be dismissed as redundant without being paid compensation. Whenever the Government has dispensed with the services of men, except for misconduct, it has compensated them. The honorable member for Lang interjected that men might be redundant. I remind honorable members of the treatment meted out to the “ brass hats “ who were found to be redundant in the Defence Department.
– It has never been contemplated that a public servant would be retired without compensation. Nothing has been done to alter the section in that respect.
– That is so, but the fact is now being emphasized that there is no provision for compensation. What has been the experience of the last twelve or eighteen months? Men in the Defence Department were alleged to be redundant, and after they had been compensated, theywere taken back into the Service. That was done with some of the officersfrom Duntroon, the training of whom cost £5,000 each. When they had completed their training they were compensated by being given six months’ pay, and some of them were subsequently taken into the service of the department. It would be very much better if the position of public servants was made permanent, subject only to their good behaviour and efficiency.Ifthatwere done it would make for a contented Public Service. I do not suggest that public servants should be allowed to do as they like, or that no discretionary power should be given to the head of a department to dispense with men who do not do their work. That would lead to chaos. As the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) has pointed out, public servants are in a class by themselves. A man employed in the commercial world can go from one employer to another, but men in the Public Service have only one employer, and while, as years pass by, they become more expert in their particular departments, they also become less efficient for the battle in the outside world. A sense of security ought to be given to them, even if it has not been given in the past. I support the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and suggest that if, as a result of the reclassification it is declared that certain departments have redundant officers, the junior officers should be the only ones affeeted, for they could be transferred to another department, and eventually absorbed much more easily than senior officers. If third class officers are declared to be in excess it will be very difficult to find other positions for them. Some guarantee should be given that if officers are declared to be redundant they will be treated at least as justly as we have treated the military officers who were retired. I do not ask that they shall be treated as generously as those officers that received nineteen months’ full pay, because they retired seven months before the retiring age. Some of them received three times as much for leaving the Service as they would have received if they had worked until their retiring age. The same privileges should be given to the humblest man in the Service as are given to military officers generally.
– I suggest that the Prime Minister should give an assurance that the name of an employee declared to be redundant will be placed on a list and that he will be appointed to the first vacancy available. That would remove most of the hardships. There is a danger that the head of a department may declare an employee redundant for no other reason than that he is personally biased against him, or to enable him to be placed in another position in authority over other men. If a man is to receive twelve months’ . compensation he will not unnecessarily be declared redundant.
– I am surprised that the Prime Minister has not accepted the reasonable proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). I should like the Prime Minister to make clear the effect of the words “ of a particular classification.” If those words are inserted in section 20, it is clear that it will restrict the field for re-employment which will be available to officers who are declared to be excess officers. Take the case of a postmaster in a certain division. If he is declared to be an excess officer, and there is at the time no position of postmaster available, his services will be dispensed with. The number of vacancies for postmasters at any time is limited. I hope that the Prime Minister will explain the reasons for the insertion of the words desired. It is all very well for him to say that every effort will be made to place men elsewhere, but the insertion of the words proposed to be inserted will restrict their chances of finding employment in other departments, and in many cases will mean that their services will be dispensed with. I have in mind the speeches of the present Treasurer when, as a private member, he sat in the corner, and spoke of what he termed the “ great army of public servants “ in this country.
– We have altered his views since then.
– In this bill, I see no evidence of his conversion.
– In this matter, at least, the Treasurer’s influence appears to be predominant in the Government. This is a devious method of dismissing a number of men from the Public Service, which, to say the least, is not creditable to the Government. No decent business firm would treat its employees in this manner. When business is slack, private employers usually endeavour to retain the services of employees who have given satisfaction, until such time as things brighten, and remunerative work is again available. This Government claims to stand for economy, but instead of saving money, this action will have the opposite effect. The proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) should be adopted, and officers who are declared to be in excess should be placed on the “ unattached list “ for a definite period. While, to-day, there may be no position to which they can be appointed, to-morrow a vacancy may occur. The action of the Government will make the -Public Service of the Commonwealth less attractive to the youth of this country, and will result in a lessening of efficiency, which is not at all desirable. Men who have given their best years in the service of the country will find that, at the whim of a board, which was established mainly to reduce the number of public servants and their rates of pay, they are thrown out of employment. The Government does not care to what extent the lower paid officers of the Public Service are affected, but when it is a case of those on the top rungs of the ladder, it nurses and protects them in every way. I think that this is the first time in the history of Australia that an attempt of this kind has been made. Honorable members’ will understand the position if they will place themselves in the position of the public servants, who entered the Service in the belief that they would receive permanent employment, but now find- that, after having given the best years of their life to that Service, they are faced with unemployment.
– The honorable gentleman knows that, under the existing legislation, the power to get rid of excess officers exists. This is nothing new.
– If that power already exists, why was this bill introduced, and what objection canthere be to- the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh ? In his customary off-hand manner the Prime Minister says that there will be no departure from the old method. If that is so, pie should accept the amendment, in order to make assurance doubly sure. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) pointed OUt that the addition of the words “ of a particular classification” really accentuates the difficulty, as it narrows the field which will be available to those men who are declared to be excess officers. I hope that the Prime Minister will explain the reasons for the insertion of these words, and provide the necessary safeguards.
– I shall refer first to the Government’s amendment. It has been suggested that this amendment will create a position different from that which has existed in the past. The honorable members for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) both suggested ‘that, prior to the introduction of this bill, there was absolute security of tenure in the Public Service.
– I said exactly the opposite. I said that, while no position was absolutely secure, it was always understood that it was permanent.
– I listened carefully to what the honorable member said, and I think that he conveyed to the committee the same impression that his remarks made upon me. Under the existing act, excess officers can be dealt with. Such officers may either be transferred to other positions of lower status and salary, or, if no such positions are available, their services may be dispensed with. That has’ been the position all along. Section 20 of the act now in operation reads -
If at any time the board finds that a greater number of officers is employed in any department or branch of a department than is necessary . . .
That the Government proposes to amend by inserting after the word “ officers “ the words “ of a particular classification.” The present act clearly contemplates that action must be taken with regard to any officers who may be declared to be in excess; and I think that honorable members generally will agree that that is necessary. While we are all desirous of giving fair and equitable treatment to the members of the Public Service, no one would countenance for a moment the retention of persons in employment, at the expense of the taxpayers, for whom there was nothing to do. When Parliament legislated for excess officers, it meant that legislation to work out in practice. But let us consider the position of the
Postmaster-General’s Department, with its thousands of employees, under the existing legislation. Let us suppose that one postmaster in excess of requirements is found, but that there is no position of “ postmaster “ vacant, although other positions in the department are available. In those circumstances the board has no power to remove that postmaster to another position unless it can establish that, throughout the whole of the department, including the linesmen, telegraphists, telephonists, and so on, there is an excess number of officers. Honorable members will agree that that absolutely nullifies the section and defeats the intention of Parliament. If, however, the words “of a particular classification “ are inserted, and it is found that there are more postmasters of a certain status than positions of the same status, the board will have power to transfer the excess officers to other positions. Of course, if no positions are available, their services will be dispensed with, as at present. Unless Parliament is prepared to say that, in no circumstances, will it agree that excess officers shall be transferred, or their services dispensed with, the clause should be accepted. I now come to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). The honorable member suggested that an officer who was declared to be in excess should continue to draw his pay for a period of twelve months. If we are to be true custodians of the taxpayers’ money, that cannot be permitted. I point out that only under the most exceptional circumstances will officers be declared to be in excess. This is not a provision dealing with a general reclassification of the whole of the Public Service, as has been suggested. The Government’s amendment will apply only to cases such as I have indicated, in which postmasters or other officers in particular branches are found to be excess. The suggestion of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) is a reasonable one. The board will only take the drastic action of dispensing with the services of an officer when all means of finding another position for him have been exhausted; but I am sure that there will be no objection to a list being kept of officers whose services have been dis pensed with, so that, as far as possible, preference may be given to them in the filling of subsequent vacancies.
– They get that preference now.
– The bill is fairly long, and a good number of matters need to be discussed, but the one issue before the committee now is whether the services of officers whose positions, after exhaustive inquiries, have been declared excess, should be retained for twelve months, or dispensed with.
.- The Prime Minister instanced the case of postmasters, but I point out that there are other branches of the service to which the clause might apply. For instance, take the telegraphic branch. Machine telegraphy is used to a much greater extent now than previously, and fewer telegraphists are required.
– There is a shortage of telegraphists to-day ; they cannot be obtained.
Mr.FORDE. - I doubt that, because I know of a number of temporary telegraphists who have been put off.
– I know some who cannot obtain employment.
– As machine telegraphy is more generally adopted, this class of public servant will suffer. I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh will be accepted. It is only reasonable to keep a list of excess officers for twelve months with a view to absorbing them in other branches. Even in private employment men especially qualified for certain work are often kept in their positions for twelve or eighteen months when work is scarce, in order that their services may not be lost to their employers. A man who has devoted many years to telegraphic work is well qualified to fill a position as a clerk, and I am afraid in the next couple of years scores of telegraphists may be thrown out of employment. The proposal of the Government is not brought down for the purpose of assisting the employees, but is intended to give the board additional power in dealing with excess officers, so that if suitable work is not available for them in their particular class they can be dismissed from the service. If the head of a department or a chief officer had a grudge against any particular employee there would be no difficulty, under the clause, in getting rid of him. If they are considered surplus officers in one particular class it will not be incumbent upon the board to find them employment in another branch, but under the amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh it would be highly probable within twelve months to absorb them in other branches of the service.
.- I am not satisfied with the explanation of the Prime Minister. There are not a great many postmasters inWestern Australia, and if a job as a postmaster were not available to an officer of that class he would be immediately put off ; but under the act as it stands such an officer could be given a position as a clerk of the same status or as a postal inspeotor.
.- It seems to me that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) has misunderstood the clause. The effect of the law will not be altered by the addition of the words “ of a particular classification.” The power to remove an officer from the Service has always existed. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) mentioned only the case of postmasters, but they are probably the least likely class to be retrenched. Postoffices are increasing, and postal business is growing. The Government’s proposal will merely give the board power to declare that there are excess officers in a certain branch, whereas previously it could only say that there were excess officers in the whole department.For instance, if it were found that a caretaker was no longer required in a particular branch the position could be declared excess, but the board would still have power to transfer the caretaker to some other branch. I do not know of any officers who have been dismissed as the result of re-arrangements. Other positions have always been found for them. Even under the latest retrenchment scheme, which affected some of the high officers in the Taxation Department, the Government instructed the board that no other positions in the Service were to be filled until those officers had been absorbed.
– Then why object to my amendment?
– There is no justification for raising the bogey that the Government is going to treat officers in a dishonest way. The Government has shown every sympathy with the Service, and the board will adopt a similar attitude. If I thought otherwise, I would not vote for the Government’s proposal. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) is afraid that the introduction of machine telegraphy will result in telegraphists being thrown out of employment. Forthe last twenty-five years, we have been told that this system was coming into general use, but for the greater part of the business I maintain that the hand system of telegraphy will never be displaced.
– Machine telegraphy is bound to cause the services of a number of operators to be dispensed with.
– Of course, in the large offices; but, at the same time, the smaller offices will increase in number, and therewill always be work for the telegraphists. For the last twenty-four years, as classifications have been put into effect, the men who have been excess have been placed, in other positions.
.- I should not have risen, paying due regard as I do to the request of the Prime Minister to hasten the dispatch of the bill, but for the fact that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) precipitated himself into the debate for the purpose of showing that the argument of’ my colleague, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), was unsound. That itwas sound had already been admitted by the Prime Minister. It is one thing to argue whether orot this proposed amendment of section 20 is justifiable, and another to argue as to its effect. Dealing with its effect, the Prime Minister has made it clear that the object is to narrow down the class within which appointments may be made in the case of excess officers.
– He did not say that at all.
– He did. The clause refers to excess officers of a particular classification. The Prime Minister has been good enough to point out that, prior to the amendment now proposed, the law was that, if at any time the board found that a greater number of officers was employed in any department or branch than were necessary for the efficient working of that department or branch, the officers in excess could be transferred to other positions of equal classification and salary. The right honorable gentleman also went on to argue that that involved a very wide inquiry throughout the whole of the department to discover whether there were any positions to which the excess officers concerned could be appointed.
– A wide inquiry will still be necessary. The words proposed to be inserted in section 20 only narrow down the inquiry to the classification to determine whether an officer is in excess.
– I have been endeavouring to say that. Perhaps I have not expressed myself as clearly as has the Prime Minister. The clause will narrow down the inquiry to a particular classification, with the result that if the excess officer cannot be placed within the classification, he will be retired from the Service.
– No. Inquiry will be made throughout the whole of the Service to ascertain if there is some other position to which he may be appointed.
– The amendment limits the franchise to a particular classification. This is what the Prime Minister .attempted to justify in his speech. He said that, at present, the inquiry was too wide; and he instanced linesmen and other classes of employees in the Postal Department, arguing that, because it would be necessary to search meticulously throughout the whole of the department, it might be practically impossible to declare an officer in excess. Under the clause, the inquiry will be limited to a particular classification. There are two aspects from which the clause may be viewed : One concerns its effect, and the other whether it is just or proper. It seems to me perfectly clear that the proposed amendment of section 20 will facilitate a declaration of excess officers, and provide ultimately for their retirement from the Service. It might be argued that this is perfectly justifiable. I do not say that it is. I take the view, so well expressed by other honorable gentlemen on this side of the committee.
It has been truly said that under the Public Service Act the board has always had authority to dispense with the services of excess officers. I go further and say that the decision of the High Court has laid down the general principle that there is power inherent in the Sovereign to dispense with the services of any member of the Public Service. Therefore we are not arguing whether the board has power to dispense with excess officers. In the first place, we are arguing as to the effect of the clause, and in the second place, we. say that this power should be exercised, if at all, consistently with the spirit of the Public Service Act, and with the terms upon which public servants are employed. “We may assume that the great majority of them receive appointment as youths, and after examination; that they have been appointed to permanent positions and as permanent employees are- removed from the outside labour market. Higher officials, such as the occupants of judicial positions, are appointed during good behaviour in the terms of the well known Latin phrase - quamdiu se bene gesserit. It is unlikely, if the Public Service were fairly administered, that under section 20 unamended there would be any excess officers for the reason, so well expressed by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), that with the growth of the Commonwealth Service there must necessarily be ample opportunities to place any officer declared to be excess in his department. The amending clause invests the board with a very dangerous power, which probably will be, and certainly could be exercised, not directly to remove excess officers, but for ulterior reasons. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) wishes to mitigate the hardships that may be imposed on members of the Public Service by the clause. He might have carried his proposal further. I agree with, those who think that if officers of the Public Service are to be retired, there should be some fairly liberal scheme of compensation provided for them. . They are entitled to consideration. I do not think there is any doubt that the effect of the clause will be to facilitate the retirement of excess officers from the Public Service, and to a certain extent it will encourage the board to retire such excess officers.
.- The Prime ‘Minister did not represent the position fairly. I have never denied that the board has always had legal power to dispense with the services of excess officers. I dealt with the effect rather than the legal aspect of the clause and showed that it affected the permanency of positions held by members of the Public Service. The right honorable gentleman, supported by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), said that the clause would not narrow the choice in the case of re-appointments. I dispute that. The bill has been specially designed to narrow the excess officers to a particular classification. I admit that the Prime Minister was quite right when he said that re-appointments could be made to any branch of the Public Service, but what is the use of that concession to excess officers who have reached the top of their classification? Under the law as it stood when the number of officers were declared in excess, all the officers in the department went down until the junior officers were reached. Junior officers can be easily placed, because juniors are always “wanted somewhere. But under section 20, as amended by this clause, there will be a limitation of choice in re-appointments. The board will be able to pick out any individual position, and declare it to be excess. The effect of the Act was- practically to make positions permanent, and to establish a feeling of security, because there were really no excess members in the Public Service. Under the Government’s proposal, certain positions in the Public Service will be declared excess. The appointments of men who have spent a life-time in the Service, will thus be rendered insecure, and this will cause great discontent. The Prime Minister has stated that there is to be no change. That is legally so, but, in effect, there will be a drastic change, affecting the permanency of positions, which “ is likely to hit hardest the man who has spent a life-time in the Service. I hope the committee will carry the amendment, but, if it does not, I shall vote against the clause..
.-*I have listened with considerable interest to the speeches of honorable members on the clause and the amendment that I have moved. The honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) recognizes that there is merit in the arguments advanced by honorable members on this side, to the extent that he is prepared to support a proposal that officers declared to be excess should be placed on the unattached list for a period of three months. That honorable gentleman evidently fears that, under the classification, there is to be a retrenchment of officers, otherwise he would not support such a proposal.
– The honorable member is quite mistaken, because I have no fear of retrenchment.
– In that case there is nothing in the honorable member’s contention that excess officers should be placed on the unattached list. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr) stated that there was little or no possibility of departing from the past procedure of absorbing excess officers in other branches of the Service. If his argument is sound, he should not object to the amendment that I have moved. That argument should also Overcome the objection raised by the Prime Minister that excess officers would be kept on the salary list for a period of twelve months without rendering any service at all. The honorable member for Parkes said that these officers could be absorbed in accordance with past procedure.
– I spoke in rebuttal of the illustration instanced by the other side.
– If the argument advanced . by the honorable member for Parkes is to hold good, then the fears of the Prime Minister should be effectively dispelled. The amendment has been moved in the interests of the taxpayers, and, if carried, will provide for the absorption of excess officers in other branches of the Service, and thus meet the future requirements of an everincreasing Public Service. I ask the committee to accept the amendment.
, - I shall quote certain figures from the Public Service Commissioner’s report for the year 1921-2, presented to Parliament on the 13th June, 1923, to show that there is no real necessity for this clause. I believe that a later report is in print, but is not yet available to honorable members: I find that the total number of officers retired from the Service for various reasons in 1921-22 was 1,315.
– They were not compulsory retirements, but retirements for various reasons.
– That total includesvoluntary resignations, 775; retirements over 60 years of age, 111 ; deaths, 88; retirements through marriage, 95; dismissals, 114; retirements through incapacity, , 22; and services dispensed with, 101. We are, apparently, providing by legislation for something which is not at all necessary.
– There is no harm in passing legislation so long as it is reasonable.
– The amendment should be accepted by the committee, because it would be a distinct improvement to the bill.
Question-That the words prpposed to be added (Mr. Makin’s amendment) be so added - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the following paragraph be added : - “ (b) By adding to the section the words with compensation on the basis of one month’s salary for each year of completed service.’ “
This means that officers who are compulsorily retired by the board, for whom positions have not been found, will receive similar treatment to that meted out to officers recently retrenched. The Government applied the principle of compensation to the officers of the Taxation Department who were retired. A mau who adopts the Civil Service as a career and is subsequently dismissed through unforeseen circumstances, should be compensated, for after spending from ten to twenty years in the service his position is pitiable, from an economic stand-point, if he is then thrown on the labour market and obliged to compete with ordinary workers for employment. It has been the invariable practice of State Government’s, as well as of the Commonwealth Government, in recent times to compensate public servants who are compulsorily retired. As the clause stands, the board has power to dismiss excess officers if it is unable to find a suitable vacancy for them. I object to that summary treatment, on humanitarian grounds, and trust that honorable members will extend to all public servants who are compulsorily retired the same consideration as they gave to the retired officers of the Taxation Department.
– This proposal is quite outside the scope of the bill, and also against the intentions of the Government. It really provides for the application of the principle of compensation to the Public Ser vice, and might involve many and wide issues. The Government is not prepared to consider it in a machinery hill of this description, for it would make a fundamental alteration in . Public Service methods. It is questionable whether the amendment is in order, for it might involve increased taxation.
– This measure was introduced in the Senate.
– That is beside the point. An amendment to the bill which would increase taxation would be invalid, and if it were insisted upon the measure would have to be re-introduced in this chamber and in the ordinary way in which taxation bills are introduced. I am not objecting to the amendment on a point of order, however, but on the definite ground that the Government is not prepared to accept it, for it would practically revolutionize the practice of the Service.
.- I hope that the Government will accept the amendment. I do not think it goes far enough, for even if it were accepted the board might get over it by offering an officer who was retired from a 3rd class a position at the minimum salary in the 5th class. That should be prevented. It is true that the amendment widens the scope of the bill, but, in my opinion, it is only fair to do so. Grave injustice will be done to men who are compulsorily retired from the Service without adequate compensation, for they had a right to expect, after passing the necessary entrance examinations and generally qualifying themselves for the work, that their positions would be permanent. Officers who have been retired from the Defence and Taxation Departments on the ground that they were excess have been compensated. I- dispute that the officers retiredfrom the Taxation Department were excess and suggest that had they been retained to form the nucleus of a default branch in the Income and Land Taxation Departments, they would have earned their salaries 100 times over by bringing to book defaulting taxpayers. The opportunities for outside employment available to dismissed public servants are very limited.’ That is an additional reason for giving them every possible consideration.
.- The amendment is based on a sound principle. If public servants are declared to be excess, and are dismissed, they have as much right to compensation as the officers of the .Taxation and Defence Departments who were dismissed. The Prime Minister stated that he thought very few officers would be dismissed, and that there would be only a limited number, if any, cases of hardship. If that is so, the cost involved in the acceptance of the amendment would be negligible. Public servants who have been in receipt of salaries ranging from £200 to, say, £300 per annum could not possibly save sufficient from their income to tide them over a period of unemployment. It takes all their money to maintain themselves and their families from week to week. If they are dismissed, they will undoubtedly have a very unhappy experience, for they will be obliged to compete in the labour market with men who have had a commercial training; and, failing there) they will have to accept manual work against men who have been doing unskilled work all their lives, and are thus much Better fitted for it than public servants can be, or else they will have to compete for clerical work or employment in shops and factories against workers who have been trained in the ordinary business houses of our cities.
– If the amendment is agreed to. it will probably prevent the board from dismissing men unnecessarily.
– That is so. If the Government intends to make a special effort to find employment for officers who are declared to be excess, it need not fear that very great expense will be involved in the acceptance of the amendment. I support the amendment, for the reason that I believe that these officers are entitled to compensation just as much as the retired Taxation and Defence Department officers.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Coleman’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section twenty-seven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (3.) 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 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 the generalsecretary of that organization or is an officer) of the appellant. “ (3a.) Upon the conclusion of the conference, the representative of the Board and the Permanent Head, or his representative, shall each furnish the Board with a report, and the appellant (or the nominee or agent) may, if he so desires, make any further representations in writing to the Board. “ (3b.) Where the appellant does not attend the conference, or is not represented by a nominee or agent, the appeal shall be considered by the representative of the Board and the Permanent Head or his representative, who shall each furnish the Board with a report. “ (3c.) After consideration of the reports and representations made in pursuance of this section, the Board shall determine the appeal.”
Section proposed to be amended - (3.) The Board shall, as prescribed, consider the appeal in conference with a representative of the Permanent Head of the Department concerned, and with the appellant, or if he so desires, with a nominee (who is an officer) of the Public Service organization to which the appellant be of the appellant, and following upon such conference the Board shall determine the appeal.
– This clause deals with the constitution of a so-called Appeal Board, to which members of the Public Service- who are dissatisfied may appeal, but it appears to me to be rather a misnomer to call this an Appeal Board. If honorable members look at the proposed -new subsection 3o they will find that the final determination of the appeal will rest with the Public Service Board itself. It is merely make-believe to call this an Appeal Board from which dissatisfied public servants may seek the redress of their wrongs. It is not likely that, unless very weighty evidence is placed before the Public Service Board, it will agree to alter a -determination - that it has previously made. The justice of any claim will not weigh very greatly with that board. It is most important that there should be an Appeal Board from which public servants can expect scrupulous justice.
– What does the honorable member’ mean when he refers to a determination already made by the board?
– If an officer appeals against the classification of his position that has been made by the board, it is not likely that the board will alter the classification. The’ honorable member will agree that, although certain representations can be made to the so-called Appeal Board, the Public Service Board will have the final determination of the matter.
– It will be possible to rereview any fresh facts that have been elicited, and to give an opportunity for the consideration of any circumstances that may have been overlooked in the making of the classification.
– I dare say that, in a few cases, that may be done. It may be contended that there will be no collusion between the representatives of the board and the permanent head of the department, but I think that it is only reasonable to suppose that a great deal of sympathy exists between the permanent heads and the Public Service Board. It is quite right that there should be sympathy and co-operation between them. There is, however, a strong feeling that the permanent heads do not take up that independent stand which should be taken by them, despite the opinions of the Public Service Board. Last evening I mentioned a case in which it appeared to me that the permanent head had been induced to comply with the wishes - if not definitely expressed, at any rate implied - of the board, and to act. wrongly towards the officer concerned. Some honorable members may regard this as a minor matter, but to me it is important, because it involves a very big principle. The Public Service Board, in a most injudicious way, pointed out to the permanent head that an officer of his department had infringed a certain regulation. I challenge any honorable member opposite to show that in the action of the public servant there was the slightest infringement of any regulation. When a departmental head goes to the trouble to reprimand an officer and to place a black mark against him in such circumstances, he is either not competent to interpret the regulations, or he is acting in a way that will please the Public Service Board. I take the latter view. I do not think that any officer in the Public Service is able to show that the action of this servant was an infringement of the regulations, and I am therefore driven to the conclusion that the giving of the reprimand to, and the placing of the black mark against, the record of the public servant in question, were the result of a desire to please the Public Service Board. I was rather disappointed that the Prime Minister last evening did not intimate that injustice and tyranny of that kind will not in future be .tolerated by the Public Service Board. The right honorable gentleman went to some trouble to defend highlyplaced officers when an accusation was made against them, but he did not take the slightest trouble to defend this occupant of a humble position. It is more important to protect the humble than the highly placed. Charges made against the latter in this House cannot do them any damage. If honorable members are jealous for the good name of the public servants they will see that this tyranny is not persisted in, and that the injustice that has been done will be remedied, or that at least inquiry will be made to ascertain whether or not punishment was unjustly meted out to this officer. The Prime
Minister has told us that under the classification scheme a greater number of officers have had their salaries increased than have had them reduced. I have not before me the full figures, but I have had handed to me those relating to some of the departments, and if the other departments have been treated similarly, I am afraid that the Prime Minister’s information is not correct. In the central office of the Attorney-General’s Department there are six clerical officers, one of whom has had his salary reduced to the extent of £36, two to the extent of £18, and three to the extent of £4. In the High Court of Australia there are two clerks on the staff.. One has been reduced by £36, and the other by £40. In the Arbitration Court there are five clerical officers. The salary of one has been increased by £54 - he is a very lucky fellow - and that of two others has been increased by £6, but the increases have been given in such a way that it is not certain that they will’ get them. One other, apparently, has been increased, but the particulars cannot be stated, and the remaining officer has been reduced by £4. In the investigation branch there are three clerical officers. One has been increased by £6, and the others have been decreased by £4. In the statistical branch only one officer was fortunate enough to get an increase, and that amounted to £4. It was the only increase he had had for the last eight years.
– The head of that department received an increase of about £100.
– I have no objection to capable men being paid adequate salaries, but I do say that the lower paid officers should receive some consideration. I have mentioned these facts to show how important it is to the public servants that they should have the right of approaching an appeal board, from which they can expect to receive justice. I therefore move -
That the proposed new sub-sections 3, 3 (a), 3 (b). and 3 (c) be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following : - “ 3. An appeal under this section shall be determined by an appeal board, constituted as follows : -
a representative of the permanent head of the department wherein the appellant is employed, or the head himself ;
the appellant or his nominee, who is an officer of the Public Service organization to which the appellant belongs;
An independent chairman, to be mutually agreed upon by the parties referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b), or, failing that, to be appointed by the Governor in Council.”
The decision of this Appeal Board shall be final and acted upon by the Public Service Board.
I cannot see any reason for the Government, refusing to grant such an appeal board to the Public Service. Although the state Public Service of New South Wales is the most contented in Australia, recognizing as it does that it is very well paid, it still contends annually that it should have an appeal board of this description. Surely it cannot be argued that trouble would be experienced in selecting an independent chairman. Only in rare cases would it be necessary to resort to an appointment by the Governor-General in Council. Such an appeal board would give absolute satisfaction to the public servants, and would ensure that justice would be done to them. Even if they did not get from that board all that they desired, they would still have the satisfaction of knowing that their claims had been justly weighed in the balance. They will by no means be satisfied with the scheme of the Government. It may be argued that a little greater expense will be incurred. Even if that were so, it would be justified by the greater advantages that would . follow. It is not the fault of the public servant that this bill has had to be introduced partly to remedy the foolish mistakes that have been made. I appeal to honorable members to give to public servants the only appeal board that will satisfy them.
.- I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment. We know that in the Public Service there is frequently a need for an appeal to some tribunal. An appeal board constituted in the way set out in the amendment would be more equitable than that proposed by the Government. It would be able to hear evidence from both sides, and the chairman, acting in a judicial capacity, could give a just decision. But the clause merely provides that the appeal shall be considered by a representative of the board in conference with the permanent head or representative of the permanent head and the appellant. Such a conference would not ensure justice to the appellant as would a properly constituted appeal board such as exists in connexion withsome of the state public services. The officers representing the board and the permanent head, although actuated by the very best motives, would have a natural tendency to uphold the board as against the appellant. It is almost certain that the representative of the board would not. be sympathetic to the appellant, and the permanent head would incline towards the board rather than towards the appellant. High officers of the Service would naturally have a tendency to work together, but an appeal board constituted as suggested by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. F. McDonald), with an independent chairman, would not be influenced by either the Public Service Board or the permanent head, and would be able to deal with appeals equitably. The chairman would probably be a police magistrate orsome other person experienced in the weighing of evidence, and such a chairman would be more acceptable topublic servants generally. I fear that in a conference of the kind proposed in the clause there would be a danger of collusion between the representatives of the Public Service Board and the permanent head to uphold the decisions of the board. I, therefore, hope that the Prime Minister will accept the amendment.
– The clause seeks to relieve the board of the obligation to hear all appeals against classification, and, to that end, provides that a representative of the board may confer with the permanent head and the appellant. The amendment proposes the creation of a second tribunal which would have the final decision of all questions relating to classification. If that proposal were adopted there would be two authorities dealing with the one subject. The second authority might be necessary if the rights of the public servant were not safeguarded in any way, but in addition to the board there will be the Public Service Arbitrator. . I dissent from the view that the conference will almost invariably uphold the classification by the board. It is inevitable that in individual cases certain factors that have been overlooked by the board will be brought under consideration at the conference. Honorable members will, at least, give the members of the board credit for good intentions, and if at the conference new facts were elicited, and the classification were shown to be unjust, the board would, I am sure, be prepared to rectify its former mistake. Even if that were not done the public servant would still have the right of recourse to the Public Service Arbitrator. This argument does not apply to promotions, which are dealt with in clause 14, and in regard to which the objection to an appeal from Caesar to Caesar would have greater weight. I suggest that the amendment is unnecessary on the clause now before the committee, and if carried would inevitably lead to a great deal of confusion through giving two bodies authority in respect of the same subject. Classification is a matter of general interest, but promotions and transfers arc individual grievances, and in connexion with them it would be quite reasonable to ensure a right of appeal to a new authority. I ask the honorable member for Barton not to press his amendment.
.- I think the Prime Minister is right in saying that the need for an appeal to an independent board is not so great in connexion with classification as in connexion with promotions, which are dealt with in clause 14, but as I read this clause the appeal against classification will be decided by the board itself.
– The final decision will certainly rest with the board, which will be guided by the recommendations of the conference.
– The person who will consider the appeal will be the representative of the board, who will merely confer with the head of the department and the appellant. The representative of the board will really bring the other two parties into conference. There is something in the argument that a classification board should classify.
– That is one of the principal functions of the Public Service Board.
– If the board is appointed to classify, its decisions must have some finality, just aswhen an arbitrator is appointed his award must stand. The weakness of the clause, however, is that, whilst it purports to allow an appeal, it does not give the right to the three parties to the conference to make a recommendation to the board. I do not suggest that there should be superimposed upon the Public Service Board another authority that could reject the board’s classification, but I think that the representative of the board, the permanent head of the department affected, and the appellant should form a committee and make a joint recommendation to the board, which presumably would attach due weight to it.
– Each of the three members of the conference may make separate recommendations to the board.
– I desire that they shall make a composite report.
– Even if that were done, the appellant would be outnumbered.
– Not necessarily; but there might be a majority report and a minority report.
Mr.Bruce. - Would it not be preferable in the interests of the appellant that the permanent head as well as the representative of the board should make his recommendation rather than that the two should submit a composite report?
– I think that a composite report would be more likely to lead to a compromise. The proposed conference would be satisfactory if the three members of it had equal status. As the clause is drafted, they will have equal authority to submit separate reports, but at the conference the only person who will consider the appeal will be the representative of the board whose classification is in question.
– Under the clause the representative of the board will have two opportunities to deal with an appeal, whereas the representatives of the permanent head and the appellant will have only one such opportunity. The board may be represented by a member of the board or an agent.
– A member of the board will only be present in the case of an appeal by a senior officer.
– In most cases the Public Service Board will be represented by an inspector.
Mr.FENTON.- That may be so. I believe in making provision for a minority report in such cases, but it seems peculiar that each of the three members of the committee should send in a separate report. By a little give and take the members of the committee might arrive at a unanimous decision, and why should they not in such a case send in but one report. I am interested in securing harmony in the Public Service. I point out that if the appellant is not satisfied with the consideration given to his report or that of his agent he will probably again bring his case before the association to which he belongs, and more trouble may follow. If a board on the lines proposed by the honorable member for Barton (Mr. F. McDonald) were provided, I think that all concerned would be satisfied.
– And its decision should be final.
– I understand that that is what the honorable member for Barton desires.
– Of course I do.
– I find in the last Public Service Commissioner’s report a whole page devoted to reasons why some amendments are necessary to prevent interference with a classification by the Public Service Arbitrator. I shall vote for an independent board todeal with these matters apart altogether . from the Public Service Board.
Question - That the sub-sections proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause (Mr. F. McDonald’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That the following paragraph be added to the clause : - “ (b) By omitting from sub-section 4 thereof the words ‘ the appeal,’ and inserting instead the words ‘ all appeals.’ “
Section 27 of the principal act provides that the gazettal of a classification may be wholly or in sections. No doubt the purpose is to meet the convenience of the board in the hearing and determination of appeals. I prefer that the gazettal of the whole classification should be made at the one time. If the classification is approved in sections, officers in the first section approved may suffer seriously as compared with officers in the last section approved. All increases under the classification are to be operative from the 1st July, 1923, but the operation of the reductions will depend on the date of approval of the classification by the GovernorGeneral. Increments in wages must be paid up to the date of approval of the classification. If, for example, the classification of sorters is approved almost immediately, many sorters will lose automatic increments which they would not otherwise lose. In the meantime, many clerks, whose classification has not yet been considered, will continue to receive automatic increments in their wages. Such discrimination is absolutely unjustifiable. I submit my amendment so that all classifications shall be gazetted and operate on the same date.
– What has the honorable member to say tothe amendment I have circulated ?
– I have not seen the amendment referred to.
– All classifications will, under it, be gazetted at the same time.
– Under it the provisions will operate only when the last of the classifications is gazetted.
– I shall be pleased if the Prime Minister can give me an assurance that the amendment he intends to propose will meet the difficulty which my amendment is intended to meet.
– Many representations have been made to me on the subject of this bill. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr), the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson), and the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), have brought many points under the Government’s notice. Clause 8 provides for the preservation of the benefits of arbitration awards to employees who are reclassified. It was felt that an injustice might be done to those who were reclassified early if the reclassification was applied piecemeal. To overcome that objection, the Government has drafted an amendment to clause 8.
.- The Prime Minister suggests that no officer will suffer as a result of sectional reclassifications. The purpose of the amendmentof the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) is to provide that all appeals against reclassifications must be finally determined before any reclassification operates. We desire that the whole of the reclassifications of the Service shall operate from the same date, and be approved at the same time.
– They will apply from the same date.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Section twenty-seven of the Principal Act is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following sub-section: - (7.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, where the salary allotted to an officer by the classification is less than the salary fixed for that officerby or under a determination made under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920, that officer shall, so long as he occupies the office to which he is assigned by the classification, continue to receive the higher salary fixed by or under the determination.
– I move -
That proposed new sub-section (7) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-sections: - “ (7.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, where the salary allotted to an officer by the classification is less than the salary which that officer would have been entitled to receive, under a determination made under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920, at the date of the publication of the approval of the classification of the last classified section of the Commonwealth Service, that officer, so long as he occupies the office to which he is assigned by the classification and the salary to which he would be entitled under the classification continues to be less than the said salary which he would have been entitled to receive at the date of the publication of the approval of the classification, shall continue to receive the said higher salary. (8.) For the purposes of the last preceding sub-suction, the salary which an officer would have been entitled to receive under a determination includes such emoluments as are prescribed.”
The amendment will lose some of its apparent complication if I explain to honorable members the idea underlying it. The principal act provides for the reclassification of the Service to apply irrespective of awards of the Arbitrator that may be in existence at the time of the reclassification. The Government does not accept the view that the Public Service Board must not, in its reclassification, interfere with existing awards of the Arbitrator, but it does agree that it would be inequitable, and probably harsh, to deprive men immediately upon their reclassification of the benefits of arbitration awards that might have been obtained with great- difficulty, and at great expense. Those who, at the time of the reclassification, are working under awards of the Arbitrator that give them a greater remuneration than they would have under the reclassification scheme, will not have their remuneration reduced while they continue to occupy the same positions. The reclassifications are taking place, and are being gazetted from time to time. In awards of the Arbitrator there are provisions for periodical increments. In the interval between the first and last gazettal of reclassifications these increments will be granted. If the section of the Service in which a man is employed is the last to be gazetted, probably a year, or even two years, after other sections have been gazetted, he may receive automatic increments during that interim period.
– What is the meaning of “ would have been entitled to receive?”
– It means the amount he would have been entitled to receive if he had been reclassified at the date of the gazettal of the last reclassification.
– Does the amendment mean that the rate of progression of every officer under an arbitration determination will not be restricted until all the reclassifications operate ?
– I think that is right, butI shall state theintention again to make sure that we do not misunderstand each other. A member of the Public Service who is working under an award of the Public Service Arbitrator will be entitled to enjoy all the benefits of that award up to the time of the gazettal of the last reclassification. The amount he is then entitled to under the arbitration award will be taken as the figure below which he cannot be reduced while he continues in his then position.
– Will the amount include discretionary increments ?
– It can only include those increments that he already receives.
– There is something in that point. Under an award there are automatic and discretionary increments, and the amendment really includes everything an officer is entitled to under the award, and had got at the time of the gazettal of the last classification. The position will be as it would have been if there had been no classification up to that date. There has been a feeling that injustice has been done in regard to certain emoluments to which officers are entitled. The case of the female employees in the Public Service has been mentioned, and, in order to overcome the difficulty, proposed new sub-section 8 has been moved. It is proposed that no benefit shall be taken away, and that the emoluments shall be included in determining the lowest salary which may be paid.
– I understand that the amendment means that the salary shall be that received at the date of the award, plus the increments which were due up to the final approval of the classification; but the difficulty is that it is not mandatory that the discretionary increments must be paid when approved by the head of the department. The automatic increments provided by the Arbitrator must be paid by the Government, and I maintain that the discretionary increments also should be paid as soon as the head of the department approves of them. The sple discretion lies with the head of the department, and, when he has made his recommendation, the payment of the discretionary increments is just as binding on the Government as the payment of the automatic increase. If, after the head of the department has given (his approval, the Government declines to pay the discretionary increments, it will commit a breach of the award, and strike a blow at the very roots of arbitration. Conoidering the position in conjunction with the circular issued recently with the approval of the Treasurer, one sees that an extraordinary situation has arisen. In the Estimates, recently passed, the Hotise approved of the payment of all the discretionary and automatic increases approved by the heads of departments, and the Government was instructed to pay them. I maintain, therefore, thatthe circular from the Treasury, intimating that, pending further advice, payment of discretionary increments should not be made, shotild be withdrawn. If there was any justification for issuing the circular before the Estimates were passed - and I dp not think there was - there is certainly no justification for it now. Some of those increments were recommended and approved by the heads of departments before the circular was sent out, and, if I am correctly informed, they arebeing paid.
– I think that some of them have been paid.
– Honorable members opposite will realize the unfairness of the circular.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– I suggest that the Prime Minister should issue instructions at once for the withdrawal of the circular. If he undertakes to do that, I shall accept his proposal as substantially satisfactory, for it meets a very intricate situation fairly. But the issuing of the circular was a high-handed action, andif it is not withdrawn it will tend to kill respect for arbitration. It is remarkable that, throughout Australia, the greatest fighting spirits amongst trade unionists have always been ready to abide by decisions reached by arbitration. A number of the awards of the Public Service Arbitrator are open to a good deal of criticism, but it will be a most serious matter if the Government deprives the public servants of half of the increments awarded. It would be disobeying a decision which the Government at least should obey, seeing that it was responsible for the appointment of the Arbitrator. As the amendment meets an awkward situation fairly and effectively up to a certain point, I shall not quarrel with it, but I suggest to the Prime Minister that he give the committee the assurance that the Treasurer’s circular will be withdrawn, and that discretionary increments will be paid as intended by the Arbitrator once the head of the department has approved of them.
.- This clause is one of the most important in the bill. It is an endeavour to correct any injustice that is being done to the Public Service, and to make the machinery of the act work smoothly. I am glad that the Government has moved an amendment to straighten out several difficulties. In conjunction with other members who have spoken on this matter, I wish to pay a tribute to the Government for the fair-minded way in which it has endeavoured todeal justly with the Public Service. The honorable member for Yarra, raised the important matter of the payment of discretionary increments. I am entirely in agreement with him, but I believe the difficulty in this respect will be met by the amendment which has been introduced by the Government. I do not think that it was a right action to stop the payment of discretionary increments which had been approved, and for which money had been provided. It was probably done without any desire to be unjust to the officers concerned, and merely as a precautionary measure, because the Government did not wish to commit itself to any increased expenditure before it knew what would be involved by the reclassification. Since the Government has now granted very great concessions under this clause, I feel positive that it will withdraw the Treasurer’s circular. As the honorable member for Yarra said, certain officers have been paid discretionary increments that are now part of their salaries, and will be included in the amount below which their salaries cannot be reduced. Other men whose discretionary increments were approved, but were not paid, are, therefore, placed at a disadvantage which the very structure of the clause is intended to remove. In my opinion; discretionary increments are really included in the provisions of the clause. If they are not included in one way, then they are almost sure to be included in another. The proposed new sub-section reads -
According to the argument advanced by the honorable member for Yarra these discretionary increments are part of a determination. I do not say that future discretionary increments would be included under this sub-section, but discretionary increments which have already been paid or approved are. surely part of an award.
– I suggest that those cases in which the head of a department has, after receiving the circular, withheld his approval, would not b& included under the sub-section.
– That is a difficulty arising out of the circular. It is almost impossible to say what future discretionary increments would have been approved and what would not. But discretionary increments which have been approved and not paid by the Government should certainly be included under the clause. I suggest as a way out of the difficulty respecting future discretionary increments, that the system in operation up to the issue of the Treasurer’s circular should be con- tinued to the date of the final approval of the classification, and the discretionary increments which are then granted will become part of the emolument which an officer receives under the Arbitration award, and which is included in proposed new sub-section 8°. This sub-section deals more particularly with allowances granted under the Arbitrator’s awards. It looks simple enough to insert the word “ allowance “ in addition to the word “ salary,” but such an amendment would be quite impracticable, because it would include all sorts of allowances such as special district allowance and others which could not be rightly included. It could be termed an “ arbitration allowance,” and if such an allowance were included in the word “ emoluments,” I believe that the difficulty would be fully met. In my opinion, that is the intention of the clause, because it includes the words “such emoluments as are prescribed.” This leaves it open for specific classes of allowances to be set out by regulation, and a regulation can be readily investigated, criticized, and altered if so desired. The intention, I understand, is that the regulations shall prescribe the different classes of allowances coming under the Arbitrator’s awards, and I am inclined to believe that these discretionary increments will be included in the clause. The amendment is a great concession indeed, and does justice to the Public Service. I think most of the difficulties have arisen chiefly because the classification has .come in so quickly on the heels of an award recently made by the Arbitrator. As the Prime Minister has said, it would be wrong to do away altogether with the classification. This would be the effect of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for ‘Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), which reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, the board shall not fix a lower salary in respect of any office or class of work than the salary fixed for that office or class of work by or under a determination made under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920.
– That is very definite.
– It is definite, but is it fair? Even an Arbitration Court deals with applications for the variation of its awards. If the classification board is not to be given an opportunity to vary the Arbitrator’s award at some future time the board will lose its principal function.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Arbitrator is the proper person to vary his awards?
– The Public Service system of arbitration is different from ordinary outside arbitration. If the arbitrator had made no award for six or ten years, no one would have questioned the right of the board to reclassify the Service, and to review the salaries and conditions. There is still an appeal from the classification back to the Arbitrator. Of course, considerable expense will be occasioned in meeting the difficulties that will arise from the reclassification, and that is why the Government consented to the amendment. Every effort is being made to preserve the interests of the individual without interfering with the general principles of the act. I agree entirely with the amendment, and for the reasons I have given I cannot support the proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). The adoption of his suggestion would necessitate putting the service under the complete authority of one man, the Arbitrator, instead of under the board, and I consider that that would not be in the interests of the Service.
.- Although I listened with interest to the speech of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), I must confess that he has disappointed me. The amendment proposed by the Prime Minister is certainly an improvement on the clause originally submitted by the Government, but still it does not meet the wishes of the Public Service organizations, which desire the unlimited right to appear before the Public Service Arbitrator regardless of whether the results are favorable or otherwise. The proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh is much more acceptable than that ofthe Government, which must cause innumerable anomalies if it is agreed to. I agree with that part of the Government amendment which providesthat the salary of an officer who has been reclassified shall not be reduced so long as he occupies the office to which he is assigned by the classification. I also admit that the Government has made a concession in providing that the emoluments which an officer was entitled to receive under the Arbitrator’s determination shall be preserved for him. But I do not think that the officers of the Service are sufficiently protected from reductions in the future. Section 28 of the principal act reads -
With the case of any officer who is in receipt of a greater salary than the maximum salary determined under the classification to he appropriate to the office occupied by him, the board shall deal in the following manner: -
If an office of classification corresponding to the salary received by the officer is available orbecomes available within a period of twelve months after the date of approval of the classification by the GovernorGeneral, and in the opinion of the board, the officer is competent to fill that office, theboard may transfer him thereto;
If no such office which in the opinion of the Board the officer is competent to fill is or becomes so available, the board shall, at the expiration of the period of twelve months above mentioned, reduce the salary of the officer to the maximum salary appropriate under the classification to the office occupied by him;
If any such reduction of salary is certified by the board to have been made on the ground only that no such office was available, the officer shall, notwithstanding the reduction, remain eligible for promotion as from the class or position to which his salary before reduction was incident, and shall be entitled to employment on the class of work to which his previous salary was appropriate, as soon as a vacancy occurs therein, which, in the opinion of the board, he is competent to fill, in preference to any other officer of the same or a lower class or position whose salary has not been so reduced.
It is clear, therefore, that the board has power to remove an officer, and can defeat the purposes of this amendment. The Service organizations are not satisfied with the Government’s proposal, for several reasons. In the first place, it still allows the board to depart from the the standard prescribed by the Arbitrator. Their second objection to it is that it will not enable an officer to proceed to the maximum salary fixed for his work by the Arbitrator, and consequently, in time, similar work in the Service will be paid for at various maximum rates. Such discrimination is absolutely unjustifiable. The man who is working on the maximum prescribed by tie Arbitrator will be in an infinitely better position than the man who is working on the maximum prescribed by the Classification Board. A man in one branch of the Service may be receiving £20 a year more than a man in the same branch for exactly similar work, and men who are discharging highly important duties, and have greater seniority, may be receiving less than officers who have not nearly so many years’ service, and are discharging duties that are not nearly so important. In short, the amendment does not safeguard the sacred principle of arbitration. Anomalies will occur notwithstanding the ingenuity of the Prime Minister. We admit that the Prime Minister is endeavouring to meet the situation within the limits of the Government’s policy, but his efforts have not yet satisfied the Service organizations, and this amendment will not develop a spirit of contentment in the Service. Nothing short of a clear line of demarcation between the Arbitrator and the board will meet the case. I submit that the Arbitrator should have complete power to fix salaries, and that the duties of the board should be limited to classifying the Service. The Arbitrator has been working for three years now, and has given general satisfaction to all concerned. He has investigated the work of every department, examined hundreds of witnesses, and appraised the value of the services rendered. He has had a ripe experience of Public Service work, and the .Service is prepared to trust him. In an inquiry he made in the clerical case recently, he examined over 100 witnesses, and his award was backed up by reasons, but the board came along and, without consulting the organizations, or taking evidence, made a reclassification. I submit that the methods of the Arbitrator are much better than those of the board, for he takes evidence, hears arguments from both sides, and gives a reasoned judgment. He holds the scales of justice fairly. His methods are in harmony with the general practices of civil life. When a. case is taken before a civil court, and a decision is given, the matter is at rest when once the parties have exhausted all their rights of appeal. That should be so in the Civil Service. When once the Arbitrator has given his award, and the board has taken all the means that are open to it to contest it, it should stand. If our arbitration system is good for persons in private employment and for private employers, it should be good for the Government and for government employees. The Government is an employer, and it should be prepared to accept the legislation which it enacts for private employers. It is well known that the civil servants in all the states are clamouring for the right to appear before the Federal Arbitration Court and for the right of appeal to a civil tribunal. It is strange, therefore, that we should be considering a measure which will really negative the rights of the Commonwealth public servants to arbitration. Another objection to the Government proposal is the ambiguous manner in which emoluments are referred to in proposed new sub-section 8, which reads -
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, the salary which an officer would have been entitled to receive under a determination includes such emoluments as are prescribed.
The Acts Interpretation Act of 1904 states that “prescribed” means “prescribed by the act or by regulations under the act.” Therefore, under the amendment moved by the Prime Minister the public servants would be entitled to only such emoluments as are prescribed under the Public Service Act. That would seem to debar them from emoluments to which they are entitled under the Arbitrator’s award. Seeing that the Prime Minister has stated that it is intended that the Service shall receive emoluments which are prescribed by the Arbitrator’s determination, I think that the proposed new sub-section needs an amendment, and at the request of the Service organizations I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “ emoluments,” proposed new sub-section 8, the following words : - “ as are received by virtue of a determination of the Arbitrator or are.”
If that amendment is agreed to, it will ensure that the proposed new sub-section will provide what the Government has stated that it intends to provide.
.- The amendment proposed by the Prime Minister is, so far as it goes, satisfactory. It gives protection to officers while they retain positions within their reclassifica- tion, but does not protect them if they are promoted. It is possible, however, owing, to the large reductions to which some officers are being subjected, that upon being promoted, they will be receiving less than before their reclassification. Some female employees are suffering a reduction of £i4 per annum, and even though they receive promotion, the difference between the classified salaries for the old and new positions will be so slight that they will not be recouped their loss through reclassification. I should like an assurance from the Prime Minister that discretionary increments are covered by the term “ emoluments “ in the proposed new sub-section 8 of section 27. I think the Government has done a great injustice to some officers - it has, in fact, done something for which it has no legal warrant. Certain increments are to be paid at the discretion of the permanent head, and I contend that immediately the permanent head gives his approval such increments are’ a legal obligation in the same way as are any other increments. The Treasurer some time ago issued a circular stating that these discretionary increments would not be paid, and the permanent heads, taking the hint, have refused to give approval to such increments. As a result of that action a number of officers are being unjustly treated. They are men who have had lengthy service, and do not receive automatic increments as do the lower paid officers. Before a man may receive a discretionary increment he must show special ability, and have rendered exceptional service. I suggest that the action of the Treasurer, by which these increments have been withheld, is equivalent to a. repudiation of the principle of arbitration, for the permanent head would infer from the Treasurer’s circular that he was not expected to approve of any more increments. The withdrawal of the circular would meet the requirements of justice. Alternatively, an amendment upon the Prime Minister’s amendment will be necessary. The permanent heads might now be instructed that when special ability and good service stand to the credit of officers, increments may be approved as before the Treasurer’s circular was issued.
.- Will the Prime Minister state definitely that his amendment covers the circumstances of female officers in the Postal Department, whose salaries, owing to classification, have been reduced .£44 below the Arbitrator’s award? The reclassification having been made, -are the future arbitration rights of the public servants safeguarded? If the costofliving further increases, may they again go before the Arbitrator and ask for an increase of salary?
– The amendment submitted by the Government is, I think, acceptable to the committee except that some honorable members would like it to go further. I do not think there ‘ is the slightest doubt that a discretionary increment that is being paid will be regarded as ail “ emolument “ received in pursuance of arbitration. Similarly there can be no possible question that discretionary increments which have not been approved will not be so regarded, for it is obvious that no one can say how the discretion of the permanent head would be exercised. The circular notification by the Treasurer that discretionary increments recommended by departmental heads would not be paid arose out of the pending classification, and the uncertainty regarding the proposed legislation that is now before the committee, but I shall consult the Treasurer at once in regard to its withdrawal. The female employees referred to by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) are covered by the amendment, which has been drafted to meet cases of that kind. The rights of public servants to approach the Arbitrator in future are in no way interfered with by this measure. The reclassification contemplated by the bill means that the board shall again review the Service, try to remove anomalies, and put the whole classification on a new basis. In regard to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Reid, the intention is that the word “ emoluments “ shall cover all- payments that arise out of the Arbitrator’s award. At this moment I am not prepared to say whether or not the words proposed by the honorable member for Reid to be included are necessary, but regulations will be issued, and there will be an opportunity to challenge them if they do not, in fact, provide what I assure the committee is intended, namely, that what are legitimately considered to be Arbitrator’s allowances shall be included in the salary awarded.
.- Discrimination between officers because of the Treasurer’s circular will be very unjust. If the circular is withdrawn, and money is made available for the payment of discretionary increments, it should be possible for the Government to arrange for increments which would have been approved but for that circular to be treated in the same way as those which have been approved and paid.
– The whole subject of discretionary increments which have not been granted should be reviewed.
– Yes. I think that what I am suggesting can be done by administrative act.
– I think it can be done; at any rate, I shall bear the suggestion in mind.
– Do I understand that no individual officer will suffer through the reclassification ?
-While he continues in his present position his salary will not be affected.
– If an ofiicer had incurred a good deal of expense in getting an award, of the benefits of which he was subsequently deprived by reclassification, is there any possibility of his being recouped his expenses?
– For the present, the officer will continue to enjoy the salary awarded by the arbitrator.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new sub-section be added : - “ (9.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section the board shall not fix a lower salary in respect of any office or class of work than the salary fixed for that office or class of work by or under a determination made under the Arbitration (Public Service) Act 1920.”
The remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E.. Riley) are very pertinent to this amendment. The Prime Minister has informed the committee that the right of public servants to approach the Public Service Arbitrator will be preserved, but there is a “ catch in it.” Although the determinations may govern a certain office, if the occupant of that -office is (transferred or promoted prior to an amended award of the Arbitrator being made he will come - under the reclassification of the Public Service Board, and may suffer a reduction in salary. Although a public servant, while he remains in his present office, will receive the benefits of awards of the Arbitrator, he may lose those benefits if he is transferred or promoted to another position. Let me give a concrete instance. An officer who, at the date of the approval of the reclassification, is occupying the position of invoice examining ofiicer in the Victorian Customs Department, draws a salary under the award of £430. The salary allotted to his position under the reclassification scheme is £420. If he is transferred after the reclassification to the position of invoice examining officer in another state- a change involving no alteration in status - the clause will permit the board to reduce his salary to £420. An award of the Public Service Arbitrator should continue until he makes an amending award. Otherwise, what need is there for a Public Service Arbitrator? My proposal is a very fair one. Many of our public servants have devoted a lot of time and patience, and have spent considerable sums of money, in preparing plaints to place before the Arbitrator, and they have borne themselves in patience while awaitingthe determinations. The benefits they have thus secured may be lost to them by the reclassification. If the Government desires to deal with these men equitably, fairly, and honorably, it will accept my amendment, which, on the fact of it, justifies itself. It will give to our public servants, who have pinned their faith to arbitration, an opportunity of enjoying the awards they have obtained. The onus is upon the Government to actfairly.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), if I understand it rightly,is intended to provide that the Public Service Board, in reclassifying the Service, shall not interfere with existing awards of the Arbitrator. To that I cannot assent, as I have already indicated. But the honorable member seems to have introduced another point. He hae referred to an officer who, when reclassification takes place, continues to enjoy, in accordance with the amendment agreed to by the committee, the benefits of an award of the Public Service Arbitrator. A possible result of the transfer of that officer to another position would be to reduce his salary, although he might be alleged’ to be promoted. The honorable member suggests that his salary should not be reduced, except under an award of the Arbitrator: If the amendment were agreed to it would be impossible to penalize an officer for an offence, as provided for under sections 55 and 67. I discussed the matter with the Public Service Board, and it was pointed out to me that an officer could not be promoted and paid a lower salary.
– That gives no assurance that what I took exception to will not be done.
– It will not happen.
– In the transfer of an officer from a position in one state to a similar position in another state, is there not a possibility of a different interpretation?
– No group of words can be used to safeguard the position from every angle, but it may be accepted as a fact that the board could not call upon an officer to transfer from one state to another and accept a lower salary.
– Supposing that, for health reasons, an officer desired to be transferred from onestate to another, I take it that the salary would probably be reduced if he went to a smaller state.
– The Deputy PostmastersGeneral do not receive equal salaries in the different states.
– What would happen ifan officer refused to transfer when called upon to do so?
– If the board deliberately set out to cause discontent and chaos in the Service, it would do what has been suggested, but I point out that it is impossible to safeguard against that position unless we agree that in no circumstances must an award of the Arbitrator be interfered with. No board would deliberately transfer an officer in order to reduce his salary, under the pretence of promoting him.
– Take the case of an officer who is transferred from one state to another, and asked to do similar work.
– The board would have no. power to force him to accept a lower remuneration, unless it could prove him to be inefficient. I cannot possibly- accept the amendment, for it strikes at the whole basis of the classification, and at the duties of the board.
– Has the Prime Minister considered the serious effect of having two rates operating for the same class of work?
– I realize that there are regrettable features, and that some of the difficulties are insuperable. There would be no trouble if we could put the whole matter into the hands of the Arbitrator, but it would be physically impossible for him to carry out the classification, and most people agree that the whole of the Public Service should be classified. The other alternative is that the board should reclassify the Service, and that there should be no recognition of awards made by the Arbitrator. That also would be an unsatisfactory arrangement. It would not contribute to the contentment and well-being of the Service, and, therefore, the Government was forced to classify the Service, at the same time not depriving it of the benefits of the decisions of the Arbitrator. We are now faced with the clear-cut issue whether the Arbitrator should be paramount, or whether the classification should continue with certain safeguards.
– I wish to. accept as much as possible of the Prime Minister’s proposal that is good. The illustration given by the honorable member for Hindmarsh was somewhat extraordinary, and I do not think that such a case could occur. I should like to know how the Prime Minister interprets thewords “ so long as he occupies the office to which he is assigned by the classification “ ? The award of the Arbitrator may vary in different states. Could the board reduce the salary of an officer by transferring him from, say, Melbourne to Sydney?
– I admit that Parliament cannot put words into an act of this nature that will meet all the circumstances. We must depend to a large extent on the Arbitrator and on the board. It would be manifestly outrageous, and contrary to the intentions of the Government, if such a reduction in salary could be effected by the board, and I think that it would be wise to place that view on record.
– It is not contemplated that an officer will be promoted by transfer and reduced in salary.
– I cannot imagine such an action, but it is said that an officer might be transferred from one state to another andbe paid a lower salary for the same class of work.
– If a person is receiving under an arbitration award a salary which is more than that prescribed by the reclassification, he continues under the award until his salary reaches the award maximum, and after that he receives the salary prescribed by the reclassification.
.- The Prime Minister is definite in his language, but he will notice that there is a provision in the bill that upsets his view. Sub-clause 2 of clause 10 reads -
Where the classification of any office is raised or lowered, the office shall be deemed to be vacant.
When an officer leaves his position, it is declared vacant, and must be filled either by transfer or promotion. That officer and the appointee to his former position will come under the reclassification and receive the salary prescribed for the positions. I contend that the PrimeMinister’s interpretation is wrong. I ask the committee to accept the amendment that I have submitted, so as to. place this matter beyond all doubt.
– The position stated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is correct. When an ofiicer is transferred, the classification may provide for his position a smaller salary than he was previously receiving. This anomaly is not removed by the amendment which the committee has just carried, and, therefore, the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh should be accepted, in order to place the matter beyond all doubt. We are told that the Public Service Board has conferred a great benefit upon the Public Service, but we have only to compare the rates under the classification with those under the Arbitrator’s award to see the exact position. The existing rates for assistants and postmen in the Mail Branch range from £202 to £239 per annum, and under the classification from £202 to £234.
– In the Mail Branch the number of officers who have an increased maximum is 2,800, and the number who have a decreased maximum is 900.
– The figures that I am quoting were supplied to me by the Public Service Association, and I am showing how they affect the individual. They certainly do not agree with those mentioned by the Prime Minister. The existing rates under the Arbitrator’s last award for Mail Branch sorters range from £247, with £8 annual increments, to £295 per annum, and under the classification from £240, with £6 annual increments, to £276. If those figures are correct, and I can vouch for them, the position under the classification will be infinitely worse. The great trouble is that the Public Service Board is trying to deal with the classification and with the fixation of wages. The Prime Minister stated that no body of men could perform both of those functions. It was never intended that the Public Service Board should deal with the fixation of salaries. That work should be left entirely to the Arbitrator. It may. happen in the future that the board will fix a lower salary than that prescribed by award. An appeal will follow to the Arbitrator, and he will make another award, and so on, indefinitely. It is a stupid and intolerable position. To ensure that the Arbitrator’s awards shall stand, the committee should accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
. -The amendment that the committee has just passed protects an officer only so long as he occupies the office to which he is assigned by the classification, but the moment he vacates that office it is quite likely that he may receive a lower salary. It seems stupid to promote at less salary. Notwithstanding any assurance to the contrary that the Prime Minister has given this afternoon, those who administer the act will not be able to go beyond its scope, and they will be forced, when an officer is promoted, to give him the salary assigned to the position. If he refuses to accept it because it means a reduction, he will be debarred from promotion for all time unless, of course, he is promoted two grades at once, which is quite unlikely.
– That is rather a fictitious case.
– I do not think so, because, under the classification, there is a difference of £44 in the salaries of certain women in the General Post Office. If they accept promotion, it is quite likely that their salaries will be decreased. There is a clear-cut issue involved in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. We stand for the principle of arbitration. When the board was appointed it was never intended that it should deal with the fixation of wages. The board, when making the reclassification, entirely ignored the whole of the work previously done by the Arbitrator - an officer who went to great trouble to fix the salaries of the public servants in accordance with the cost of living and other factors. The members of the board have not had the slightest experience in fixing salaries, and yet they placed on one side the experience of the Arbitrator, and flouted his determinations. It was a very unbusinesslike proceeding, and has caused a great deal of duplication. It is casting aside all the splendid and laborious work of the Arbitrator. As the Arbitrator is trusted by the Service, we submit that the power to fix salaries should be vested in him. If he is not able to inquire into the case of every officer, we suggest that provision should be made that in any cases which the Public Service Board considers, it should be obliged to adopt the salary basis laid down by the Public Service Arbitrator. Had provision been made for that in the first place, the prevailing discontent and dissatisfaction in the Service would not have occurred. If provision is not made for it now, we can expect nothing other than a continuation of the present unsatisfactory situation. The rejection of the amendment moved by thehonorable member for. Hindmarsh can mean nothing other than unnecessary expense and delay, and continued discontent in the Service, which can be avoided by giving the Arbitrator complete control in the fixation of salaries.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Makin’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . ‘. 15
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 9and 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Section thirty-seven of the principal act is amended by omitting sub-sections (3.) and (4.) thereof and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections: - “ (3.) The board may, at any time during an extended period of probation, upon a report from the chief officer, confirm or annul the appointment. “ (4.) Upon the expiration of the extended period of probation of any probationer whose appointment has not been confirmed or annulled under the provisions of the last preceding sub-section, the board shall, upon a report from the chief officer, confirm or annul the appointment. “ (5.) Unless otherwise directed by the board, annulment of appointment shall take effect from the date on which the probationer ceases to perform the duties of the office. “ (6.) Unless otherwise determined by the board, no probationer whose appointment has been annulled shall be eligible as a probationer at any time within twelve months from the date of the annulment.”.
.- I should like the Prime Minister to give the committee an explanation of this clause.
– The sub-sections of the principal act which it is proposed to omit read - (3.) Upon the expiration of any extended period of probation the board shall, upon a report from the chief officer, confirm or annul the appointment; (4.) Unless otherwise determined by the board, no probationer whose appointment has been annulled shall be eligible as a probationer at any time within twelve months from the date of the annulment.
The purpose of the proposed sub-sections is to enable the board, upon a report from the chief officer respecting any employee whose period of probation has been extended, to make him permanent or dismiss him. The ordinary six months’ probation provided for in the act is not being interfered with, for the new subsections deal only with the extended period of probation. They will facilitate the operations of the Service.
Clause agreed to.
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 aiter 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 sorvice or service in a permanent capacity within the meaning of paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) of this sub-section ‘reckoned for the purposes of this act as service in the Commonwealth Service.”.
.- I move -
That the words “ either before or “ be left out.
The object of the proposed proviso is clearly to take away from former state officers who owe their appointment to the Commonwealth Service to the passing of a competitive examination, the right to consider their state and federal public service as continuous service. The doubt about the matter now is generally resolved in favour of the officer. I am quite prepared to admit that it is not unreasonable to provide that state officers who will join the Commonwealth Service in the future in consequence of a competitive examination shall not be permitted to consider their state and federal service as continuous, but I object to a retrospective provision of that nature. If this proviso is agreed to, persons who enter the Commonwealth Service in the future will do so with their eyes open, and because they think that by so doing they will better their position. I urge the Prime Minister to accept the amendment. When we were discussing clause 3 of the Ineome Tax Collection Bill last year, I raised this question. The following is a quotation from the report of those proceedings: -
– Do I understand that under this clause officers who resigned from the state Service and joined the Commonwealth Service, would suffer no break of continuity of service?
– The state Service is counted as continuous with the Commonwealth.
– I do not mean officers transferred from the state Service to the Commonwealth, but those who resigned from the state to take up work with the Commonwealth. Would they suffer any break of continuity of service ?
– Certain transferred officers are covered by section 48 of the Public Service Act.
– I am referring to certain state officers who qualified by examination for the Commonwealth Service and resigned from the state.
– Section 48 reads -
Where a person becomes an officer of the Commonwealth Service and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with -
That would cover the case mentioned by the honorable member.
– Officers in the state Service will resign and be formally engaged by the Commonwealth, and that will count as a transfer and a. continuation of their state service.
– That is so.
The amendment was agreed to, and accordingly the officers who were retired were paid compensation based upon their service with the state and the Commonwealth. That interpretation included officers who had resigned from the state and entered the Commonwealth Service as the result of competitive examination. The amendment before the committee purposes to retrospectively eliminate service with the state. I ask the Government to agree to my proposal that the retrospective provision shall be struck out.
– The purpose of the honorable member’s amendment is to ensure that only in future shall the state service of a man who enters the Commonwealth Service as the result of passing a competitive examination not to be counted. I understand that since 1902, the practice continuously followed, first by the commissioner, and latterly by the board, has been not to count state service as continuous with Commonwealth service in the circumstances set out in the clause. Therefore I see nothing objectionable in the retrospective effect of this clause. Although the Government has no strong views about the retrospective provision, I suggest to the committee that, having regard to continuous past- practice, no advantage would be gained by eliminating it.
– What advantage will be gained by inserting the words to which I have taken exception?
– They are intended to define clearly, and give a statutory basis to what has been the practice throughout the history of the Commonwealth Public Service.
– What would be the position of a technical officer who resigned from the state Service to join that of the Commonwealth ?
– He would be a transferred officer.
.- The Prime Minister has said that the practice in regard to ex-state officers who enter the Commonwealth Service by means of competitive examination has been what is proposed in the clause. I admit that there has always been a doubt regarding the- meaning of section 48’, but last year, when the House was dealing with the Income Tax Collection Bill, I received from the Attorney-General an assurance that the state service of officers would be counted as continuous with the Commonwealth Service.
– There were special circumstances in connexion with the transfer of those officers.
– What was done on that occasion disproves the right honorable gentleman’s assertion that the continuous practice in the past has been what the clause purposes to legalize. If past practice has been, in the main, what the Prime Minister has said, no alteration will be effected by striking out the retrospective provision, but if the clause is agreed to without amendment the change will apply to officers who are about to retire from the taxation and other departments, and are due to receive compensation. Already officers who expect to be retired have been, informed that their state service will not be considered, notwithstanding that others who entered the Commonwealth. Service as the result of competitive examination have been paid compensation on the basis of continuous state and Commonwealth, service. I believe the object of the .clause is to legalize au unfair discrimination. When the Income Tax Collection Act was before the House last year, I received an assurance from the Attorney-General that state and Commonwealth service would be counted as continuous.
– Regardless of the reason for the transfer?
Mr. SCULLIN. Yes. Section 48. is not quite clear, but it can be interpreted to mean that state service is continuous with Commonwealth service. But for the interpretation of section 48 given by the Attorney-General, I should have moved an amendment; to> the Income Tax Collection Bill to ensure that state service should count. That assurance was honoured by the Government in relation to the officers immediately transferred under the Income Tax Collection Act, but we are now asked to legislate that the same consideration shall not extend to other men who* retire under the same statute. Strong, reasons are required to justify retrospective legislation, and they are not in evidence in this instance. State service should count with Commonwealth service, regardless of the avenue by which the officer entered the employ of the Federal Government; but whatever the committee may decide as to the future, it should not allow the clause to have a retrospective effect. I feel strongly upon this subject, because the Government is proposing repudiation as regards those officers of the taxation service who were not retired immediately after the passing of the Income Tax Collection Act.
– I suggest that the clause be postponed in order that I may have an opportunity of ascertaining its exact effect.
Clause 13 -
Section forty-nine of the principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section : - (3.) There shall be payable to any female officer of not less than five years’ service, who retires, or has since the commencement of this act retired, from the Commonwealth Service upon her marriage, and who is not eligible for, or has not been granted leave, or pay in lieu of leave, under section seventy-three or seventy-four of this act, or under any provision contained in or -made under any act repealed by this act and substantially corresponding to either of those sections, a sum equivalent to salary in accordance with the following scale : -
– About 76 female officers were transferred from the federal to the state taxation departments in consequence of the passing of the Income Tax Collection Bill. Those officers retained their superannuation and furlough rights. As no provision was made in the new Public Service Act for a marriage allowance, it automatically ceased on the 17th July, 1923. This clause proposes to re-enact the allowance,’ and make it retrospective. The transferred officers to whom I have referred desire that special provision be made for them, as this allowance would have applied in one case prior to the transfer to the state Service. They contend that, as their transfer was compulsory, they should retain the right to the marriage allowance. Certain rights accrued to these female officers, as for example, superannuation and furlough, and they consider that they also have a claim to the marriage allowance.
– It is really a matter for legal interpretation as to what the rights of these officers were under the terms of their transfer. The question will require some investigation, and I am afraid that it cannot be dealt with now. The clause applies to members of the Public Service and if the rights of these female officers were preserved to them under their transfer, I should certainly say that the clause would be applicable to them, but it is a question for legal determination.
.- This question arose under a previous act, and when the females in the Service brought the matter forward, the AttorneyGeneral .(Sir Littleton Groom) admitted that it was never intended that the provision should be excised. In. those circumstances, I hope that the Prime Minister will give the matter mostcareful attention.
– Hear, hear!
Clause agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Section fifty of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “ (5) Any promotion made in pursuance of sub-section (1.) of this section shall be provisional and without increased salary pending confirmation of the promotion, and shall be notified in the prescribed manner, and shall be subject to the right of appeal to the board. “ (7.) Any appeal under this section, shall lie forwarded to the board by the permanent head of the department in which the appellant officer is employed. “ (9.) Where any appeal is upheld by the board, it shall promote the appellant officer to the vacant office, and cancel the provisional promotion.
.- I move -
That the words “ without increased salary “, sub-clause 5, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ with the salary and allowances attached to such office “.
I referred, during my second-reading speech, to the anomaly with which my amendment deals, and I emphasized the unfairness of the existing provision. Twelve months ago I stated the experience of an officer named J. Mortby, and asked for some finality. The Treasurer premised consideration, but finality has not yet been reached. The man is engaged in the Federal Taxation Office,in Adelaide. He is a fourth-class officer, and was transferred, on probation, to tha third class. Consistently, for two years, he has been discharging the duties of a third-class officer, but has been receiving the pay of only a fourth-class officer. He has been recommended for promotion, but the Public Service Board refuses to act on that recommendation. Under the existing provision, the board is encouraged to require a man to perform duties of a higher grade, while he receives the salary of a lower grade. Surely it cannot be contended that that is either equitable or just. When a man is transferred to a higher office, he should receive the salary of that office. That contention applies equally to factory workers and professional men. The board hae. taken undue advantage of its powers to promote men on probation, and has been underpaying them for the services they render. Mr. Mortby is classified as a fourth-class officer, and hae been satisfactorily doing the work of a third-class officer for two years.
– That is exploitation.
– Pure and simple. He has been deprived of the salary for his position. My amendment provides that when a person is transferred, on probation , to a higher office, he shall receive the salary and allowances attaching to that office.
– I suggest to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that the case he has cited does not come under the clause that is being discussed. Subsection 1 of the proposed new section provides that -
Whenever a vacancy occurs in an office in anydiv ision other than the first division, and in the opinion of the hoard it is necessary to fill that, vacancy by the transfer or promotion., of an officer, the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy occurs may, subject to the provisions of this act, transfer or promote an officer to fill the vacancy.
The clause does not deal with a man appointed on probation, but with a definite promotion that may be subject, to an appeal. While an appeal is pending the: higher rate of pay is not paid to the officer, but. if the appeal is decided in his favour, he will be paid at the rate for the office back to the date when the promotion was made. If an appeal against a promotion had still to be considered, it would not be wise to pay to the person who was subject to the appeal the emoluments applicable to the office he held, in, view of the possibility that he might fail on the appeal to hold the office.
– But he would be performing the duties.
– Only during the period when there was at issue the question whether or not he should hold the office. The case is well met by the provision that, if he is successful in the appeal, he shall receive the higher salary as from the date of his promotion. That is an absolutely fair arrangement, with which any officer would be well content.
– Should there not be some time limit?
– That is perhaps a practical suggestion, but I submit that the present arrangement is fair and equitable, and that it is not necessary to make the amendment proposed.
– I am not. sure whether I agree with the purpose of this clause. It will give the heads of departments the right to decide transfers and promotions, subject to appeal to the board. I have heard a lot about such appeals. A case came under my notice recently in which the head of a department dealt very arbitrarily with an appellant. An appeal against the action of the head of a department should go direct to the board, and not through the head of the department against whose decision the appeal is made. The adoption of that suggestion would not militate against discipline.
.- I move -
That after the word “promotion” (second occurring), sub-clause 5, the words “ or transfer “ be inserted.
Sub-section 5 of section 50, as contained in the bill, reads -
Any promotion made in pursuance of subsection (1.) of this section shall be provisional and without increased salary pending confirmation of the promotion, and shall be notified in the prescribed manner, and shall be subject to the right of appeal to the Board.
We desire this provision to apply to transfers as well as to promotions, and if this amendment be agreed to consequential amendments will be necessary.
– The section deals fully with the subject of promotions, and I do not see any necessity for the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Appeals against promotions are fully provided for, and transfers do not involve the question of salaries.
– Then I do not press my suggestion.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That sub-section (7.) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following subsection - “ (7.) 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 officer is employed.”
The object of my amendment is to provide a proper method of appeal in connexion with promotions. The Government’s amendment means that an officer may submit his case in writing to the board. This is a. great departure from theprocedure laid down in the 1902-18 act, by which, a special board was provided forthe hearing of appeals against promotions. This board consisted of a representative of the Public Service Commissioner, arepresentative of the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy occurred, and a divisional representative elected by the officers. The suggestion now made by the officers is that an appeal conference be created on somewhat similar lines to those of the special appeal board constituted under the 1902-18 act. Both the hoard and the department would be represented on the conference, and the officer originally promoted would be sufficiently represented by reason of the fact that the department responsible for the promotion would seek to justify its action in making the promotion. The Public Service organizations are only desirous of obtaining a proper tribunal to hear appeals; they are not concerned with the claims of the parties to disputes. The suggestion that an appellant should be represented by his organization is made simply on the ground that every party concerned in the promotion should be represented. Seeing that a board constituted on somewhat similar lines has been successful in the past, it would be well to make provision for it here in preference to the proposal of the Government.
.- I understood the Prime Minister to say at an earlier stage that he had some amendments to propose in regard to the subsection under consideration. I am sorry that the Government does not accept the principle of an appeal board, but as the matter has already been discussed at length and the arguments fully stated. I do not intend to pursue it further.
– I suggest that the amendments proposed by the Government are a very great improvement on the existing provisions. They provide for an independent tribunal to deal with officers who think that they have not had fair treatment in regard to promotion. Under the present act the board has made the promotions and transfers, but under the Government’s amended proposal the permanent heads of the departments will make them, and there will be a direct right of appeal to an entirely distinct body - that is, the Public Service Board. It has been suggested that this will mean that the board will, in reality, make the appointments,but I wish to remove any misapprehension in that regard. When a promotion or transfer is made by the permanent head, it will be gazetted, not over the name of the board, but over the name of that permanent head, who will be directly responsible for his action. Consequently, the appeal will be to an entirely different tribunal. While this arrangement may be quite satisfactory in the capital city which is the Seat of Government, it will not be so satisfactory in the other states where the permanent head of the department is not actually resident, and where the recommendations for promotion will rest with. the senior officers representing the permanent head in those states. Again, it may very well he that the representative of ‘the permanent head will consult with the Public Service inspector with regard to the promotions he proposes to make, in order to be quite sure that there will be no trouble afterwards as to the recommendations made. I appreciate that that is a real danger, and will to some extent destroy the independent character of the appeal which is granted to the public servant under this provision. The board, therefore, is now issuing strict instructions to its inspectors that they must in no way concern themselves with, or take any part in, the recommendations of the representative of the permanent head in each of the states Thus the permanent head who makes the promotion with be quite independent of the Public Service Board to whom appeals are to be made.
– I wish to call attention to a case that seems to me to be apropos. I have in mind an officer in Western Australia who has appealed against the promotion of a fellow officer to whom he is senior. He telegraphed to me asking that I should take up his case before the Public Service Board. Of course, I could not do that, and I advised him to get into touch with the secretary of his organization here. I am told that an officer appealing against a promotion in another state must submit his case to the board in Melbourne. It appears that an officer located in a state other than Victoria is at a disadvantage in having to place his case before a body of men who are unable to obtain first-hand information concerning it. Would it not be possible to have such cases heard in the state concerned ?
.- I wish to know whether the conditions applying to the Public Service Board apply . to the heads of departments as well? What the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has said is quite true. I remember, in my early experience in Par-, li anient, a case was brought before me. I saw the Public Service Commissioner, and he said to me, “ Do you intend to press this case?” I said, “ This man has been harshly treated, and I feel inclined to press the matter.” He informed me that if I did so he would have nothing further to do with the case. I looked at him in surprise, and he said, “ I am bound by act of Parliament. If I accede to your request, it will be said that you, as a member of Parliament, used influence, on behalf of this man. I have told Prime Ministers the same thing.” - 1 said, “ Under those circumstances I withdraw from the case.” The Public Service Board is supposed to be absolutely immune from political influence, and the heads of departments should be placed in the same position. Honorable members who have had any experience with the Public Service know that it is possible for heads of departments to have their favorites, and these officers are pushed ahead at the expense of perhaps more deserving men. The power to make appointments should not be placed in the hands of heads of departments.
– That power is abundantly safeguarded.
– In what way ? There is a safeguard in respect of the Public Service Board, and I want to know whether it applies also to heads of departments.
.- The position mentioned by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) is, I think, met for the first time under this bill. I have examined this matter carefully,” because it is necessary to safeguard promotions and the right of appeal. In this respect the principal act. was not so satisfactory, because appointments were made practically on the recommendation of the Public Service Inspector in consultation with the permanent head or the deputy permanent head in the state concerned. The recommendation was then forwarded to the board in Melbourne for approval. Any appeal was referred back to the board Ah, officer in any distant state wishing to appeal would have to travel to Melbourne at his own expense to state his case to the board. That disadvantage will be removed under this clause. The recommendation of the permanent head should be made quite independent of any consultation with the representative of the board in the state concerned. The Public Service Inspector, as the representative of the board, should have nothing at all to do with promotions or transfers, so that he may be in a neutral and independent position in connexion with the hearing of appeals. That is provided for under the clause. A permanent head will make no recommendation which is not justified, because his every action will come under independent review, and cannot be fixed up, as is supposed to have been done in the past, by previous consultation with the local Public Service Inspector. This position is entirely safeguarded, because under the clause the board will issue definite instructions that the Public Service Inspectors in the different states shall take no part in making recommendations for promotions.
– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) has dealt fairly fully with the point raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). The clause amply safeguards departmental heads from political influence designed to bring about promotions not in accord with the merits of the individuals concerned. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mir. A. Green) is quite correct in his reading of the. proposed amendment of the act. It does, in fact, provide for the delegation of the functions of the board, including the right to hear appeals against promotions and classification, and will meet the situation exactly as the honorable member has suggested.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided.
Majority …. 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 15 to18 agreed to.
Clause 19 -
Section seventy-six of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting, after sub-section (6.) thereof, the following sub-section : - “ (6a.) Where the attendance and services of any officer of the Department are required during any holiday orhalf-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 shall be added to the officer’s next ensuing recreation leave:
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.) Theregulations 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 half-holiday, shall be subject to the approval of the board if the salary of the officer concerned exceeds an amount to be prescribed.”
.- I move -
That paragraphs (e) and (f) be omitted.
These paragraphs affect the rights of the public servants in respect to payment for holidays. The universal system adopted by Arbitration Court judges is to award payment for the performance of holiday service. If leave in lieu of payment is granted, the officers who are working will be called upon to perform the duties of the absent officer between them. Extra recreation leave in lieu of holiday work is not desired by the officers themselves, nor is it in the interests of the administration. The principle has never been adopted in outside employment. It will be recognized that working on a public holiday is not by any means compensated for by a day off at another time. A holiday has a definite value beyond that of an ordinary day included in recreation leave. The proposal in paragraph e that an extra holiday should be given to Commonwealth public servants is made merely to bring the Commonwealth into conformity with State Service practice. The last conference of Premiers decided . that there should be fourteen holidays for every state, and it is in pursuance of this resolution that an extra holiday is being given by the Commonwealth, but the substitution of time off instead of payment is not at all satisfactory. Under paragraph / power is to be given to the Public Service Board to compel certain officers to work on holidays without extra payment or leave in lieu. Such power was not vested in the administrative authorities under the two previous acts, and the wide discretionary power it is now proposed to give to the board is altogether too drastic. Payment for holiday work should be granted irrespective of the salary of the officer who is obliged to work, and it should he on a fair and reasonable scale. The granting of extra recreation leave instead of payment for holidays worked does not in any sense meet the case.
.- I have have had several letters from Service organizations in which protests are made against the provisions of paragraphs e’ and /. The officers of the Service contend that the substitution of leave in lieu of payment is unsatisfactory. I appeal to the Government to recognize that extra payment for holidays’ is an established arbitration principle.
– The position has not .been put quite fully to the committee. The officers of the Service will retain all their existing rights in respect to statutory holidays, but a distinction is made between statutory holidays and additional holidays. “Additional holidays” are such days as show days and race days in provincial centres, and the number that may. be allowed by proclamation has been increased from three to four. lt will not be suggested that these holidays, which in most cases are of local importance only, should be treated as statutory holidays. The position is very fairly met, I suggest, by allowing any officer who is required to work on such a day to have an extra day in lieu thereof added to his annual leave. The regulations framed in pursuance of these provisions will lay down that no officer in receipt of less than £450 per annum will be affected.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to.
Section ninety-seven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting paragraph (o) of subsection (1.) thereof, and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: -
for determining the amounts or scales of salaries to be paid to officers of the Second, Third, and Fourth Divisions in the several Departments, or in any specified Department or part thereof;”.
.- I move -
That paragraph (a) be omitted.
Although this is the last clause of the bill, it is by no means the least important. If it is agreed to, it will take away from the officers in the various departments of the second, third, and fourth divisions of the Service the status that they nt present enjoy, and, as I pointed out in my second-reading speech on the measure, it will cause endless confusion in filing plaints to be heard by the Arbitrator. The proposed amendment is unreasonable and unnecessary. Instead of doing anything to decrease the status of our officers, we should be doing everything possible to increase it, for the hope of obtaining an increased status encourages efficiency. Officers of exceptional ability should not- be deprived of the recognition which they at present enjoy. The acceptance of the clause will have a depressing effect upon the Service, and I cannot help feeling that it will lead to inefficiency and dissatisfaction. It will mean that the Arbitrator will be required to deal with each of the divisions mentioned as a whole, and will not be able to give the necessary careful consideration to certain highly specialized branches of them. Another objection to the clause is that it will debar the officers of the divisions concerned from making personal application to the Arbitrator for the consideration of their claims.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The elimination of this clause, as suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, would be a mistake. It is merely a substitute for a clause already in the act, but instead of the Service being divided into classes, it lays down that the classification and salary shall be on the basis of work done. Under the act the Service is divided into a limited number of classes in each division, and that necessitates a very large range of salaries inside a particular class. The policy of the Public Service Board is to divide the Service according to classification with a much narrower range of salaries, but inside such divisions the increments will be automatic and annual. This proposal is infinitely better than the existing system in the interests, not of the Government or the board, but of the public servants themselves. It will give to them a much greater opportunity than they have at the present time.
– I move -
That after the word”thereof”, paragraph a, the following words be inserted: - “ and for defining the seniority of officers in those respective divisions “.
It is essential that there shall be power to define the seniority of officers, because upon that depend to some extent promotion and other advantages. Under the act there is no power to do that, but it has been done by the Commissioner throughout the history of the Service. The insertion of these words will put the power beyond question.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 12 -
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), (c), or (d) of this sub-section reckoned for the purposes of this act as service in the Commonwealth Service.”.
Upon which Mr. Scullin had moved, by way of amendment -
That the words “ either before or “ in line 5 be omitted.
– If the amendment were agreed to, the position of state officers entering the Commonwealth Service by competitive examination in future would be defined, but as regards past entrants the position would be somewhat uncertain. A decision given by the Crown Law officers in 1903 left no possibility of doubt that state officers entering the Commonwealth Service through the medium of competitive examination were not entitled to have their previous service taken into account. Since 1922, however, there has been a doubtupon this point. The legal rights of officers in this regard have never been tested, but both the Commissioner and the board have acted as if the state Service were definitely excluded. If the amendment be agreed to it will create an anomalous position, for any public servant who entered the Commonwealth Service by competitive examination prior to the coming into existence of the 1922 act would not be entitled to any consideration in respect of state service, and the same deprivation would extend to officers entering the Commonwealth Service after this bill becomes law; but those who entered between the proclamation of the 1922 act and the coming into effect of this measure would constitute a limited class entitled to a privilege not enjoyed by any other officers similarly circumstanced. It would be undesirable to create invidious distinctions of that kind. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) stressed the fact that in the granting of compensation to taxation officials who left the Commonwealth Service the period of state service was recognized, but special circumstances surrounded those oases, and if on any future occasion this Parliament were considering the compensation of officers who left the Service in consequence of a complete reversal of policy such as followed the agreement between the Commonwealth and states in regard to taxation collection, it. would no doubt legislate to give special consideration to those officers. I do not think that the compensation provisions of the Income Tax Collection Act constitute a precedent that should regulate the treatment of entrants to the Service between 1922 and the coming into operation of this measure. The honorable member for Yarra quoted an opinion expressed by the Attorney-General (Sir Littleton Groom) last year regarding the rights of the taxation officers. It ill-befits me as a mere acting Attorney-General, not at all learned in law, to attempt to inter- ?ret section 48 of the principal act, but remind the committee that the Attorney-General merely gave an offhand opinion in the course of debate, and I do not think that upon mature consideration he would have declared it to be an accurate statement of the law.
– I agree with the right honorable gentleman, but I accepted the Attorney-General’s interpretation at the time.
– And effect was given to it by the Government, but I do not think that it could be sustained upon a strict interpretation of section 48. Because it would be undesirable to differentiate between officers entering the Commonwealth Service in similar circumstances, but at different periods, I cannot accept the amendment.
.- In view of the explanation by the Prime Minister, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment. I realize that it would create a complication, but I ask the. Prime Minister to give me an assurance that all officers who may be retired in accordance with the amalgamation scheme under the Income Tax Collection Act will receive the same treatment. I confess that at the time I was astonished at the opinion expressed by the AttorneyGeneral last year, but I recognized that it was given hastily at about 4 o’clock in the morning. Nevertheless it was accepted by the committee in good faith, and acted upon by the Government until recently. Since that time officers who have made application to retire in the belief that their compensation would be based upon continuity of state and Commonwealth Service, have learned that they are to be treated differently from their colleagues who retired earlier.
– I am glad that the honorable member proposes to withdraw his amendment, because if agreed to it would have created serious complications. I entirely agree with his contention that it is equitable that all officers retired under a compensation scheme should receive the same treatment. I shall discuss the matter with the Treasurer, and shall endeavour to give effect to fiat view.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
.- I move -
That the word “ not “ in the proviso be omitted.
The Public Service Board for some time past has taken up the attitude that persons with “ prior service,” who entered the Commonwealth Public Service by virtue of the passing of competitive examinations, are not entitled, either morally or legally, to have their prior service recognized. Clause 12 is intended to remove any doubt as to the legal right of such persons.’ The board contends that, from the moral point of view, a person with prior service, who sits for an examination, voluntarily places himself on the same footing of competition as a person employed by a private firm, who elects to enter the Commonwealth Public Service through the medium of the same examination. For example, a .public school teacher who passes the Commonwealth clerical examination has no more right to have his service as a state school teacher recognized for furlough purposes than a clerk has a claim for recognition of his service in a commercial house. The view of the Service organizations is that continuous service under the Crown, in any capacity, should count for furlough purposes, which is the only way in which section 48 of the principal act is likely to operate! If clause 12 is passed in its present form some very serious anomalies will result. For example, a naval rating transferred to the Customs Department as a boatman or searcher, without examination, > will have his service in the
Navy counted for furlough purposes. But if he has had the industry to pass an examination for appointment to the third division, his prior service will not be counted. Professional officers are transferred from state or railway services to the Commonwealth Service without the necessity of passing a competitive examination, although their eligibility to enter the Commonwealth Service is generally proved by the passing of outside professional qualifying examinations. The prior service of such officers will count for furlough purposes by virtue of section 48 of the principal act. On the other hand, clerks who have had prior state service will not obtain the benefit of section 48, if clause 12 is passed, because they .are appointed by virtue of the passing of a Public Service competitive examination. That introduces an undesirable class distinction. A warrant officer in the Military Forces, who has sufficient ambition to induce him to pass an entrance examination to the Commonwealth Public Service, will lose all the benefit of his service as a permanent soldier. An engineer officer in the Naval or Military Forces, who enters the Commonwealth Public Service as a professional officer, without passing an examination, will retain the benefit of his service as a permanent soldier or sailor. All the above oases have this essential point in common - the persons concerned have preferred the Commonwealth to the state as an employer. Some enter the Commonwealth Service without examination, others have to prove their claim to admission by examination. Yet the persons required to sit for an examination are prejudiced by that very fact. It is strongly urged that prior service should count, irrespective of the method of entrance to the Public Service. It should be carefully noted that the service under the Crown must be of a continuous nature before any privilege under section 48 of the principal act can be secured. Therefore I ask the committee to agree to eliminate the disqualifying word “ not.” I ask the committee to eliminate the word “ not” in order to give those who enter the Service either by direct transfer, or after passing a competitive examination, the same rights and privileges as are enjoyed under the present legislation. The officers affected by the disqualification under this clause are those on the lower rungs of the ladder, and they should be placed on the same footing as the higher officers whose rights will be preserved.
Mr. BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [8.201. - I cannot accept the amendment. The Government’s proposal is that where a state public servant enters the Commonwealth Service by passing a competitive examination, he shall not be entitled to the rights reserved to those who come in as transferred officers. There is good reason for such a provision. Take the case referred to by the honorable member. If a state schoolmaster elects to enter a competitive examination in order to obtain appointment to the Commonwealth Service he does it entirely of his own volition, and surely it is only equitable that he should be placed in the same position as any other citizen who voluntarily endeavours to obtain employment in the Service. The honorable member mentioned the case of persons covered by section 38 of the act, which provides -
Any person not more than fifty years of age, who has served in the Permanent Naval Forces of the Commonwealth for the full period for which he enlisted or engaged, and has a satisfactory record, shall be eligible for appointment by the Board without examination, to any office in the Fourth Division of the Department of Trade and Customs or in the Department of Health.
I point out that that i9 a rather unfortunate reference, because those particular officers do not get any benefit from their previous service, and they would be in the same position as those who entered as the result of passing a competitive examination. I have circulated an amendment for the insertion after the word “not” of the words “unless in any particular case the board otherwise determines,” and I think that it will meet the position. Honorable members have brought under the notice of the Government certain cases in which the provisions iSn regard to competitive examinations may operate harshly, and I think that the amendment I have indicated will give the board power to allow those persons the benefit of their previous service.
Amendment (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to-
That after the word “ not “ in the proviso the words “ , unless in any particular case the Board otherwise determines,” bc inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That after clause 8 the following new clause be inserted: - “8a. Section twenty -eight of the Principal Act is amended by inserting therein, after the word ‘ shall’ (first occurring), the words ‘, subject to sub-section (7.) of the last preceding section,’ “.
This amendment is consequential upon that agreed to by the committee this afternoon providing for special rates for public servants who are enjoying the benefit of the awards of the Public Service Arbitrator.
New clause agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new clause bo inserted : - “10a. Section thirty of the Principal Act is amended by adding the following proviso: - Provided that where female officers perform similar duties to those of male officers, the salaries of such female officers shall be equal to those of such male officers.”
Honorable members should recognize the fairness of this provision. There is no reason why a female employee should not receive the same remuneration, allowances, and emoluments as are provided for a male employee, if she does the same class of work. Too often the belief is held that women are the weaker sex, but very often they are the stronger sex, and they are entitled to the same consideration that is extended to male employees. Therefore I make no apology, and submit no excuse,, for moving the amendment to place the female members of the Service on a footing equal to that of the men. When a service is rendered it should be paid for according to its value, without regard to the sex of the person that renders it. This principle has been endorsed by the courts of this country; and why the Government, with its reactionary tendencies, should desire to go back to the dim and distant ages of the past, and resurrect a principle that is out of keeping with the progress of this young democracy, I cannot understand. Prior to 1914 equal pay for equal work was granted by the Public Service Commissioner.In the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in 1915 equal pay was again granted. In 1920 Mr. Justice Powers granted equal rates to males and females in the Australian Letter Carriers Association award, and in the same year Mr. Justice Starke confirmed that principle. The Commonwealth Government, in November of the same year, granted an allowance of £12 per annum to cover the increased cost of living, and it made no distinction between male and female members of the Service; yet to-day it asks honorable members to endorse legislation that will deprive female members of the Service of the recognition that is rightly their due. It remains for the womenfolk of this country to rise in righteous indignation against a government that fails to recognize their proper status. A government that will not recognize the quality of women as citizens and employees deserves to be swept into political oblivion, and the time for such a process is fast approaching. Many women have to accept equal obligations with men, and shoulder the responsibility of maintaining homes. An unfortunate aspect is that,, as soon as women are employed at a lower rate of pay than men, there is a desire, whether in the Public Service or private employment, to deprive men of employment by engaging the cheaper female labour. To protect women in their standard of living, and men who have to maintain families, it is very desirable that the two sexes should receive equal remuneration for work done. It is a fundamental, cardinal principle, and members of the Opposition will not budge an inch in their support of it. Recognizing that, perhaps, all the debate that one could engage in, and all the powers of persuasion and eloquence that one might desire to pour on this weak and feeble-minded Government, would never awaken them to their responsibilities, we shall wait until the opportunity is afforded for these people to record their protest against the way in which the Government has subordinated their rights and interests.
– I congratulate the honorable member upon his spirited defence of what some misguided people call “ the weaker sex.” He undoubtedly repudiated anv suggestion that they are anything of the sort. I protest against his claiming for himself-
– Not for myself, but for my party.
-For himself and his fellow conspirators, the right to be regarded as the only persons who have an interest in that delightful sex to whom he has referred. Both sides of the committee have an equal appreciation of the fact that female employees are entitled to proper remuneration for the services they render, and I go so far as to say that they ought to receive equal remuneration if they do equal work. But we have to analyze what we mean by “ remuneration,” and for once I can give to honorable gentlemen opposite the authority of the Public Service Arbitrator, for whom they have expressed great admiration during the consideration of this bill. They have urged that the Government should place the control of the Service in the hands of that official, without the right of interference by the Public Service Board. The Public Service Arbitrator, in his judgment in the case of the Federal Public Service Assistants Association and the Commonwealth Public Service Board of Commissioners and others has left no doubt of his view of this matter. He answers the question, “ What is equal remuneration ?” in the following way: -
Reverting to my question - what are wages 1 A fair answer that may be given is that they comprise such a sum as will provide, first, the necessaries of life, and, second, a surplus which may be expended at the will of the earner for extras in the way of travel, books, amusements, luxuries, &c, or devoted to savings or investments. If, acting on the two assumptions previously set out, one takes the case of a married man and a single woman, it is obvious that if .they both receive the same wage then the woman will have a far larger sum at her free disposal than the man, because it will cost her much less to procure for herself the necessaries of life than it will cost the man to procure those necessaries for two persons. That is to say, the effective value of the woman’s wages for the purpose of procuring pleasure or profit for herself will be far greater than the effective value of the man’s wages. The necessary consequence is that in cases of equal payment, the single woman receives a far greater actual benefit from her wages than the married man. Equal wages so far as payment is concerned are, therefore, not equal wages so far as relates to the practical benefits derivable from those benefits.
There is, therefore, no unfairness in paying men at higher rates than women, even though they may be doing precisely the same work.
In fixing salaries, the Public Service Board adopts two . basic rates of wages. The first is regarded as sufficient for a married man, and the second as sufficient for a single woman. To those basic wage rates is added a marginal wage to cover the value
Mr. Bruce. of skill. For work which is identical, the same amount is received for skill by the man and the woman. The basic rate for an adult .male clerk is £216 per annum, and for an adult female £162. The margin for skill in both cases is £60. That results in a salary of £276 being paid to the adult male, and £222 to the adult female, which is a difference of £54 in the amount received by the two individuals. Regarding their remuneration in the light of the remarks of the Public Service Arbitrator, however, they receive the same reward for the services they are rendering. The honorable member has suggested that the industrial tribunals of Australia have accepted the view that equal rates should be paid to male and female workers, but that is not the case. Industrial tribunals, including the Federal Arbitration Court, have made a distinction in the rates of pay to the sexes. I refer honorable members opposite to the case before the Public Service Arbitrator from which I have quoted, and which, I think, has been followed by many other similar decisions, and to the records of the industrial tribunals of this country. I regret that the Government cannot accept the amendment. The final determination of what is the remuneration paid to an individual is the amount of benefit which that individual derives from it.. The avenues of pleasure enjoyed by a single female and a married man with three children, for example, if they receive equal remuneration, are vastly dif*ferent. The principle of differentiation has been carried much further than this in actual practice. The Commonwealth Government pays an allowance of £13 per annum for each child. This obviously . means that for the same work a married man with four children gets a greater remuneration than the married man with no children, or the single individual. It is no new principle that has been introduced. I do not wish to labour this subject. I have given reasons, generally, why the Government cannot accept the amendment. The principle upon which the Government’s refusal is based is sound and should be generally acceptable to the commonsense of the community.
.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh is to be commended for his thoughtful and logical speech upon this interesting subject. The speech of the Prime Min- ister (Mr. Bruce) is so much special pleading. His last observation relating to special allowances for children made under certain circumstances, is beside the question. Nobody cavils at that allowance or the principle upon which it is paid. The allowance is paid because the public servant has dependants in the shape of his family to maintain. That fact may be excluded as something irrelevant to the general principle of equal pay for equal service rendered to the community. The Commonwealth Government should, without inquiring any further, give an equal reward up to that point. Any other adjustments that follow by reason of family obligations should then be made, and not used as an excuse to violate the principle as laid down by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– Does the honorable member believe in payment according to the value of the work done?
– I do. It is the unquestionable right of women to have equal remuneration with men for equal service. If there is to be any departure from that principle, clearly the burden of proof of the reason rests with those who allege it. The Prime Minister, in his short address, made, for his own purposes, a very convenient comparison of like with unlike. He compared by way of illustration the case of a man with a family with that of a woman without dependants. Might I suggest that a comparison should be made between a man with no dependants and a woman, though perhaps without children, with many dependants. It is nob in children alone that dependency consists. Very often a woman has as many dependants upon her industry as has a married man. I venture to say that there is scarcely an honorable member of this committee who cannot recall to his mind such instances. We are surrounded with them. It has been suggested, too, that if the principle of equal pay for equal work is applied, women will consequently be driven out of employment, because employers, finding that they have to pay equal remuneration, will make a choice favorable to men. That is the conclusion that one would expect to be arrived at by a Parliament consisting entirely of men. It is one so flattering to his self-esteem that the mere man naturally adopts that view. It is entirely to be expected that the Prime Minister, in the last resort, being a mere man, has adopted it as a conclusive argument. As one who has had some little experience in gauging the value of employment, I contend that in those classes of work which women perform side by side with men, the value of their services to their employer is at least equal to, if hot greater than, that of the service of the men themselves.
– That is so in many directions.
– I am glad to have the endorsement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, because I know that he views this matter impartially. We may, therefore, confidently hope that, as women can perform certain services equally as well as men, they will be able bo hold their positions, and draw the emoluments to which they are unquestionably entitled. At all events, the argument of the Prime Minister should not weigh with a deliberate assembly such as this Parliament. If we make up our minds that equal pay for equal work is the correct principle, it should not be departed from. We should do the right thing, and scorn the consequences, and not pander in this Parliament to the worst elements among employers. We should legislate for a higher and better standard of employment, in the belief that we are passing laws which will be applied by fairminded and honest employers outside. I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and hope that it will be accepted by this committee. It is not a party matter, and calls for no division. I content myself with claiming the vote of the VicePresident of the Executive Council.
.- I support the amendment, because I believe in the principle of equal pay for equal work. Women to-day play a large part in the public life of the community. Many of them attend our universities, and have proved themselves to be intellectual and capable of obtaining a thorough grasp of intricate subjects. Against strong opposition they have entered the medical and legal professions. In the various arts women have proved themselves to be mentally equal, if not superior, to men. It is only right that Parliament should endorse the principle of equal pay for equal work. A woman has to pay the same. price for commodities as a man. Tram, train, and boat fares are the same for both, as is also hotel accommodation. The Prime Minister, in opposing this principle, is acting on behalf of commercial interests who employ large numbers of women at low wages. It is strange to hear Ministers of the Crown objecting to paying women the same wage as men for similar work. When a new department is formed one of the first officers is a lady stenographer, who invariably does her work well. Women need a wage equal to that enjoyed by men for the same class of work, for they are obliged to spend much more than men on clothing. Female fashions change rapidly and are sometimes expensive, and that is good for . trade. It is necessary for women to be fashionable, otherwise they might just as well hide themselves in a brickyard. The Prime Minister did not adduce a single logical argument in support of his refusal to accept this principle. If the Government is to be a model employer, it should set an example to private employers in the great commercial houses and factories of our cities. The status of women workers has been greatly improved in recent years. I can remember the time when they were required to work for twelve months without any payment. For the second year they received the munificent salary of 2s. 6d. per week; but if they desired an increase in the following year they were promptly dismissed. The Labour party, from its earliest days, has agitated for improved conditions for women. At first we claimed a wage of 5s. a week for girls in their first year of apprenticeship, and compromised on 4s. Happily those days have long since passed, the whole world has progressed, and the whole fabric of our commercial and industrial life is better in consequence of the more reasonable conditions which women workers enjoy. Although the Prime Minister has refused to accept the proposed new clause, I feel confident that in his heart he agrees with it. If he has any desire to render a public service to this country which will not be forgotten, I urge him to agree to this proposal. If he does so, his name will be recorded among those of the great men of the nation. He will not then have any need to spend his time talking about political blackmail.
– Does the honorable member propose to connect his remarks with the question before the chair?
– I apologize, sir, if I have strayed from the point at issue. I desire to convert the Prime Minister to my views on this matter. It will not be long before women are elected to this Parliament. A fortnight ago I attended a political meeting in Sydney, which was addressed by women speakers. They complained bitterly of the ineffective action which the Government had taken to “ rescue the women who are believed to be held in captivity by the blacks, and said that it was high time that some women were elected to Parliament to watch the interests of their sex. They also spoke in favour of the principle of equal pay for equal work which we are now advocating.In days gone by men kept women at work in their business houses until 9 o’clock on five nights of the week, and 12 o’clock on the sixth night in order to show their authority. Although a measure of reform has been accomplished, there is plenty of room for further improvement. The adoption of the principle which we are advocating will not be long delayed if men of character and ability continue to advocate it, and this Parliament would set a fine example to private employers in Australia and throughout the world if it accepted it. Australia has been notable for many great moral and social reforms, and we now have an opportunity to add another stone to our temple of fame. If we were to adopt the principle, the sister dominions of the Empire would soon do likewise.
.- I thought at this stage in the history of Australia an amendment such as has been proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh would be unnecessary. There is general recognition of the- principle of equal pay for equal work. It is not suggested that the Government should pay more than work is worth. A private employer assesses” certain occupations in his business as worth, say, £250 per annum, and if he has two employees performing those duties, whether they be men or women, they receive the same salary. Similarly, in the Commonwealth Service payment should be assessed according to the value of the work, and not according to the sex of the employee.
The taxpayers recognize the fairness of the doctrine of equal pay for equal work which was laid down years ago by the Labour party. They do not desire women to receive less pay than men for the same class of work. It is, unfortunately, true that in the State and Federal Services the principle of equality does not uniformly apply. But the fault lies with the governments concerned and not with the people. I know of a position in the Tasmanian Public Service which was occupied for years by a male official who received a salary of about £350 per annum. Upon his retirement owing to ill-health a woman was engaged to do the work, and although her immediate superior admitted that she was a better officer than her predecessor, she was paid only about £250. I admit that the man had a record of long and meritorious service; nevertheless the discrimination in salary was distinctly unfair. The Federal Government should be a model employer ; service under it should be regarded as the blue riband of governmental employment, but in some respects the salaries in federal departments are lower than those in state departments. It is often said that women are constitutionally not as fit for some occupations as are men. I admit that that is so in regard to occupations that call for physical strength, but in some avocations which require intelligence, quickness of mind, and deftness of fingers, women have been proved by experience to be equal, if not superior, to men. Why, then, should they not receive equal pay ? A few days ago I received a letter from a woman in the Commonwealth Service who for some years has been doing work acknowledged to be equal in value to the work done by a man receiving practically the same pay, but under the reclassification her position is assessed at a value below that hitherto placed upon it. Her case is only typical of hundreds, and probably thousands of others, and it emphasizes the necessity for laying down, by statute the doctrine that, irrespective of sex, payment shall be according to the task performed.
– The amendment is important because it affects nearly half the citizens of the Commonwealth. The principle it affirms is regarded by many people as requiring no argument to substantiate it.
– Why did not the Labour party introduce the principle when it was in power?
– While the Labour party was in power the principle of equal pay for equal work was in operation. It was the Labour party that first asserted the principle, and it will continue to fight for it. Every labour organization with which. I ‘have been associated supports the principle, and does not see in it any menace to the employment of men. The Labour party is prepared to establish in this democracy of ours equality of opportunity for all citizens. In this amendment we aire merely asking that where women do the same work as men they shall receive the same remuneration. We are not, at this moment, asking that the basic wage for women shall be the same as the basic wage for men ; our request is only for the first instalment of a principle that we hope some day further to advance. But even that first instalment the Government refuses to concede. Ministers have not advanced any arguments in justification of the evil practice that has grown up.
– Did not the Prime Minister give to the committee a statement of the practice followed by the Arbitrator ?
– Yes, and my opinion of the Arbitrator has fallen considerably since I learned the method by which he arrives at a definition of “ remuneration,” in assessing the value of services rendered to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister told us that the method adopted by the Arbitrator in assessing the remuneration to be paid is to first ascertain the cost of the ordinary necessaries of life, and then add a very moderate allowance for what are, in the opinion of the Arbitrator, luxuries and recreations - in other words, the employee must receive the bare amount necessary to support him and his family, and no more. That is the principle that the Prime Minister has said is followed by the Arbitrator. It is because it has been followed under the system of economics, endorsed by honorable members on the other side, that there is a great number of people in Australia to-day who say that the capitalist system must go, and that it will never bring satisfaction to the workers, since it will never give the wageearners, no matter what the value of their product may be, more than sufficient to keep body and soul together. These people contend that the system gives the wage-earners just sufficient to keep them alive in the community, and capable of producing moTe of their kind to serve the capitalists. That opinion is held strongly by the section of the people, that is dissatisfied with the capitalist system. It is an argument that has been confirmed by the Prime Minister, and by interjections by honorable members opposite. Although, as a principle, it may be satisfactory for the purpose of fixing a basic wage, when applied to the fixing of rate3 of remuneration for services, it is entirely wrong. In that case the value of the services should be taken into account, and not merely the smallest amount upon which an individual can exist. The Prime Minister went on to tell us that in certain circumstances consideration is given to the fact that men are married and have families to support. We do not disagree with that practice, but we say that it represents another invidious distinction between men and women. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has mentioned that many cases come within the knowledge of honorable members of women who undertake the responsibility of supporting families. By very great self-denial they place on one side the opportunities they have of fulfilling the natural destiny of every woman by marrying and rearing families of their own, and unselfishly take on themselves the responsibility of providing for their younger brothers and sisters. That is a great and heroic work.
– And many of them support old and invalid parents.
– If women were treated as fairly as married men, the Arbitrator would take such circumstances into consideration, and would award these women something more than is given to single women without dependants. Not the slightest regard, however, is paid to those circumstances. Why ? For no other reason than that these persons are women. Of reasons in support of the Government’s policy honorable members opposite are destitute. They have been challenged to produce arguments, and not one of them has risen to do so. The honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham) is quick to rise in defence of a man who is enjoying a salary of £2,000 a year, but the principle of equality of opportunity for women finds him silent. Why? Again, because women and not highly-paid men are concerned. There are no arguments to support this vicious principle.
– There are no arguments that would convince the honorable member.
– It may be that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) has some arguments in support of the principle of unequal pay. We should like to have an opportunity to combat them.
– If the honorable member will let us have a division he will get my arguments.
– I would rather hear them here than outside. If one went to a museum of economic antiquities one might find some of those arguments, but they are so old and musty that honorable members opposite are afraid to produce them. There was a time when they were used and accepted in the old world. That was a time in the early days of our industrial system, when women labour and child labour were exploited. Women and children were then forced to go into the industrial world and work for the lowest wages that would maintain bodily existence, without even decent bodily comfort. These were the days when children worked for ten or twelve hours a day, and were taught at night to put their hands together and say -
God bless the squire and his relations, And keep us in our proper stations*.
The arguments in favour of equal pay for the sexes were then promulgated and accepted by the economic forbears of honorable members opposite, but to-day honorable members opposite are ashamed of them. The evil practice of unequal pay is to-day a phenomenon in the evolution of our industrial system. It remains, perhaps, because our political system has been slow to give political liberty and political rights to the women of our country, but during the last decade or two the women of Australia, and, to a certain extent, of other parts of the world, have obtained political rights. When they came into possession of them they found that they were under great disabilities, very largely because men who held opinions akin to those expressed by interjection by honorable members opposite, had controlled legislation all over the world, and had entirely neglected to legislate for the interests of women.
– Will the honorable member say, for the benefit of the honorable member for New England, that the first thing the Labour party did when it got into office was to establish a basic wage applicable alike to men and women.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the honorable member is aware of the fact, although he is probably not pleased that the honorable member for Batman has brought it fori ward as evidence. To-day the womenof Australia are agitating, and they are so dissatisfied with the disabilities placed upon them, and with the refusal of the governing authorities to remove those disabilities, that they have joined in a great movement to be represented in Parliament. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) has said that there is not the slightest doubt that they will be in this Parliament shortly.
– God speed the day !
– I endorse that sentiment. When they come here they will insist upon their rights, of which this is one. We simply ask that when a woman does the same work as a man, she shall not be paid the left-handed compliment of being told, “ You do the same work as a man, but you shall receive less for it, because you are a woman.” That is a form of economic slavery, and it arises only because woman, being physically the weaker vessel, is also politically the weaker vessel. But the day is coming when this wrong will be righted. It stands tothe discredit of the Australian people, and the Australian Parliament, that the wrong is not already righted. We can very largely measure the progress of civilization in a people by the regard they pay to their women. These nations that have reached the highest eminence of civilization have always paid the greatest regard to their women. Let honorable members consider the race that we have dispossessed in Australia. While insome ways they profess, and, perhaps, show, some respect to their women, economically they treat them with about as much respect as honorable members opposite are prepared to show to the women of Australia to-day. When a tribe of aborigines moves from place to place, the big, strong, blackfellows carry nothing but spears, and they do nothing but call to the dogs; but the poor lubras carry every possession belonging to the tribe, because they are “ the weaker vessel.” If we wish to show ourselves superior to them in our regard and respect for women in the economic sphere, we must no longer dispossess them of their rights.
– Does not the honorable member consider that if what he desires was brought about it would place women out of employment, and that their last condition would be worse than their first?
– Women are the best judges of that, and they are not afraid of it. I am glad to learn by the interjection of the honorable member that he has at least one argument; but I can assure him that women are prepared to enter into competition with men in certain spheres of employment, to render service equal to that of men, and to take their chances side by side with men. I do not deplore the entrance of women into certain walks of life. Many men who are driving pens in our offices would be better off and healthier if they were guiding ploughs. The honorable member for Forrest will perhaps agree with that.
– That is certainly a better argument.
– If the time were not so late, and the session so near its close, I have no doubt that if I deduced one hundred arguments of equal weight the honorable member might pass over to this side. If we wish to claim that we have reached a point of civilization not only superior to that of the race that inhabited this land before us, but equal and, perhaps, superior to that reached by any other nation, we can show it in no better way than by saying to the women, “Although this privilege has been so long denied to you by those who have professed to have regard for you on account of your weakness, we to-day are going to give it to you, not only on account of your weakness, but also on account of your strength.”
.- The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) “ gave the show away “ byhis interjection, “ Would not women lose their employment, and be in a worse position than before?” Stripped of all the flowery language that has been used in attacking the principle espoused by honorable members on this side, the argument of honorable members opposite shows a desire for cheap labour. They are prepared to exploit the womenfolk. Where is their commercial morality if they will not grant equal pay for equal work ?
– Is not the basic wage established in accordance with the needs of a man with a wife and three children ?
– That argument is applicable to a single man, but when a woman accepts the responsibilities of domestic life she is entitled to receive sufficient remuneration to enable her to provide for her future needs. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. F. Francis) called “ Question “ three-quarters of an hour ago, and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) desires the brutal majority vote of his party to be exercised. He says that the amendment raises a question of economics.
– I accept the dictum of the Public Service Arbitrator.
– But I point out that the Arbitrator will only determine what is a fair remuneration for particular work, and it will not concern him whether it is done by men or women. a
– Let us have piece-work straight out..
– All profiteers like piecework, for it enables the employers to avail themselves of the best services of men when they are in their prime. It is the law of the survival of the fittest. Honorable members opposite know that deputations from the women in the Public Service have repeatedly asked for equal pay for equal work) and I challenge them to prove that the argument in favour of the amendment is unsound. When I entered the employment of a firm in Adelaide over 35 years ago, there were no women employees, but at the present time the office is entirely staffed by women because it is cheaper to employ them than men. In the Commonwealth Bank and in all the commercial houses women are employed, not because of a philanthropic desire to give them work, but because their services are obtainable at a lower wage than men command.
– They would soon be out of employment if the principle of equal pay for equal work were adopted.
– I think not. The fact is that the employers are making extra profit by reason of the lower wages paid to them. Simply because this principle has not been embodied in past legislation there is no reason why it should not be included in the Public Service Act. To be just to the female section of the Public Service, the committee should accept the amendment. To refuse the request would be dishonorable.
.- I had not intended to speak on this subject, but I wish to make my attitude clear, since some of my interjections have been wrongly interpreted. In view of the fact that there is want of continuity in the services of women, the probability is that employers generally prefer to employ men. Married men, in particular, are better and steadier workers than women. If the principle of equal pay for equal work were accepted, no doubt the women would receive less employment than they do today, which might be a good thing for the country, as it would solve our domestic problem in Australia. From that point of view, the amendment might well be supported, but there is inconsistency in the arguments employed by honorable members opposite. If it were shown that a woman could render better service than a man, I do not suppose they would consent to her receiving a higher salary than a man. In fixing the basic wage for a working man we consider the needs of an employee with a wife and three children, but when it is suggested that a single man, who has not the same obligations as a married man, should receive less pay, to enable the latter man to be given a. higher salary, the argument is- raised that the same service is rendered in each case. I understand that members of the Opposition are bitterly opposed to piecework, which would enable the value pf the services rendered to be accurately appraised. It would be far more consistent if honorable members opposite admitted the principle of piece-work. My objection to equal pay for equal work i3 that women do not give the same continuity of service as men, and they are mostly single persons without family obligations. The carrying of the amend- ment would mean the dismissal of about 50 per cent. of the women now employed.
.- You, Mr. Chairman, know that there is no analogy in nature. No two individuals are alike. Every man’s physical and mental capacity is given to him by the Creator to be used continually for his individual welfare and gain. I believe in paying everybody according to his or her ability to earn. In my opinion, a woman should receive the same remuneration as a man if she does equal work, and, therefore, I shall vote for the amendment.
Question - That the proposed new clause (Mr. Makin’s amendment) be inserted - put. The committee divided.
Majority …. 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, proposed -
That the report be adopted.
.- I take advantage of the report stage to make a brief statement respecting appointments to the Public Service. It will be remembered that last night, on the second reading of this bill, I spoke on the same subject. I said that the days of political patronage were dead, that official and social influence had been substituted, and that there had been built up a gigantic official bureaucracy. The Prime Minister said that that was an obsession on my part. I furnished him with facts, which I thought supported my case, but he denied them. He said that I could have access to the official documents which would prove that I was wrong. Since then I have spent most of my time in examining the documents. I was first furnished in the early hours of the morning with a number of documents, but it did not take me long to discover that the file was incomplete. I cast no reflection on any one. I simply state the fact. One document in particular was missing. I was told it was somewhere else, and I must look somewhere else for it. I obtained it elsewhere. I obtained the whole of the documents available, but not the complete file. The whole of the testimonials were not there. It was imperative that I should have the whole of them for the purposes of comparison. However, from these documents I have been able to adduce a story. My statement last night was that men were appointed, not by reason of merit or seniority, but by a process of influential patronage. Whenever certain people outside desired positions inside the Service, openings were placed at their disposal. I made an attack, not upon individuals or appointments to the Service, but upon the method of appointment. I challenged the Government on two recent appointments. I quoted them to show that an injustice had been done to public servants, and that there was no remedy under the law.One of the gentlemen appointed was named Henderson. I have examined his qualifications, and they are of the highest character.
I do not question them. I am not the one to judge his ability, and I make no reflection upon this gentleman. But other applicants also possessed qualifications of great merit. Apart from Henderson’s qualifications, I draw attention to the method of his appointment. This young man displayed brilliant ability while in Paris. He went to the war, and played a part in this country’s history. He was ambitious. He visited London, and gave his address as 18, Rue Matignon Paris. He was introduced by Sir Edward Lucas, the Agent-General for South Australia, in London, to Sir Joseph Cook. Henderson said: “I am a man with talent and qualifications, and I should like to place them at the disposal of my country. I am an Australian, and I should like to be appointed to the department of External Affairs.” Sir Joseph Cook said, “ I will introduce you to the man who can get you there.” He introduced Henderson to Mr. Allan Leeper, an able man, but not an officer of the Commonwealth Service. He is an Australian employed in the service of the British Government. Henderson placed his testimonials and qualifications before Mr. Leeper. Both these gentlemen subsequently left for Australia by different boats. On the 24th July a Gazette notice was issued calling for applications for these positions. The next day Mr. Allan Leeper was in attendance at the Prime Minister’s department. He wrote on the official paper of the Prime Minister’s department an application on behalf of Henderson, and passed it in. Applications closed on the 7th August, and there was no knowledge of the whereabouts of Henderson. He did not apply personally, and apparently knew nothing about the position. On the 23rd August, the Secretary to the Public Service Commissioner telegraphed to the inspector at Adelaide, asking if he had heard anything of Henderson, who was said to be in that city, and asking him to try to locate him, because he was an applicant for the position. The inspector replied on the 26th August that Henderson was in Melbourne and that he had heard that he intended to call on the Secretary to the Department of the Prime Minister, Mr. Percy Deane. General Sir Brudenell White, chairman of the Public
Service Board, became anxious about the whereabouts of Henderson. The duty of the head of the Public Service Board is to exercise impartiality in Public Service appointments. It is not within his province to favour one applicant more than another - to act as an attendant on or caretaker of any applicant - and yet he was anxious to know the whereabouts of Henderson. He interviewed the Secretary of the Prime Minister regarding Henderson, and minuted a paper that up to 2.40 p.m. on that day Henderson had riot called. It was very important that he should call. On the 27th August Henderson called upon General Sir Brudenell White with a. letter of introduction from Mr. Percy Deane. No doubt General Sir Brudenell White said to him, “ My dear friend, we have found a position for you, and we think it is only right that you should accept it.” Note what happened. In this case it was not even necessary for the man to apply; his friends put in an application for him. S’o much for that case.
The other appointment was that of Mr. R. G. Casey. I make no reflection upon that gentleman either. What were the qualifications for the appointment? The successful applicant had to comply with certain conditions. First of all he had to be a bachelor of arts; secondly, a - bachelor of laws; thirdly, to have a knowledge of constitutional history; and fourthly, a knowledge of constitutional law. It was also desirable that he should have an acquaintance with international affairs, and it was preferred that the candidate should have some knowledge of one or more European languages. I shall now show to what extent the application of R. G. Casey complied with those conditions. Apart from his military experience, he is a. B.A., Cambridge, with honours degree in 1913; M.A. in 1917 ; good knowledge of French, some knowledge of German. He is well acquainted with the general conditions of Australia, was resident in England for five years, and has visited various countries. There is no reference in his application to a knowledge on his part of either constitutional history or constitutional law, yet those two subjects were laid down as essential qualifications for the position.. The Prime Minister asked me to select one or two of the other applications for purposes of comparison, and I propose to use one or two of therm. Here is an application from one gentleman. It will . be remembered by honorable members that when the Prime Minister was replying to me last evening another honorable gentleman in this- chamber thought fit to interject.His ambitions are not in this chamber; they are elsewhere. High Court judgeships, which are not to be ignored, are at the disposal of the Government, and may be given to any of its friends who are not too critical. But is a gentleman who may aspire to occupy a position on the High Court bench to assume that an accused person is guilty before- the evidence on both sides has been given, or is such a person to be denied the right of appeal? The right of appeal is one of the fundamental principles of the laws of this country.
Some time ago a member of the Public Service wrote to the representative of his district in this House for certain information. It was a simple request, *and the member concerned sent the letter on to the Public Service Board, and asked for the information to be supplied. The reply that he received contained the following paragraph: -
The attention of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral at Sydney is being called to the breach of the regulation by Mr. McDonall, with a request ti at he be informed that any representations concerning his position in the Service should in future be made through the proper channel.
The regulation which that public* servant is alleged to have broken says that promotion in the Service shall depend upon seniority and merit, and that no public servant shall seek preferment by exerting political, social, or any other form of influence. The man concerned did not seek promotion or preferment, but simply asked for information. I shall now refer to another case. I have a letter here addressed to the Prime Minister, and signed by the honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Latham). It begins - “ My dear Prime Minister,” so it was not an ordinary official communication, as honorable members’ will see. It went on -
– Will the Acting Leader of the Opposition read the remainder of the letter? I forwarded it to’ the Prime Minister, and asked him to send it on to the proper authority. I .gave testimonials to four or five applicants, none of whom were appointed.
– I am reading this letter because the honorable member for Kooyong condemned me last night for asserting that political influence was being employed in connexion with certain appointments to the > Public Service. He did not hesitate to write a recommendation for a particular applicant, and he sent it, not to the body upon which rested the responsibility of making the appointment, but directly to the Prime Minister. He used the Prime Minister as the channel to convey his recommendation to the proper authority. The letter describes the personal qualifications of the applicant, and concludes: -
Writing as I am in Sydney, and without the Government Gazette before me, I do not know where testimonials for applicants should be sent. I ask, therefore, that you would be good enough to direct that this letter be forwarded to the Public Service Board, or other body which will have the duty of making a recommendation as to this appointment.
In spite of the honorable member’s experience, he appears not to have known which public body had the duty of making recommendations for appoints ment to the Public Service, but asked that his letter should be forwarded to the Public Service Board or any other body which had the responsibility of making a recommendation on this matter. The gentlemen to whom he gave testimonials were not disqualified because he did so, but the poor devil who approached the member for his district for a little information to which he was legitimately entitled was punished for it. I protest against discrimination of that kind.
– But was not one per-, son a member of the Service, and the other only an applicant for appointment?
– That is so, and I cannot see any difference between an employee of the Service seeking to exert influence, and a person outside the Ser-( vice seeking to exert it to secure entry, into the Service. I deny that the officer of the Service to whom I referred was trying to exert influence, but even if he had been doing so, I submit that’ he would not have been in a different position from an outsider who was trying to exert influence to gain, entry into the
Service. The same principle applies in both cases.
Supposing that one of these applicants had said, “I am the best qualified of all the applicants for this position. I believe that my abilities are superior to those of any other person who has applied. I protest against the appointment that has been made, and ask that the matter be reviewed.” Is there any way in which he could make an effective appeal of that kind? There is not. Let me take another application, which I select at random. It reads as follows : -
I beg to apply for either of the positions of senior clerk, third division, Melbourne or London, External Affairs Branch, Prime Minister’s Department, applications for which were invited by advertisement in the Commonwealth Gazette on the 24th July, 1924.
I am a Bachelor of Laws of the Melbourne University and a Bachelor of Arts of Oxford University. The latter degree was obtained by me in an Honours course in laws whilst I was in residence at Magdalen College, Oxford.
I am a barrister at law of the Middle Temple, London, having passed in England the final examinations for call to the Bar.
Since my entry into the service of the Commonwealth I have also been admitted as a barrister and solicitor, of the Supreme Court of Victoria, a qualification which also confers the right to practice in the High Court of Australia.
I am a returned soldier, having served with the 2nd Battery of the Australian Field Artillery in France, and during my service with the artillery I was awarded the Military Medal in recognition of work performed at the front during the attack on the Hindenburg Line around the St. Quentin Canal.
During my course at the Melbourne University I- obtained first class honours in Constitutional History and Law, Part I., and second class honours in Constitutional History, and. Law, Part II.
During my service with the Commonwealth I have dealt with many questions involving a knowledge of the constitutional law of the Commonwealth and the Australian states; as well as of other countries, particularly that of Great Britain and the United States of America.
I have also considerably increased my knowledge of the principles and details of constitutional law on account of the nature of the work I have performed in the AttorneyGeneral’s Department as a legal assistant.
I have for several years taken a keen interest in international affairs from every point of view, and have had exceptional opportunities of obtaining a wide knowledge of the international bearing of conditions in Great Britain and many European countries. In this connexion I have always taken a special interest in international matters which appeared to me to be likely to have any special influence on affairs in Australia.
In the early stages of the war, I spent several months in Egypt and a short period of time in Salonika. After the war ‘I was at Oxford University on non-military employment leave, and spent the vacations in Norway, France, and Germany.
After leaving Oxford, I spent six months in Poland, and incidentally visited Vilna with a delegation of the League of Nations which was reporting on the Lithuanian question. .In June, 1922, I obtained twelve months leave of absence from the Commonwealth Service to go to Russia on relief work, and during the five months I spent in Russia I gained an insight into the actual problems of that country and their relationship to international affairs.
I have also visited Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Czecho-Slovakia, and Austria.
I obtained honours in Public International Law, both at Melbourne and Oxford Universities, and, besides making a special study of affairs connected with the League of Nations, I have had, in departmental work, to write many legal opinions and memoranda on the business of the League of Nations as well as on questions arising out of the Treaties of Peace. The publications of the League of Nations which are forwarded to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department are also in my keeping.
Further, in the compilation of the Annual Volume of Statutory Rules, which is part of my duties at present, and in the work of drafting regulations and ordinances, it is necessary to be conversant with those rules and regulations which are concerned with the carrying out of the Treaties of Peace and the Administration of the Mandate given to the Commonwealth of Australia in connexion with New Guinea.
I have a good knowledge of French, Russian, and Polish, both conversational and written, and have also spent some time in the study of German and Spanish.
That applicant possessed all the qualifications which were mentioned in the advertisement, whereas the gentleman who was appointed made no claim to a knowledge of languages, law, or the Constitution. I would willingly submit this application and that of the successful applicant to any unbiased person, and. rest on his judgment.
I propose now to discuss for a few moments the advertisements which appeared in the Gazette calling for applications for these positions. The first advertisement appeared on the 24th July, and, according to it, the positions were open only to persons in the Service, but the second advertisement, which appeared a week later, made the positions available to any one inside or outside the Service. I submit that that was not fair to the officers of our Service. Section 47 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, which deals with the appointment of persons from outside the Service, reads -
It is clear, therefore, that before any one outside the Service is appointed to a position within the Service, the possibilities of securing a person in the Service capable of performing the required duties must be exhausted, and only after every effort has been made, but without success, to obtain a qualified man within the Service, is the Government justified in appointing an outsider. The Government did not give effect to that section in making these appointments. What it did do was to invite applications from persons inside and outside of the Service, select the person outside the Service whom it desired to appoint, and then obtain a certificate in accordance with the terms of the section,, that no officers available in the Service were capable’ of filling the position. When I mentioned this matter last night I thought that the Prime Minister had nothing to do with the making of the appointments, and, by interjection, I said that I did not blame him, and that there was no need for him to defend the persons who were responsible; but I have since learned that he had a very good reason for his remarks, for I discovered in the files a letter which he wrote to General Sir Brudenell White in regard to the matter. It seems to suggest that, although General White was prepared to give effect to the provisions of section 47, which I have quoted, the Prime Minister was not willing to permit him to do sp. The letter reads–
Dear General White,
In regard to positions ‘1 and 2, senior clerk in Melbourne and London respectively, it was particularly desired, that the two senior positions should be open to applicants from outside the Service. I understand, however, that the manner in which the advertisement has been framed in the Gazette precludes this, and I, shall be glad if you will kindly, take the necessary action to ensure that the positions in question should be so advertised that persons from outside the Service will be eligible for. appointment.
I am informed that the range , of salary of: position No. 3, clerk, Melbourne, was altered from £660-£756 to £528-£588. In this connexion I might mention that the salary stipulated in my communication represented not only my considered opinion - after I had gone into the matter very fully in consultation with the Attorney-General and the Secretory, Attorney-General’s Department - but was, I am given to understand, that originally suggested by you, and I shall be glad if you will kindly let me know why you consider such a material, reduction necessary.
I understood that the Public Service Board was established in order to free the Service of all external influence - social, political, or other. No member of this Parliament should have rights and privileges that are denied to another. What would have happened had I communicated with General White in regard to proposed appointments, or submitted a testimonial in favour of any applicant? The letter I have just read appears on the file. I am told that it was not sent, that somebody whispered that it would.be inadvisable to send, it, and that Mr. Strachan communicated the purport of it to General White through the telephone. Whether that was done or the letter was actually sent I do not know, but whatever method of conveying the views of the Prime Minister was adopted, it is significant that the wording of the advertisement was altered immediately so that applications could be received from persons both within and without the Service. Thus the way was opened for the appointment of a gentleman who had not even applied, whose application had” been written out for him by somebody else, and who was not aware that he was a candidate until the applications had closed on the 7th August. Apparently nothing was done for a month, but on the 8th September the Prime Minister and General White held a meeting at which Mr. Percy Deane, the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, was also present. There are no records or minutes of the meeting, and what happened there can be only guessed from subsequent proceedings. On the 9th September General White sent to Mr. Deane a list of applicants with a request that he should report upon ‘them in accordance with section 47 of the act, which provides that an outsider may be appointed to the Service “ On the recommendation of the board upon report from the permanent head.” Apparently the permanent head of the. Prime Minister’s Department refused to report, and returned the applications without comment. So far as the documents show, Mr. Deane never reported upon them. On the 11th September General White advised that Henderson and Casey should be recommended for appointment. On the following day the board recommended those two gentlemen, and Mr. Clements informed Mr. Deane accordingly. On the 16th September the Prime Minister signed the recommendation for the appointments, and on the 19th General White sent this minute to Mr. Deane -
With reference ,to the consultation of the Prime Minister with the chairman of the board and the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, the board now desires to confirm the selection agreed upon of Messrs. B. G. Casey and W. Henderson.
The selection “ agreed upon “ ! Who had agreed upon it ? The Prime Minister and General White. When? On 8th September. Apparently the Prime Minister and General White agreed, without a report by Mr. Deane, that Casey and Henderson should be appointed and that the other applicants, should be turned down, and on 16th September the board was called together to go through the formality of signing up something which had been previously agreed upon. On the 19th Mr. Deane was asked to concur in the appointments in accordance with section 47. There is no reference in that section to concurrence; it merely provides that the appointment shall be made on the recommendation of the board upon report from the permanent head. Mr. Deane made no report, but the communication from General White dragged from him on the 22nd September the words, “ I concur.” That is alleged to be a compliance with the law. I am told also that the recent appointment of the Australian Commissioner in America was made subject to the condition that the person appointed should take with him another Casey, who also desired to gain diplomatic experience. If the facts I have related to-night do not justify every statement I made yesterday, I do not know what would. There is a widespread unrest throughout the Public Service. We cannot expect efficiency and contentmentif men who having devoted themselves to self-improvement in the hope that when vacancies occur they will have an opportunity of promotion, learn that the appointments are “ cut and dried “ for outsiders who are backed by social influence. The average member of the Public Service does not get a fair deal, and there can never be that confidence which is essential to a contented service until a man who knows that he has seniority, and merit and qualifications equal to those of other applicants, who have been preferred, can go before an impartial tribunal, composed, not of the men who perpetrated the injustice, but of independent men, who will go into his case and give a verdict that shall stand,-‘ against any attempt by the board to deprive him of the fruits of his victory. .
– Although the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) has spoken at considerable length upon the appointments to the External Affairs Branch of the Prime Minister’s Department, only two points require consideration, namely - -(1) were the appointees suitable persons? and (2) was there any irregularity or impropriety in the method of appointment? Upon both those points the honorable member’s charges fail. I think the honorable member agreed that Dr. Henderson has considerable qualifications for the position to which he has been appointed, and those of Mr. Casey are not such as to make his appointment unwarranted; in fact when they were shown to me at my interview with General White they certainly impressed me as first class, and eminently fitting the applicant for one of the vacant positions. But, in addition to the paper credentials, regard must be had to the personality of the individual. The applicants were interviewed by the board, and after giving consideration to their qualifications, personalities, and general suitability for the positions, a decision in favour of Mr. Casey and Dr. Henderson was arrived at. -I think that had the honorable member for “Bourke found that the testimonials of those applicants did not indicate unfitness for the positions for which they were candidates, and had by a personal interview satisfied himself that they possessed also the requisite qualities of character and personality, he would have considered it perfectly right and proper to appoint them. The next consideration is whether there was any impropriety in the method of appointment. The honorable member for Bourke has pointed out that Dr. Henderson first indicated his desire to join the Commonwealth Public Service when he visited Sir Joseph Cook in London. No doubt, on that occasion he explained his qualifications and the fact that he had been for some time educating himself in Paris, had taken a degree at the Paris university, and spoke French like a Frenchman. Up to that time the Government had not made up its mind regarding the appointment of two clerks to the External Affairs branch, but it had invoked the assistance of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who had placed at the disposal of the Commonwealth a member of the Foreign Office staff, Mr. Allan Leeper, who was about to proceed to Australia on loan for a period of six months. Until it was mentioned by the honorable member for Bourke, I was unaware that Mr. Leeper had met Dr. Henderson in London; but I suggest .that nothing could have been more natural than that Sir Joseph Cook should introduce Dr. Henderson to Mr. Leeper, who was engaged in the very service for which Dr Henderson believed himself to be peculiarly qualified. The honorable member appeared to suggest that Sir Joseph Cook had pursued an extraordinary course. I consider that he did the most natural and obvious thing in the circumstances. The Government subsequently made up its mind to appoint two clerks with special qualifications, one of whom should remain in Australia and attend primarily to matters connected with the League of Nations. I thereupon communicated to General White, the Chairman of the Public Service Board, at an interview, what the Government proposed to do, and discussed with him the salaries that would be required to be offered in order to attract the right type of applicants. That was an obvious ‘ and necessary course.. The Government did not exercise its power to make appointments by order in council. It followed the ordinary course of inviting the Public Service Board to obtain persons to fill certain positions. Before the Public Service Board could advertise th& scale of salaries for the appointees, it is obvious that the Prime Minister had to convey to the board the nature of the duties that would have to be performed, and to discuss with the board the salaries that it would be necessary to pay to obtain the persons of the type required. At that interview I discussed the matter with General White, and my recollection is that he said that the Public Service Board would probably consider the two senior clerks’ positions as being worth from £800 to £900. The figure for the third position I have forgotten, but my recollection is that it was about £700 or £750. It appeared to me that those figures would probably command the services of men of the type required. The next stage was that the Public Service Board, in the ordinary course, had to advertise the positions in the Commonwealth Gazette. I have no distinct recollection of what arose when the Gazette notice appeared, but I do remember that it was brought under my notice that the positions were advertised as being open only to members of the Public Service. At my conference with General White it was decided that, as the positions were of paramount importance to Australia - and I suggest that a very great deal will hang upon the suitability in particular of the appointee to London, who will have to create a liaison with the British Foreign Office - it was desirable to invite applications from the whole of Australia. I remind the House that it is not provided in any regulation or law of this country that a position in the Public Service must be given to any member of the Service who is capable of performing the duties of the position. A member of the Public Service who is appointed has to be as capable as any one else whose services can- be obtained. There is a distinction between a person who is capable and one who is a3 capable as any one whose services can be obtained. When the Gazette notice was published my recollection is that the Secretary of the Department drew my attention to the fact that applications were restricted to the Public Service. Some communication was made to the Public Service Board - whether by letter, telephone, or messenger, I have no knowledge! - and as a result of it the advertisement was altered. When I was speaking last night I had no recollection of those circumstances, or of how or when the advertisement was altered. I was advised that there was a clerical error, and that statement is now confirmed by the fact that it was not a week later, but the next day, when the correction was made. When the error was discovered a white slip was issued setting out the proviso that the positions were open to applicants from both within and without the Public Service. The Gazette is published, I think, on Thursdays, and these white slips are sent to the departments on the following Saturday. The departments, I understand, work on the white slips. The error in the original notice was corrected within twenty hours of its appearance, and it must have been within the knowledge of all applicants inside the Service that the positions were open to applicants from outside the Service. As to the influence exerted on Mr. Henderson’s behalf, I had no knowledge of it. When the applications had been determined I saw Mr. Henderson’s application, and considered his qualifications. His application was certainly made by himself. I remember that when the Public Service Board was endeavouring to fill the positions the chairman of it told me that they had received a most promising application, that the qualifications of the applicant appeared to be extraordinarily good, but that the important detail of his age was missing, and that they were most desirous of obtaining further information about him. It was discovered that the applicant, Henderson, was an Australian / who was formerly in the South Australian Public Service. He had been in France for some years, had returned to Australia, and had appeared on the scene about that time. The board saw him, found that his age was satisfactory, and ascertained that his qualifications were as set out in his application. It came to the conclusion that he was the most suitable person for the appointment, and he was accordingly appointed. There is nothing in the procedure adopted to which any one can take exception. I understand that Mr. Casey’s application was sent in and considered by the board,
Ifr Bruce. which came to the conclusion that he was the most suitable person to appoint to one of the other positions. Something has been said about the non-concurrence of the permanent head of the department. There can be nothing in that suggestion, because the permanent head of the department was in touch with the Public Service Board during the whole time that the applications were under consideration. The greatest importance was attached to these positions by me, and by the secretary of the department, and I think that we had impressed the Public Service Board with our ideas. I say most emphatically that the permanent head of the department knew what was taking place. He knew who the applicants were, and the two who were appointed were certainly appointed with his concurrence. I understand that the Acting Leader of the Opposition read a letter in which the permanent head of the department said, in effect, that he concurred in the appointment. The honorable member stressed certain dates, and said that the concurrence was given on a wrong date, at a wrong time, and in wrong sequence. I can assure the House, from my personal knowledge of what took place, and from what the secretary of the department has told me, that not the slightest importance can. be attached to those dates, because throughout the proceedings the Public Service Board was in close touch with the secretary of the department. It was suggested that a condition of Mr. Elder’s appointment as Trade Commissioner for Australia in America was that he should take a brother of Mr. Casey with him as his secretary. When Mr. Elder had been appointed Commissioner in America he came to me, and, after we had discussed his staff in America, he asked me whether there would be any objection to his taking a private secretary with him. I said that there would be no objection provided the Commonwealth Government did not have to pay for it. He replied that the Commonwealth Government would not have to pay anything. I understand that he took a brother of Mr. Casey with him as private secretary. In fairness to the Mr. Casey concerned in the American adventure, I should state that Mr. Elder bold me that he would be paid nothing, but was going at his own expense, because he desired to gain experience, with a view to assisting his country in a public capa- city. The other case we have been discussing is that of the other Mr. Casey, and there has been a suggestion that he has been striving to obtain the position for an ulterior purpose. I understand that the statement made last night by the Acting Leader of the Opposition, that Mr. Casey is a man of considerable means, is accurate. Mr. Casey applied for the position because he thought he would be able to render some service to Australia. It is only fair to the Messrs. Casey concerned to make these facts clear.I can see nothing substantial in the case put forward by the Acting Leader of the Opposition this evening.
– May I remind the right honorable gentleman that he has made no reference to the statement that he met General White on the 8th September, and that on the 19th September he wrote a minute referring to the selections agreed upon ?
– I am glad that the honorable member has reminded me of that point. I saw General White on various dates, but I cannot say whether I saw him on the 8th September or any other specified date. I saw him at the outset to explain to him the nature of the positions that theGovernment desired to create, and I saw him on a subsequent date, which may have been the date mentioned by the honorable gentleman. He then indicated to me the progress that had been made in the selection of applicants; told me of the number of applications received; and intimated to me that there was a large number of them, and that they were of a first class character. He added that there was great difficulty in determining which of the applicants were the most suitable. That is what happened as between General White and me. I certainly consulted with General White on two occasions regarding thesepositions. I think the House will see that the Public Service Board and the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department behaved throughout these transactions with the utmost propriety. The Public Service Board exercised its discretion in making these appointments after fully considering the qualifications of the applicants, their personalities, and their general fitness and suitability.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce), by leave, proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- I have listened to the reply of the Prime Minister, and am quite prepared to let the case rest on the facts I have mentioned. My protest was against the action of the Government and its association with the Public Service Board. The best thing we can now do is to divide the House on the motion for the third reading, as a protest against the Government’s action.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority .. ..16
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Atkinson) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Atkinson) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate with the message that it had agreed to the consequential amendment of the House of Representatives in clause 14 of the bill, had agreed to the amendment of the House on Amendment No. 11 of the Senate, and had not insisted upon Amendment No. 4, disagreed to by the House of Representatives .
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock a.m. to-morrow.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
, - I desire to take this opportunity of mentioning a matter that is of the utmost importance to 800 or 900 people in my electorate. In answer to questions asked by me in the House, misleading information has been unwittingly supplied in regard to the wages paid to the employees at the metal works at Port Kembla. I inquired whether the Metal Manufacturing Company was deliberately reducing its output, and whether the Postal Department had had to import a lot of material from overseas. The Minister representing the Postmaster-General informed me that the company . was producing to the utmost of its capacity, but I have a correspondence from the secretary of the industrial organization concerned to the effect that the telephone cable factory is working at only one-third of its capacity, and that last month 27 more men were dismissed from that factory. I venture to say that if an impartial inquiry is held, the statement of the union will be proved up to the hilt. Although the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) no doubt stated in good faith that the company was paying the award rates of wages, I point out that, although this industry is one of the most highly protected in Australia, the company, by reason of its exemption from the operation of the federal award, pays wages as much as £1 a week less in some cases than are paid in other industries. Furthermore, the men are deprived of six days’ sick pay a year, and of payment for holidays. That is my comment on the answer given to my question regarding the wages of timber workers. The conditions are equally as bad in the case of the metal workers and the general employees of the company. The position is made clear in the following communication that has been addressed to me : -
One of the reasons for the turmoil is the insatiable demands made by the company for more, and still more production, and to entice the employees to that end, an extra pittance to their meagre dole ‘in what is called a bonus, is dangled before them from month to month provided they reach a certain task. When the employee reaches a high state of efficiency, this bonus is reduced without reference to the workers themselves, the company claiming the right to do this at any time, so that at end of each month, when the employee goes to collect his bonus, it may be less than the rate paid the previous month. The management have absolutely refused to give to the Australian Workers Union a copy of the bonus rates.
The company- deny the union officials the right to negotiate in disputes arising out of the bonus; consequently, this is one of the prolific sources of the trouble. Another matter that assists to keep’ tho cauldron at boiling point is the fact that men are dismissed on the flimsiest pretext, henceforth dismissals are not to be questioned, for here again the union officials have been told that their intervention will not be permitted; consequently, if the workmates of a dismissed man think he has been unjustly dealt with, they will downtools as heretofore, and the job will again bc held up.
A long outstanding complaint, and one that the union have vainly tried to remedy is the fact that these works are manned by skilled labourers, and that the margins paid above the basic wage are so microscopic that it can be said that the work is carried out by skilled men for the unskilled wage, 90 per cent, of the employees receiving not more than 14s. 2d. per day.
These wages were fixed at the inception of the works by the court when the industry was in its infancy, and when it was necessary to give the industry time to settle. It has settled, and is making huge dividends, and is coddled to the extent of an excessively high tariff operating in Australia. The men’s wages are also settled, well settled, for there has been no move since the start, notwithstanding frequent appeals to the court.
That this company can well afford to pay decent wages cannot be disputed, as witness the fallowing figures. From 31st March, 1980, to March, 1923, it declared dividends to the amount of £123,365. . The undistributed profits were £5,900, and the liquid assets, after allowing for liabilities, £187,142. These sums total £337,607, and as the called-up capital from 31st March, 1923, was £337,500, it will be seen that this company is in a particularly favorable position.
The men claim that they can prove that this company is a pup of the British Insulation and Helesby Company, of England, and that its output is being deliberately retarded to keep up prices. The company has informed the PostmasterGeneral’s Department that.it oannot fulfill all its requirements, and this is used as an excuse for charging high prices for its manufactures. The profits are distributed between the parent company in Britain and the Port Kembla company. The company employs nothing like the number of men that should be employed in an industry of this kind. It is not paying the ruling rates of wages for highly-skilled labour. The timber workers there have never received the federal award applying to other companies that were cited before the court. This company was cited but applied for an exemption and obtained it. The two Government departments concerned, the Customs Department and the Postal Department, should take steps to force this company to work under the same conditions as other companies employing men of similar trades. I refer particularly to the timber workers and the trades incidental to the manufacture of metal goods. I am satisfied that if an inquiry were held respecting the operations of this company, it would be proved to the satisfaction of both Ministers, that- the company is not acting fairly to its men, and has given misleading information to the department. It has stated that it is working at full output, yet it is only producing one-third of its possible output.
, - The honorable member for Werriwa suggests that misleading statements have been made to the Postmaster-General’s Department, but that no blame is attachable to that department for any action it has taken. This is the first company -of its kind to be established in Australia, and it is only fair to the Metal Manufacturers Limited that I should give the House particulars of its history. Towards the end of April, 1923, an inspection was made- of the work in progress on the construction of the new cable factory at Port Kembla, and an examination was made of the extent of the plant and its output,, which was then being laid down. As a result of this inspection, it was estimated that, if all went well in completing the installation and with subsequent operations on actual manufacturing processes, the firm would be capable of supplying various types of lead-covered paper core cable, aggregating 51,500 loop miles of conductor. The firm had tendered for the supply of cables to meet the department’s needs during 1923-4, and, after further consultation with the managing director of the company, an order was placed for a number of types of cable in excess of that pre’viously contemplated,, namely, cable aggregating 62,800 loop miles, representing an excess of 11,300 loop miles above the capacity estimated by the post office representative who inspected the factory. Towards the end of September it was clear that the company could not meet the department’s requirements, and, at the company’s request, following on representations as to the urgent, nature of the post office requirements, a portion of the order which had been placed in Australia was transferred overseas, to the extent of approximately 12,000 loop miles of conductor, leaving the company to complete the manufacture of cabin aggregating approximately 51,000 miles of loop conductor. The honorable member has Stated that the company is working eight hours a day instead of 24, but it is not the duty of this department to Bay that it should work 24 hours.’ That is the company’s own responsibility, and it is its own lookout if it works one shift instead of three. It will be seen that the order transferred ‘ was almost exactly the excess of the total order placed,’, above the figure which had been’ estimated by the post office representative as the capacity of the factory. During the year 1923-4 the department’s operations were seriously hindered because of difficulty in securing necessary supplies of particular, types of cable. The honorable member will recognize that the company set to work to manufacture certain types of cable by mass production, and to this end diverted their employees from other works. It was therefore necessary for the department to import a quantity of cable.
Tenders for the supply of lead-covered paper core cable to meet the requirements of 1924-5 were invited on the 7th February, 1924, and’ the Australian contractors tendered for the supply of certain types only - the loop mileage required by the department in respect of these types aggregating 90,235 miles. In considering the order which was to be given to Metal Manufacturers Limited, the quantities were based on the maximum output of cable which previous experience had shown might be anticipated, the figure arrived at in respect of the various types totalling 59,699 loop miles. The balance of cable of the types in question ordered overseas represented 30,536 loop miles, and of this quantity there were 20,079 loop miles of conductor in respect of one of the largest types of cable used ‘ up to date in the Australian service, namely, 800 pairs. This class of cable had not previously been manufactured in Australia, and apart from the fact that the order given was considered almost equivalent to the output of the factory, it did not seem wise to incur the risk of failure until experience had been gained as to the company’s ability to manufacture the larger types. In respect of 600 pair and 500 pair cable, which had not hitherto been made it the Fort Kembla factory, 11,828 loop miles were required, and in order that the company might gain experience in the heavier class of work, cables of this type aggregating 8,057 loop miles of conductor was ordered from them, leaving a balance of only 3,771 miles to be placed overseas, as a guarantee against serious embarrassment arising on post office work in case there should be a failure in the manufacturing processes at the Fort Kembla factory. It has been gratifying that the cable manufactured at Port Kembla has been in all respects thoroughly satisfactory, and there is now no reason to doubt the ability of those concerned to meet the department’s requirements in respect of the larger type of cable. Analyzing the financial aspect of these transactions, Metal Manufacturers Limited received orders for the types of cable under consideration of a total cost of £258,334, and the overseas proportion amounted to £97,628. Included in the latter figure is the value of the 800 pair cable which the department did not deem it wise in any circumstances to order at that time from the Port Kembla factory, and the value concerned was £56,968, leaving a net sum of £40,660 in respect of cable for which Metal Manufacturers had tendered, but for which it was not anticipated that deliveries could be effected within the time required by the department. The balance of cable required by the post office for the current year, and in respect of which no tenders were received from Metal Manufacturers, was placed overseas at a total value of £36,807. The honorable member will see clearly that the metal manufacturing company is doing, its best to supply the requirements of Australia. The rate of wages paid is the responsibility of the company, and not of the department. We are getting great satisfaction from the company, and it is a fine thing for us that this industry has been able to meet so much of the requirements of tha post office.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 October 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19241008_reps_9_109/>.