8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– During the discussion on the Air Defence Bill and the Defence Bill honorable senators expressed a desire that I should make available to thein copies of the British Air Force Act and the Army Act. I have been able to procure three copies of each of these Acts. I now lay on the table of the Senate a copy of each, which will place them in the official charge of the officers of the Senate; and I propose to lay on the table unofficially the other two copies of these Acts in order that they may be available to honorable senators who wish to refer to, and consider, them.
– In view of the fact that the Army Act, copies of which the Minister for Defence has laid on the table, consists of 200 pages, and contains nearly 200 sections, and that the volume, with explanations and regulations, camprises altogether about 900 pages, I ask whether the Minister will have the Army Act printed in juxtaposition with the provisions of our Defence Act, so that honorable senators will be in a position to see where the Army -Act differs from and where it extends the provisions of our Defence Act?
– I certainly think that the course proposed would be very costly, and in these days, when the Government are being urged to economize, I do not think it would be justified, especially as now that I have tabled copies of the Army Act and the Air
Force Act of Great Britain honorable senators may readily familiarize themselves with their provisions.
– Arising out of the answer to my question, may I remind the Minister for Defence of the position in which honorable senators are placed ? There are only two copies of the Act referred to available for consultation by thirty-six members of the Senate, and there are 200 pages of the British Army Act, and 200 or 300 provisions of our Defence Act to be compared line by line.
Senator NEWLAND presented a report from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of evidence relating to the proposed erection of an additional telegraph line from Perth to Eucla, viâ the transcontinental railway.
The following papers were presented : -
Air Force (Constitution) Act 1917 of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Manual of Military Law ( including the Army Act) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Northern Territory. - Ordinance No. 3 of 1921. - Darwin Town Council.
Engineer’s Branch: Salaries and Promotions
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General any information to give in reply to the questions I asked on the 22nd April with reference to officers of the Clerical Division, 5th Class, Engineer’s Branch?
– On the 22nd April Senator Gardiner asked the following questions: -
I promised that the information sought for would be obtained, and the Acting Public
Service Commissioner has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
3 and 4. Their claims are considered in the filling of fourth class vacancies within the Department, and of vacancies in other Departments for which they may apply.
Authority of General Birdwood
– I have received from Senator Elliott an intimation that he intends to-day to move the adjournment of the Senate until 10 a.m. to-morrow in order to discuss a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “the statement of the Minister for Defence that on the appointment of General Birdwood to command the Australian Imperial Force he committed to him uncontrolled power over the troops under his command, requiring from him only success to justify anything he did.”
Four honorable senators having risen in their places in support of the motion -
– I riseto a point of order. I wish to ask your ruling as to whether it is competent for an honorable senator to move the adjournment of the Senate to call attention to an alleged statement of mine. The words read out by you, sir, in the notice given by Senator Elliott were not the words I used, and convey an altogether different meaning from that conveyed by what I did say. I raise that as one of my points of order. A further point I take is that the words which I did use were used in the course of a debate on a Bill which is still before the Senate. Following my speech, debate ensued, and as the Bill has still to be read a third time, and the whole question may be raised again, I contend that it is possible in further debating a Bill now before the Senate to discuss the statement I made. I ask whether it is in order for an honorable senator to move the adjournment of the Senate to discuss a statement alleged to have been made in the course of a debate which may be still further continued in this Chamber. It seems to me that if that is possible the standing order providing for formal motions of adjournment opens up unlimited opportunities for extending debates in the Senate. I do not understand the standing order providing for the moving of motions for the adjournment of the Senate to be open to such an interpretation, and, in order that honorable senators may know what privileges are conferred by the standing order. I should like a ruling on the point I have raised.
– On the point of order raised by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), I desire to say that there are only three limitations placed upon honorable senators who wish to move the adjournment of the Senate. The first is that the question to be discussed must be one of urgency, and it has been laid down by my predecessors that the matter of urgency is not one for the Presiding Officer to settle, as’ that is decided by four honorable senators rising in their places in support of the motion, . which is regarded as sufficient proof of urgency. Another limitation is that it must not be a matter that has been previously discussed in a similar manner during the same session, and, although that point is somewhat cognate to tha.t raised by the Minister for Defence, it does not arise here, because I have looked up the records and I find that no motion of a similar nature has been moved during the present session. The third limitation is as to whether the matter has already been discussed or is still open to discussion in the Senate, and if such were the case, it would be fatal to the motion, because it is provided in our Standing Orders that a question already decided in one session cannot again be dealt with during the same session. The statement alleged to have been made by the Minister for Defence may or may not have been made, but I cannot recall it. In regard to the other point- mentioned by the Minister for Defence regarding the accuracy of the words used in. the motion, it is very fortunate for me that I am not the judge of the correctness or otherwise of the statements made by honorable senators in this Chamber. I must decline to decide whether the statement which Senator Elliott alleges was made by Senator Pearce is correct or not. On these grounds the point raised by the Minister for Defence fails. As a matter of fact, there has been no specific discussion on this particular subject, although it may have arisen casually in ordinary debate, but I cannot remember. I am quite cer tain that no specific discussion has ensued, and I therefore rule that Senator Elliott’6 motion is in order.
.- I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until 10 a.m. to-morrow.
The statement to which I desire to refer appears on page 7585 of Hansard, and, although it may not be in the exact words used in my motion, it is substantially the same. Senator Pearce, in reply to a statement which I made in the debate, said -
I must confess .that in my early days, as a Minister for Defence, I knew very little or nothing about military matters.
– I rise to order. I am under the impression that our Standing Orders prohibit the reading of Hansard of a current session except in connexion with the continuation of a debate reported in Hansard. If that is so, the honorable senator is not in order in quoting ‘from Hansard in this connexion.
– An honorable senator may not be permitted to read Hansard, but he can refer to it.
– Standing order No. 416 is the one to which I am referring.
– Standing order No. 414 reads -
No senator shall read extracts from newspapers or other documents, except Hansard, referring to debates in the Senate during the same session.
Under that standing order the point of order raised by .the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. . D. Millen) fails. On the point which he is now bringing up concerning a debate in the same session - a debate which .as a matter of fact took place only a few days ago - I am afraid I must rule against Senator Elliott, as standing order No. 416 reads -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the current session in the House of Representatives, or to any- measure impending therein.
– But that is for the House of Representatives.
– That is our gene- 4 ral practice on any debate on a particular subject. An honorable senator must not refer to any debate of the current session, otherwise discussion would become endless. However, I think Senator Elliott can easily overcome the difficulty if he can remember, ,in referring to the alleged statement, the words that were used. It is not for me’ to say whether the words alleged to have been used were uttered in tie Senate or not. It is not my duty to point this out, but I have mentioned the matter for the guidance of Senator Elliott, who is’ a new senator. ‘
– The statement towhich I refer was made by the Minister for Defence to the effect that, at the time he took office, he knew very little about defence matters. In fact, he led us to infer that at the time of his appointment matters of defence were left to the least competent Minister available, and he admitted that he knew nothing of military matters at the time. Bte said that he appealed to General Bridges for advice, and was referred by him to a publication entitled Stonewall Jackson, written by Colonel Henderson-, of the British Military Staff. The Minister said that he read the publication - I do not say that he understood it - and formed an opinion, on which lie took a certain course of action. I understood him to :say that he took the lesson to heart, and that afterwards he sent .for General Bridges,’ and said - “ You will find that as regards choice of your subordinate officers, and appointments to commands, I shall give you an absolutely free hand. The Government will judge you by results, which are’ attained in the training camps and in the -field, and if the time should ever come when you are unfitted for your present . command,, we shall recall, you.”
Similar advice was given to General Birdwood on his taking- over command. The exact wording and purport of the statement made to General Birdwood I have not been able to ascertain, but- 1 presume it was somewhat on the lines of the words used in the motion. We are now considering two measures.
– The honorable senator must not refer .to measures now awaiting discussion.
– Very well. In connexion with matters of defence- 1 think it is desirable that honorable senators should have ‘ their minds fully informed on the subject. As. a matter of fact, I have for a long .time been familiar with the, work referred to by the Minister for Defence: I- read it first at the age of nineteen, when I went to the South Africanwar. Tha inference which the Minister for
Defence drew from that publication wa3 that, in order to insure victory, it was necessary on appointing a general to give him plenary powers: He was not to be subject to any political interference in matters of military- strategy, or the appointment or promotion of officers, and he must be successful, otherwise something in thenature of boiling oil was to’ be reserved for him, or perhaps there was no penalty for failure beyond being withdrawn from command. The Minister left honorable senators to infer that those lessons, and those only,- were learned, as a result of a perusal of Stonewall J Jackson, and that he had gained his theoretical knowledge by the study of this one book.
– Thank you.
– The Minister for Defence informed the Senate that he knew practically nothing about military matters until General Bridges suggested that he should read the publication to which I have referred.
– He did not say that he had not read anything else.
– Quite so. I read Stonewall Jackson long ago. There is a great deal more in the victory of the Northerners than the Minister for Defence inferred. The population of the United States of America at that time was 21,000,000,” of whom 7,000,000 only were in the Southern States. At the commencement of the war,: “the Federal Navy comprised’ fortytwo ships and the Southern Navy a few less than that number.- At the end of the war the Northern Navy numbered 6:71 vessels in commission, while the Southerners had none; even the Alabama had been wiped out. The Minister, however, drew his inference on ‘the sole basis of the political appointment of officers in the Northern Army, and of the abstinence - of political interference in that regard in the” Southern Army, coupled with the fact that Lincoln in the early stages of the war laid down certain conditions to. which his generals must adhere-^- such, for example;, as the protection of Washingtonwhereas. the Southern: leaders had a free hand. And- - so the Minister, in his inference, continued -r- when Lincoln, changed his. policy the immediate result was victory for the Northerners and dis=aster for the Southerners. It was on those grounds alone that the Minister based the extraordinary power which he gave to the Officers Commanding in the Australian Imperial Force.
I would like now to refer again to the same work in which, at its conclusion, the numbers engaged in the different battles are specially referred to. And I draw attention to a further material factor which the Minister overlooked. From the outbreak of the war the Southern States were under conscription. The result was that their fighting men gradually became hardened veterans. Their army also had a system .of appointment of officers which was very different from that employed in the Union ‘ Forces. In the case of the Northern Army, at the beginning, there was a system of four months’ enlistment. The result was that in every battle for nearly two years the Northern Army fought with recruits. As soon as their four months’ term was up, the soldiers had to be sent back home. In addition, all officers in the Northern Army up to the rank of captain, were elected by the men. Thus, to gain promotion up to that rank all an ambitious officer had to do was to make himself a good fellow, “ shout” his men, &c. In the Southern Army there was from the beginning appointment by merit alone. In those factors there is sufficient to furnish the difference between success and failure. But, added to those, it was a fact that in every battle except one the Northerners, owing to the difference in population, enormously outnumbered their opponents. In the first Battle of Bull Run, fought in 1861, the numbers were approximately equal; but, owing to the better organization of the Southerners, the latter won.
– Order ! Will the honorable senator kindly tell me what this interesting dissertation has to do with the specific matter contained in his motion?
– In the statements which I have already made you will note, sir, that the Minister for Defence referred to the war between the North and South, and stated that it was as an outcome of his study of the work to which I have already referred, namely, Stonewall Jackson., that he was led to take a line of action concerning which I have at various times complained. I am hoping now to show that he had no right or reason in drawing the inferences which he did ; and that, therefore, his premises being wrong, his action could not be justified. I propose to resume.
– Order ! , I ask the honorable senator -to remember that the discussion must be confined strictly to the specific matter contained in the motion. I hope he will keep as near to its terms as possible.
– I thought I was conforming with the Standing Orders; but, since I am prevented from further referring to the work from which I was about to quote, I shall content myself by stating that, in every battle except one the Southerners were outnumbered - sometimes by as many as two to one, and sometimes by. differences in the opposed totals of as relatively few men as 5,000 or 6,000. Moreover, the Southern States were entirely without manufactures. They had no shipyards, ordnance works, or rifle factories. They were purely an agricultural country. The Northern States had the advantage of the possession of manufactures, both in regard to arms and ships, and to all’ manner of other equipment.
– And yet it took- them four years to win.
– It took us five years.
– But not with a proportion of two to one in our favour. *
– The Minister’s interjections introduce subject-matter which I may not discuss. The Southern. American States covered an enormous area, and there were vast difficulties of transport of which we can have no conception except by careful study of the campaign. . By his study of this one campaign, however, the Minister for Defence came to a momentous decision. He forgot that that book was written by a scientist of war - Professor Henderson. Its writer was not concerned with pointing out to his Staff College audience that the British Army Act contained certain provisions for the proper governance of the Army. Professor Henderson assumed that the Staff College would know of those facts. The Minister for Defence, therefore, would look in vain for any guidance, in that book, concerning the provisions of the Army Act. Had he confined his reading, similarly, to just, one other book - for instance, had he studied a work dealing with Wellington’s campaign in Spain - he would have discovered that some one else beside Grant won victories, and magnificent victories at that.. He would have learned - and, possibly, his line of reasoning might also nave been influenced thereby - -that in Wellington’s army promotion went entirely by purchase. Sometimes a wealthy officer would rise from the rank of ensign to that of colonel in six months. In the army of Napoleon, however, promotion was entirely upon a democratic basis. Officers could come up from the ranks, and men like Kellermann were seen to rise to fame, being promoted through sheer merit. Kellermann rose from the rank of sergeant of dragoons to become a leading, cavalry commander. Murat, also, from the ranks, became King of Naples; and he was the most magnificent cavalryman in historical record. But, despite those facts, the British beat the French time and again. On the line of reasoning which Senator Pearce has apparently followed - namely, that of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, “ after this, therefore because of this “ - it would appear that in the Australian Imperial Force we should have had the system of promotion by purchase. Had the Minister extended his reading of military history a little further he would have studied, possibly, the life of Frederick the .Great. If he had done so by the medium of Macaulay’s Essays, he would have discovered that the Prussian’ State, with a population of 5,000,000, raised a magnificent army and thoroughly thrashed surrounding States, even though in combination and actually outnumbering the Prussian people by as great a proportion as twenty and thirty to one. Frederick the Great created his all-conquering army by enforcing the strictest discipline. So savage were the floggings that the Prussian soldiers preferred to be shot rather than risk punishment. The King was an extraordinary being. He commanded his troops in person, and if any officer displeased him he frequently knocked him down with his fist and kicked him out of the place. Therefore, had Senator Pearce, confined his reading to that one campaign, he would have come to the conclusion that he ought to invest each officer with power to thrash Australian soldiers severely, and he would have given General Birdwood plenary power to knock down Australian officers as he pleased.
– I must again remind the honorable senator that the question which he has moved the adjournment of the Senate to discuss is the alleged power given by the Minister for Defence to General Birdwood, and not the military studies of the Minister for Defence.
– -What I have just said is preliminary to that. I am pointing out what might have happened if, instead of the book, Stonewall Jack-son, which the late General Bridges, by the mercy of Providence placed in the hands of Senator Pearce, he had placed in the senator’s hands the book of the life of Frederick the Great of Prussia. The point is that Senator Pearce, in his capacity as Minister for Defence, informed General Birdwood that he had absolute power as to appointments and promotions of officers and various other things. The Army Act, which Senator DrakeBrockman has described as the most perfect piece of draftsmanship in the world, contains provisions which are absolutely contrary to that direction by the Minister. It enacts that if an officer - and I remind the Senate that this operates in peace or war - thinks himself wronged by his commanding officer, and on due application made to his commanding officer does not receive the redress to which he may consider himself entitled, he may complain to the Army Council in order to obtain justice. It is provided further that: - “The Army Council are hereby required to examine into such complaint, and, through a Secretary of State” - not necessarily the Minister for War, but any Secretary of State - “make their report to His Majesty in order to receive the directions of His Majesty thereon.” In the notes to that section for the information of officers acting under the Army Act, it is stated that : - “This section does not limit in any way, the right of the Sovereign to receive complaints from his officers. It merely controls the manner in which officers thinking themselves wronged are to approach His Majesty. See King’s Regulations 12& and 439.” So that under the British Army Act, under which we were serving as soon as we left Australia, it is laid down in the most emphatic manner that nothing is to take away the right of an officer to approach his Sovereign in a proper manner to obtain redress.
– Any subject who has a grievance can approach the Sovereign, can he not?
– In this case it is laid down in the Act.
– Are you complaining that that right was denied you?
– Were you not given the right of appeal ?
– I would remind the honorable senator that that has nothing to do with the subject he proposes to discuss.
– That provision was placed on the statute-book for the protection of junior officers against wrongful oppression by’ their superiors. The Minister for Defence, by a purported exercise of the dispensing power, which I always hoped had disappeared from the British Constitution with the Bill of Rights, swept that provision out of existence, and authorized General Birdwood to refuse any redress in that manner to officers.
– That did not destroy the right of appeal. General Birdwood may have done fifty wrong things, but the right of appeal was Still there.
– It was not there in practice. I have already told the Senate exactly what happened when I wrote through the proper channel to General White, requesting that my case be referred to the Minister, who was my channel of approach to the Sovereign, or was there as representing the Sovereign. I read extracts from the letter I .received from General White.
– What was the approximate date of the receipt of that letter ?
– It was dated 22nd May, 1918, and I would probably get it the following day. It dealt with my application in two ways. There was in existence, although the Minister has denied it up to date, a regulation to the following effect - I had hoped to get it to-day from the War Museum, but they had been unable to lay their hands on it-
– Order ! I have allowed the honorable senator considerable latitude. The specific question before the Chair is the alleged instruction or power given by the Minister for Defence to General Birdwood, or the alleged statement by the Minister on that subject. Under the Standing Orders the discussion must be strictly limited to that one subject, but the honorable senator has paid greater attention to the discussion of the alleged military studies of the Minister for Defence than to the subject before the Chair. He is now pursuing a question which, has- already been debated on the floor of the Senate. I cannot be blind to the fact that he is pursuing a matter -which he .has - already twice .alluded to in the Senate. Standing order 413 provides : -
No senator shall allude to any debate of the Baine session upon a question or Bill not being then under discussion, nor to any speech made in Committee, except by the indulgence of the Senate for personal explanations.
The honorable senator is making a personal explanation, and has already alluded at full length to these matters. I remind him also nhat his time is limited. If he wishes to address himself to the specific subject which he has brought forward, he has: only a very short time in which to do it. I shall not take out of the time allowed to him whatever time has been occupied on points of order.
– I was endeavouring to show exactly how the instructions given to ‘General Birdwood worked out in practice, and how, in effect, they : operated to cut away the right of appeal. I was stating what action I took when I considered myself wronged, and was .about to show how I was prevented from exercising the right of- appeal. First of all, it was denied that I had any right of appeal, whereas, in plain fact, the regulation, in addition to .the Army; Act, showed that I had. When I compelled General White to confess that that was pure bluff, he came at me with, the .mailed fist.. He said, “ If you proceed .with., this appeal, you will show that you have lost confidence in myself .and General Birdwood. Even if the Minister granted your request, General Birdwood would not consent to having you serving under him any more.” Put,” he added, “ it will never come to that. If you insist on lodging this appeal, you will be sent back .to Australia ‘ Services no longer required.’ “ That is what I complain of. As l explained previously, the position was that . we were, then preparing for the great offensive in August.
– That is the general rule, is it not? It was in South Africa. If Lord Kitchener was dissatisfied, with an officer, he sent him back. He also prompted any man over the head of another if he liked.
– He never cut away any officer’s right of appeal.
– They have not cut yours away, but you hesitated to avail yourself of it.
– I had to obey orders there.
– There were no orders not to appeal.
– I was told what would happen’ if I did, and, being desirous of continuing to serve my country in the field, I had perforce to abandon my right of appeal with great reluctance. I have endeavoured to reinstate the right of appeal here, and honorable senators have read the Minister’s answer. He absolutely declines to interfere. I want honorable senators to consider the serious situation that will arise if we apply the Army Act here, and import with the Army Act all the British Service customs, as they are called. Many of them are very evil.
– The . honorable senator is not in order. He is addressing himself to a subject that is down for discussion in two Bills already before the Senate, and there is no better known standing order of the Senate than that which states that an honorable senator must not anticipate a discussion on any subject already before the Chamber. There is no necessity, therefore, for the honorable senator to discuss the matter so fully on this motion. I trust he will now obey my ruling.
– In view of your ruling I can say no more than once more voice my protest against the extraordinary action of the Minister for Defence. Mine is by no means an isolated case. I could quote many others.
– It is rather difficult for me to know just what I am to reply to; whether to the unfortunate fault of my limited reading or my inability to draw correct deductions from what I have read. But I can assure Senator Elliott that I did not intend to convey the impression that I had read only the book referred to by him. I merely gave that as one authority. I could have quoted many others, and have shown that General Elliott was not quite correct in assuming that I had made wrong deductions. I have read the Book of Joshua, but on the strength of that I did not suggest to the officer commanding Australian Imperial Force that he should command the sun to stand still. I have read the Biblical story cf Samson slaying the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass, but again I did not propose to arm the Australian. Imperial Force with asses’ jawbones. Then, again, I have read the story of David killing Goliath with a sling, but still I would not suggest, on the strength of that story, arming the Australian Imperial Force with shanghais. I endeavoured to apply common sense to the subject of training and handling the Australian Imperial Force. But this, after all, does not appear to be the gravamen of the charge made by Senator Elliott. The gravamen of the charge is that on the appointment of General Birdwood to the command of the Australian Imperial Force I gave him uncontrolled power over the troops under his command, requiring from him only success to justify anything that he did. That is a travesty, an absolute travesty of what I said. This is my statement as to what I said to General Bridges, who had been appointed to the command of the First Division : - “You will find that, as regards the choice of your subordinate officers and appointments to commands, I shall give you a free hand. The Government will judge you by the results which are obtained in the training camps, and in the field, and if the time should ever come when wethink you are unfitted for your present command, we shall recall you. But while you are there, we shall not interfere with you.”
I added -
When General Birdwood was appointed to command the Australian Imperial Force, I wrote him a letter in similar terms. From the commencement to the close of the war, I. never interfered with General Birdwood or with General Bridges either, in the matter of their appointments, or in the disposition of their commands.
That does not indicate that I authorized General Birdwood to suspend the right of appeal which every officer has under the Army Act. Therefore to say that my statement gave General Birdwood power to supersede the Army Act is a travesty, and I am surprised that the honorable senator, with his legal training, should read that meaning into my words.
– It had that effect at all events.
– Neither did it have that effect in the very instancewhich Senator Elliott has brought before the Senate so repeatedly. I may also remind him that the letter which he quoted from General White, and which he gave us to understand was received on the eve of the offensive of August 8th and 9th, was, according to his statement this afternoon, written in May, so that he had from May until August in which to make up his mind to appeal, without interfering in any way with the preparations for the August offensive.
– We were fighting all the time.
– General Elliott did not avail himself of his opportunity to appeal. Neither does the letter written by General White imply that General Birdwood assumed he had any power from me or anybody else to prevent General Elliott from appealing under the’ Army Act if he thought fit to do so. What General White’s letter does point out is that there was no supersession. General Elliott would have us believe that he had been superseded owing to a bias against him, and that it was an entirely personal matter. But there were other officers whom I could name as being superseded, if I may employ the term used by General Elliott. I hope that they will not be offended if I name them, but they are very distinguished and capable officers. I refer to Generals McNicoi and Tivey, both of whom were senior to General Elliott, and both of whom were passed over when Generals Glasgow and Gellibrand were selected for the Divisional Commands. Therefore, the charge of bias made by General Elliott falls to the ground because these officers, who were senior to General Elliott, had not complained of supersession.
– They knew there was no hope.
-On the ground of seniority they had much stronger claim for the Divisional Commands.
– But seniority is not the main factor.
– It is not a factor at all outside of the regimental list. As General White pointed out, and as General Elliott knew, promotion outside of the regimental list is by selection, and the Commander-in-Chief uses the discretionary power invested in him. In this case he made his choice over three Citizen Force officers and a permanent officer as well.
– Does not the Minister admit that it was unfortunate, to say the least, that a threat was made against General Elliott?
– No threat was made.
– He says yes.
– General White’s letter is to this effect -
Your letter has greatly pained me: but I refrain from a detailed reply, as I hope to substitute a visit to you, and perhaps you may wish to withdraw something of what you have written. There are one or two points upon which I must touch. . . . Supersession is an act which is only possible within an established unit - the battalion, to wit. Once an officer is out of the regimental list his future employment is determined by selection, and if he is not selected he is not informed of the fact.
General White went on to say -
Do you think that any one doubts your courage? No one in the AustralianImperial Force, I assure you. Or your ability? It is well known. But you mar it by not keeping your judgment under complete control.
I am inclined to think that Senator Elliott is falling into the same error in Australia. Another extract from General White’s letter, quoted by Senator Elliott, was as follows : -
Finally, you actually threaten me with political influence.
– Then there was a threat.
– Senator Elliott’s letter to General White was not so much a request for the right of appeal to the Minister for Defence as an intimation that if the matter were gone on with lie was going to appeal to the Parliament and press of this country. This is what General White said in reply -
You have obviously written hurriedly, and I am therefore not going to regard your letter as written. But let me say this: If the decision rested with me-
I remind the Senate that this is not General Birdwood who is writing to Senator Elliott. It is General White, aaAustralian officer writing . to a fellowAustralian officer: -
If the decision rested with me I should send you off to Australia without the least hesitation if, calmly and deliberately,you repeated your assertion to seek political aid. And if you managed to raise a dozen political and “ military “ enquiries, I would fight you to a stand-still on them.
Let honorable senators read that, calmly and ask themselves wherein lies the threat. The letter penned by General White was kindly advice, such as
General Elliott would have been well advised to accept in the same spirit. I do not believe that General White then - I am sure he has not now - had the slightest animus towards General Elliott, for whom, indeed, he has the greatest admiration.
– Order ! The Minister is out of order in continuing a general discussion upon his instructions to General Birdwood. I must ask him to desist.
– I shallrespect your wishes, Mr. President, and not follow this phase of the subject further, but I do ask Senator Elliott to read what I have said as reported in Hansard. If he does, he will see that he has misrepresented entirely the substance of my remarks. I could, perhaps, give instances which would convince Senator Elliott that we did by no means hand over the Australian ImperialForce body and soul, and wash our hands of them. Other members of the Senate who acted as Assistant Ministers of Defence during the war know that the welfare of our troops repeatedly came up for consideration in Cabinet. They know that during the early period of the war the question of placing our troops on Salisbury Plain for training was dealt with, and that one of the things that determined the Government to select Egypt was the belief that it would be unwise to send our troops directly from Australia and plant them in the Salisbury Plain Camp in the middle of winter.
SenatorFoll.-But Egypt was worse.
– No, it was not. It may have been unpleasant, but from a health point of view it was much better than Salisbury Plain in the middle of winter. In connexion with the supply of food and rations, the condition of transports, the boots the troops were to wear, and a variety of other matters, the Government frequently interfered throughout the course of the war, and insisted on certain things being done. It is quite beside the mark for Senator Elliott to read into my’ statement the suggestion that I. simply handed over the troops body and soul to General Birdwood, and surrendered all power with respect to them. We did not do so, nor did we give General Birdwood any power orright to sus pend the Defence Act in connexion with our troops. In proof of this, I need only inform honorable senators that during the war the question of the penalty for desertion from the Australian, Imperial Force came up, and the Government were asked by the General Officer Commanding the British Forces to consent to the death penalty for desertion. We refused to do so. That question came up on more than, one occasion. Under the Army Act, the penalty provided for desertion is death, but under our Defence Act that penalty is not provided, and, rightly or wrongly, the Government decided that in this matter they would stand by the provisions of our Defence Act.
– Rightly so.
-If I had time, I might refer to numberless instances to show that the Government never gave up their power over our troops, nor did I give up my power over them. I say, further, that General Birdwood never was under the impression that I surrendered my power over them.
– Then, why does the Minister say that he will not question the acts of General Birdwood now?
– I gave the reason when referring to this matter before. It is impossible at this juncture to review such matters, because of the necessary witnesses whose evidence would be required to decide them; many are dead, and others are scattered to the four corners of the earth. It is impossible for us in the circumstances to judge such matters. I take the very question of supersession which has been raised by Senator Elliott. Is there any member of the Senate competent at this juncture to review what was done by General Birdwood and say that he was not justified in appointing some other officer rather than General Elliott? General Elliott was not superseded. The question of supersession did not come in. It was merely a question of selection. How are we now to decide that General Birdwood was wrong in selecting General Gellibrand or General Sir Thomas Glasgow, and that he should have selected General Elliott? I frankly confess that I am not competent to decide such a matter, whatever other honorable senators may think. For all I know, General Elliott was the right man to select, but I was not competent to make the selection, especially as I would have had to do so sitting here in Australia, whilst! the ‘difficulty was raised on the’ other* side of the world. I do not wish to say anymore’ on the. motion, except that. Senator Elliott ‘ has quite misunderstood what I have said, and I advise him to drop this matter, and say that if he does, so he will do himself more, justice.
– I listened, to the opening, remarks of Senator Elliott. I know how disposed the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is to give advice, and that his advice is generally good. I am still of opinion that we are indebted to Senator Elliott for bringing this matter before the Senate. I think that honorable senators should insist upon a full inquiry into the whole conduct and management of our troops from the time they left Australia until the war ended. We know that many injustices have been committed that will never be rectified . unless something is done to give those who have suffered injustice an opportunity of having their cases ventilated. I was much struck by the way in which Senator Elliott took up the statement ‘made by the Minister for Defence, that he was greatly influenced through having read. the life of a certain great soldier, and had consequently determined, that his officers should be freed from any political interference. Strange to say, I arrived, at a conclusion almost identical, with that arrived at by Senator Elliott when I considered- what the Minister for Defence had probably in mind in making the: statement referred to. I happened to hear a very flattering remark made about the Minister for Defence during the conduct of the war. I do not think that it is out of place sometimes for even a member of the Opposition to direct attention to praise given to a member of the Government by people competent to form a valuable opinion. In the course of conversation, and in my hearing, a very distinguished personage in this country remarked that Senator Pearce would make an ideal Defence Minister for Great Britain. Being so close to the honorable senator, and knowing him so well, I did not put that estimate upon his abilities at that time. I questioned the statement, and the gentleman I refer to said that he would make a most excellent Minister because he would: let the military have their own. way in everything..
-. - And the honorable, senator says that he considers that flattering to me.
– I ask. the pardon of the Minister for Defence if he does not think that it was flattering to him to say that he would make an ideal Minister for the British War Office.
– The- reason assigned is not flattering.
– The reason’ given was that which I have already stated. The Minister for- Defence said that, from reading the life of the great soldier to whom reference has been made, he drew the conclusion that in the American Civil War the South was winning early in the war because of non-interference with the officers, and the North was losing because of political interference with generals in the field. That is all a matter of how one reads history, and as I read the history of the American Civil War the South was winning in the earlier days of the war because of their better preparation for it, and because in Generals Lee and Jackson they had two remarkably successful officers conducting their operations with great skill andcapacity. On the question of the wisdom of - political influence in the conduct of military affairs, I have been reading recently the opinions of a very high. German military authority, General Ludendorff. I never realized how badly Germany was beaten until I read his memoirs. In his opinion, one of the chief reasons why Great Britain and France won the war was because of the way in which the British and French nations were kept up to the work by their political heads, Mr. Lloyd George and the Premier of France. It is not a question of the military against the political head so much as a question of the two sections working together. In this connexion’ I wish to say that I should like very much to see the Senate take its rightful place, not only in the civil affairs of the community, but also in connexion with military affairs. When Senator Elliott brings such a case before us as he has submitted to-day, I ask what better body could we have as a final Court of Appeal where officers are dissatisfied with their treatment by the military authorities, than a Committee of the Senate?
– Why only officers ?
– If the honorable senator had given me time I would have asked that question myself. I see jio reason why all persons 1 dissatisfied with their treatment by the military authorities should not have the power to appeal to .an impartial ; Committee of the Senate. It should not be necessary to appoint a separate Committee to deal with each case. There might be a Committee appointed to act continuously to inquire into. complaints of injustice by officers, non-commissioned officer s> or the rank and -file.
– Is “the honorable senator suffering from lack of employment?
– Twenty years is not long in the establishment of the Commonwealth, and so far as the Senate is concerned, . we- may be said to be gradually defining our ‘powers, and we know that in military matters in the United States of America the Senate plays a very important part. I consider that’ Senator Elliott -has made out a very good case in complaining of the treatment he has received. I know from my personal experience in Australia that injustice -has < been done in connexion with military affaire in numberless cases. When the Minister for Defence suggests that I am suffering from lack of employment, he knows as well as I do that there would be plenty of employment for such a Committee of the .Senate. as I have suggested. It is better that the work which such a Committee -could do should be.done than that it should be -allowed to stand over. I again suggest that a Committee of the Senate would form an excellent final Court of Appeal in all these matters. We know that the military method is order and obey, . and there is no room for question. That may be all right on the battlefield. It may be that officers should be permitted to blunder there as much as they will ; but when we come to the. time when we are no longer at war we> should have some regard for the fact that many of the very best men in our community have not been given a fair deal.- We know very well that there is such a thing as “social pull” in connexion with military affairs in Australia. We know that very -strong social pull has prevented excellent men getting the fair deal to which they were, entitled. I do not wish to prolong the debate : but I wish to support Senator Elliott in the step he hae taken in bringing this matter before the Senate and the public of Australia.
Question resolved in the negative.
The. PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. T. Givens). - I have received from the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia the aggregate balancesheet of .the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to the- 31st December, 1920, together with the Auditor-General’s report, thereon, and, in accordance with the Statute, I now lay them on the table of the Senate.
– Certainly.. not at this stage.
– Would I be in order in’ moving that the .paper be printed ?
– An “ .honorable senator may always move that .a paper be printed.
– I have no intention of -moving at this stage* but merely desired to , ascertain if such a- motion could be moved.
Commonwealth Bank Overdraft Rates Certificates
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice - .
What certificates regarding overdraft rates have ‘been given by the Commonwealth ,’Bank, , Sydney, since 1st July, 1920, in connexion with the. New South Wales Fair Rents Bill?
– Certificates in the form prescribed- by regulations under the New South Wales Fair Rents Act 1915 are given by the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, to the Fair Rents ‘Court at any point in New South Wales, from -time to time, on application1. Such- certificates at present average approximately two per -week. The rate quoted in the certificates referred to is 6 per cent, per annum.
Bale, of Wheat to Germany. Senator EARLE asked. the VicePresident -of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Senator RUSSELL. The answers are
Debate resumed from 22nd April (vide page 7690), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– ‘Honorable senators will doubtless remember that earlier in the session, when a Bill was before the Senate to provide for the appointment of a Board of Management for the Public Service, I endeavoured, to the best of my ability, to show that, in my opinion, the Government were acting unwisely in introducing the measure when they did. I said on that occasion that they were placing the cart before the horse, because they were appointing a Board of Management when no provision had been made for reorganizing the work they were to control. The Government had said that radical alterations were to be made in the Public Service, and although I opposed the measure, the Senate, in its wisdom, passed it almost unanimously. The Bill was sent to another place, and was treated in such a manner that it was eventually dropped. This Bill, therefore, provides for the appointment of a Board of Management, and also for the repeal of the present Public Service Act. I believe the Bill contains some very good provisions, and is an honest attempt on the part of the Government to effectively amend the law relating to the Public Service. The Act which this measure re.peals has been in force for approximately twenty years’, and when we realize that those who were responsible for it had not become accustomed to the Federal atmosphere, we should congratulate ourselves on having produced such a satisfactory measure. Naturally after twenty years’ experience alterations have to be made, and in addressing myself to the second reading of the Bill I do” not wish to op pose it too strongly, because I believe it possesses some very good points. There are, however, three features in the measure which, if allowed to remain, will seriously interfere with the successful working of the Act.
I feel sure that there will be a good deal of opposition in the Senate, and, if not here, in another place, to the establishment of a Board pf Management instead of a Commissioner to control the Public Service. I have already spoken strongly against the appointment of a Board of Management, and I am anxious to ascertain whether the Government can produce any satisfactory reasons for the creation of such a Board as . is contemplated. No one understood the ‘ requirements of the Commonwealth Public Service better than Mr. McLachlan, and I think the Government acted wisely in getting that gentleman to submit a report on the alterations that were necessary to make the Service thoroughly efficient. The report submitted by Mr. McLachlan is a very valuable one; but, unfortunately, it Avas held hack for two or three years.
– I do not know to which point the honorable senator is specifically referring. I was one of a tub-‘Committee of the Cabinet appointed to confer with Mr. McLachlan, and quite a number of the points raised in his report were adopted. There was one in connexion with the Public Service Arbitrator.
– A Bill to provide for the appointment of a Public Service Arbitrator has already been passed. I remember asking for Mr. McLachlan’s report, and being informed that he was opposed lock, stock, and barrel to the appointment of an Arbitrator. If honorable senators will refer to the report they will see that such is not the case.
– He suggests in his report an appeal from the Commissioner to the Commissioner.
– In the report to which I have referred he favours arbitration, and I am only dealing with what i3 before us. On page 26 of his report he states -
The New South Wales State Service Act is administered by a Board of three members.- In Queensland, Public Service matters are dealt with by a Committee of the Cabinet; while in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia the Public Service is managed .by one Commissioner. In new legislation now before the Tasmanian Parliament provision is made for the appointment of a Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner. The New Zealand Public Service is controlled by a Commissioner and two Assistant Commissioners. In Great Britain, the Civil Service Commission comprises two members, but the functions of this Commission relate mainly to the holding of examinations, and are not administrative. The Victorian Royal Commission on the State Public Service, reporting in 1917, discussed the general management of that Service, and after full consideration of the arguments for and against the constitution of a Public Service Board, stated that, although a good deal might be said in favour of the appointment of a Board of three Commissioners, they (the Royal Commission) were not prepared to recommend any change in that regard. It may be mentioned that for many years the Victorian Public Service was controlled by a Public Service Board of three members, and that this arrangement was eventually superseded by the present system of control by one Commissioner.
He quotes further arguments against the proposal. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), who has had considerable experience as a Minister in Victoria, is opposed. to a Board because in Victoria they have had Boards of Management, and have eventually gone back to a Commissioner.
Reference is frequently made to the recommendations of the Economies Commission, and I have noticed, in perusing the debates in another place, that when a certain honorable member was twitted with being opposed to a Board of Management, although such, a Board was recommended by the Commission, he said he did not care what had been recommended, he was in favour of a Commissioner. I presume the Vice-President of ‘ the Executive Council (Senator Russell) has read the latest report of the Economies Commission, which denounces in the strongest possible terms a Board such as that proposed by the Government. The report states -
They do not advocate a Board of Management, but what they advocate would be better termed a Public Service Efficiency Board.
They dwell very strongly on that point.
– On what page is reference made to an Efficiency Board?
– I believe it is on the first page.
– What is the difference between an Efficiency Board and a Board of Management?
– They show that there is a difference, and that is what I am endeavouring to demonstrate. The Board they favour is similar to that which I suggested in the Senate some time ago. The report continues -
We are of opinion that, in order to continuously secure reasonable efficiency and economy, machinery must be set up which will insure that failures and extravagance will he brought automatically to the light of publicity. This can only bc secured if the duty of continuous criticism and the duty of seeing that fair value is received for money expended is placed in the, hands of individuals who are not in any way to blame for the failures, and who will measure the efficiency and economy of all Departments, and fearlessly bring to light all failures, with power to report direct to Parliament, on the same principle as the AuditorGeneral is expected to fearlessly bring to light any lapses in honest and accurate accounting, and empowered to report direct to Parliament. To arm the proposed Board of Management with the power of selection, appointment, reward, and punishment would relieve the executive officers of responsibility, and place it upon the shoulders of. the Board of Management,’ thus hampering its freedom of criticism and its desire to criticise, so destroying the objective of its creation. Even if this objection were not fatal, the Federal Public Service is spread over too wide an area, and is too huge and of too complicated activities, to be efficiently managed under any scheme of centralized management.
I ask, where have the Government secured any evidence in support of the creation of a Board of ‘ Management for the control of the Service after the manner suggested in the Bill?
– The honorable senator will notice that, on page 87 of the first report of the Economies Commission, there are these words: -
A Board of Management constituted in the manner we have suggested would continuously perform the duties that this Commission has been appointed to .perform in a spasmodic manner.
– My point. is that the Government have no evidence in support of the establishment of the Board. Mr. McLachlan has denounced the proposition. The institution of such a Board was tried in Victoria, and it was deemed inadvisable to continue it. The last report of the Economies Commission denounces the scheme also. The appointment of Boards leads to delay. During the last Parliament a Bill was introduced, wherein it was proposed to give to the. AuditorGeneral certain powers in connexion with his Department which he did not possess and has not now. In his memorandum upon the subject, the Auditor-General said that, while he ultimately got the officers he wanted, there was invariably delay in securing them. That delay occurred because .his .requirements had to be submitted to the Public Service Commissioner, who had to satisfy himself that the request for staff additions was justified. If three persons, forming the proposed Board, have now to be satisfied there will naturally be still further delay.
– The honorable senator will ‘find that there is only one individual to be satisfied, namely, the head of the Department.
– Does the Minister say that the head of a Department may have as many officers under him as he likes to secure, without any reference to the Board ?
– Then, where does the Minister’s interjection carry weight? The Board has to be satisfied that the, staff of a Department requires to be reinforced before the head of a Department may secure additional staff. Let us say that the Auditor-General wants three more clerks. Before he can secure them, his request must go bef ore the Public Service Commissioner, who must .be satisfied of the need for them. Do I understand that such procedure will not continue to be necessary under the Bill ?
– The .first function to be performed under this measure is reclassification throughout the < Service.
– Of course; and, if additional officers are wanted ‘by any Department, the Board will have to.be satisfied of their need. And, since it will be a matter .of satisfying three individuals instead of one, there will be so much more delay.
This measure does not say whether the three .members .of the Board are to be of equal standing. It does ,not indicate that one is to be chief and the others subordinate. The New South Wales Act provides for four Commissioners; but it provides,, further, that the chief Commissioner may have his way desuite ‘the opposing views- of the others.
Thus, there is one man whose decision may be final, and who does not necessarily have to wait for the findings or opinions of his colleagues. The Bill under discussion does not set down anything of that sort, however. The three, members of the Board are, apparently, to be of equal standing; and, therefore, each of the three will have to be satisfied of the merits of a requested staff increase. That will not tend to despatch, but to delay.
– It may tend to efficiency and economy.
– It may. .
Now for another point. Does this Bill provide for the retention, of the Public Service Inspectors?
– It does not.
– Not to perform the same functions as hitherto. There are no inspectors provided for in the Bill, but there will be experts appointed to investigate Departments, and so on.
– At present there is a Public Service Commissioner, and there are inspectors in each of .the States, who go all round the country.
– No; that is one of our troubles.
– The inspectors to-day are virtually Deputy Public Service Commissioners for each State.
– Yes. Mr. McLachlan has pointed out that on account of the growth of the various Departments there should be two : inspectors instead of one in each State. Provision in that direction should have been made year’s ago. The work of inspection long ago became too heavy for one man in each State. Now, however, the State inspectors are to be done away with.
– Their work will be done in. a different way, by experts.
– The Minister is mixing up two things. I am dealing now with appointments to the Service. Let us say that there are clerks wanted for the Customs Department, and additional staff by ‘the Postmaster-General. A special expert is not required in order to decide whether the Postal Service is in need of five more sorters or whether the Customs needs a few more clerks. One inspector, for twenty years, has been deciding upon the’ need for such departmental requests. For twenty years the
State inspector has been advising the Commissioner whether any additional assistance asked for is required. And, even although the sum necessary to pay the salaries, of additional members of staffs has been sometimes placed on the Estimates, their appointment has. not been made unless the Public Service Commissioner has authorized it. Now, the whole of the work to be done by the Commissioner and his six inspectors is to be shouldered by a Board of Management comprising three men. The Economies Commission says that if the Board of Management is made part of the Public Service machine it will naturally, inevitably, and literally become a part of that machine. What the Economies Commissioners suggest is that, outside of the Public Service altogether, there should be a Board having nothing to do with such matters as appointments and promotions, but whose task it should be simply to ascertain whether or not the machine is working efficiently. This Bill proposes a Board of Management to deal with such considerations as entrance to the Service, promotion of officers, classifications, salaries, and the like; but the Minister says that, in addition to all these, the Board must have regard to the maintenance of efficiency. Three men are to be appointed, and the inspectors are to be dene away with.
– There are inspectors to-day who do not inspect.
– A report is made - let us say - by a person outside the Department, concerning departmental working, “ That report is furnished to the Government and’ presented to Parliament. But the whole thing becomes innocuous unless the party who has furnished the report is placed in a position of authority to see that his recommendations are carried out. . In every circumstance, if such is not the case, the report is not worth the paper on which it has been written.
– That is so. I had that in mind last year in advocating my efficiency engineers.
– I am convinced of that. Some time . ago, Sir Robert McC. Anderson, a man of undoubted ability, was appointed by the Government of the day to examine the workings of the Defence Department, the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and one or two other .branches of the Commonwealth Service. I met Sir Robert Anderson about that time - and told him that, although I considered him an able man and capable of discharging the job which he had been given to do, I, if I had been a member of the Government, would, nevertheless, have objected to his appointment, or to that of anybody, indeed, unless he had been also retained to seethat his recommendations for reform were carried out. I added, “Had you been so appointed; and had you been given such an opportunity, something tangible might have emanated from your investigations ; but, in the circumstances, I :.ay that not one bingie recommendation which you may make will be. acted upon.” Sir Robert Anderson investigated and reported. I met him some months afterwards and he said, “I recall that conversation we had. And you were quite right. My suggestions have npt been carried out.” The Economies Commission has pointed out that not one thing which Sir Robert Anderson recommended in the Postal Department was followed up, but that if his recommendations had been adopted, hundreds of thousands of pounds would have been saved. It is of no use to appoint outsiders to report upon a Department unless they are given accompanying power to ensure that their recommendations are adopted. But that is different from the management of the Civil Service, which deals with such matters as furlough, hours of labour, .appeals, and promotions. If you thrust all those duties upon a Board of Management, they will have absolutely no time to look into the efficiency side of the question. I am strongly against, the Board of Management in the way it has been proposed, because there is no evidence, I here is no report, there are no Commissions, and, so far as I can find out, there is no one except the present Ministry who is its advocate. One feature of the present Bill which I am strongly against is that the chief officer in each Department makes the appointments.
– Who is he?
– There is no difficulty about that, because he is defined in the Bill, i If the Minister will look at Hansard, page 7-362, he will see that he stated that, under this Bill, any promotion which carries an increase in salary will not be made until it is determined by the Board.
– Over £210, yes.
– But if the Minister looks at clause 48, he will see that the Bill provides -
Whenever a vacancy occurs in any office other than in the first division, and it is expedient to fill that vacancy by the promotion of an officer, the chief officer may, subject to the provisions of this Act, promote an officer of his Department to fill such vacancy, consideration being given first to the relative efficiency, and, in the event of an equality of efficiency of two or more officers, then to the relative seniorityof the officers of that Department.
That is quite the opposite to what the Minister said.
– Oh, no. Perhaps the head of a Department may have been getting £1,500 during the war, and now, in normal times, the position may be worth only £700 or £800. They do not appoint him until the Board has finished its classification of that position.
– This is a permanent measure, dealing not only with the classification, but with the Service after the classification has been completed. One of the features of the Bill is that the chief officer has under it a power which he did not have before. The power which is given to him by the Bill is qui tethe opposite to what the Minister said. Under the present system the Public Service Commissioner makes any promotion in a Department. Of course, he consults the head of that Department, and they may agree on the man to be promoted. If they do not agree, the power is still in the hands of the Commissioner. If there is still a strong disagreement, the Secretary of the Department can go to his Minister, and if he can supply the Minister with sufficient evidence to indicate that an injustice has been done to the officer whose claims he is advocating, the Minister can refuse to sign the Executive Council minute. The matter then comes before Parliament, and Parliament decides between the two. That is as perfect a system as human ingenuity can devise.
– Under this Bill the same principle applies. If the Board turn down the recommendation of the head of a Department, and the Minister does not agree with the Board, the Board have a right of appeal to Parliament over the head of a Minister.
– The Bill reverses the present system. This is a matter of great importance, as I wish country mem bers to understand. Under the Bill, if the Board and the chief officer disagree, I suppose the matter goes to Parliament for settlement.
– It goes to the Minister first.
– If the Minister agrees with the head of his Department, Parliament must ultimately decide between them and the Board. The present Act gives every man in the Service, however distant he may be from the cities, a nearly equal chance, although it is not an absolutely equal chance, because, mathematically, that cannot be managed. The person who is near head-quarters will always have an advantage over the man at a distance, but we have tried in the present Act as far as possible to mitigate that. For instance, if a fourth class clerk is wanted to fill a vacancy in the Auditor-General’s Department, any man in the fourth class throughout Australia can apply, no matter what Department he is in. The applications come before the Public Service Commissioner, who, perhaps, decides on a man at Eroken Hill. I have known of such a case. The Auditor-General may prefer some onein his own. Department, which would be very natural, but the Public Service Commissioner is there to fight for the young fellow who is away in the backblocks. The Auditor-General can still fight for his man. and can fall back on his Minister and Parliament to help him, but still the young fellow in the backblocks has the Public Service Commissioner to fight for him. Under this Bill the system is absolutely reversed. The head of the Department practically suggests the appointment. He does not absolutely finalize it; but he says that a man in his own Department ought to have it. A young fellow away in the back-blocks can appeal to the Board, but he has no one to put up a ca6e for him and fight for him, and the man in the Department supported by the head of the Department would probably get the position 100 times out of a hundred. The present system is infinitely preferable to that.
– The honorable senator thinks this system will divide the Service into watertight compartments?
– It is bound to do so. The Bill grants to heads of Departments all that they have been asking for for years. It gives the Auditor-General what he has already asked Parliament for. To all intents and purposes the Bill makes every Department a watertight compartment.
– This Bill puts all civil servants, including those in theterritorial services, on an equality.
– In practice it will work out as I say. At present the Departments are not watertight, but even now there is considerable legitimate discontent, because when new services are started, and are still small, young fellows enter them and rise very rapidly as the new services grow, whereas nien who entered big Departments long before them find that they can rise only very slowly. The consequence is that in the Service to-day many young fellows, because they entered new Departments, are getting higher salaries than officers who entered the larger Departments years before.
– Is that not a condemnation of the system ?
– This Bill is going to make matters worse. That discontent is to-day somewhat obviated because the appointment is made first by the Public Service Commissioner. I ask honorable senators to consider seriously whether the discontent will not be intensified by this Bill, seeing that it puts more powerinto the hands of heads of Departments than before. The head of a Department naturally likes the fellows with whom he has been associated, and whom he has trained to work with him.
– How is the Bill likely to affect the efficiency of the Departments?
– I do not think the present system impairs their efficiency, In Sydney recently I met a young fellow who used to be a telegraph messenger at Broken Hill, and who is now a cterk in the Auditor-General’s Department, thanks to the provisions of the present Public Service Act. I do not think the Auditor-General’s Department has suffered through that young fellow having had a chance to rise.
-It is an incentive to others.
– Undoubtedly. If appointments are to be made by the chief officer or the head of a Department, then we bring in political influence at once. I cannot understand how Ministers could have agreed to such a provision for a moment. Mr. Tudor was at one time a colleague of Senator Pearce and myself in the Ministry as Minister for Trade and Customs. He administered his Department fearlessly . and well, as everybody will admit, and I am sure he will not mind my mentioning a little conversation I had with him. On one occasion he had to appoint to his Department a person from outside the Public Service. That Department, although very important, is comparatively small so far as the number of its officers is concerned. Mr. Tudor, after he had made the appointment, said to me, “If there is going to be any alteration in the Public Service Act, so that Ministers will have something to do with making appointments, anybody can have my job.” That was his opinion of it, after he had had to make only one appointment. Immediately the chief officers of Departments have to make or suggest promotions, and be responsible for them, do honorable senators think that Ministers are. not going to be seen and consulted and asked to use their influence ?
– The chief officer is really the head of the Department or branch, and he knows the men.
– If the chief officer is to be responsible, then the coterie around him will get the promotion, and the Minister will be the one who has fin ally to decide. I do not hesitate to say that that system will bring in political influenoe.
– Where there is a dispute, Parliament has the final decision.
– Of course it has, but what chance would a fellow from the back-blocks have in Parliament, with the Minister and the Board of Management and the head of a Department against him ? This will lead to political influence, and, inmy judgment, be a most unwise innovation.
The appointment of heads of Departments - officers of the 1st class - under this Bill will be a matter entirely for the Minister. This is very important.
-Do you think it may lead to the introduction of the American system?
– Possibly. It will be very unfair for a Minister to have the right of filling vacancies.
-Subject to the consent of Cabinet.
– I thank the Minister. Such appointments, of course, will be subject to the consent of Cabinet, and afterwards Parliament might dismiss the Minister for making the appointment.
– If you appointed heads: of Departments without full consultation with Cabinet, I may tell you that those days have long since gone by. All such appointments now come under review by the whole of the Cabinet.
– Then, of course, they are political appointments.
– No; appointments by. the Governor-General in Council.
– A Minister may appoint any person who suits him, but it’ does not follow that, after he has been displaced by some other Minister, the services of the person appointed will he as acceptable to his successor.
There is a matter closely affecting the Senate to which I desire to direct attention. AsIread the Bill, all officers of Parliament are to be classified and their salaries fixed by the Board.
– All except first class officers.
– That is so. Parliamentary officers are to be in Departments, and be subject to the same control by the Board as officers in other branches of the Service, instead of, as at present, being under the control of the President and the Speaker, though the appointment of transferred officers will be in the hands of the President and the Speaker.
– That is not so sketched inthe Bill.. They will be under the Board of Management.
-for all practical purposes, as far as the Senate is concerned, the President is in the place of the Public Service Commissioner.
– But there is a difference under this Bill. Under the existing Act, the President and Speaker are in the position of the. head of a Department, but they possess more power, because they fix salaries and determine the classification ; whereas under the Bill this authority is vested in the Board, in relation to all Parliamentary Departments. I understand thai; both the President and the Speaker intimated some time ago that they desired the Public ServiceCommissioner to undertake this duty, but I am not preparedto agree to it, and I may remind honorable senators that, towards the close of our session last year, the President made some comments about an officer of the Economies Commission desiring to inquire into the conduct of the Parliamentary Departments. On that occasion the President made what I thought was a strong and powerful speech. This is what he said -
I think that the members of the Senate individually and collectively should be very jealous, to preserve every one of its rights. . . .
Referring to the Economies Royal Commission, the President said -
I shall myself absolutely refuse to give them any information or any facilities for the conduct of their inquiry. … I think that the Senate will be very ill-advised if it does not insist upon the ancient traditional right of Parliament, to he supreme within its own house.
So long as I occupy my present position, I shall always, as I have done heretofore, resist every encroachment by the Government or the Grown upon the rights and privileges of Parliament. …
So long as I occupy my present position, I shall not allow the Government to exercise any control of this Parliament - on the contrary, this Parliament should have control over the Government.
The President’s remarks on that occasion were unanimously indorsed by the Senate. But I want to know what our position is now. It appears that under this Bill the Board of Management will have the right to classify and fix the salaries of parliamentary officers. Suppose the Presiding Officer of this Chamber decides that we shall have three messengers instead of one. Under this Bill the Board of Management will have the right to say whether we shall have three or two or only one. The Board will have the same right as the Public Service Commissioner, and have authority over all Departments. If, for instance, the Postal Department wanted twenty more sorters, notwithstanding that the money may have been voted by Parliament, the Public Service Commissioner at present has authority to say that the Postal Department shall have only fifteen additional sorters. In the same way, the Board of Management will have authority to inquire of our chief officers howtheir work is being done in any of the parliamentary Departments. Take Hansard, for instance. Hansard is made a Department under this Bill. Our Presiding Officers might decide upon the appointment oftwo extra, Hansard men, and Parliament might vote the money on the Estimates,but still theBoard would have to be satisfiedthat the two extra men were needed.
-So Iread the Bill.
– If that be so, the Board, proposed to be created under this Bill, will have power to interfere with the President’s estimates, and he has laid it down that noteven the Government should have that right. I should like toknow what might happen under this Bill if we deemed to increase the salaries of Hansard officers by £50 a year and voted the money. The Board, exercising its authority, might decide that the increase should be only £25. Now, if the Board had that power, the position, so far asthe President’s estimates are concerned, would.be a serious one, because we should be allowing someoutsidebody to interfere with the: ancient privileges of Parliament, and we should no longer be able to talk about the preservation of the rights of Parliament. I cannot imagine the House of Lords, for instance, allowing any PublicService Board to interfere if they wanted to create a job for a friend.
– Then you are arguing that bypassing this Bill we shall be abrogating the rights of this Senate.
– As far as the appointment, classification,andtreatment of ourofficers are concerned, yes; butimot their ultimate promotion.
-Where do you get that limitation?
-Honorable senators mustconsider the Billas a whole. The heads of our Departments,likethe heads ofother Departments,have the rightofpromotion up to theirownposition.
– Heads ofDepartments in thePublic Service have that rightnow.
SenatorTHOMAS.- Subject to the Public ServiceCommissioner. Are we going to give the proposedBoard the right to fix the salaries of our parliamentary officers ? This Bill will give the Public Service Commissionerthe right to come in here and ask any question he pleases. The President and Speaker will not be able to keep him out if he is given that statutory authority. I say that once he is permitted to come in here and fix the salary of a charwoman or decide whether weshouldhave two messengers or one in the service of the Senate, wemight as well go the whole way . andpermit the Public Service Commissioner to appoint ali the higher officers of the Parliament. Under existing conditions we have made the Parliamentary Departments practically watertight compartments. I am not very strongly in favour of permitting thePublic Service Commissioner to interfere in any way with our officers, but if he is to be given the right to say that there shall be three, five, or six members on the Hansard Staff, and to fix their salaries, I am prepared to go further and give him the right to deal with the more important officers in the service of Parliament.
– Will not the honorable senator hesitate about givinghim the right to interfere with officers of Parliament at all?
– I may be wrong, but I understand that the President and Mr. Speaker have in a written document communicated with the Government, asking that the Publio Service Commissioner should be given the power conferred upon him by this Bill. If that is to be done I am prepared to go further, and askthat all appointments to the serviceof Parliament shall be submitted to the Public Service Commissioner. We nowhave watertight compartments in the different branches of the Parliamentary Service. An officer on the Hansard Staff may be a very able and competent man, but he can only hope to become in time head of the Hansard Staff.
– And there is only one head.
– That is so, but if a member of the Staff liveslong enough he may eventually occupy that position. The salary of the head of the Hansard Staff is not so high as that of theCleric of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives, but a member ofthe Hansard Staff cannot become Clerk of. theSenate or ofthe House of Representatives. It is possible that anofficer of the Library Staff might become a member of the Hansard Staff, but he could not become Clerk of the Senate or of the House of Representatives. I may mention that Sir Erskine May, who was probably the greatest Clerk that the British House of Commons ever had, came from the Library of that Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator not think that members of this Parliament have brought this proposal upon themselves to a large extent by continually agitating on behalf of officers of Parliament ?
– I am talking about the Bill.
– The honorable senator is not talking about the Bill. The provisions to which he refers are not embodied in the Bill. The - only power which the Public. Service Commissioner is given in respect of officers of this Parliament is at the request of Parliament and the Government. He is to have the right to classify the positions to which the appointments are made by the President and Mr Speaker.
– I say that if such a power is given to the Public Service Commissioner in” respect of officers of this Parliament I am prepared to give’ him the power to deal with matters which are. regarded as more important than the classification of officers. If we give to some outside person the right to make appointments to the higher offices we may insure that the most competent persons will receive those appointments, and not merely the persons nearest to the authority making the appointments. If we are to give to the Public Service Commissioner the right to come in here and dictate to us what we should pay a charwoman, and whether we should have two or three messengers, we might as well go the whole way, and give him power over the whole of the officers of Parliament[Extension of time granted.]
I thank honorable senators very much for giving me an extension of time, because I wish to refer to a matter. that is’ dealt with in the report of the Economies Commission. They” say that under the present system -
It. is not the duty, nor is ‘it the interest, of any .one to brins failures and extravagance to the light of publicity.
If- that statement is correct, the Public Service Commissioner, the various Deputy Postmasters-General, and every officer at the head of a Department of the Public Service have betrayed their trust, and they should be immediately dismissed from, the Service. ‘
– The. Public Service Commissioner resents the suggestion that he is responsible for the economical working of the Service
– Has the Minister seen the Public Service Commissioner’s reply to the statement I have quoted from the report of the Economies Commission * I know something of the work which the heads of Departments ‘ do, and I was amazed when I read the statement I . quoted. The Acting Public Service Commissioner has replied to the statement made by the Minister, and has said that he was quite misunderstood. Honorable senators have only to read Mr. McLachlan’s reports to he satisfied on this point.
– The Public Service Commissioner could not be responsible for economies.
– The Economies Commission reported that it is not the duty or interest of any one in the Public Service to bring failures and extravagance to the light of publicity, and I say that if that statement can be justified it is the strongest condemnation that was ever written of our most highly-paid public servants. I do not believe that it is. true. It is not true from my experience of the Service. In every report presented by Mr. McLachlan he refers to unnecessary expenditure here and there. Do honorable senators mean to tell me that Mr. Lockyer, when at the head of his Department, never bothered whether the service of the Department was efficient or not? Will they say that Mr. Oxenham never worries about whether the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is paying too much money for the services rendered by its employees 1 The Economies Commission in their report go on to point out that the Service costs more to run in Victoria than it does in Queensland. _ I am not here to say whether that is right or wrong. I do not take sides for Queensland or for Victoria; but if the statement is correct, and no one is concerned about economical management, why should attention be drawn to it. Is it merely haphazard and accidental that the Service should cost more in Victoria than: in Queensland ? I should like to know why attention is drawn to the matter if it is no one’s duty to consider failures or extravagance.
– Does the honorable, senator know whether the statement is a fact?
– That does nob affect my argument.
– I have read the argument for both States, and, read one at a time, both appear to be right.
– Hae the Minister read the last report of the Economies Commission 1
– I do not wish, to take the side of either Queensland or Victoria, in the matter.
– I think the statement referred to is incorrect.
– That does not affect, my argument. If it is not the duty or interest of any one in the Public Service to bring failures and extravagance to the light of publicity, why should they draw any attention to the matter ? I say that it was the duty of every leading officer in the Service to have directed the attention of Ministers to these matters time and again. If they have not done so they have betrayed their trust. If a Deputy Postmaster-General need take no notice of failures and extravagance on the part of officers under his control, why should he be paid more than a lettercarrier? He is paid more because he assumes greater responsibility. I can quite understand that because of the difficulties which they experience under the existing Act in dealing with subordinates, and the hopelessness, because of the existing provisions for the Appeal Board, of. trying to get rid of any officer for inefficiency, heads of Departments may have lost heart to some extent. I should like to say that I regard the Appeal Board provided for by the Bill now under consideration as an improvement upon that provided- for under the existing Act. I consider that the new Board of Appeal proposed by the Bill will be fair to the Commonwealth and to the officers of the Public Service. Provision is made for the appointment of two departmental officers to the Appeal Board and the chairman is to be a stipendiary magistrate. No doubt the two public officers on the Board may be able to outvote the stipendiary magistrate who is chairman of the Board, but if in practice it is found that the chairman is frequently in favour of dismissing officers for lack of efficiency and ‘ the departmental members of tha Board insist upon their efficiency, it will became necessary to again review the constitution of the Board.
To secure the maximum of efficiency with initiative and permanency of tenure in a Public Service is a problem of civilized countries. When I was in charge of the
Post and Telegraph Department, I asked a man of considerable business ability to examine the. methods and management of the Central Office. It was my intention to ask him to report upon the various State Offices also. He went through the Central Office in the course of a month, but I had then been transferred to another Department, and my successor as Postmaster-General did not consider it necessary to continue the service of this business man. In a chat with me on one occasion he told me that he was prepared to admit that there was one thing connected with the Public Service that beat him. He said, “If in my own office I have four typists and a clerk, and an officer in charge of them tells me that he can dispense with one of the typists, I look into the system he proposes, and if I find he can do what he says, I dismiss the typist or transfer him to another branch. I save £150 on the branch in which the typist was previously employed, and if I give the man in charge an’ advance of £50 a year in his salary for his suggestion, T still save £100 in the cost of his branch. But in the Public Service the position is reversed. A man receives, say, £350 a year in charge of an office in which there are three clerks. It is his duty to increase the work of his office, and when he does so he claims that he should have four clerks instead of three. He is given .the fourth clerk, and then claims more money on account of his increased responsibility in having to manage four clerks instead of three.” The business man admitted that this was a problem that he could not solve.
The Public Service, because of its knowledge, position, and strength,- is a very great power in this country, and not merely a political power. In the memoirs of Sir Charles Dilke there is a reference to a certain gentleman to whom he referred as an ideal permanent official.. He gave as the reason for the opinion he Formed the fact that on one occasion when it was known that Sir Michael HicksBeach, who was then in Opposition, intended to attack the Government on the salaries paid to certain officials in West Africa, Sir Charles notified the Colonial Office. Word was received in reply asking whether the Minister desired to raise or decrease the salaries, and that when the Office knew what the Minister intended, a perfect case would in either event be made out for him. Lord Fisher says in his memoirs that Mr. McKenna. was one of the greatest politicians he had ever come across. Mr. McKenna was at one time First Lord of theAdmiralty, and was afterwards Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he advised Lord Fisher never to fight a Department, as the Department would always beat him. On one occasion, when some contentious questionwas: raised in the House of Commons, Mr. McKenna sent to his Secretary for the facts connected with the question. The Secretary first asked what the Minister wanted to prove, and then sent the facts accordingly, with the result, as Lord Fisher says, that the contention of Parliament was answered, . although Parliament was right in its contention all the same. Arnold Bennett, one of England’s great, writers, in dealing with public servants, said : -
The leading idea in the mind of the typical departmental servant to the new Minister is, “My rights, my habits, my susceptibilities. You have everything to learn, while I know all. I can foresee, just where you stumble. You possess authority, but unreal and fleeting. You intrude.I was here long before you, and I shall behere long after you. I am eternal, so look out for yourself.” The civil servant is whathe is, becausehe cannot be sacked. The charwoman of the Ministerial offices can be sacked the Minister himself can be sacked - notoriously is sacked. Everybody is sackable except the intermediate grades of State servants.
Herbert Paul, in his history of England, describes the position of the Public Service in that country in this way -
Thecountry is governed in ordinary times and for everyday purposes by these permanent members of the Civil Service, who work for both parties. with equal loyalty and, in some cases, with equal contempt. The principle of continuityis identical, and it is that which enables a statesman to presideat once over an office which he. knows nothing of. He is taught and assisted, though, of course, he cannot be directly controlled, by the most efficient profession ever organized since the business of government began.
Irather like to linger on the words of HerbertPaul. We have our gibes and sneers sometimes at the Public Service andspeak of “ the Government stroke,” but when we think of changing Ministries and Ministers, especially inAustralia, we shouldnotforget the great debt we owe to our public servants, who. have always, been of great, assistance to. Ministers. They are: men whom we canattack, and who have not the opportunity to reply. Frequently when they perform efficient service, it is the Ministers who get the credit rather than the official, ana these things should not be forgotten.
I am indebted to the Senatefor granting me an extension of time. I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill; but I shall not hesitate to endeavour to delete the provision relating to the appointment of a Board of Management, and I shall do what I can to remove appointments from the Chief Officers to the Commissioner. I trust the Senate will see its way clear to accept an amendment in that direction; and, if this Chamber does not, I believe, from what I know of the feeling in another place, that they will not fail to drastically amend some of its provisions. If the Government insist on the Bill being passed in its present form, I shall vote against the third reading.
.-Unlike Senator Thomas, I think this measure is a great improvement on the existing Act.
– I said that it was.
– I also believe that thepowers foreshadowed in the Bill are too drastic to be placed in the hands of one man, as Senator Thomas suggests. Looking very carefully through the measure, and comparing its clauses with the sections of the Act now in operation, I have come to the conclusion that the Bill is more in keeping with the well-being of the Public Service than the existing Act. Any one who has been brought into contact with the Public Service will readily admit that there has been a good deal of friction, and that public servants have felt thattheir conditions have not only been irksome, but really unjust. For a long time they have been endeavouring to have those objections removed, andI am pleasedto see. that the Bill has been drafted to. overcome many of. the disabilities which now exist. Honorable senators will recognise at once the difficulty confronting the Government, not onlycontrolling thedifferent branches of the Service as they exist to-day, but in managing Departments which were not in existence, when the Public Service Act was framed. During recent years the activities of the Government have been considerably extended, and until amending legislation is passed those activities have to be controlled by an old Act.
The measure before the Senate is, in ite arrangement, an improvement on the present Act, and it is also wider in its scope. The fourteen divisions have been increased to eighteen, and it will, therefore, be seen that there is a desire on the part of the Government to meet the growing needs by legislating for the different Departments or divisions as the case may be. I notice that the provisions of the Bill passed by the Senate in 1920 for the appointment of a Board of Management instead of a Public Service Commissioner, have been embodied in the Bill, that the scope of the proposed Board in connexion with the promotion of officers has been widened, and that it stands in a different position in regard to appeals. This is really a machinery measure, and there is comparatively little scope for discussion, by way of comparing its provisions with” the existing Act, during the debate on the second reading. It is a Committee Bill which will require the closest of supervision, and the keenest of analysis. There are some instances in connexion with the Board of Management where the power given is undoubtedly . power that should rest with the Arbitrator and not with the Board of Management; otherwise the appeals made will be from Cæsar to Caesar. .1 am sure it will be apparent to many honorable senators that some of the powers conferred upon the Board of Management should rest with the Arbitrator.
Senator Thomas referred to the definition of “Chief Officer.” I have searched very - carefully through the Bill, .and have been unable to ascertain who that gentleman is. The description in one instance answers definitely to that of. an. administrative officer in a particularbranch or Department, but in another it may mean some one else. In the. Electoral Branch under the Home and Territories Department’ the chief officer is Mr. Oldham; but when we consider the duties - I am using this as an illustration - -ascribed to a chief officer,- we discover that “the deputy- chief is the- gentleman referred to in a division or in a State. In the Department of Works and Railways there is- a chief officer, apart from the financial branch of that Department, to whom the duties outlined here apply.
– The Bill defines “” Chief Officer” in clause 6.
– That is so; but if we refer to another portion, we find that the chief officer does not answer to that definition. The definition reads - “ Chief Officer “ means tlie chief officer, in a State or part of the Commonwealth, of (he Department in connexion with’ which, or wherein is employed, any officer in connexion with whom,’ the term is used or is applicable.
That is a fair definition, and would apply, for’instance, to chief officer in the Taxation Department.
– In a State.
-Yes, to the chief officer.
– In any Department ?
– The matter needs explanation, and that is why it will bo necessary to give the Bill very close attention in Committee, so that we shall know what a chief officer really is.
– The chief officer in the Land Tax Department, for instance, cannot bo expected to be constantly visiting the other States. .In minor matters he has the power to delegate -some of his functions to others to- act for him.
– The heads of De partments are clearly indicated in the second schedule. They are not chief officers ; but the chief officers are actually - the administrative heads. .The heads of Departments in most cases are represented by their chief clerks.
– Sometimes the head of a Department requires to delegate certain of the functions that rest with him in his chief clerk, or to other officers. He should have -power to do so. For instance, in the - Treasury Department there are about half a dozen different branches, each with its chief official.
– Quite so. Who will say that the -head of the Taxation Department is not, to all intents and purposes, the chief officer of that Department ? Or that the head of the Pensions Branch is not, similarly, its chief officer ?
– .There can be only one actual chief.
– I will point out an instance in which, under the definition of chief officer, one person is meant in one part of the Bill and quite another is meant elsewhere. The definition of the permanent head of a Department is exactly the same as that given to a chief officer. If I describe two -alleged persons in absolutely identical phraseology, it must be understood that I am really referring to only one person.
Passing to clause 14, I desire to say a few words regarding the delegation of the powers held by the Board. Sub-clause 1 says: -
The Board may, by writing under the hand of each memberof the Board, delegate to any member of the Board any of the powers of the Board under this Act (except this power of delegation),so that the delegated’ powers may be exercised by the delegate with respect to the matters or class- of matters specified, or the State, part of the Commonwealth, or Territory defined, in the instrument of delegation.
That is a very wide power. It practically gives to the Board authority to delegate any of its powers except that of delegation. It makes one person equivalent to the Board itself.
– The one individual must report back to the Board. Australia is a big place.
– I know that. But, in connexion with this matter of delegation, there is need for the inclusion in the Bill of words to this effect: -
A copy of such act of delegation shall be laid before Parliament within fourteen days, or, if it be not sitting, then within fourteen days after the date of the meeting of Parliament.
With such powers of delegation, one member of the Board may havethe actual task of classification. In such circumstances, if an appeal should be lodged by the person who has been classified, his appeal may be heard by the one distinct individual member of the Board who made the original classification.
– Suppose there is a dispute arising in a branch of the Service in the Northern Territory. Would it not be common sense for one member of the Board to personally investigate the trouble, collect the evidence, bring it back, and lay the whole matter before the Board for its combined decision ?
– Where the matter of the delegation of power enters into an appeal we should endeavour, in our legislation, to give the appellant an equal opportunity with the Department which is involved.
Turning now to another point, Clause 18, dealing with excess officers, states -
If the Board finds that more officers are employed in any class or grade in a Department than are necessary for the efficient working ofthe Department, such officers as are in excess may be transferred to some other Department; and no appointment or promotion of an officer shall be made to that class or grade in the first mentioned Department until the number of officers in that class or grade is reduced below the number in that class or grade determined to be necessary for the efficient working of the Department.
That is held to be necessary;’ but should there not be a complement? When there are more officers in the Department, who are at the maximum of their grade, and there is no opportunity of promotion withiu the Department, then, if there is power of transfer of excess officers at the direction of the Board why should our Public Service be made so watertight, with respect to promotion, as is hare proposed,
– If an officer has been promoted within the Treasury Department, and there is a better man with longer service available for the position in the Customs Department, the latter could appeal.
– Under the present Act such an individual would have every chance, but under this Bill he will have no “show” whatever.
– There are in various Departments numbers of officers who have reached the maximum in their class or grade and have no hope of getting further. I ascertained that in one branch there was one vacancy probable, through retirement, within a matter of five years. Yet there were 45 fifth class officers out of 80, who were at the maximum of their grade, and there were only 14 fourth class officers. The members in the fifth class who applied for transfer were refused and so were condemned to remain at the maximum of their class in the one Department with no hope or avenue of promotion and no prospects whatever. The Department was not only watertight, but waterlogged, and these officers had to remain until they were likely, metaphorically, to drown.
– This Bill will make watertight Departments “watertighter.”
– That is one of the chief faults of the measure.
With regard to classification, this measure provides that as soon as may be after the commencement of the Act the Board shall classify or grade officers other than officers of the first division. These latter are different from all others in the Service. The Board has no power over them ; they are supreme. Others, however, are to be classified as soon as possible after the commencement of the Act. That means that the position of an officer - his salary, his status, generally - must remain exactly where it is today and until after the classification has taken place. In justice to the Service there should be included in this Bill a time limitation during which classification must be completed. If a reasonable period is exceeded great injustice will have been done. Status and’ salaries may be hung up, and promotion prevented, for two or three years. We do not know what may intervene in the meantime.
– The Bill says the classification is to be done as soon as possible after the commencement of the Act.
– That is a nice little sentence to put in.
– The Acting Commissioner Says that if he had been made Commissioner he would have classified the Service in two years.
– Two years ago applications were called for officers in the 4th Class in connexion with a Department that I know of, examinations were held, and a number of persons applied, but no appointment was made, and no appointment has. been made yet, although many applicants were eligible for the position. If a classification is begun now it may take another four years before it is completed, so that the officers who applied for that position two years ago may have to wait for another four years, and still get no advance.
– And you have to satisfy three men instead of one.
– Yes. Senator Benny knows that it took two years to classify the Public Service of the State of South Australia alone. How long then will the classification of the whole Commonwealth Service take?
– And the Minister said they are going to do away with the Public Service inspectors.
– The Minister denied that statement. He said the inspectors would exist in another form, as there would be an expert in each Department. Is not that equivalent to having inspectors ?
– The Minister says the Government are not going to do away with the inspectors.
– We are going to do away with the system of asking an inspector to be master of forty or fifty different branches of the Service. We intend to get the specialist to do the special job.
– What is in the Minister’s mind is certainly not in the Bill, and if it is not in the Bill we shall have nothing to bind any future Government should the present Ministry happen to ?o out of office, which Heaven forbid. There is certainly nothing in ‘the Bill to provide for the appointment of some one who shall be ‘ ‘ equivalent to an inspector.” There is no provision even for the type of officer that the Minister has foreshadowed. In the place of one Commissioner we are putting three; but we are making no provision to fill the vacancies which will be caused, by the abolition of the inspectors who are now stationed in the different States.
Clause 29 provides -
Increments of salary which are prescribed within the limits of a class dr in any respect to any particular office shall be annual, except where otherwise prescribed. , . .
I should like honorable senators to examine that provision carefully i There is one prescription with one set of regular tions and rules at the beginning of that sentence, and then the words “ except where otherwise prescribed “ are added. Why the second prescription ? Surely one set of regulations would cover the lot?
– Because in another part of the Bill it is provided that the only way in which increments can be prevented from being given annually is by an adverse report by the head of the Department. It is quite a sound principle that if a man is not efficient he should not be recommended for an increment.
– Surely the regulations prescribing increments of salary could cover all that? Sub-clause 2 of clause 29 provides -
The right to receive an increment in any year shall depend upon the good and diligent conduct and efficiency of the officer.
No mention is made there of prescription or statutory rule or regulation. The question of what efficiency is or of who is to determine efficiency is not settled.
– The Board will do that.
– Will it ? - Senator Russell. - The Bill says that unless there is an adverse report from the head of the Department to the effect that a man is not efficient or is not a good worker, the increment shall be annual. It would take an order from the chief officer to prevent the. increment going on annually.
– That may be so in theory, but it is not so in practice. We have to legislate for facts and not for theories, however good our ideals may be. It has happened in the past, and is likely to happen in the future, that an officer, although he has the- recommendation of the chief officer of the Department, and of two or three men under whom he has immediately worked, . has been deprived of an increment through a verbal statement being made about ‘him to an inspector or some one else in touch with the Commissioner, by some intervening officer in whose opinion he is-not entitled to an increment. In that way an officer has been deprived for twelve -months, or even for two years, of an increment of £12, and nas had co appeal. A man -who- was fined 5s. for drunkenness would not be put in that position. .1. know these things have occurred. I contend .that where <any order is issued under this clause depriving an officer of an increment; >he should be informed of the grounds upon which that action is taken.
– He will have an appeal to the Board under sub-clause 4.
– What will he appeal against ?
– Against the order of the chief officer.
– Against the fact that he> has not received an increment; that will be. all that -he knows about it.- He is told ‘that .he has not received .the increment because he is inefficient, He asks in what way he is inefficient, and he receives no reply. When we are dealing with a matter of this, sort, .which ihing.es upon the interpretation given. to’ a single word, as in this clause, we should -put in the Bill a careful definition of that’ word. At present, on- the opinion - of a certain individual as to ‘at man’s efficiency or inefficiency, that man ‘may be fined £12 for one year, or £24 for1 two .years, without the right of appeal.
– Has he not ‘the right of appeal against the order of the- chief officer ?
– The order is not in writing. It is simply the statement of the chief officer’s opinion. The order should be in writing, and the ‘person affected .should be supplied’ with a copy, in order that he may appeal. For some time nast these things have been simply verbal orders. The inspectors or others get their information in conversation, and the Commissioner is apprised, but no written proof of the allegation of inefficiency is submitted. In a Court no verdict is arrived at except upon evidence, and opinions are not evidence. If a man is deprived of an increment - and that is equivalent to his being fined that amount - he should be told wherein he is inefficient. I hope that in Committee we shall make this clear and distinct, so that we may deal justly with all our public servants.
– There will be the right of appeal to the Board.
– We should amend the clause in order to make- sure that the person against whom the order operates sees it,, and knows in what way he is alleged to be inefficient.
– Do you not think the Board would compel the production of that evidence to show why the officer was deprived of his increment t
– If the honorable senator had had to fight a case of that kind for twelve months, as I -have had to do, he would not be so sanguine. The proposed Board of -Management will not be composed of angels; it will consist of human beings like .ourselves. We must not anticipate that the Board will be above the average of what we have had to deal with in the past. It will he more numerous, but not necessarily more perfect. In .the case- I have mentioned, as the Minister knows, a’ mere .verbal statement was taken as evidence, and there was nothing whatever to prove inefficiency. I refer to it in order that we may avoid such things in the future.
There is another point, that has been productive of a great deal of friction. I see that this Bill purports to make an alteration, but it, is more in name than in deed. I question whether the language used will do. what is wanted. ‘Sub-clause 3 of clause 44 provides that: -
Where any officer of the Public, Railway, or other Service of a State is, before or after the commencement of this Act, transferred to the Commonwealth Service he shall’ preserve all his existing and accruing rights, and .shall be entitled to retire from office at the time and on the pension or retiring allowance which would be’ permitted by the law of ‘the State from which he was transferred. …
When the Postal Service was transferred from the States to the Commonwealth, public officers in South Australia and Tasmania were permitted to remain in the Service until they were seventy years of age. In the Commonwealth Service they retire at the age of sixty-five, so to the extent of five years at, least they have lost their accrued rights. And five yearsis an important period for a man at the latter part of his life because, without members of his family dependent upon him, he is very often in a better position than he has ever been in before to. make provision for his old age. In addition to this, officers transferred from South Australia also lose two months cf the longservice furlough, because by retiring at an earlier age they are entitled to only six months’ long leave.
– I shall be glad if the honorable senator will quote me a case of a transferred officer being placed at a disadvantage in that regard. I have been connected with the administration of the Service for six yearsnow, and I know that in every case an officer has been paidhis full claim. Some of the States would not pay their proportion, and so the Commonwealth paid it.
– South Australian transferred officers were also placed at a disadvantage by the action of some of the States in raising the salaries of their officers just before the Commonwealth took them over.
– I think that was the only time they raised salariesin South Australia.
– My honorable friend does not know, and so he is making a statement that is absolutely contrary to fact. The South Australian Government did not raise the salaries of their officers immediately preceding transference to the Commonwealth Service.
– Victoria did, anyhow.
– No doubt Senator Thomas has in mind the action taken by the Victorian Government. I was not goingto mention this State because I have no desire to place one State against another; but it is a fact that transferred officers from Victoria were by this means placed in a better position than officers from some of the other States.
– But a great majority of the South Australian officers, especially those in the Post Office, had their salaries substantially increased, because they were raised to the standard of the. living wage in the other States.
– But the honorable senator forgets, apparently, that certain privileges were taken from them..
-They used to get something for the dog licence and other duties, such as those of registrar of births and deaths.
– I think it is a fact that notwithstanding the increases in salary paid whenthey came over to the Commonwealth. Service, many of them received less in the aggregate than from their salary and commission while in the State Service.For instance, they acted as agents for the Savings Bank, received commissions on dog licences, and for other services, and, as I have said, when they came over to the Commonwealth Service, their retiring age was fixed at sixty-five instead of seventy years, and they also lost two months of their long leave.
There are other matters to which I might direct attention, but I think that probably they may be better dealt with in Committee. I have said sufficient, I think, to show that the Bill cannot be passed en bloc. It. must be considered carefully if we are to make it a more useful measure than the existing Act.
– As this is the first occasion upon which I have had the honour to address the Senate, I shall be glad if you will permit me, sir, to preface my remarks on ihis Bill with a few words of a personal nature. In the first place, I should like tosay how deeply I appreciate the cordial welcome extended to me b.y members of this Chamber; and, further, that I have in my possession a letter, which I treasure very much, written by you, Mr. President, to my late father, whofor some years occupied a seat in this chamber. That letter testified to the esteem in which he was held, and to the confidence placed in him by his fellow senators. It is my sincere hope that I may be fortunate enough to gain; and certainly it will be my earnest endeavour to merit, a like measureof confidence and esteem.
I intend to support the Bill generally. It is not my intention to traverse it in detail. Thatwas done, and, I think, effectively, by the Minister (Senator
Russell). But there are two or three of its provisions to which I should specially refer. I welcome the Bill for several reasons, but principally because I consider it a step in- the direction of real economy. We hear a good deal about economy in these days. I think we all admit the necessity for it, but I feel that if our people would themselves, individually, practice this virtue, the task of those in charge of the affairs of this country would be considerably lightened. In my own State, one hears a good deal about Federal extravagance, but if those who make the complaint are asked to be specific and point to a particular case, the reference generally is to the proposed large expenditure on what is termed an unnecessary Federal Capital out in the bush.
I believe that the Bill offers a means by which it may be possible to check a certain amount of unnecessary expenditure. The Board which it is proposed to appoint will have very wide powers. It “will advise as to the best means of effecting economy, the promotion of efficiency in the Service by insuring improved organization and procedure, by closer supervision and the simplification of the work in each Department, the abolition of unnecessary -work, the co-ordination of the work in the various Departments, and so on. If I were asked: Is our public Service undermanned? I confess that my reply would be very much in the nature of a guess; but T think it will compare favorably with the Public Service of any other country. And here let me say, I have always contended that the Government should be a model employer, should pay the best wages and grant the best’ conditions of service. In return, they should be able to command the very best service available in the community. We have a great army of public servants, which, if it is to be efficient, must be thoroughly organized. My honorable friend (Senator Guthrie), when speaking on the Air Defence Bill the other day, said that the cost of the Public Services in Australia, State and Federal, amounted to about £33,000,000. I think that is rather an under-estimate. If I remember aright, this was the figure up to about two years ago, and no doubt it has been considerably increased since then. If we compare the number of employees in the Service ten years ago with those employed to-day, I think we shall find an increase out of all proportion to our increase in population. Of course, if all are profitably employed, well and good; but, nevertheless, it is our duty to see if we can reduce the number without impairing the efficiency of the Service.
The Minister said that the heads of all public Departments have very wide powers. That being so,, it is essential that these officers should be strong men, for at times it may be their duty to recommend that increases in salary, which are dependent on diligent conduct and efficient service, be not granted. This is a sound principle to incorporate in the Public Service.
– That principle is in the Act.
– No doubt it is, but for the present I am dealing with the measure now before the Senate. If increases in salary are to be given annually, irrespective of the nature and quality of work performed, it cannot be expected that the Service as a whole will gain in efficiency. Again, heads of Departments may have to recommend that certain per.sons be no longer employed; and, generally speaking, it requires a strong man to make such a recommendation.
One- portion of the Bill in which I am particularly interested,, though perhaps honorable senators may not attach so much importance to it as I do, provides that telegraph messengers in the Postal Department, or persons employed as such, will cease to be employed when they reach the age of eighteen years unless transferred to some other Department. I know the position is difficult, but I would like the Minister to see if some provision cannot be made for the future profitable employment of these young men.
– We tried that some years ago, and got such a block of young men from eighteen to twenty-five years of age that we were unable to absorb them all.
– I know the problem is a difficult one, but there is a big responsibility resting on the Government concerning the future of these young men.
– They have the opportunity of sitting for a qualifying examination, and,, if they pass, they become permanent employees. Only those who do not sit for the examination or fail to pass drop out.
– I should like the Minister to consider if the difficulty cannot he got oyer in some way, because from the age of fifteen to eighteen years a boy is usually learning a trade or preparing for commercial life; and unless he has this opportunity he runs the risk of eventually being thrown into the ranks of the unemployable.
– They are encouraged by means of courses in study provided by the Institutes to prepare for any special branch of the Service, and, if. efficient, they are transferred. Only the inefficients go out.
– If that is so, they are to blame, but it is a very great pity.
I wish now to refer to Division 12 of the Bill, which deals with the insurance of members of the Public Service. Under this measure all members of the Public Service have to be insured, and I am of opinion that the Government might very well undertake this insurance themselves. I do not advocate that the Commonwealth Government should enter upon the ordinary insurance business in competition with the various companies at present engaged in that business. The circumstances of the Public Service are, however, peculiar. We have a large body of officers in the Public Service who, we say, must be insured, and I feel that the Government could provide for their insurance themselves with advantage to the public servants and to the Commonwealth. Under the Bill the Government will in part be carrying out the insurance of these officers, because I notice that where an employee is unable to effect an insurance with an insurance company, or his life is loaded to the extent of more than five years, it is proposed that so much each year shall be taken from his salary or wages, the money invested at interest, and on his retirement the accumulated amount given to him, or, in the event of his death, to his relatives. The Government propose, therefore, by this Bill, to undertake part of this business of insuring public servants, and I believe it would be to the advantage of the public servants, and also of the Commonwealth, if the Government undertook the whole of this business.
In his speech on the second reading of the Bill, Senator Gardiner referred at some length to the question of preference to returned soldiers in the Public Service. I do not wish to speak at length on the subject, but to say that I am in total disagreement with the honorable senator, and feel that the Government should stick to their Bill in this regard. Where the qualifications of a civilian and a returned soldier applying for a position are equal, it is undoubtedly right that the returned soldier should secure the appointment; but, in my opinion, to omit all reference to qualifications would not be in the interests of Australia or in the interests of the returned soldiers themselves.
There is one other clause to which I should like to refer, and that is clause 88, upon which I comment because I consider it a very humane provision. We all know that when a man attains the age of sixty-five years he is not capable of doing the same amount of work as he did when he was fiftyyears of age. He may still, however, have several years of useful service in front of him, and provision is made in this Bill that under certain conditions an officer, having reached the retiring age, may remain in the Service for another five years if he is not entitled to a pension or to receive money from a superannuation fund. That is a humane provision which I am glad to see incorporated in the Bill.
I have dealt with the provisions of the measure to which I desired to refer. I intend to support the Bill because I believe that it will make for economy and efficiency in the Public Service.
– There is one clause of the Bill to which, I think, reference has not so far been made in the debate on the second reading. I refer to clause 15, in which it is provided that the Board of Management shall make its recommendation, report, or suggestion to the permanent head, who may tell the Board that he will have nothing to do with their recommendation. In such a case the onus is placed upon the Board-, if they desire to carry their recommendation further, to report the matter to the Minister. The Minister may, if he pleases, support the permanent head, and also ignore the recommendation of the Board: All that is them left to the Board is, after some time and in some manner, not effectively provided for in the clause, to send their report to Parliament. It will then lie on the table of Parliament; no one will read it, and nothing will be done.
– It will have to be dealt- with within a certain time.
– Nothing will be done with it unless a member of either House of the Parliament takes action in connexion’ with it. The principal criticism passed upon the provisions submitted by the Government for the establishment of the Board of Management for the Public Service was that the measure in which they were included was an absolutely “ dud “ Bill, because the Board -might make recommendations in -the way I have mentioned., and nothing more might he heard of them. When the matter ‘was recently -under consideration in# the Senate, I moved an. amendment upon the measure *hen Before -it, which would have been very effective m bringing recommendations of the Board of Management before Parliament. It -was to the effect > that if the .permanent head concerned did not ‘approve of a recommendation of the Board he might send it back “to -the Beard, and if they still persisted in it it “would become binding on the permanent head .unless he appealed ‘to the Minister. Df he appealed to the Minister, and the Minister agreed with the Board, .the recommendation would then become binding on the permanent head. But if the Minister supported the permanent head against the recommendation of the Board there would be an obligation upon the Minister to bring the matter before Parliament, and have his disallowance of the Board’s recommendation or suggestion approved by Parliament. That might be done simply and easily, and by the adoption of that course every recommendation of the Board of Management which the Minister or the permanent head might be trying to block would be brought prominently and publicly before Parliament. Under the Bill, recommendations of the Board of Management, unless approved by the permanent head and the Minister, will.have ho effect whatever., unless some private member of this -Parliament is -prepared to .go to’ -the trouble -of making himself -a nuisance to the .Government, and bring the -matter under the notice of Parliament. The amendment which I submitted on a pre vious occasion, and which I hope to submit again in considering in Committee the measure now before the Senate, would provide in an effective way for some notice being taken of the recommendations of the Board. That is the only matter upon which I propose to address honorable senators on the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
Sitting suspended from 6.SS to S p.m.
.- Portion of the Bill before us was fairly fully discussed at the end of last year, and I am glad’ that the Government have brought forward a consolidating measure early this year so that we may have ample time to give it the consideration it deserves. No honorable senator can doubt the importance of ‘the Bill because it must be patent to every one that the Commonwealth Public Service has been very dissatisfied for a considerable time. I have no doubt that in many instances there has been good reason for dissatisfaction. Towards *he end of last year honorable senators were ‘brought into closer contact with ‘the organizations of the Public Service than ever bef ore, when circulars were issued by the different organizations in the Service in an attempt to bring pressure to bear upon members of Parliament in order to secure, that the public servants considered, was a fair deal.
Before discussing the Bill I consider it my duty as a senator to express my regret at any section of the Public Service writing to public men appointed by the people as representatives of the various States in a manner which suggests that those elected by the popular vote of the Common-wealth should .be amenable to threats issued by any .section of the Public Service. I have with me a copy of a communication, which I presume -was sent as a circular letter to honorable senators, and which reads -
That, owing to the increased -unrest in the Federal Public Service, consequent upon the continued1 failure of the Commonwealth .Government to adjust salaries in conformity with the decreased purchasing power of the sovereign, the Tasmanian members in the Federal Parliament be informed that, in the event of the Service being compelled to inconvenience the general public in order to bring matters to a head, the history of the case will be published .throughout the State, and the people informed that their representatives must ‘be held ‘-blameworthy for the failure to safeguard the public interests.
Such a letter certainly conveys a threat of a strike in the Public Service. I have no quarrel with the public servants of Australia, because my sympathies are with them, and I am anxious that they should receive a fair deal by constitutional, methods and be placed in a position in which they will receive, in. addition to security of tenure, adequate remuneration for services rendered. I desire to say to public servants that they of all men in Australia should be the last to threaten the convenience of the public, as their1 tenure, above that of all sections of the workers of Australia, is secure. It is unreasonable for them to suggest that the Public Services of the Commonwealth should be interfered with, because they do not feel they have been getting a fair deal, and to me it seems an ill-advised method to adopt. When I received the communication which I have just read, I wrote informing the public servants that threats of that description would have no effect upon me as a public main. I said’ that I was prepared to meet them, or any other section of workers, if they could show what could be done constitutionally to improve their condition; that if they could point out anomalies in the existing legislation which could be remedied not only in their interests, but in the interests of the whole community, I was prepared to listen to them. I also stated that I was not prepared to listen to the threat of a strike in the Public Service, and I deplore that they should have attempted anything of the kind. I am very anxious indeed that our Public Service shall be a contented Service, and it oan only be made contented by compelling those engaged therein to recognise that their representatives who frame the laws are actuated by a desire to do their very best in the interests of the public servants, and also by the public servants educating themselves in the adoption of constitutional methods for the adjustment of their grievances. .
There are many reasons why discontent has grown, and I think one of the principal grounds of complaint is that for many years there has been no reclassification of the Service. There is no doubt that injustice has been done through, reclassification not having been adopted’ some years ago, and many men to-day feel that they are labouring under a great handicap and have not had the recognition to. which they are entitled. While that may be. admitted,, in other instances there are men who have no occasion to complain. In a Public Service composed of so many units, many of which differ so greatly from the others, a reclassification of the Service would give justice to those who deserve it.
I do not intend to speak at great length on the second reading of this measure, because I recognise, with other honorable senators, that most of the work will have to be done in Committee. I desire, however, to deal with a few of the main principles contained in the Bill, and to say straight out that the measure as a whole will receive my support; up to the second-reading stage. It is my intention, however, to endeavour to amend some of the clauses in Committee. One honorable senator, at the outset of his remarks, said that he disagreed with the portion of the Bill which provides for the appointment of a. Board of Management in place of a Public Service Commissioner. A good deal .could be said in support of the honorable senator’s contention, but much more could be said in favour of the proposal before us.
– It has been abandoned everywhere it has been tried.
– In some of the States it was thought that an alteration from a Board of Management to a Commissioner was advisable. But why? Because they found, under a Public Service Board: as constituted in some States, that the Service was not giving of its best fib the public, and as a result an . experiment was made by appointing a Commissioner. I have not known of any case where it has been proved - there has not been sufficient time - .that the1 change was a good one. The Commonwealth Government are satisfied that the time has arrived for an amendment of the law, because Public Service matters generally have not been as satisfactory as they ought to have been under a Public Service Commissioner. The Government are aware that there is much unrest in the Commonwealth Departments, and they consider it advisable to alter the system and to create a Board of Management. . Senator Thomas stated that he had .no objection to the appointment of an Efficiency Board, and’ I claim that the- whole object of the particular provision in this measure relating to the appointment of a Board of Management is to provide a more efficient Service,’ so that the people who have to find the money will receive fair value for the expenditure incurred.
– The Economies Commission says that that is not workable.
– Let us consider the duties that will be imposed upon the Board if this Bill becomes law. It will be an Efficiency Board as well as a Board of Management, ‘because clause 15 provides -
In addition to such duties as are elsewhere in this Act imposed on it, the Board shall have the following duties : -
If the Board, when appointed, can carry into effect the concluding portion of what I have read, it will have accomplished a great deal. It will have accomplished something that up to the present has been practically impossible!
– The honorable senator must not lose sight of the other duties which might preclude it from performing those which have been mentioned.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the duties are too multifarious for the Board to handle?
– The Economies Commission says so.
– At present we have a Public Service Commissioner,and the Bill provides that in his place there shall be a Board of three.
– Three to do what one can do.
– But one man cannot do it. It has not been done, and every honest man will admit that there is room in a majority of our publio Departments for greater efficiency and economy. One cannot close one’s eyes to the fact that expenditure is incurred which, with proper supervision and management, could very often be avoided. From time to time duplication of work is brought under our notice, which with the co-ordination of Departments could be avoided. When a Public Service Bill was under discussion last year -I am speaking from memory - I believe the personnel of the Board was altered by the Senate.
– That is not so.
– I was under the impression that provision was made for the Public Service to be represented on the Board.
– We threw that out.
– It was a suggestion.
– They will be asking for it now.
– Exactly, and I have no objection to giving the Public Service representation on the proposed Board, because Public Service matters only will be dealt with, and on a Board of three I think the Service is entitled to representation.
– Such a representative could not be regarded as independent.
– The regulation of wages and conditions in the Service is only a part of their functions.
– Especially if you are going to have this wonderful Efficiency Board.
– We are going to give the system a trial.
– I do not know what honorable senators’ ideas are in connexion with this matter, but I believe it is possible, in regard to either Commonwealth or State Departments, for a Board to be appointed which will insist, especially in the more important Departments, on business methods being adopted. That is undoubtedly the position, and the principle could be adopted with great advantage in many Departments.
– The Economies Commission advocates that.
– Does not Senator Thomas recognise the possibility of constituting a Board of three members, one of whom might represent the Commonwealth Public Service, whilst another might be a competent business organizer, and the third, a gentleman, who, by virtue of his great experience in handling large bodies of men, was a very efficient administrator? Might not such a Board effect a great improvement in the efficiency of our Public Service?
– That is the general conception of the proposed Board.
– How much would the honorable senator pay these marvellous men? ,
– That is a matter which we can better discuss in Committee. The time is ripe for some change to be effected. I had not an opportunity of hearing many honorable senators speak upon the proposals which are embodied in the Bill. I claim, however, that every honorable senator ought, as far as possible, to express his candid opinion as to how the desired change should be effected. The Government have evidently given a great deal of consideration to this matter, and I am prepared to extend a trial to the proposed Board of Commissioners, unless it can be clearly shown that a single Commissioner’ of exceptionally high qualifications can be found for the post - a man who would be able to shoulder all the responsibilities that ‘will be imposed upon the Board.
– -No one man would be able to do that.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. Senator Thomas has complained that, under the proposed Board, considerable delay will be experienced in securing necessary adjustments, because its three members will have to consider any alteration which it may be deemed desirable to adopt in the procedure of a Department. But there is a very old adage, and one which we have forcibly brought under our notice every time that we pass through the main entrance to our parliamentary buildings, namely, “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” I am of opinion that there would be a. greater measure of safety in a Board composed of three members, than there would be in a single Commissioner.
– But not a greater measure of efficiency.
– Surely the combined efficiency of three men will outweigh that of one man.
The powers which it is proposed to confer upon the proposed Board appear to be . all that are necessary. If the Board can effect any of the reforms which appear to be contemplated under the Bill, it will prove of great advantage to Australia. Our Public Service is very ripe for the introduction of business principles. Especially is this the case in regard to some of our Departments. I cannot avoid the conclusion, after a fairly long public experience, that, under the existing system, there is a good deal of unnecessary duplication of work. Only a little while ago I had brought under my notice, in correspondence, one or two instances which clearly disclosed that there was an entire lack of business methods in one of these Departments. I was previously under the impression that it would .be impossible to receive a communication from a Federal Department stating that it had nothing upon record in regard to a matter which I had brought under its notice, when, not only was there something upon record in the way of preliminary correspondence, but also in regard to the acceptance of a tender. That communication revealed to me either that there was an undue absence of business methods in the Department or that there was carelessness on the part of some of the office staff. One might cite innumerable instances of that character.
– The honorable senator should send that case on to the particular Department concerned
– I took good care to do so, and the remedy was applied very speedily;
Another cause of dissatisfaction in our Public Service, especially amongst those who have been members of it for a long period is that, notwithstanding that the Commonwealth has now been in existence for twenty years nothing has been done in the direction of providing a superannuation scheme. I do not know whether every State in the Commonwealth has a superannuation scheme, but I know that several of them have.
– South Australia has.
– Tasmania has, and I think the same remark is applicable to Victoria. In view of the huge body of men and women who are employed in our Public Service, the Government are to blame for not having laid the foundation of a proper superannuation scheme years, ago.
– It should follow a compulsory retirement scheme.
– Any man in our Public Service will have more heart to do his work if he knows that from the whole of the Commonwealth public servants a fund is being, built up which will make some provision for him when he has reached the age of retirement. Particularly is this so in the case of married men with growing families. It is time that the Government took this matter in hand. This is one of the real causes of dissatisfaction in our Public Service today. Seme of the alleged causes which have been, brought under my notice have proved upon investigation to be absolutely groundless. To my mind, the principal cause of dissatisfaction is the absence of reclassification for many years.
Another matter to which reference has been made by a previous speaker is that under the Bill the control of’ officers of Parliament will be transferred to the proposed Board. I quite agree with the observations which have been made under this heading by honorable senators. I do not think it is desirable that our parliamentary staff should come under the Public Service administration. I wish to see the Presiding Officers, who are appointed by the members of the two branches of the Legislature, possess entire control over the officers of their respective Houses.
– At present they are controlled” by one man and not by Parliament.
– A Presiding Officer is appointed here and in another place, and to each is given control of the House over which he presides. I do not wish to see that control transferred to the proposed Public Service Board. . The business of Parliament should be conducted by Parliament itself, and the Presiding Officer of each House should be responsible for seeing that the officers under- him are adequately remunerated.’
– I believe in Parliament seeing to that.
– The honorable senator does not believe in transferring the control of our parliamentary officers to the proposed Board ?
– -No; but I wish to see Parliament control its own officers.
– I am not discussing that phase of the question. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sena- tor. Russell) has stated that the staff employed in this Parliament will come within the scope of this Bill. I am not in favour of that course being adopted, and I hope that the matter will be fully debated in Committee. But before we reach that stage I trust that honorable senators will be placed in possession of more information regarding the measure, in order that its various provisions may be dealt with upon their merits.
Question resolved in the affirmative. -
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd April, vide page 7683).
Clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definitions.)
– This clause incorporates the British Army Act in this Bill, inasmuch as it incorporates the British Air Force Act, and the British Air Force Act incorporates the British Army Act. The clause also provides for -Air Force offences, and that, of course, means incorporating the offences covered by the British Army Act, if the British Army Act is incorporated in the Bill. It also incorporates the Defence Act of £he Commonwealth, which it is proposed in its turn shall also include the British Army Act. This is,, therefore, the time when the Senate should consider whether the British Army Act is at all applicable to the military position in Australia in times of peace, particularly with regard to our Forces, which are so different in their constitution from the regular Forces of the British Army, for which the British Army Act was originally specifically designed. It is most unwise of the Government in the first place to attempt to foist the whole of the provisions of the British Army Act on this country by means of a few simple words, and, in the second place, I object to legislation being placed before this Senate, and an attempt being made to enact laws, about which honorable senators are not fully informed. There is a further dangerous provision somewhere in the Bill, by which, if we pass the Bill unamended, we shall not only be committing ourselves to the British Army Act as it stands to-day, but we shall commit ourselves also to any amendments made by the British Parliament in that Act, inasmuch as those amendments will automatically operate in Australia. We, therefore, have the spectacle of another Legislature imposing legislation upon this continent.
– It does not impose it. You are asked to adopt it.
– The adoption of the proposal of the Government means also the adoption of any future amendment of the Army Act passed by another Legislature.
– It does not say that the Imperial Parliament imposes it. We accept or reject it of our own volition.
– If we swallow at one gulp the British Army Act of 190 sections there is also a provision in the Bill by which automatically any amendment of the British Army Act will apply also to Australia without coming before this Parliament.
– The honorable senator may be correct, but I cannot discover in clause 4 any reference to the British Army Act.
– The definition of “Air Force Act” in this clause says that “ the Air Force Act. means the Imperial Act called the Air Force Act and any Acts amending or in substitution for it and for the time being in force.”
– The honorable senator will be clearly in order in referring to any such Act; but I cannot connect that with the British Army Act.
– The Imperial Air. Force Act incorporates the British Army Act in its constitution.
– If that is the case the honorable senator is in order.
– - I should like to repeat words that I heard only to-day, that we are a free people, that we care nothing for precedent, that Australians were never great on drill or red-tape, but were always great on fight, and that in ceremonies and pomps they have their weak moments. What is the Army Act which, in this indirect manner, is sought to be imposed on the Military Forces of the Commonwealth in times of peace? It is, in effect, a manual of military law consisting of 900 pages, most of which is in explanation of the Act itself and the rules and regulations in connexion with the Act. In the middle of the manual appears the British Army Act of 190 sections. It begins at page 370 and goes on for 200 pages. AH those sections, unless they conflict with our Defence legislation, are to be applicable to our Citizen Forces in times of peace. This manual of military law was codified and consolidated when the British War Office was presided over by the Hon. H. C. E. Childers, in 1880. The first edition was issued in 1884, the second in 1887, the third in 1894, the fourth in 1899, .the fifth in 1907, and the sixth in 1914. The two copies placed on the table to-day contain 200 sections, and were issued in 1914. The whole of this manual was specifically designed, for- the 186,500 redcoat soldiers that constituted the British Regular Army. It is well known to all of us that the British Regular Army formed a calling for a good many of the “ Tommy “ soldiers. They were allowed to enlist up to twelve’ years, and to reenlist so as to make their total military service run to twenty-one years. I submit, in all , seriousness, that the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) should, in the first place, have placed that Act properly before the Senate section by section, and should also have placed in juxtaposition the whole of the Defence provisions now existing in the Commonwealth, for not only have we to deal with this Act and ite regulations, but we have also to deal with the Commonwealth Defence Act itself, containing, as honorable senators know, some hundreds of pages and, probably, nearly 1,000 regulations, before we can properly understand what sections of the British Army Act apply to Australia and what do not. The British Army Act is a measure purposely ‘designed for a strictly military army, a permanent force, that consisted in some cases of men who had. never been disciplined in their lives, who had no idea of patriotism, and who had no other object than to become warm and comfortable. I believe it was an Act properly designed for those circumstances. It would not be objected to in the circumstances for which it was created, but I urge the Minister, and propose to test the opinion of the Committee on the matter, to give careful consideration to the task we are approaching. The temper of at least some honorable senators is that we must have that Act read, section by section, in connexion with the Bill we are passing, otherwise we shall not be doing our duty to our country in the way that is expected of men in our representative position. With these preliminary observations on the British Army Act, I now ask the Minister if he will carefully consider the position in which honorable senators are placed. Will he consider first their inability, without a careful and detailed dissection of what is intended, to record intelligently their votes and opinions; and, secondly, in order to enable them to do this properly, will he place the fullest possible information in the hands of each of them, to show them what it all means ?
– I directed the attention of the Senate when speaking on the second reading to> the fact that this Bill applied the Air Force Act in the same way as the Defence Bill applies the Army Act. But that is not done by this clause. It is done by clause b’’-. I shall give an explanation of each clause, and will explain this clause before I sit down, ‘ but I suggest that, if any member of the Committee wishes to test the question of the application of the Air Force Act to this Bill, he should do so on clause 53. I will undertake when that clause is reached to draw attention to it myself, so that it may not 6lip through without debate. It will be more convenient and much more in accord with our Standing Orders if we debate the question of the application of the Air Force Act on clause 53. and not on this clause. If, then, the sense of the Committee is a’gainst the inclusion of the Air Force Act, it will necessitate a reconsideration of the Bill for the purpose of making consequential amendments.
It will be better to discuss, on the clause referred to, the . principle of whether or not the Air Force Act shall apply-
– Would it not be better to postpone this clause?
– No, because we should have to postpone so many. The Committee will not be giving up any of its powers if my suggestion be adopted. It is obvious that if we strike out the clause which applies the Air Force Act, all the other clauses will have to be recast. I feel that I should be transgressing our Standing Orders if, on this clause, I dealt with the wisdom or otherwise of applying the Air Force Act. Let me read for the information of the Committee the particular section of the British Air Force Act referred to. Honorable senators will than see that it is very much in consonance with our Defence provisions.
In this Act if not inconsistent with the context, the expression “ on active service “ as applied to a person subject to this Act, means whenever he is attached to or forms part of a force which is engaged in operations against the enemy, or is engaged in war-like operations in a country or place wholly or partly occupied by an enemy, or is in military occupation of any foreign country.
It will be seen therefore that that particular provision would not apply within Australia unless an enemy were in partial occupation and therefore war was going on here. It is obvious that in considering whether the Air Force Act is to be applied or not, we should not be entitled to ramble over the whole field of discussion. That is why I think it would be wise for the Committee to deal with the whole question on clause 53. I have no intention of letting the clause slip through, because I recognise it is debatable. No exception can be taken to the definition of “Active Service.”
– But Senator Pratten was referring to the definition of “Air Force Act” on page 2.
– I understood that the honorable senator was dealing with a definition of “Active Service.”
– No, I thought I was very specific on the point.’
– -Well if we strike that out, we shall not be deciding the question whether the Air Force Act shall be applied or not. I am sure Senator Pratten will see that it is not convenient to raise the discussion on this clause.
– Then why not suspend it?
– Because there are so many other clauses referring to the Air Fores Act. Does not Senator Pratten see that if the Committee strikes out clause 53 the Bill Will become a farce unless all the other clauses are recommitted and consequential amendments made? The course I suggest will prove convenient and will safeguard the rights of the Committee. I therefore ask Senator Pratten, and . members of the Committee to agree to the adoption of that procedure. . By so doing they will be conceding nothing and at the same time will be retaining all their rights. The request is reasonable.
– The extraordinary request made, by the Minister (Senator Pearce) brings me to my feet. We are asked to adopt a clau’se which includes British legislation. We cannot shut our eyes to this fact: Clause 2 deals with a definition of Air Force Act. This is the definition : - “Air Force Act” means the Imperial Act called the Air Force Act, and any Acts amending or in substitution for it, and for the time being in force.
L.et us see what we are requested to do. We are asked to make law an. Act containing many sections approved by the British Parliament, and not one copy of which Iras been put into circulation for the information of honorable senators.
– There are three copies on the table.
– There are three copies of the British Acts, but not printed copies of the British Air Force Act, with which this Committee is now dealing. I have been a member of the Senate for a long time, and I know that honorable senators have always looked for the printed copies. of any measure which they have been asked to consider. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and so I am going to let honorable senators know just what it is they are asked to do, by reading, for their information, part of the British Air Force Act.
-And do not forget that this Bill adopts any Act amending or in substitution for it.
– I realize that, and if honorable senators will assist me I intend to place the legislation on record in Hansard. Now, this is what we are asked to incorporate in our legislation. The British Air Force Act reads -
An Act to make provision for the establishment, administration, and discipline of an Air Force, the establishment of an Air Council, and for the purposes connected therewith. ( 29th November, 1917.)
Be it enacted by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, rand by the authority of the same as follows: -
Establishment of Ara Force.
Raising and number “of Air Force.
Government, discipline and pay of Air Force. 2. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, it shall be lawful for His Majesty, by order signified under the hand of a Secretary of State, to make orders with respect to the government, discipline, pay, allowance, and pensions of the Air Force, and with respect to all other matters and things relating to the Air Force, including any matter by this Act authorized to be prescribed or expressed to be subject to orders or regulations.
Provided that the administration of pensions, other than service pensions within the meaning of the Ministry of Pensions Act 1916, shall vest in the Minister of Pensions.
Transfer and attaching to Air Force of members of Naval and Military Forces. 3. (1) Any officer, warrant officer, petty officer, non-commissioned officer, or nian, of any of His Majesty’s Naval or Military Forces may, with his consent, and subject to the approval of the Admiralty or Army Council (as the case may be), be transferred by the Air Council to the Air Force, or attached by the Air Council to the Air Force for the period of the present war, or for a period not exceeding four years…..
– Are we- supposed to take all that in. If so, I am against it.
– I am aware that our time is limited, and this is as far as I propose to go. I trust, however, that some other honorable senator will continue reading from the British Air Force Act so that we may know just what it is we are asked to do. It is an insult to the intelligence of honorable senators to expect them to accept the British law without knowing what it is. The Minister may be perfectly satisfied that it is as perfect as he or this Committee can make it, but that is no reason why we should mot know what we are doing.
– We should be asked to incorporate the Act section by section.
– Yes, and after full discussion. So long as I hold my position in this Senate no legislation will be allowed to pass without an- attempt, on my part,, to have the fullest information placed in the hands of honorable senators. This Bill, and the Act which it incorporates, may contain many excellent provisions to which no one can take exception. The British- Army Act, which in> another measure we are asked to incorporate, may represent the accumulated wisdom of centuries in Great Britain, but the reverse may be the case when- applying it to Australia. I realize that we have to legislate most carefully in regard to all military matters. According to the British Army Act, what constitutes a mutiny? I venture to say that under that law Senator Pearce could have hanged hundreds of men.
– No; because the death penalty is inconsistent with our Defence Act.
– The Minister is again quibbling. If we deliberately incorporate the Army Act in our Acts we shall bring about the death penalty for desertion hero.
– No; the honorable senator should read the clause which proposes the incorporation of the Army Act, and which provides that it shall be incorporated “where not inconsistent” with the Defence Act.
– I can remember an important incident which occurred when our soldiers returned home. Some of them on .arriving in Sydney were sent to the Quarantine grounds where they were put into a camp that was mo3t unsuitable. The men did not consider that they should have been asked to camp there, and the result was that they simply got together, took the first boat that came to the wharf, came across in her to Sydney, and marched to the Sydney Cricket Ground, which was a very much more suitable camping place. Every one of those men was guilty of mutiny, and any one of them, might have been punished for mutiny.
– That could not be under the Army Act as incorporated with our Defence Act, because it would be inconsistent with our Defence Act*
– The provision dealing with mutiny is the same in our
Defence Act as in the Army Act. Honorable senators must bear in mind that if we incorporate the Army Act in ou-r legislation, we shall be applying provisions which may be applicable to permanent Forces, to members- of our Forces who are really not permanent, soldiers at all. We have- to realize that the men of Australia have been reared in such an atmosphere of freedom that they see nothing wrong in such an act as that to which I have referred. The men in. that case realized that they had a grievance, and like Australians they redressed it promptly themselves. Had it not been for the. common sense of George Lee there might have been serious trouble as a result, but instead of making a fuss he marched the men from the Sydney wharf down to the Cricket Ground. He saw that not one of them deserted on the way, and thus prevented the serious trouble which would probably have arisen had the matter been- in the hands of a less competent officer. Certain officers, as it was, wanted him to pick out the ringleaders for punishment, but his answer- was that the whole of the men had moved together. Again it will be remembered that on the arrival of some of our Naval Forces at Fremantle they received a glorious reception. Some of the men desired that the officers should delay the Australia until they could invite their friends on board and return the hospitality extended to them. They marched up to their commanding officer to make this request, and some of them, received long terms of imprisonment for mutiny. It was deemed to be mutiny for the men to approach their officers in a body in -that manner. I say that a number of those men were actually sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Australia does not want Army Acts of that kind that.are not in accordance with the common-sense views of the community.
– The men referred to were not sentenced under the Army Act, but under our own Naval Defence Act.
– I am trying to show the difference between casual men like the members of our Forces and permanent soldiers such as those who are controlled by legislation which ought not to be incorporated in Acts of this Parliament. The Minister for Defence, with his majority, will no doubt easily put these Defence Bills through the Senate.
– If he puts this Bill through I shall be very sorry.
– I look facts straight , in the face, and if I were a supporter of the Government I should be behind the Minister for Defence when trouble arose, because I regard that as essential to parliamentary discipline. I do not hope to be able in this matter to defeat the intention pf the Minister for Defence, but I do anticipate that in another place, where the balance of power is more equally divided, this measure, if passed by the Senate, will be treated in the same way as was the last Public Service Bill that we passed. The Senate will again receive a slap in the face, and our legislation will be thrown under the table. I wish to prevent that. There is a dignity attaching to the Senate which honorable senators should try to maintain. In any case, this Bill cannot come before another place until the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) returns from the Imperial Conference, because he has promised that no legislation other than the Tariff shall be considered in another place during his absence. If that be so, what is to prevent the Minister for Defence having the Acts which he desires to incorporate in our legislation printed in the form of a Bill, circulated to honorable senators, and taken clause by clause, so that we may have before us in print the provisions which we are asked to approve? The Minister has tried to make out that the only clause of this Bill which links it with the Imperial Act is that which provides that everything not inconsistent with our Defence Act shall be incorporated from the Imperial Air Force Act. Apparently he does not consider members of the Senate Worthy of so much consideration as to have the legislation which we are being asked to incorporate in this Bill placed before us. He is satisfied that it is a good thing to incorporate these Acts in our legislation, and is prepared, therefore, to do it merely by a clause saying that it is done. I am not prepared to accept that position. I do not believe that the Minister is acting wisely, even if he can get the proposal through bothHouses of this Parliament. I am not sure that it will be possible for him to get it through both Houses.
– If we pass it, it will not come back again to the Senate.
– I think that we should consider every section of the Imperial Air Force Act. If incorporated in this Bill, it will apply the Army Act to our Air Force, because it applies that Act to the Imperial Air Force. Section 12 of the Imperial Air Force Act incorporates the Army Act, and section 13 provides that -
His Majesty may by Order in Council- and not by an Act of the Parliament. apply with the necessary modification and adaptation in relation to the Air Council the President of the Air Council and the Air Forces and officers and men thereof, and Air Force property or institutions, any of the enactments relating to the Army. Council - and so on.
– That will not apply to our Forces because it is inconsistent with the Defence Act.
– Who is to be the judge of that?
– The people down at the Barracks.
– That is not correct.
– The Minister says that these provisions will not be incorporated because they are inconsistent with the Defence Act, but we have to accept responsibility for what we do,, and it is fair that we should be the judges of whether provisions of the Imperial Act are inconsistent with our legislation.
– I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that the timeallowed him under theStanding Orders has expired.
– I suppose it would scarcely be in order for me to suggest that the Senate has descended to such a level that it is not possible now to discuss matters intelligently in this chamber.
– The honorable senator can speak again when I have resumed my seat.
– Why this organized obstruction ?
– It is most unfair for the Minister for Defence to suggest that we are organizing obstruction.
– Why did the honorable senator suggest that Senator Gardiner might go on speaking?
– Because I considerthat he was addressing himself to a most important matter.
– Has not Senator Gardiner already put his view forward? Why should Senator Thomas encourage him to obstruct?
– I was under the impression that Senator Gardiner, having spoken for a quarter of an hour on the question, believed that he could not speak again upon it. I understand that if some other honorable senator speaks for only a minute or two, Senator Gardiner will be able to speak again for another quarter of an hour if he so desires. That is according to a ruling which has been given in the Senate. In the circumstances, I think I was quite justified in letting Senator .Gardiner know the position. The Minister for Defence suggests that we should not deal with the matter of the incorporation of the Imperial Act until we come to consider clause 53.
– Because that is the clause which incorporates the Imperial Air Force Act.
– If the Minister 13 prepared to postpone this clause, and every other clause which refers to the Imperial Air Force Act, until we come to clause 53, I am prepared to consent to the adoption of that course.
– What advantage would that be?
– At the present moment, I am very strongly opposed to any provision incorporating in our legislation the sections of any Imperial Act unless we know what they are. I .am so strongly opposed to that, that I am prepared to vote against the clause now before the Committee to prevent it. I assume that if we defeat the clause now under consideration, it will be taken for granted that we need not proceed with clause 53. It is a most dangerous thing to incorporate an Act of the Parliament of another country, even though it should be the British Parliament, unless we know every section and every comma in that Act. I am ready at most times to agree to an adjournment of the Senate, but I do think that we should be given time to consider all proposals put before us. It is possible that an Act passed by tho British Parliament may be applicable to conditions in Great Britain, and at the same time be quite unsuitable to Australia.
– As I see that this is the only clause before clause 53 which includes a reference to the Imperial Air
Force Act I am prepared to allow it to be postponed.
Clause 5 (Application of Defence Act).
.- The object, of this clause is to apply to the Air Force sections 46 and 47 of Part III. of the Defence Act, which relates to the power of the Governor-General to call out the Citizen Forces. It gives the same power in respect to the Air Force, and no additional power. Part IV., which the clause applies, deals with the liability of the Citizen Forces to serve in time of war. Part VI. deals with special powers in relation to defence. Part VII. deals with finance. Part X. deals with miscellaneous matters, uniform, gratuities and minor matters. Part XI. deals with the power to make regulations. Part XII. deals with compulsory training. Part XIII. deals with exemptions from personal service and Part XIV. with registration and enrolment for training. These matters are all provided for in our existing Act, and in this clause, instead of repeating them, the provisions of the Defence Act are embodied in this Bill in order to be applied to the Air Force.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Members of Naval and Military Forces attached to Air Force) .
– There will, from time to time, be members of the Military Forces attached’ to the Air Force, and the intention of this clause is to bring them under the operation of this measure during the time they are so attached to the Air Force.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
.- It was my intention to endeavour to amend the clause which has been postponed by moving that a definition be inserted. As far as I can ascertain “ Air Board “ has not been defined in any way.
– It is defined in this clause.
– Sub-clause 2 provides: “ The Governor-General may constitute a Board of Administration for the Air Force to be called the Air Board.” We have been dealing with an Air Board is a previous clause, and although a Military Board and an Air Board is mentioned there is no ‘definition. ‘ It would be proper for such a definition to be included at this stage. There is not even a definition of “ Military Board “ in our Defence Act.
– The honorable senator had better raise that point on the definition clause. If we put a definition in, this clause will still remain.
– In order to clarify the position there should be some definition. Heading through the Bill one frequently sees references to “Air Force” and “Air Board,” and one would be completely in the dark as to what was meant by such terms unless further investigation were made. In clause 9 some information is given, but it does not appear to be sufficient. Sub-clause 3 of clause 9 roads : “ The Air Board shall have such powers and functions as are prescribed.” In view of the fact that it is the intention of the Government not to introducefurther legislation during the remainder of the session, it would be advisable for the Minister to arrange for the officers of his Department to ascertain what are the functions and powers of the proposed Board.
– That has already been done.
– Why are they not incorporated in the Bill instead of using thewords “ as prescribed “ ?
– If the honorable senator’s suggestion were adopted it would mean introducing amending legislation every time.
– It is dangerous to provide that an Air Board shall have such powers and functions as are prescribed, as outrageous powers may be given to the Board.
– And the regulationshave the force of Acts of Parliament.
– Yes, and we never have an opportunity of discussing them.
Senator Duncan__ The regulations cannot go beyond the scope of the Act.
– Of course, they cannot.
– They go very far, and any oneaffected by regulations has to fight them in order to prove that they are invalid. That is a difficult matter. Quite recently I was conversing with a leading member of the Victorian Bar who said that the legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament was a public scandal.
– Lawyers should be the last to complain, because if such is the case it would be in their interest.
– Perhaps it was because there was not sufficient litigation.
– If we gave the Board absolute power it could always defeat those concerned by framing regulations which are unjust. The gentleman, to whom I referred was discussing assessments under the Income Tax Act, and it is apparent that anything will do for an assessment, because one cannot deny its accuracy or say that ithas not been made or served in accordance with the law. One is really handed over to the tender mercies of the officers of the Taxation Department.
– Any regulation . made under this measure would have to lay on the table of the Senate for three weeks, during which time any honorable senator would have the right to object.
– I do not know what time Senator Duncan has at his disposal for the perusal of regulations. Today I received quite a pile while we were engaged in the Senate, and, naturally, theyhad to be put aside. If we devote our time to the work before us, it is quite possible that the three weeks will have elapsed before we have an opportunity of giving them the attention they require. I have recently received also a whole sheaf of important regulations framed under the Defence Act, many of which require a great deal of careful study. The practice of governing by regulation seems to be extending, and, once more, I strongly protest against the procedure; because, in this instance, there is nothing to prevent outrageous powers being conferred upon the Air Board. Why is it not possible to specifically set out the powers of the Board, as has been done with the Board of Management under the Publio Service Bill?
– I am heartily in accord with the opposition to legislation by regulation.. During the war wehad an experience which even these honorable senators who supported the Government will never forget. Senator Duncan stated: - may I be permitted to say in his innocence - that nothing can. be done by regulation that is inconsistent with an Act.
– I am not supporting the principle.
– Perhaps not; but no regulation should be passed that does not meet with the approval of those who passed the section under which it is framed.
– I do not wish to convey the impression that it should.
– My experience has been that the Government have, time after time, deliberately introduced and passed regulations framed under Acts of Parliament, which they could not have passed through this Senate or another place even during the currency of the war, because they were an outrage and entirely contrary to the feelings of honorable senators who supported the Acts under which they were framed. But they supported them merely because they thought that, by showing any opposition, they might be taking the business out of the hands of the Government. I believe that on at least six occasions, it may have been more, I have unsuccessfully moved for the disapproval of regulations.
– Because they were regulations dealing with disloyalty, and the honorable senator could not get any support.
– Some of them were, and were passedin a way that even those who supported them will regret all their lives.
– They were “dealing it out.”
– They were. “ putting in the boot “ to quote a classical term often used by the people whom I represent. They were not only doing it in the name of loyalty, because they were the Minister’s chief card, and anything in the nature of a demand for return to common sense was regarded as disloyalty to the Government. The Government kept their majority by such actions.
Senatorde Largie. - Hear, hear !
– I am glad the honorable senator bears out my statement. I could mention numerous instances, when regulations have been passed in this way, and if one could estimate the consciences of men by their general conduct, a majority would not be in favour of supporting the Government if it had not been during a trying time.
I endeavour, with the assistance I have, and which some honorable senators do not have, to keep in touch with the Acts of Parliament and. regulations framed under them, but find myself absolutely incapable of doing it. I have done my best, but I find it impossible. To-day we commenced with a Public Service Bill. I believe it is the duty of honorable senators not only to express their own views, but to obtain a general impression of the views “expressed by others. We spent the whole of the afternoon on the Public Service Bill, and at this stage we are asked’ to consider in Committee another important measure. Travelling from another State, as I am compelled to, I did not have any sleep last night.
– I thought there was something wrong.
– I did not have any rest, and after a full afternoon’s work, we are asked to discuss a Bill the importance of which cannot be over estimated. I am unable to follow the legislation we have to deal with because of the procedure adopted, and the only way to do better than I am doing is to follow the majority and not attempt to take any interest in it at all. Doubtless the Minister will say it is all right. We know he won the war, and, having done that, everything is in order.
– There is only one difficulty, and that is that the honorable senator is not a member of the Government.
– I. have occupied the exalted position of being a colleague of the present Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and it is a matter ofregret that I am notin that position to-day; but I am not one who is likely to complain however I may be circumstanced. We have just been opposing one clause in which we were asked to adopt 100 pages of an Imperial Act “ as prescribed,” although that measure was printed in Great Britain. Surely that is sufficient for us to swallow in one evening, but -now the Minister asks us to adopt what he and his (officers at the Victoria Barracks say shall be prescribed hereafter. We have not even a print of the British Act, and when this Bill is passed through Parliament, the Minister and his officers will go on in the same old glorious way. There will not be an opportunity of discussing regulations framed until after Parliament meets next session. lt is well known that a Minister simply attends a Cabinet meeting, and, after two or three hours’ deliberation, announces to his colleagues, in whom he has confidence, that he intends to call a meeting of the Executive Council.
– And he knows that he is not associated with lunatics.
– Some of the greatest injuries to the people of this country have been done by sane men and not by lunatics. I do not wish the Minister to infer from my statement that I think Ministers are lunatics, because I do not hold any such opinion. We are not properly safeguarded, and the Minister for Defence, if he wishes to pass regulations under the Defence Act for instance, may summon the GovernorGeneral and two or three members of the Cabinet to a meeting of the Executive Council and the regulations become the law of the land until Parliament otherwise provides. The Government may “win out” in this way and never realize the evils they have done, but surely there is no valid reason why we should not proceed more smoothly and act candidly in dealing with regulations. No one opposes legislation for the sake of it.
– Does the honorable senator say that we should put through every Bill (Without providing for the framing of regulations?
– I do not say that. But it is just as easy to insert in this measure what we intend to prescribe hereafter as it is to embody in it what already appears there. If the Minister has not had time -to do that, he should certainly take time. It is absurd for us to be worrying over the details of a clause in a Bill which cannot possibly be dealt with by another place for quite four months. I do not think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) will be back from his trip to the Imperial
Conference within that time. I have no desire to weary honorable senators by dilating upon the evils that are associated with legislation by regulation. I suppose that I. have, asked this Chamber to resist more regulations framed under Statute than has any other honorable senator. Yet I was not successful, even upon one occasion, and my want of success was not due to the fact that the regulations were desirable.
– The honorable senator had a bad case, and he could not get support for it.
– I had a very excellent case. Of course, we were not able to cope with such practices .as the “ buying out “ of one senator and the putting of another honorable senator in his place. That is what we had to put up with. Having expressed my opposition to the clause, I am quite prepared to let it pass.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) is a perfect master in tearing a passion to tatters without any .earthly reason. His claim virtually amounts to this : that we should put into every Act of Parliament every petty detail, and that we should frame no regulations whatsoever.
– This is not a petty detail.
– Surely we are practical and sensible men. ‘ Every honorable senator is acquainted with our legislation, and is aware that we do not put every little detail into every Act of Parliament. There are quite a number of details that we leave to regulations because of alterations which need to be effected from time to time. If we were to provide for all of these contingencies in an Act we should be absolutely “ snowed in.” This clause provides for the constitution of an Air Board, and says that it “ shall have such powers and functions as are prescribed.” In the first place, there is a limitation imposed under which the. Board can do nothing beyond the scope of the Bill. Then what is meant by the words “ such powers and functions as are prescribed ?” Fancy putting such matters as the duties of officers in an Act of Parliament! Why, wa might need in a few weeks’ time to make some fresh adjustment of their duties, in which case we should be obliged to bring forward an amending Bill.’ Thus we would be employing a steam-hammer to crack a nut.
– Why not insert in the Bill the main functions of the Air Council and Air Board?
– They are in the Bill. What does the measure provide for but the functions of the Air Board, of the Air Council, and of the Minister? Every clause of it dennes their powers. The particular clause with which we are now dealing merely seeks to constitute an Air Council and Air Board, and to prescribe their functions. We cannot make regulations which are inconsistent with the Bill. Senator Gardiner, with his tongue in his cheek, pretends-
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Minister in order in implying that I am joking over this matter?
– I withdraw the remark. The honorable senator’s experience as a Minister is, I feel sure, sufficient to teach him that we cannot incorporate in a Bill every little detail in relation to the duties of officers.
– Perhaps Senator Gardiner never issued a regulation when he was Minister.
– He issued a goodly number. Then he assumes that the Minister, who, has to approve regulations, will do stupid or unnecessary and wrong things. He might, if he were a fool. But he knows that if he does such a thing, sooner or later Parliament and the people will learn of it, and then who will be held responsible? Not the officer, but the Minister who promulgated the regulation.
– It is difficult to sheet home responsibility.
– The Minister cannot shelter himself behind the Executive Council. He himself must sign the regulations, and he must therefore accept responsibility for them. Moreover, there is a very real power in this Parliament to check the issue of regulations. Our Standing Orders give usa power over regulations which very few Parliaments possess. After any regulation has been laid upon the table, if any honorable senator moves either to repeal or amend it, that business must take precedence of all Government business. The Government cannot put it at the bottom of the notice-paper. As a matter of fact, Senator Gardiner has distinguished himself by taking action under that standing order. His trouble was that he had such a bad case that he could gain no support for it.
– I had a bad jury.
– But regulations have been annulled by this Senate. ExSenator Stewart and others have moved to annul regulations, and have been successful in their efforts. Consequently, the power of which I speak is not a shadowy one, but a. very real one. Obviously the Government would prefer to put everything they could into a Bill, and we have done that in this measure. No doubt, if we embodied in every Act all sorts of petty details we should make our legislation more popular with the legal profession. If our Statutes were filled with a mass of verbiage that the ordinary layman could not understand, it would suit the legal profession very well. I trust that the Committee win agree to the clause in its present form. I assure honorable senators that there is nothing behind it, and that it contains nothing suggestive of an invasion of the powers of Parliament.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is always surprised at my action. I am amazed that he can defend regulations in the way that he has done, and at the same time endeavour to show that I have put before the Committee something in which I do not believe. My experience, particularly when I was associated as a Minister withSenator Pearce, has been such as to cause me to resist legislation by regulation. Let me cite an illustration of how this power can be used when Parliament has no chance of interfering. Some years ago we were engaged in taking a referendum upon the question of conscription. I am sure that there is no honorable senator who believes that there should be any interference with a voter in the polling booth. The exercise of the franchise is regarded as an act so sacred that nobody ever dreamed of attempting to interfere with it. At the time of which I speak I was a member of the Hughes Cabinet, and by way of compromise certain Ministers were holding on to office until the referendum had been taken, simply because the gravity of the war situation was ‘ such as to prevent them from acting upon their own initiative. Upon that occasion the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) suddenly announced, twice in public, that the young men of the Commonwealth who were not registered when they entered the polling booths would have to beware. The majority of his colleagues in Melbourne read his utterances with astonishment. But greater was our astonishment when we met and were asked to issue a regulation empowering returning officers not only to ask questions of voters, but to reject votes.
– Empowering them to keep certain ballot-papers separate.
– Senator Russell and myself, together with Mr. Jensen and Mr. Higgs, sitting as an Executive in Melbourne, refused to pass that regulation. What happened? Mr. Hughes communicated with Mr. Jensen by telephone, got him over to Sydney, where, together with the Governor-General, they passed that regulation. That event itself causes me to resist any suggestion of legislation by regulations. I am glad to say that that grave interference with the rights of the electors did not take place, notwithstanding that the regulation was passed by the Prime Minister, Mr. Jensen, and Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson, the late Governor-General, because the Prime Minister found that he could not go any further with it. As a result, effect was not given to it. The Minister for Defence has said that I am a master in tearing a passion to tatters. I wish that I possessed his icy coldness. I would like to be able to appear as innocent as he appears, when he is attempting to get a power that he wants. Senator Duncan interjected a little while ago that probably in my capacity as Minister I had never passed a regulation. But upon the occasion to which I have referred I was one of . those who prevented a regulation from being passed. Nevertheless, that regulation was subsequently passed, and the circumstance showed me the length to which a man who is bent upon giving effect to his own will is prepared to go in defiance of Parliament. No honorable senator will affirm that the polling booth i3 a place in which voters should be interfered with. Yet we had, not a blunderer nor an incompetent, but the present Prime Minister who was determined to do that. He was resolved to flout not ‘ only his Cabinet but both Houses of Par- .liament The Minister of Defence knows that. I am quite aware, of course, that both he and the Prime Minister had agreed to pass that regulation. The fact that the Prime Minister desired to pass it was sufficient for Senator Pearce. And this same Minister now wishes our Air Council and Air Board to possess “ such powers and functions as are prescribed.” In view of the lengthy period which must elapse before the Bill can be dealt with elsewhere, I ask the honorable gentleman to ascertain what “powers and functions” should be prescribed and to insert them in it. Let him embody that in a Bill, and keep us here, if need be, six days a week and eight hours a day until we pass it. I am prepared to do that. The Air Branch will be very much like all the other branches of the Army, and as the Defence Branch of the Department has been working for many years, why cannot the Minister get together all the regulations that are necessary, embody them in an Air Defence Bill in the shape of clauses, put them in our hands, and ask us to pass them. The Minister knows that there is no difficulty in passing legislation through this Chamber, particularly at the present < time.
– It would be necessary to have an amending Bill every month.
– The Minister could have one every day for all I care. It would probably improve the work of our draftsmen if they had plenty to do. My opposition to this Bill is not actuated by a desire to delay it. The Minister has gone far enough with it to-night. We have passed the second reading of a very important measure, and, as this is the first night after a long train journey for a number of us, he should agree to report progress.
– I will do so after the next clause.
– The Minister takes exception to our request that the powers and functions of the .Board should be detailed in the Bill. The same argument could be applied «with equal force and truth to the Public Service Bill, where the functions and duties of the Board are specifically laid down, and cover nearly two pages. Nearly every alternate clause of this Bill refers to regulations or prescriptions, and at .the end of the Bill there are two clauses providing that everything in the heavens above, the earth beneath, and the waters under the earth. and almost in the fires of Hell itself, may be dealt with by regulation. The whole business is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen in a Bill. There is one allembracing clause, for fear anything should be forgotten, or overlooked, or miscalculated, and the only thing that is missing is a provision fixing the number of commas, and dots over the “ i’s,” and strokes in the “fs” that shall be contained in the Bill. Surely if anything should be in the Bill it is the powers granted to the Board. Otherwise, we might just as well close the book, and pass one clause to the effect that the Governor-General in Council shall make regulations not inconsistent with the title of the Bill.
– The Public Service Bill also gives the power to prescribe.
– I know, because it has become a fatal habit with the Government to do everything by regulation.
– But you hold that Bill up as a bright and shining example.
– To be logical, the Minister should wipe out all the duties and functions of the Board as set out in that Bill, and insert a short clause like this one. This is hot legislation by Parliament at all. It means practically giving the naval and military authorities power to do anything irrespective of Parliament. The supreme motive that influences them is that it is much easier to make a regulation than to get a Bill through Parliament. The Minister is giving them absolute power to make regulations irrespective of Parliament, so long as these are not inconsistent with the title of the Bill. If we cannot put in the Bill the powers and functions of the Board, we have come pretty near to the skeleton form of legislation which T described just now. That is, we might as well pass the title and one clause giving the Governor-General power to make regulations and call the measure the Air Defence Bill.
– I have a good deal of sympathy with the remarks that have been made about the wide area over which the Senate is asked to give power to the Air Council and Air Board, respectively.
– The clause simply gives the power to the Minister to prescribe the duties of the Council and the Board.
– Yes, but the Minister will act on the advice of the military authorities.
– Not necessarily.
– I am willing to accept the correction for the purposes of my argument, and to say that the Senate is giving the Minister practically full power to control the whole of the matters connected with aviation in Australia, military, naval, and civil, with- the- exception of those dealt with, in particular clauses of the Bill.
– It does not touch civil aviation at all.
– Air defence does, and this is an Air Defence Bill. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the Air Board or Air Council, when constituted, from making regulations that will control civil aviation.
– The Air Board and the Air Council cannot make a single regulation.
– The Minister is splitting hairs. The regulations will be placed’ before Parliament by the Minister on the advice of the Air Board or Air Council.
– Not necessarily. For instance, the Air Council and the Air Board had nothing to do with the drafting of the regulations constituting their functions, because they were not in existence when those regulations were drawn up.
– Are they in existence now ?
– Then they are in existence before we pass this Bill.
– Yes, they are under the Defence Act, as I explained on the second reading.
– The Bill seems to deal with the administration of the Air Forces, but says nothing about aeroplanes, hangars or aerodromes, or the power that will be given over civil aviation. If we give the Air Council and Air Board powers and functions as prescribed hereafter by the Minister, it will be possible, carrying the argument to an absurdity, for the Air Board and Air Council to interfere with the operations of a company formed to develop civil aviation, on the ground that it might interfere with the military or naval defence of Australia.
– The honorable senator seems to have forgotten that we have already passed an Act to deal with civil aviation.
– Exactly, but if I know anything about administration by military and naval authorities, the Minister, if convinced that it would be better for the safety of Australia that civil aviation should be in- terfered with, could interfere with it under the authority of this Bill, and rightly so too. Why cannot the Minister agree to a simple amendment, on the lines of sections in British Acts, to the effect that these bodies shall have such powers and functions as may from time to time be agreed to by Parliament?
– Because an amending Bill would be necessary every time we wanted to alter any petty detail.
– Will ‘the Minister indicate the powers and functions of the Air Council and Air Board?
– I shall do so now. I assured the Committee previously that the powers and functions of the Air Council and Air Board do not in any way impinge on the legislative powers of Parliament. First of all, Parliament in an Act sets out the general principles on which we are to establish an Air Force. We appoint a Board for purposes of administration. We say it shall consist first of a Director of Flying Personnel, who shall make recommendations as regards appointments, promotions, transfers, postings, and so on, and of a Director of Equipment, who shall deal with all questions of repairs and maintenance and so on arising from equipment. and a Finance Member who shall deal with all questions affecting pay. As we gain experience we always find some little detail of duty which we want to take from one officer and give to another. If the course suggested by some honorable senators were followed it would be necessary, every time we wanted to do that, to* ask Parliament to pass an amending Act. That would be using a steam hammer to crack a nut. If these powers were going to interfere with the o legislative powers of Parlia-. ment I could understand the point that honorable senators are making, but there is no possibility of that. We .cannot give these bodies any. powers other than those which the Bill itself prescribes. Every regulation we make under this clause must he consistent with the Bill. It is essential that w.e should have power to make regulations for the proper division of the duties. Surely honorable senators will see that. Take the regulations defining , the powers pf the .Military Board. I venture to say that they have been. amended twenty times since I have been in the Defence Department, and yet no injury has been done to the authority of this Parliament, because those amendments have dealt in the main with, matters of detail. What does it matter whether a certain officer is called a Director of Personnel, or a Director of Equipment? Are these details about which Parliament need worry? Likewise, the regulations made under this Bill will deal with such minor matters. It is stated that a member nominated by the Minister for the Navy, to give the Navy representation, an officer nominated by the Minister- for Defence, and two Flying Officers should be members of the Air Board, and the regulations will provide as to the meeting place, and who shall preside? Surely we do not want details like this in an Act of Parliament ? I ask honorable senators to be reasonable. They are not asked to agree to anything except .that which is convenient for the carrying on of the business of the country properly.
– I want to be perfectly clear as to what these powers are really going to be, and the reason why I am a little more insistent than usual, is that I foresee a very great development for civil aviation throughout Australia in the near future, and as a result of our experiences of arbitrary action on the part of the military authorities, I feel that if any sort of control is. going to be vested in the naval or military officials, it may be at the expense of those ‘ interested in the development of civil aviation. It is reasonable to suppose that if these powers are given, and. if civil aviation develops as we anticipate, the military authorities may attempt to interfere with civil aviation on the ground that it is necessary to do so for the defence of Australia. It is not difficult to visualize the state of affairs that may arise as the result of authority exercised by the Air Board over aerodromes and aeroplanes, landing places, and routes for private aviation companies. It is quite possible that such regulations may harass these companies, and retard their development to such an extent as to interfere very materially with the progress of civil aviation.
– You know that we have dealt with civil aviation under a separate Bill, which is now an Act of Parliament. ( Under that Act we have appointed a controller of civil aviation, who has power to advise the Minister on all matters affecting civil aviation. This Bill will not give the Air Board any control over civil aviation.
– I have already, pointed out that it is possible the regulations made under this. Bill may over-ride that Act.
– No, because these regulations will prescribe the duties of the Board.
– But the duties of the Board will also include the activities of the Board, and those activities might very well be extended in the direction I have indicated. I repeat that the experience of the past is that ‘if the military or naval authorities want to interfere with civil aviation they could very quickly do so under regulations authorized by this Bill, on the ground that - it would be necessary to safeguard the safety of Australia. In all seriousness I direct the attention - of the Minister to the possibilities. I know that he- has to approve of the regulations, and I know that Parliament will have the power of veto; but I also know how difficult it is, in the stress of political life, to focus attention upon an apparently innocuous regulation which might very vitally affect the development of civil aviation in many directions. Now that the war is over, I cannot see why the Minister cannot put in the clause something definite and in keeping with the assurance he has given us to-night.
.- The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) has absolutely failed to convince me that this is a suitable provision to have in the measure. What is to be the function of the Air Council? Is it going to control promotion and maintain discipline in the Air Force? And what is the Air Board going to do? The Minister holds up the fact that it may be necessary to interchange duties amongst the officers as the reason why these functions should not be defined. That is no argument at all. It would be perfectly proper to provide, by means of regulations, for the distribution of duties amongst officers as prescribed, and now that the war is ended it seems to me scandalous to place before the Senate provisions of this nature, and in view of the fact that the regulations to be made may inflict punishment with hard labour for three months.
– .Who inflicts the punishment in the Air Force
– It is possible that this may be done by the Air Board.
– The honorable member, as a lawyer, must know that the Air Board could not impose a sentence of three months with hard labour.
– There is provision that the Air Board shall have such functions and powers as are prescribed.
– Power to impose punishment is laid down elsewhere. You know that quite well.
– I do not know it at all. I merely see that regulations may provide for penalties, including imprisonment with hard labour for not more than three months.
– There is only one way in which you can get hard labour in this country.
– As a lawyer, you ought to know that.
– There is nothing to prevent the Government calling into being a Board with the power of court martial.
– I am astonished that the honorable senator should make that statement.
– I do not know what authority there is against it. It seems to me perfectly competent for the Government, under this Bill, to constitute a court martial. The Air Board may or may not have power to convene this court martial. That would depend upon the regulations, I presume. I am not prepared to vote for the clause in its present form. “Senator PRATTEN (New South Wales) [10.12].- May I put this to the Minister? The clause will give to the Air.&Board such powers and functions as may be prescribed, and the Minister says that they willnot be inconsistent with the Act. Does the Minister say that he cannot confer on the Board powers and functions in connexion with Air Defence that are not in the Act!
– Yes, I do.
– And that no regulations or powers can be given to the Air Board about anything connected with Air Defence except what is provided for in the Act?
-They must he consistent with the Act,
– I am not dealing with the question of consistency at all, because there is nothing in the Bill about aerodromes, air routes or landing places. What the Minister says is that no power or function can be given the Air Council, or the Air Board, with reference to aerodromes or courses, because they arenot specified in the Act.
-We cannot give any power inconsistent with the Act.
– Then, regulations inconsistent with the Act will be ultra vires?
– They would be in excess of the power given by the Act.
– But this particular clause gives the Government power to do anything.
-No; only to distribute the functions amongst the various officers.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210427_senate_8_95/>.