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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I move -

At the end of proposed section thirty-four, add the following sub-section: - " ' (2.) Notwithstanding paragraph (b) of the last preceding sub-section, the Board may, if it considers that it is desirable to do so, appoint to the Commonwealth Service, as an officer of the Second, Third or Fourth Division, a person otherwise eligible for appointment who, because of some physical defect, is not able to satisfy the Board as to his health and physical fitness, whether the physical defect from which he is suffering is due to war service or not.".

The purpose of the amendment is to enable the Public Service Board to employ a person who otherwise is eligible for appointment, but because of some physical defect is not able to convince the board of his health and medical fitness. I recollect that during the Second World War, because of a shortage of man-power, we employed in the Commonwealth Public Service persons who, in other days, we would not be able to employ even in a temporary capacity. I recollect that some of those people did secure permanent appointments later. Some honorable members feel that there should be a provision in the bill that persons who are physically handicapped, such as victims of poliomyelitis, should not be deprived of the possibility of securing permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service if they are otherwise qualified apart from their physical defect, and if the physical defect will not militate against their giving effective service to the Commonwealth. I heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) say that the matter was being considered by the Cabinet, and possibly next year he may decide to take some action on the matter. I move the amendment, but I will not force it to a vote. I move it in the hope that the right honorable gentleman will indicate his feelings in this matter, and we can then proceed to the next clause.

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