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Wednesday, 16 November 1983
Page: 2816


Mr RUDDOCK(6.10) —When I was a young solicitor in practice my master solicitor used to say to me: 'When you are considering drafting something of this sort you ought to act on the basis of more abundant precaution'. I suspect that all too often one of the reasons we see parliamentary counsel coming back with a fresh batch of amendments after a considerable time is that there has been an assumption that matters have been covered in sufficient detail in the way in which a particular resolution or a particular clause has been drafted, only to find at a later date that the drafting has to be rectified. So far as the drafting of these provisions is concerned, I do not see why the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis), even if stand-down provisions are already adequately covered by the Act, ought not to be prepared to accept an amendment which, to my way of thinking, simply deals with the matter by way of more abundant precaution and lends greater certainty to it.

It needs to be understood that the amendment proposed to the definition of ' industrial matter', is proposed in the light of some of the changes that have been foreshadowed in relation to the Public Service generally. We have had the appointment of a new Chairman of the Public Service Board, a gentleman who has written quite frequently on his ideas for reform, as he would call it, of the Public Service generally and his desire to initiate a considerable number of lateral recruitments in what he calls the senior service, particularly at levels 1 and 2. I suspect that, given the changes that are envisaged, there will be a great many more difficulties than there have been in the past in relation to the selection and recruitment of people, employment, promotion and the like within the Public Service.

I have not had a great deal of experience with people aggrieved over promotions in the Public Service but have had some. That experience leads me to believe that people may be involved in a situation in which somebody has been promoted over them or, as has happened, their position has been abolished and a new position created so that someone could be promoted into it. That happened in a matter with which I am familiar concerning the Australian Development Assistance Bureau. A great deal of concern can arise in the mind of the staff person who is aggrieved, who might not accept the situation willingly. As was the case in the situation that I have in mind, that person could well, take appeals to not only appeals boards but later the Federal Court of Australia. The possibility of legislative action also arose out of the way in which staff members were treated on that occasion. I think there was threat of an action in relation to conspiracy against the public servants who had been involved in some of the changes that had occurred in relation to the particular positions in question. All these possible remedies were looked at. Actions were commenced and every possibility that occurred to the minds of those who were advising the particular public servant was exhausted. I assure the Minister that if he makes available an opportunity for somebody to raise an industrial question in relation to selection procedures, re-appointment, employment and promotion within the Public Service there will be people who will avail themselves of that opportunity. I started my remarks by saying that I thought in this case the Minister ought to have in mind the injunction of my former master solicitor that one should act with more abundant precaution and ensure that the difficulties that I foreshadow and my colleague has foreshadowed will not arise.