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Wednesday, 28 July 1920


Mr HIGGS (Capricornia) .- I hope honorable members will agree with me that the Governor-General in Council, which is really the Commonwealth Government, should have power to suspend the Director for incompetence or misbehaviour. It will be noticed that the clause states that the "Minister may at any time suspend the Director for incapacity, incompetence, or misbehaviour," and in this connexion I draw attention to the Inter-State Commission Act, section 9, which is as follows: -

(1)   The Governor-General may suspend any Commissioner from office for misbehaviour or incapacity. The Minister shall, within seven days after the suspension, if the Parliament is then sitting, or if the Parliament is .not then sitting, within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament, cause to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament a full statement of the grounds of suspension.

(2)   A Commissioner who has been suspended shall be restored to office unless each House of Parliament within forty days after the statement has been laid before it, and in the same session passes an address praying for his removal on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

I may also point out that the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank holds office during good behaviour for a period of seven years, and is eligible for reappointment. I am very glad to know that the Minister (Mr. Greene) is prepared to accept the amendment I am about to propose. The clause provides that the Director, if suspended, may be tried by a board of inquiry appointed by the Governor-General; but I ask honorable members if any business firm or company with a board of directors would suspend its chief officer and allow him to be tried by a board, bef ore whom there might be laid a pile of evidence as high as the table in this chamber, as has happened in the case of public servants. We ought to maintain the prestige and power of the Commonwealth of Australia wherever possible; and I propose to strike out the word "Minister" with a view to inserting " Governor-General," which, of course, means the Governor-General in Council, or, in other words, the Government, and to adopt the words of the Inter-State Commission. Act with regard to a Commissioner. Thus, if the Government wish to suspend the Director, -the Minister must report to the House, which must be satisfied to carry a resolution to the effect that the Director shall be removed from office. I therefore move -

That the word " Minister," line 1, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " Governor-General," and that sub-clauses ( 2 ) to (6) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following sub-clauses: -

(2)   The Minister shall within seven days after the suspension, if the- Parliament is then sitting, or if the Parliament is not then sitting, within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament, cause to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament a full statement of the grounds of suspension.

(3)   A Director who has been suspended shall be restored to office unless each House of Parliament within forty days after the statement has been laid before it, and in the same session, passes an address paying for his removal on the grounds of proved incapacity, incompetence, or misbehaviour.







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