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Thursday, 16 May 1957

Mr COSTA (Banks) .- Opposition members objected, during the secondreading debate, to the principle involved in this proposal. I did mention that clause 24 transferred a power from section 97 of the principal act to administrative regulation. Section 97 of the principal act reads -

The Board may, with the approval of the Governor-General, make regulations, not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to this Act, and in particular for the following, namely: -

From now on, this right to deduct amounts from salaries or wages in respect of time lost by absence will not be administered under a section of the act, but under a regulation. The Opposition says that that is wrong in principle. Under this proposal, instead of the chief officer having the right to inflict a fine if an officer is late for duty and does not fulfil his proper schedule, payment can be withheld for the time lost. This is a new procedure within the Public Service, and members of the

Opposition think it is wrong. A department will now have the right to keep back part of the salary of a salaried officer. We challenge this principle because an officer is engaged on an annual salary, and if any portion of it is deducted for any reason he will not receive the prescribed salary, and that, we believe, is wrong.

We also think that it is wrong to make a deduction from the salary of an officer who, through no fault of his own, arrives late for duty. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) made some reference to that. In Sydney, last week, a stock train fouled the lines and delayed 32 electric trains, which were carrying many thousands of persons to work at a time when it was likely that most of them would be public servants. These people were up to an hour late through no fault of their own.

Mr Townley - But they were not penalized.

Mr COSTA - We hope to have an assurance that officers will not be penalized in such cases. That is one of the reasons that we are opposing this proposal. Under it, penalties could be inflicted on people who were in no way to blame for being late. Breakdowns of transport are not infrequent. They are happening all the time. Breakdowns of electrical systems are continually causing lateness in arrival for duty.

There is another reason why the Opposition will not support the proposal. Quite a number of officers, for health reasons, require health breaks at work. All officers are not equal. Some require more health breaks than others, and that fact could be used against them. That is another danger in this proposal. On those grounds and on principle, the Opposition opposes the proposed amendment. We intend to divide the committee on the matter.

Question put -

That the clause be agreed to.

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