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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr MENZIES (Kooyong) (Prime Minister) . - The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has made a fascinating proposal, but it would mean that we would have no temporary employees at all.

Mr Bryant - But we have full employment.

Mr MENZIES - I thought you were putting it that we ought not to have any temporary employees and that every one employed by the Commonwealth ought to be a permanent employee. The suggestion opens up a very strange vista to me because under certain circumstances in public administration - for example when import licensing is in full cry - we may have to have hundreds of extra people engaged in some activity. We may have to take them on for that purpose, but if they are all to be taken on as permanent employees, so far as I can see you might as well make every temporary political activity permanent because you will have the boys there, anyhow. With great respect, this does not make much sense to me.

The Public Service of the Commonwealth of Australia is not to be an example of inflexible durability to the public. Surely the people are entitled to believe that just as all other industry takes people on in times of high demand, just as the farmer may take on a few extra hands when there is a record wheat harvest and might not want the same number of employees the following year, the Commonwealth is entitled to do likewise. Why should not the Commonwealth be in the position of having its permanent core of civil servants with permanency and political security, and with shelter from political favoritism and revenge and, at the same time, have around the edges of it the capacity flexibly to employ people as demand rises or falls? I am sorry, but I cannot for one moment accept the honorable member's proposition.

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