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Thursday, 9 December 1965


Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) .- Tonight I wish to discuss the Commonwealth Public Service. I do not want to delay too long entering into the discussion of the Public Service because 1 have informed the Prime Minister's secretary of my intention to raise this matter tonight and I know that the right honorable gentleman is sitting with bated breath and with ear pressed to the radio waiting for my first thrust. But first I refer to the matter of Vietnam, which has been the subect of discussion tonight. I was not present when the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) performed in his expected style. We know that he rides shotgun on the red ragging wagon.

I have here an interesting quotation. It is-

I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only for those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded; who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.

Perhaps the honorable member for La Trobe will reflect on those words. They were used by a man named Sherman before a graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy on 19th June 1879. I make that information available because otherwise the words would be attributed by honorable members opposite to a Communist.

I turn now to a discussion of the Commonwealth Public Service. I am particularly concerned witth the fact that senior public servants are able to transpose themselves from public employment to private enterprise. I am concerned not so much with their transposition as with the type of responsibility they adopt and the type of activity they engage in when they go to private enterprise, where their activity bears a definite relation to the responsibilities they discharged in the Public Service. I think it is sufficient cause for any member of the public to feel concerned when he sees a senior member of the Public Service, who has been expected to display a high degree of integrity, move from the public service into private enterprise, particularly when his new employment is at a salary higher than he received in the Public Service and where his dealings will go back to the department in which he was formerly a senior official. This kind of thing is not good for the stature of the Public Service.

The public expects from the Public Service a standard of integrity and conduct not only inflexible but also fastidious. It is essential not only that the Public Service discharge a high degree of integrity but also that it appear to discharge this high degree of integrity to the public. If we have this smooth transition from public to private employment in the circumstances I have mentioned, members of the public will begin to wonder whether the Marxist philosophy is correct that public functionaries are after all the functionaries of the people who control the extent of property relationships in society. This is not good for the Public Service and not good for public attitudes generally.

Dr. Encelhas carried out an analysis of senior public servants with university degrees. He has estimated that 50 per cent, possessed a professional family background while another 37 per cent, had a commercial and clerical background. He has claimed that the oft repeated criticism of the administrative class of the British Civil Service on the basis of its recruitment from the upper middle class applied with considerable force to the First and Second Divisions of the Commonwealth Public Service. He disclosed that Scotch College, Wesley College and Melbourne Grammar led the field in contributing to the higher ranks of the Service. He found that these public servants belong to the exclusive clubs, such as the Commonwealth Club at Canberra, the University Club at Sydney and the Athenaeum and Savage Clubs at Melbourne. All these factors together, of course, especially when members of the public see officers moving from public to private enterprise so smoothly, engender a feeling of suspicion in the minds of members of the public. I do not suggest that this suspicion is always justified; I am sure that frequently it is not. But I emphasise the point that not only should integrity be preserved but also it should appear to be preserved in the public view.

The British Public Service has been so concerned about movements of this nature that it has introduced a law. Under the terms of Command 5517 of July 1937, according to " Estacode ", which is the code of public service ethical standards and regulations, all officers of the rank of Under Secretary, or Principal Assistant Secretary or, in missions abroad, Ministers, Rear Admiral, Major General, Air Vice Marshal and above are required to obtain the assent of the Government before accepting, within two years of retirement offers of employment in businesses and private bodies. Several classes of employment are set out in the Command. It is pointed out that people of a lower standard or grade of employment in the British Public Service are also required to obtain approval from the British equivalent of our Public Service Board before they move from their public service employment into the employment of private businesses, where obviously the knowledge or special capacities that they developed in the Public Service would be of use in the private employment and would possibly place the Public Service at an unfair disadvantage..

In Australia, instances of movement from public to private employment have occurred and they would be cause for members of the public to raise their eyebrows. Dr.

Metcalfe, who was the Director-General of Health, moved to a private organisation, Lederle Laboratories. In this case, the point is that Dr. Metcalfe had knowledge of a number of procedures connected with the administration of the Department of Health. Some of this information was secret and would be of considerable value to private druggists. For instance, the identity of the doctors who form the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is held secret, because of the functions that they have to discharge. Advice given to the Government is the type of information that the private drug manufacturers would like to obtain. I do not say that drug manufacturers would necessarily act in this way, but one could suspect that, if they knew the identities of the doctors on the Committee, they might try to contact the doctors and exploit their knowledge. This would not be in the public interest.

Another public servant who moved from the Public Service to private employment is Dr. H. W. Poulton. He was formerly the First Assistant Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation and he moved to the board of Ansett Transport Industries. I have mentioned only two people. I have a rather lengthy list of people who have moved from both the Commonwealth and the State Public Services to private employment. According to a paper prepared by a Mr. John Playford, who is a public administration expert at one of the universities, this sort of movement occurs to a much greater extent amongst Commonwealth public servants. As I say, I have here a list of people who have moved from Commonwealth and State Public Services into the employment of private enterprise and I ask for leave to have the list incorporated in " Hansard ".







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