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Wednesday, 16 February 1977
Page: 121

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) -I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) with great interest. I agree with a certain portion of what he said but I disagree strongly with other portions of his comments. I am surprised that the Parliament itself has not displayed more interest in this Bill. I think it is a milestone. Although many people have tried to suggest that it is simply a machinery BUI or a relatively unimportant Bill, I think this Bill can mark the beginning of the politicising of the Public Service. Strangely, the basic aim of the Bill- I believe implicitly the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Street)- is to take the sting out of the politicising of the Public Service that took place under the Labor administration. Therefore, the purpose being advanced for the introduction of this Bill is, in fact, to de-politicise the Public Service. With great respect, I have another view, and to this extent I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. This will leave the way open for the politicising of the Public Service, and I support that view. I have a great deal of sympathy for the proposal to politicise the Public Service. This is a classic argument, and one could mount a very respectable argument on both sides.

Having been a Minister and having administered six or seven portfolios in my career, I have nothing but admiration for the integrity, the ability and the skill of the kind of people the Leader of the Opposition mentioned, the public servants, particularly the senior ones. But what happens when we have a change of government? We must look at this matter in context because there was not a change in government in Australia for 23 years. It was relatively simple for an election to be held; the Liberal and National Country Parties were returned; the same public servants were employed, and there was continuity. In 1972 something happened. There was a change in Government. Men in the Public Service who had been almost saturated with Liberal-National Country Party philosophy for more than 20 years had to confront a political party at the other end of the political spectrum, and there must have been difficulties. As much as I admire the integrity, the ability and the honesty of senior public servants, I am not prepared to believe that they are political eunuchs. In fact, if they are political eunuchs they should not be holding senior positions in the Government. I am not going to be persuaded that there are certain areas of policy that do not have a heavy political content.

Can any honourable member tell me that the social welfare POliCY of the Labor Party is not different from the social welfare policy of the Liberal Party? Can any honourable member tell me that the policies of the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in relation to health, foreign affairs, defence, industrial relations and the Treasury are not diametrically opposed? In almost all these areas a deep philosophical cleavage exists between the Labor Party, the Liberal Party and the National Country Party. If a civil servant who has been used to receiving and implementing the policies of one government is confronted, through a change in government, with a diametrically opposed policy then certainly there will be problems. I believe that in certain areas difficulties would arise, but this would not be through any fault on the part of the public servant or through any lack of ability to adapt. I say with great respect that this Bill facilitates the creation of a great temptation on the part of a government to instal as permanent head a man who will implement his party's policies. I can understand but do not necessarily condone the actions of the Labor Government in its appointment of the 3 men mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition- Dr Wilenski, Mr Spigelman and Mr Menadue- two of whom I know personally. I have absolute and utmost respect for the integrity, honesty and ability of the 3 men but they are known members of the Labor Party.

Mr Bryant - What is wrong with that?

Mr CHIPP - Nothing is wrong with that. I am simply saying that the problem is that the Leader of the Opposition in fact overtly politicised the Public Service by making those 3 appointments. Dr Wilenski is a very capable man.

Mr Stewart - Where did Jim Short come from? He came out of the Treasury.

Mr CHIPP -I cannot see the relevance of that interjection from my friend because the man has been democratically elected to the Parliament by the people. If you are going to tell me that the people of the electorate of Ballaarat should not have elected Jim Short simply because he came out of the Treasury I would suggest that argument is of the highest absurdity. I am sure that a man of your wisdom would not suggest that, so I must have misunderstood you.

Mr Stewart - He was working for a Labor government.

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