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Wednesday, 13 April 1921

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, this is a consolidation ofthe two Bills and of the existing Acts.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That Bill has been dropped ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, practically; but, of course, all its best provisions are preserved in this measure.

Senator Keating - Does the honorable senator refer to the Bill constituting a Board of Management?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes. The Public Service Arbitration Bill has been passed into law, and the Arbitrator has been appointed, and is now at work. The provisions of the Bill relating to the Board of Management have been improved and brought up to date, because we have been wise enough to take advantage of the healthy criticism offered in this Chamber.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Or in the other Chamber.

Senator RUSSELL - I believe the criticism was fairly healthy in another place also. This is a composite Bill dealing with two great principles. It will repeal, I think, three Acts now dealing with the Public Service. However we may differ as to the best methods of bringing it about, I am sure that every honorable senator is anxiousto secure an effective Service, that is, a Service which will do its work promptly, soundly, and well. We must have a contented Service if we are to have an effective Service, and, therefore, the conditions ought to be just, if not even generous, because the Commonwealth should be one of the best, and not one of the worst, employers. At the same time, we are entitled to demand effective business methods and a fair day's work for a fair day's wage, and to expect a united Service, actuated by a keen desire to give the very best return to the country which employs it. There ought to be a reciprocal spirit between the Government of the Commonwealth, which is performing a national duty, and the officers of the Service who are very largely responsible for the faithful carrying out of the desires of the country as expressed through its Parliament. Employment in the Commonwealth Service is not like ordinary competitive employment. There should be a cooperative spirit, and a recognition on the part of the Service that all the actions of the Government are intended to improve the condition of Australia. The public servants should oo-operate with us to the fullest degree in helping to improve this great Commonwealth and its institutions. Up to date, the Public Service has been controlled by a Commissioner. I believe we have had capable men in that office, of whom I may particularly mention Mr. McLachlan, who is a very fine stamp of man ; but, with an ever-increasing Service, and the growing demands upon the Commissioner, I am bound to confess that the machine has become worn out. Among the growing demands may be instanced those caused by Arbitration Court decisions. In each State there is an inspector who is supposed to inspect and control the work of the Public Service, except in the case of Tasmania, which, I understand, is under the same inspector as deals with Victoria. No matter what genius a man possessed, it would be impossible for him to inspect the large number of public servants and the work they are doing in any one State.

It is provided in clause 9 that " for the purposes of this Act the GovernorGeneral may appoint a Board of Commissioners of three persons, and on the happening of any vacancy in the office of member of the Board, the GovernorGeneral shall appoint a person to the vacant office." We believe that three men, who will have varied business experience, are required. The Board may delegate to any of its members any of Its powers under this measure, except the power of delegation, so that the dele- gated powers may be exercised by the delegate in respect to the matters or class of matters specified, or the State, part of the Commonwealth, or Territory defined in the instrument of delegation. The object of this is to enable the three members of the Board to be in different States doing their work at the one time, but collectively the Board is to be responsible, and in most important cases all actions taken by individual members of the Board in different States will be subsequently reviewed by the Board, and every final decision on matters of importance will go forward as the collective decision of the Board.

Senator Wilson - And is that to be final?

Senator RUSSELL - It will be final in some cases. In other cases, there will be an appeal to the Minister, and if then there is a dispute, there will be eventually an appeal to Parliament, but that will be only in very extreme cases.

Many minor matters are to be finalized by the heads of Departments. I am glad to be able to state that in this Bill there is a very wide extension of the powers and responsibilities of the heads of Departments. I can say, from a. close and intimate knowledge of heads of Departments, that they are better judges of their respective staffs, and know more about who are the most capable men in their Departments for appointment and promotion, than any one else. It is provided that, whenever a vacancy occurs in any office, other than in the first division, and it is expedient to fill the vacancy by the promotion of an officer, the Chief Officer may promote an officer of his Department to fill the vacancy. If, however, any person feels that he has a grievance through being passed over - that is, where two applicants are equal, or nearly equal - he will have the right of appeal to the Board through the chief officer. The head of a Department will have to be nominated by the Board, and appointed by the Governor-General in Council, which means the Government of the day, but that, I think, is a proper power for them to possess, because the head of a Department who does his work well carries a big responsibility on behalf of the Government collectively.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the head of a Department be responsible for all promotions in his Department?

Senator RUSSELL - Subject to regulations, which are merely to prevent any injustice being done. Without doubt, the head of a Department will have the great power in regard to promotions'; but if there are two men nearly equal, then if the man who is placed second in the selection thinks he has a grievance because he has greater ability, or longer service, or better knowledge, energy, and go, he will have the right of appeal to the Board against the decision. To enable a reasonable time for appeals to be heard in such cases, every appointment will be made on probation for a limited period. In some of the Departments, with the vast expansion of the Service in recent years, and the opportunities that have been given to officers to gain experience, it will be "found at times that two men are equally entitled to a position. Only one can be appointed, and we must have some method of arriving at a final decision. It is not fair to leave that responsibility to the head of the Department, and in a case of that sort he would submit it to the Board, where a vote would be taken and a decision given.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The head of the Department makes the appointment, so that every Department will now be a water-tight compartment.

Senator RUSSELL - Certainly not, except that, if a responsible position becomes vacant in a Department, and there is somebody in that Department competent to fill it, he will get the position. There is, however, still power to go to any part of the Service for a suitable man. This1 Bill provides that if there is a competent officer in the provisional service at Papua or Rabaul, he can be transferred. He may become the head of a Department here, if he has the necessary ability and energy.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is under the old Act, also.

Senator RUSSELL - That is so. But this Bill applies to the whole Public Service, except for the short period during which the Civil Defence Act, which applies to the Defence Department, continues to. operate. I- think that Act expires twelve months after the official ending of the war. The whole Service is to be regarded as one; and instead of being divided into water-tight compartments, as Senator Thomas calls them, it is to be open for any man from any branch of the Service to be transferred to any position if he is regarded as the most suitable.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Only with the consent of the head of the Department that wants the officer?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes.

Senator Senior - Can he also apply for transfer from one Department to another ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, he can be transferred on application, if he is suitable; but regard must be had to the administration and discipline of the various Departments. The work of the Service must be considered, not as a plaything, hut as a serious matter; and no man who is not particularly suitable will be allowed , to transfer from one branch to another for his own personal convenience. If his transfer is likely to increase the efficiency of the Service, the Board will be glad to consider his claim and transfer him at any time.

SenatorFoster. - The limited probationary period applies only to new appointments, and not to promotions?

Senator RUSSELL - There is the same right of appeal in regard to promotions, but only sufficient time will be allowed for a decision to be come to on that appeal before the probationary appointment is made permanent.

SenatorFoster. -Will that mean twelve months trial?

Senator RUSSELL - I should not think it would exceed six months. At any rate, it will only be long enough to give the Board reasonable time to hear appeals.

Thepowers of the Board are to be very wide. They will have complete control of the Service, and be responsible for its effective organization, although very extensive functions are to be allotted to the heads of Departments. The members of the Board will be put in a very strong position. The Governor-General may remove any member of theBoard from office,, on an address praying for his removal being presented to the GovernorGeneral by the Senate and House of Representatives respectively in the same session of a Parliament. The Governor-

General may suspend any member of the Board from office for misbehaviour or in capacity, and a statement of the cause of the suspension must be laid before both Houses of Parliament. If, subsequently, the Senate and House of Representatives present an address to the GovernorGeneral praying for the restoration of such member of the Board to office, he shall be restored accordingly; but if no such address is presented, the Governor-General may declare his office vacant. We hope that action of this sort will not be necessary, but that the men selected will be good and steady.

Senator Keating - Are there any nice questions as to the eligibility of the members of the Board?

Senator RUSSELL - I think the field of choice of those who will be eligible is very wide, and I trust that those selected will be the best three men available in Australia. Among the duties of the Board are to be the simplification of the work of each Department, and the abolition of unnecessary work, the coordination of the work of various Departments, the improvement of the training of officers, and the comparative analysis of working costs, which is a very- important item.

Senator Senior - That is quite possible.

Senator RUSSELL - It is possible, but if there appears to be a discrepancy in the cost of certain services in one State as compared with another, there ought to be an immediate investigation as to the reasons. The report of a Royal Commission appointed not so long ago, debited Victoria with high cost of administration, short deliveries, and a number of other faults in the Postal Department, when, as a matter of fact, for the last ten years Victoria has been producing more net revenue from the postal services than any other State, and the percentage of labour costs have been lower than in any other State.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And that ought to be the position, seeing that Victoria is a small State with a large population.

Senator RUSSELL - I agree with the honorable senator; I am merely quoting what critical experts and uncritical newspapers have said. This ought not to be merely guess work. The figures relating to any Department should he definitely ascertained by a trained staff.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did not the Economies Commission state that in Queensland postal costs were lower than in Victoria ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, but at that time it was practically a one-man inquiry. There has never been agreement between Mr Templeton's statements and mine, because I have used figures tabulated by the departmental officers covering a certain period. I draw attention to this fact because it discloses misrepresentation in regard to many of the activities of the Post Office. It will be the duty of the Board to provide for the training of officers, not merely in the technical schools in the big cities, but in general terms, by giving special inducements to officers in order to raise the standard of the work done.

Members of the Board will have the power to enter any of the Departments, at any time. In this respect they will be in a position similar to that occupied by the Auditor-General, who is independent of Parliament, and whose duty it is to certify to the correctness of any transaction, whether wise or otherwise. Members of the Board will have authority, at the request of Ministers, who, no doubt, will be glad to avail themselves of their co-operation, to examine contracts with a view to seeing if economies can be effected. This will be a very important function. On one occasion a friend of mine criticised the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) in the early days of the war, but as I also had had some experience in the Defence Department I told my friend it was a matter of surprise to me, knowing what Senator Pearce had to do there, that he was not dead. The administration of that Department was extremely difficult at the time, and though at a later date there was a good Business Board to help the Minister, it took no less than fourteen' months to get one particular contract completed.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - How long was the war in progress before that Board was appointed ?

Senator RUSSELL - I think the Board was appointed in 1916. In connexion with this matter, I think Parlia ment was largely to blame for having imposed such a heavy burden of responsibility on the Minister for Defence, who was called upon to do the work of ten or eleven men. Nobody but a self-sacrificing colleague like Senator Pearce would have pulled through with the job.

The Bill repeals all existing Public Service Acts, but under it all public servants will retain their existing rights pending reclassification by the Board.

Senator Senior - Will the Bill affect the rights of officers transferred from State Departments?

Senator RUSSELL - No. State officers transferred to the Commonwealth Service will retain their accruing rights.

Senator Crawford - Does the Bill meet the case of an officer appointed to a new Department.

Senator RUSSELL - Take the case of a man like Mr. Balsillie. We had no experts in wireless at the time of his appointment, and it is probable that no officer in the State Public Service was suitable for the position he now occupies. But if he had come from a State Department, he" would have brought with him all his superannuation and other rights.

Senator Crawford - When the late Chief Justice was transferred from the Queensland to the Commonwealth Public Service, he forfeited his State pension rights.

Senator RUSSELL - Yes ; but that injustice was, I am glad to say, remedied by the Commonwealth Parliament.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - He did it with his eyes open.

Senator RUSSELL - It is true hs knew the sacrifice he was making; but subsequently Australia appreciated his services, and gave him the. pension to which he was honestly entitled.

Senator Senior - Does the Bill contain any provision for what is known as the double furlough, which has been creating a lot of friction lately?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes. If a man renders twenty years' useful service - the mere fact that he may have served twenty years will not entitle him to it - he will have the right to take six months' furlough, and if he serves another twenty years he will likewise be entitled to another six months' furlough. After twenty years' service, he will be entitled to one and a half months' leave for every five years' of service.

Senator Keating - That is a recent provision ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes.

Senator Keating - Is it made retrospective 1

Senator RUSSELL -It is made retrospective to the date upon which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) announced the acceptance of the principle by the Government.

When the Bill becomes law there will be a general reclassification of the Public Service.

Senator Keating - Classification by the Board ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, subject to the decision of the Governor-General in Council. Promotion to positions carrying salaries in excess of £210 per annum will be subject to review to insure that an officer who is promotedis put in his proper position. In the meantime, that is to say, during the covering period, he will remain at the minimum of the class to which he has been promoted, but he will lose nothing by this, as back money will be paid.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did I understand the Minister to say that the Bill repeals all previous Public Service Acts?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes.

Senator Keating - Except certain sections of the Public Service (Arbitration) Act.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the Bill we passed last session automatically goes overboard ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, but all its main principles are embodied in this measure. Under the Bill, promotions which carry increases of salary will not be made until they are determined by the Board, but officers receiving less than £210 a year will get their increments automatically until their positions are determined by the Board. For a number of years there have been difficulties over this question of increments. I do not think it is possible to grant any officer so much per annum automatically in the way of increment of salary. It is clearly laid down in this Bill that increments are to be granted for good conduct and good service. That is only fair.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who decides that - . the head of the Department or the Board i

Senator RUSSELL - The head of the Department makes a recommendation to the Board. The Board has. also power to recommend that an application be not granted.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the same provision as we have in the existing Act.

Senator RUSSELL - It is more extensive.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In what way? .

Senator RUSSELL - There were limitations on the heads of Departments, who were controlled by the Public Service Commissioner.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Even if the head of the Department said that an officer should have an appointment or not?

Senator Senior - And a Commissioner said he must not.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This Bill allows head's of Departments to make only a recommendation.

Senator RUSSELL - That is not so.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the head of a Department make a recommendation ?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, to the Board of Management for an increase in salary in consequence of satisfactory service.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the Board decides whether an officer is to have it or not ?

Senator RUSSELL - That is the principle. In some cases the head of the Department could recommend that an officer should not be paid a certain salary.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the same as the existing law.

Senator RUSSELL - That is what this Bill provides.

Senator Keating - It is a re-enactment of the existing provision.

Senator RUSSELL - In effect it is. The section in the existing Act was always open to dispute as to whether increments were automatic or whether they were to be paid on the recommendation of the Commissioner. There was always a good deal of dissatisfaction.

Senator Keating - In the main, disputes arose in consequence of an officer expecting an increase which he did not receive.

Senator RUSSELL - That is so. There are the usual provisions as to applicants for admission to the Commonwealth Public Service. Every such applicant must be a natural-born or naturalized British subject. The Board must also be satisfied as to his health and physical fitness, and see that he makes and subscribes an oath or affirmation in the form provided in the fourth schedule to this measure. The entrance examination will be retained wherever possible, and provision in this direction is included in clause 32. Examination will not be necessary in the case of skilled artisans, but wherever an examination is necessary to ascertain the fitness of an applicant, that procedure will be followed. Provision is also made for preference to be' given to returned soldiers, both on entering the Service and when promotions are being made. All other things being equal returned soldiers will always have preference.

In connexion with the appointment of persons from outside the Service, the Board, after making full inquiry, may report that some professional or highlyskilled position cannot be filled from within the Service, and in such instances power is given to appoint a person from outside the Service. Provision has been made in the form of what may be termed an elastic clause for the Board to say that, irrespective of age, a suitable officer may be secured without examination, on the order of the Governor-General in Council.

Senator Senior - What restrictions are there?

Senator RUSSELL - Practically none, with the exception of the declaration by the Board. The Governor-General in Council would indorse the recommendation of the Board, which would be sufficient to enable a person outside the Service to be appointed.

Senator Payne - On the declaration of the Board that there was no one suitable within the Service?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes, that there was a genuine vacancy which could not be filled from within the Service.

Senator Wilson - Surely it would not be necessary for the Board to make a declaration.

Senator RUSSELL - The Board will issue a certificate. It will not be necessary to submit a sworn declaration.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - You might flood the Service with unnecessary officers.

Senator RUSSELL - That is not necessary nor likely under this clause.

Provision is made for promotions and transfers in clause 48. The Chief Officer or head of a Department may, subject to the provisions of this measure, promote an officer of his Department to fill such vacancy. If the Chief Officer is of opinion that it is expedient to fill any vacant office, other than in the Eirst Division, by the promotion of an officer from another Department, he must so advise the Board, by whom the necessary action will be taken. The head of a Department may make appointments up to a certain grade, and any officer who thinks that his position has been adversely affected will have the right of appeal to the Board, which will settle the matter. If no aopeal has been made, questions of promotion will not go to the Board, but will be settled by the head of a Department.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There will be the same kind of examination as heretofore for persons wishing to enter the Service.

Senator RUSSELL - That is so; but it only applies to the juniors.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The ordinary entrance to the Service as regards education will be on similar lines?

Senator RUSSELL - Practically, and will govern those between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four.

Senator Elliott - What provision has been made for officers who consider themselves adversely affected to bring their case before the Board ? They will want to know the position before a definite decision has been arrived at.

Senator RUSSELL - I am afraid the honorable senator is not very conversant with the conditions prevailing in the Commonwealth Service, otherwise he would know that officers are fully aware of any possible developments.

Senator Senior - Applications will be called in many cases?

Senator RUSSELL - Yes. Speaking from memory, I believe a period of fortyeight hours is to be allowed in which an applicant may lodge a protest to the head of his Department, and the head of the Department will then be compelled' to forward the protest to the Board. In such a case, the Board and the head of the Department confer in the presence of the officer concerned, who can be represented by counsel. Under these circumstances, an officer who considers thathe has been unfairly dealt with has every opportunity of being heard, and, therefore, there is little likelihood of any injustice being done. I think there is every opportunity for a fair review, and the decision of the Board in such a case would be final.

Senator Elliott - Would not fortyeight hours be an unreasonable period for an officer, say, in Western Australia?

SenatorRUSSELL. - That is a point which can be further considered in Committee. I believe I was in error in saying a period of forty-eight hours was allowed, as, on reflection, I believe it is fourteen days, which would give an officer ample time.

Senator Keating - The time' is generally provided in regulations which, in this case, are to be framed by the Board.

Senator RUSSELL - In the case of officers who are incapable of fulfilling the duties allotted to them through lack of experience or indifferent health, power is given to the Board to reduce an officer to a lower position instead of compelling him to leave the Service. . Such an officer so reduced would be asked to accept a lower salary for the work he was capable of performing. Power is also given to dismiss officers, but that power is not likely to be abused.

Senator Senior - We have to consider what is in the Bill and not. what is likely to be done.

Senator RUSSELL - I am not asking honorable senators to accept my opinions.

Senator Senior - The Minister said that the power was not likely to be abused in the case of dismissal, but that is not in the measure.

Senator RUSSELL - Perhaps not, but it is not the intention that those who will have to administer the Act shall have power to dismiss a man who may be receiving £700 a year because through illness or some other cause he is unable to satisfactorily perform his duties. In such a case the Board would have the power to appoint him to a position at, say, £400 or £500 a year, which he could satisfactorily fill, and thus suable him to earn his living. An officer may be unfitted to fulfil the duties of a bead of a Department, but he may be able to satisfactorily perform other work of a less important character.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Cannot that be done under the present Act?

Senator RUSSELL - It has not been put into operation. Can the honorable senator mention a case where it has ?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I know of an instance where an officer, on refusing to accept a lower salary in another position-, had. to leave the Service.

Senator RUSSELL - The Board will have power to dismiss an officer.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This officer waa offered a position at a lower salary, and because he refused to accept it he had to leave the Service.

Senator RUSSELL - Complete power is given in the measure to make regulations for working out all details.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are appointments in an important administrative Department to be made by the Minister or by the Board?

Senator RUSSELL - By the GovernorGeneral in Council.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - On the advice of the E'oard ?

Senator Duncan - Are they to be limited to the Service?

Senator RUSSELL - If a suitable officer is not available within the Service selection can be made from outside-

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the existing law.

Senator RUSSELL - That may be so, because this is a consolidating Bill, and it cannot be said that many of the sections in our existing Act are faulty.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I think it is a wonderful Act.

Senator RUSSELL - I believe the Service has been increased by 250 per cent, since Parliament passed the original measure; but it must De admitted that the machinery is not sufficient to meet existing conditions andthose likely to arise.

Senator Keating - The Minister does not attribute the increase to the satisfactory nature of the original Act?

Senator RUSSELL - No.

Senator Keating - If such were the case it would be interesting to know by what extent the Service would be increased as a result of this measure.

Senator RUSSELL - The Commonwealth Service has been increased by 250 per cent, since the original Act was passed, and no one can say that it could be effectively controlled by one man.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. McLachlan did it, and he still says that it is a one-man job.

Senator RUSSELL - That is not correct.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - He said that a Commissioner and an assistant were sufficient.

Senator RUSSELL - I discussed the whole position with Mr. McLachlan, and pointed out the weakness of appealing from the Deputy , Commissioner to the Commissioner, as there was always a possibility of bias. It is highly desirable to have an independent Arbitrator.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In his report he suggests a Commissioner with an assistant.

Senator RUSSELL - That is so. But subsequently he modified that recommendation, and agreed after a conference to .our proposal.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does he agree to the appointment of a Board ?

Senator RUSSELL - He modified his report by agreeing to the appointment of an' Arbitrator, which he considered was a sound and business-like procedure. In his original report he favoured appeals being made to the Commissioner ; but that was a case of making the " boss " the judge.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is another matter.

Senator RUSSELL - He amended his report by saying that an Arbitrator should be appointed with a full knowledge of the procedure of the Service.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We are not dealing with that in this Bill.

Senator RUSSELL - Not with the appointment of an Arbitrator, but with the general scheme of organization.

I do not desire to continue at greater length at this juncture, as this measure cannot be regarded as embodying principles, of an experimental nature. I shall not raise my voice in condemnation of civil servants because I have found that the great majority of them are hard' working, conscientious men who are giving their best service for the benefit of the country. I do not deny that there are some who will not do a fair thing either by their colleagues or by the Government of the day. But I am glad to say that these are not nearly so numerous as is generally supposed. There is no doubt that Ministers have not sufficient time to go through the detailed organization of their Departments, and they would be merely wasting their own time if they attempted to do so. This work must be left to their expert officers.? In this connexion let me point to the census for the Commonwealth which is now being taken. I believe that thousands of pounds will be saved in this work by the introduction of the latest calculating and other machines which have been installed at the Exhibition Building. These machines practically enable male labour to be dispensed with, because the girls operating them are so expert. It is imperative that we should utilize the most modern methods for reducing the amount of laborious work which has to be performed in our Public Service.

There are just two other matters to which I desire to direct attention, because they are of a debatable character, and because I do not wish to be accused of dodging them . The first has reference to strikes by civil servants. The Government feel that our public servants, who have .a collective right of appeal to this Parliament, which the great body of outside workers do not possess, and who also have a right to resort to an Arbitrator, have no right whatever to unnecessarily threaten either the Government or the community with strikes in the public administration of the Commonwealth. The provision to which I refer will not reach as far as the carpenters and bricklayers who work under ordinary Arbitration Court awards, and who are sometimes employed by the Commonwealth, but it is intended to apply to employees in our Departments who are really part of the administrative machinery of the country. We say that these persons ought to be loyal to the Government. They have been provided with reasonable opportunities for voicing their complaints, and in return they ought te give us their best services and to remain steadily and solidly at their work. The Bill will not impose any limitation upon. the freedom of .action of any indi.vidual who desires to join any political or religious society. The Government merely lay down the principle that he ought to remain steadily at his work, and that he ought not to go on strike.

The second point to which I wish to invite attention relates to the taking of the oath, which is set out in the fourth schedule of the Bill, and which reads -

I, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the King, and will loyally as in duty bound, uphold the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia established under the Crown of the United Kingdom. So help me, God !

The taking of this oath is designed to prevent the admission to our Public Service of persons who are opposed to constituted authority. Generally speaking, it may not be necessary, but it is necessary in the case of a few.

Senator Gardiner - Why not also institute a religious test?

Senator RUSSELL - This is not a religious test, but merely a test of common honesty. If a person does not care about taking the oath, he will be at liberty to make an affirmation .

Senator Duncan - Will the oath apply to all officers who are now in our Public Service ?

Senator RUSSELL - It will apply to all new men; but I cannot say whether the older officers in our Public Service will be compelled to take it.

Senator Benny - Under this Bill, the Government seem to be taking out of the hands of the President and Mr. Speaker the control of officers of. the Parliament.

Senator RUSSELL - No. Mr. Speaker will act as the Public Service Commissioner for his branch of this Parliament, and the President will act in a similar capacity for his branch. Any complaints made against officers of Parliament must be made to them.

Senator Benny - But paragraph a of sub-clause 2 of clause 8, specially refers to the schedule.

Senator RUSSELL - But there are other clauses which exempt parliamentary officers from the general provisions of the Bill, and which place them under the control of the President and Mr. Speaker.

Senator Rowell - Is there any provision in the Bill for a superannuation scheme ?

Senator RUSSELL - If such a scheme is brought forward it will be embodied in a separate Bill. In this measure we merely propose to continue the provisions of the principal Act in order to compel our public servants to insure their lives so as to make provision for their dependants. This is really a practical Bill for reforming our Departments. Any gifts or rewards to public servants will be dealt with in another Bill.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Any superannuation scheme which may be brought forward must originate in the other Chamber.

Senator RUSSELL - Exactly. I think that I have now placed before honorable senators the principal features of the mea sure, to which I invite their serious consideration.

Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.

Senator Gardiner - I rise to a point of order. Standing order 133 provides -

No question or amendment shall be proposed which is the same in substance as any question or amendment which, during the same session, has 'been resolved in the affirmative or negative, unless the order, resolution, or vote on such question or amendment has been rescinded.

I submit -that the Bill now before us is the same measure - with practically only a few alterations - that this Chamber passed earlier in the session, and which another branch of the Legislature threw under the table. I will, therefore, take your ruling, sir, as to whether the two Bills, which are practically the same in substance, can be introduced in the same session.

Senator Pearce - I wish to direct your attention, sir, to the fact that the previous Bill to which Senator Gardiner hae referred, contained only about thirty clauses, whereas this measure contains more than 100.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Still, it may be the same Bill in an amplified form.

Senator Pearce - I shall refer to that point later. At present I desire to deal with only one point at a time. Unlike Senator Thomas I am not able to deal with half-a-dozen points at the same time. The Bill relating to our Public Service, which was discussed by the Senate earlier in the session, dealt with only one phase of that Service, namely, the proposal that it should be controlled by a Board of Management. On the other hand, this measure deals with a Board of Commissioners, and with all the conditions relating to our Public Service with the exception of arbitration. Further, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) was careful to point out during his second-reading speech, in so far as the principles of the Bill, which was debated here earlier in the session, are embodied in this measure, they have been amended in the light of the criticism which was indulged in upon that occasion.

Senator Gardiner - In substance they are the same.

Senator Pearce - In some cases, even the substance has been changed. It, often happens that when a Bill dealing with a like subject is introduced at a later period of the session, we are obliged, for the purposes of that measure, to repeat some portion of another Bill which has passed this Chamber. That is specially noticeable when we deal with such questions as the franchise and the Electoral Act. In the one case, we have a law which defines the franchise of the voter,, and in the other a law which defines the system of representation. Consequently, we have to repeat in our Electoral Act provisions which are already embodied in our franchise law. My contention is that this Bill is not, even in substance, the Bill which was previously before us, and that even in form it covers a very much wider area. "Where it deals with the same subjects, it deals with them in the mam, in a different way from that in which they were dealt with in theprevious measure.


Senator Pearce - Very largely, because Senator Thomas pointed out a better way of dealing with them.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Oh, no! The Government would not accept my advice.

Senator Pearce - I may be mistaken in attributing the improvement to Senator Thomas. At any rate, there were honorable senators who suggested a better way of achieving our object.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government would not accept my advice. It forwarded the Bill to the other House, which treated it with contempt.

Senator Pearce - It is never too late to mend. The Government have made a free and open confession that during the recess they have carefully considered the criticism to which the previous Bill was subjected, and have adopted such portion of that criticism as they deemed it reasonable to adopt. I submit, therefore, that the Bill is not out of order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bakhap). - Upon the point of order which has been raised, I have not any difficulty in coming to a decision. "Whilst any honorable senator who exhibits a spirit of jealous conservation of the privileges of the Senate has my sympathy in closely examining any measure, and in questioning the propriety of its introduc tion, I must say that the Bill which is now before us is not one which comes within the scope of standing order 133. I do not think that there is any necessity for me to burden my ruling with a multiplicity of reasons; but the point of order cannot be sustained, if for no other reason than that this is a consolidating measure. Its title is " A Bill for an Act to consolidate and amend the law regulating the Public Service, and for other purposes." . In view of that fact, I have no hesitation in ruling that it is in order.

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