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Wednesday, 6 July 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) .- The definition of " Chief Officer" is as follows: - " Chief Officer " means the chief officer, in a State or part of the Commonwealth, of the

Department in connexion with which, or wherein is employed, any officer in connexion with whom the term is used or is applicable.

That is about as involved as it can possibly be. It defines nobody. If there is a chief officer, and there is a second officer under him, I take it that the latter would be the person described as the " chief officer." At any rate, the duties of this official are not defined. There is no indication even that his duties shall be " as prescribed." If, by means of a regulation, it were made quite definite who the chief officer was, the position would be clear - save that already there are so many regulations that to add to them would only further confuse any one in his search for information amongst them. I hold that the definition is no definition at all, and that that is proved by the subsequent wording of the Bill. I refer to that portion where " chief officer " is referred to. The first division includes the permanent heads and all chief officers of Departments, and the second division includes also permanent heads "or" chief officers. When reading that portion of the measure, and baking into account at the same time the definition of "permanent heads," one wonders who is who.

Senator Russell - There is no real doubt whatever.

Senator SENIOR - Then the position is, obviously, clearer in the mind of the Minister than in mine. I think that the chief officer should be an officer immediately under the permanent head who has charge of a branch of a Department.

Senator Russell - That is precisely what a chief officer is.

Senator SENIOR - But does the definition say so? If it is a definition it should define; but this does not. It should be made clear that the chief officer is the officer specifically so described; and his duties should also be as plainly prescribed. One could then turn direct to the regulations and ascertain exactly who is who and what is what.

Senator RUSSELL. (Victoria- VicePresident of the Executive Council - [3.35]. - I cannot understand how there can be any doubt in the mind of the honorable senator. First, there is the head of a Department, who is responsible, in a sense, for policy; responsible for advising the Ministerial head, when required, upon matters of policy; and whose responsibility it is, further, to control the management and organization of the Department as a whole. Under him comes the chief officer, or several chief officers. I may cite the Defence Department by way of example. Its secretary is . Mr. Trumble. He is the head of the Department. Immediately under him there are quite a number of specialists, who are the chief officers of various branches. But they are not heads of Departments. Mr. Trumble is the sole head of the Defence Department. In the Treasury, also, Mr. Collins, the Secretary, is the head of the Department; but there are very many officers under him who are heads of branches, and who are actually the chief officers.. And they are" by no means junior officers. I refer to such heads of branches as Mr. Ewing, the Commissioner of Taxation. Under Mr. Ewing, again, there are State Deputy Commissioners; and each of these is the chief officer of a branch. Each performs practically the same functions - with certain reservations - as Mr. Commissioner Ewing himself.

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