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Wednesday, 6 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- This is one- of the most important clauses of the Bill. Earlier in the session I expressed my gratification at the introduction of a measure proposing some alteration in the management of the Public Service, because I felt that a great deal of dissatisfaction existed in the Service, and it might be removed under a new system. In some of the States, a Board of three Commissioners has _ been abolished, and a single Commissioner appointed, with the same object in view. The Commonwealth ' Public Service has been under the control of a single Commissioner during recent years, and it has not been as satisfactory as some think, it might have been. Whether there is justification for the dissatisfaction within the Service I am not in a position to say; but one cannot fail to recognise that throughout the Service a great desire for a change in its management has been expressed. Senator Thomas is not enamoured of the Government proposal, but I believe they are wise in suggesting the proposed new system. I think the time is opportune to say that they might go a step further than they have gone, and -in order to make the Public Service a satisfied Service, decide that one member of the Board of Management should be a representative of the public servants themselves. Many objections are urged against such a proposal, but I do not think they are sound. Throughout the commercial world to-day in the case of business concerns employing thousands of men, artisans and employees generally are given representation on the Boards which control them. There is provision made in this measure for representation of the public servants on Appeal Boards, but they have asked honorable senators to urge that they should be represented on the Board of Management. The public will be sufficiently protected by a majority representation on the Board. The Service would only have minority representation, but their representative would have an intimate knowledge of every matter with which the Board was required to deal. Direct representation of the public servants on the Board of Management would go a long way towards smoothing over difficulties, and would tend to make the Service more contented.

Senator Russell - If that course were followed, the Public Service might have two representatives on the Board, because it might be decided by the Government to nominate the Public Service Commissioner as one of the members of the Board.

Senator PAYNE - That would not quite meet the case presented by the members of the Public Service,, who wish to be placed in a position to nominate one member of the Board.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They would vote for him throughout the Service.

Senator PAYNE - They would nominate him by vote, and he would be appointed by the Government as a member of 'the Board.

Senator Russell - The honorable senator is suggesting direct representation of the public servants on a Board having the power to fix wages and classification.

Senator PAYNE - I am aware that it is proposed that the Board of Management should have those powers, but I have said that the representation of the public servants would be a minority representation. The taxpayers would be amply protected because the other two members of the Board would be appointed without any reference to the Public Service. I trust that honorable senators will express their views .on this matter. I am sure that they are all anxious" to see the Public Service as contented as possible. We shall get better service from our public officers if they are contented, and if we can do anything to make them mere contented than they are to-day, without jeopardizing the finances of the Commonwealth, we' should certainly do it.

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