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Wednesday, 6 July 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) .- I am pleased to find myself supported in contending for one Commissioner instead of three by no less authority than . Senator Russell himself ,. When the Institute of Science and Industry Bill was before this Chamber, the Government proposed one Director, and some member of this Chamber proposed three. On this point Senator Russell said -

The Government; in proposing the. appointment of the. Director of the Institute of Science and Industry, were of opinion that three men, if appointed, would be talking too much,- and would not do the work. They proposed; therefor, to vest all the powers in one. -

Senator Russell - I was hopeful that that one would not be a professor, because, although they are clever fellows in their own line, I never met such bad business men in my life. I would have had there, for a start, one man who was a business organizer, just as Senator J. D. Millen wants a scientific; organizer. My idea was to get the other officials to cooperate.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Again, I agree with the Minister. The reason why he objected to. three in that instance was. that there would be too much talk. His argument, was not in respect of the.: rival merits of a scientist and of a business man. The Minister and I were fellow members of a- party at a time when I chanced, to. he in the Ministry of the da;v which appointed -the Governor pf the Commonwealth Bank; and J am sure that the selection of Sir Denison Miller received the approval of Senator Russell. One . man was {Selected. True, he was given an assistant, hut only one man wac given control and authority. The Minister will agree with me that in making such an individual selection the then Government acted wisely.

Senator Russell - Certainly!

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Further, the Minister was a member of the Government which reappointed Sir Denison Miller, and which, in so doing, set the" seal, .of approval upon the choice of one man having full control and authority. In the present instance it is highly necessary that there shall be one authority instead of three. Less time will, be wasted, and less money will be spent. . The Public Service Commissioner to-day has the assistance of an inspector in each State; but, on account of the growth of the Service, I understand, the inspectors are required to spend a great deal oftheir time in their offices rather than in making inspections. That, of course, is not the fault of the inspectors. Under the Bill, however, there are to be no inspectors whatever. The Government propose, apparently, to thrust on the Board of Management all the present inspectorial duties.

Senator Russell - There will be a form of inspection. If the Board requires an inspection of some technical branch of the . Service, it will have power to call in a specialist.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This Bill gives to a person in the Service who feels himself aggrieved, for example, in having been superseded by a junior, the right of appeal to the Board of Management. The Board must examine his individual case. At present the necessary inquiry into the merits of all such cases is in the hands of the various State inspectors. Such investigations do not call for experts. Who is to take the place of the inspectors with regard to such tasks?

Senator Russell - Does the honorable senator know of any Appeal Board which acts in any other way than upon the evidence placed before it?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; but hitherto, the inspectors have furnished the evidence. Who is now to provide it?

Senator Russell - The honorable senator is wrong in assuming that there will be no inspectors. As a matter of fact, there will foe plenty of them.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is an interesting admission. Where does the Bill so provide?

Senator Russell - The Board will have power to delegate a specialist officer to conduct a specialist's inquiry.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Even if the Board of Management is to have the power to appoint special inspectors, these latter can only be temporary officers.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to . 8 p.m.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I shall be glad if the Minister will explain why the Government have decided to appoint a Board of three Commissioners when the Public Service Commissioner in his report favours one Commissioner, and the Economies

Commission do not advocate a Board of Management, but an Efficiency Board.

Senator Russell - The opinion was fairly unanimous as to the appointment of a Board with the proposed powers.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That Bill has been dropped in another place, and it is now before the Senate in the same form.

Senator Russell - That is not so.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That particular portion of the Bill is the same.

Senator Russell - The powers have been considerably strengthened.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I move-

That the words "Board of Commissioners of three persons " be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " Public Service Commissioner."

When the other Bill was before the Senate,,' I was opposed in thefirst place to the appointment of a Board of three Commissioners, and secondly because no provision had been made as to what it was to manage. The Government have now set out the duties of the Board because of what happened in another Chamber, and to that extent the measure is more satisfactory than the one previously before the Senate. The proposed Board will have to control the Service, and at the same time exercise the functions provided in clause 15. I have already quoted the statement of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) to the effect -that it would take the ablest business men in Australia all their time to do what is provided in clause 15.

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