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Wednesday, 6 July 1921


Senator JOHN D MILLEN (TASMANIA) . - I listened with a great deal of interest to the Minister's remarks. He spoke of the efficiency that a Board would command. I have had a considerable amount of experience with various Boards, and I know that Boards usually end in cliques, not only in the Public Service, but elsewhere. The Minister (Senator Russell) said that probably ohe man would deal with telephony and telegraphy and another with organization. In my opinion, it would be utterly futile and impossible to deal in that way with organization, which is an extraordinarily big question. If you have a machine, you employ experts to handle it, and that machine is designed specially to deal with the problem in hand. At present the Government are not going in for any system of scientific employment, nor do they put the same amount of care and thought into the engagement of men that they put into the buying of a machine. Is it thought that any one man on the Board can take up the question of organization? If we are to deal with organization in a thoroughly scientific manner, we must have laboratories, and efficiency engineers, and testing rooms. That system has been carried out in many of the great American corporations, and has produced phenomenal results. It can produce results equally phenomenal in the Public Service of Australia, if it is properly applied. Experts must first be appointed to deal with the question of scientific employment. I can quote the result in the case of one corporation in America. The clerks were tested, and it was found, after grading them, that a man had been getting £500 per annum for ten years who was worth only £200 per annum. That represented a waste of £3,000 over that period. It is impossible for any one .Commissioner to do all this. In America, in carrying out this -system, they take first the weight and height; and, if the Blackford system is adopted, the colour of the hair, the colour of the eyes, and the width between the eyes. They learn also the lung pressure by the use of a spirometer. Each man tested has to blow into it to show exactly the quantity of air that he is capable of exhaling. This has been found of great practical use. For instance, a man cannot get into the United

States Navy unless he can show 256 cubic inches pressure of air.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I was wondering how the Board of Management is going to do that.'


Senator JOHN D MILLEN (TASMANIA) - -It is utterly impossible. The honorable senator is perfectly right. I am mentioning these matters to. show the futility of expecting any one man to deal with the whole of the organization. A considerable number of laboratories and of experts in those laboratories will be required, and the data obtained there will have to be collected and recorded. All those tests are necessary to ascertain physical qualities which are essential in certain members in various portions of the Public Service. Then you come to the psychological problems, and there you require" psychological laboratories and experts. You must find out how much concentration a man can show. You must ascertain how dexterous he is. You ask him to take up pointers with one hand, and put them into holes in a board like a cribbage board, and next to do the same with the other hand, and then with both hands, and plot the results. You can then divide the number of people you have to deal with into those who are dexterous, or otherwise. Do honorable senators think that any one man, as Public Service Commissioner or as one member of a Board of three, or of five or six, can conduct work of that sort? Having got that far, a further step must then be taken. If the whole project is to be conducted by an organized method heads of Departments must also come within its scope. It would be futile to imagine how, if the head had not the energy, the personality, the reasoning power - the " push," in fact - to conduct his administration, the Department itself could be a live one. In the United States of America a series of tests is given in this direction. First, twenty simple questions are put, each requiring only one word for answer. The intention in this instance is to investigate the subject's speed of thought. Then further questions are given which involve patient analysis. Other tests follow which probe one's gifts of concentration, using deliberate interruptions with a view to ascertaining ability to concentrate. Dictation tests are given, with sudden stoppages, to require the person undergoing the test to add up a sum, which, indicates concentration and recovery from interruption. Efficiency is the one field in which the Government possess opportunities far and away beyond those belonging to private enterprise. If there is one man at the head, of affairs, or if there are fifty, there must still be laboratories and efficiency engineers, who will record and report. As for the merits of efficiency tests, seeing that they can provide mathematical results of human capacities and gifts of specialization, it must be seen that every member of the Public Service would have his fair opportunities of promotion, and of earning rewards in keeping with his qualifications.. One of the difficulties in the Service today is the Jack of efficiency, the absence of real organization, and the dearth of opportunities for brilliant young men to advance. Men of this latter type cannot see daylight ahead of them, in serving the public. The result is that, if they have any ambition, they get out and enter the ranks of private enterprise. They get away from the Public Service, which affords opportunities of advancement practically only by way of the retirement' or death of seniors. In private employment, however, efficiency tells. Merit, however youthful, may make itself felt. A great opportunity is afforded the, Government to inaugurate efficiency tests and laboratory investigations. Only the Government can expend the necessary money upon the establishment of such a system. All that the Minister has said in support of the clause was perfectly .correct, but his arguments were more correctly applicable to the selection of one man than of three. With one man at the head, and ha vin sr an efficient card system so that he could lay Iris hand on any member of the Service, and. say with emphatic exactitude. " Such and such are your. qualifications, and such and such is 'the position which they entitle you to hold," there could be brought about genuine efficiency and, at the same time, satisfaction throughout the Service. I support the amendment because I believe that to depart from the principle of having a single official at the head of affairs would not be for the benefit of the Commonwealth Service.







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