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Wednesday, 6 July 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) .- I have .listened with considerable interest to the two previous speakers, and I agree with a great deal of what has been said. I shall vote for the clause as it stands, however, because I believe that to have a number of men in control of the Public Service is better than to place authority within the autocratic power of one individual. One of the greatest needs of the Service is to foster contentment among its personnel. Such a sentiment does not exist to-day. Only by creating a general feeling of satisfaction can we hope to secure the greatest degree, of efficiency. Whether there are three or four or seven members of the Board it will be impossible for any one of them to become, or be regarded as, an expert in any of the various Departments and Branches of Departments. With a Board of three, however, there should be a better chance of bringing about good feeling towards the administration than in the case of one mau being given sole control. The reference to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company does not supply a fair illustration.

Senator Duncan - That company can dismiss an employee at a week's notice, but no public servant can be got rid df like that.

Senator EARLE - That is so. Wa would have to pay our public officers much higher salaries if they had not the assurance of continuous employment. Private enterprise has an advantage over public employment in that there is greater scope for promotion out merit. I repeat that, even "with a Board of halfadozen men, or more, it could not be expected that any one of them would be an expert in any particular Department or Branch.

Senator Russell - -No, but the Board could employ specialists.

Senator EARLE - That argument, of course, applies whether there be a Board of three or one .Commissioner. My chief point is that if there are three members, discussing questions affecting the Public Service their decisions will probably give greater satisfaction than a decision by one man. The appointment of three, therefore, will prove best in the interests both of the Service and of the general taxpayer. There is another consideration, namely, that if the Board is to consist of three, one of its members should be a. direct representative of the Public Service organizations. I do not suggest that this representative should be selected by popular vote, but that he should be the nominee of the High Council which, itself, is appointed by the Public Service Associations. There would certainly be a better feeling if the Service were given such a direct voice in its own affairs. I oppose the amendment, and shall endeavour to have the clause amended to provide that one of the three members of the Board shall be the nominee of the Public Service organizations.

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