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Thursday, 7 July 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - If the words of the VicePresident (Senator Russell) are of any value his objection wouldalso apply to the other two members of the Board, but in another direction. These two men would have to fix the salaries of the Public Service they would then be directly controlling on behalf of the Government, by virtue of the powers given to them by Parliament. Does the Minister fear that the representative of the Service would overpower the other two members of the proposed Board ? Does he think that the representative of the public servants would have more authority than the representatives of the Government? If honorable senators peruse clause 15 - which, I am not at liberty to refer to at this juncture - they will find that the question of wages is relatively small when compared with the duties to be undertaken in other directions. The Minister has admitted that there are men in the Service capable of performing useful work on a Board of this kind, and I cannot see that there is any foundation for his argument that because wages have to be fixed by the Board, such an appointment would be undesirable.

Senator Russell - It would not necessarily debar a public servant from being appointed to the Board - that will probably be done - but such a representative would not be elected by the Service. He might be nominated by the Government.

Senator SENIOR - The amendment of Senator Payne is that a representativeof the Service shall be selected by the Public Service organizations. The Public Service would not choose a man, but merely make a selection. The Minister has said that because the employees have not had representation on similar Boards before that it should not be done now. If that is the attitude to be adopted, all our legislation could be destroyed by a similar argument.

Senator Russell - It has not been done because it is unsound.

Senator SENIOR - It has not been tried. How can the Minister say that it is unsound when an experiment has not been made?

Senator Bolton -It has been tried in connexion with returned soldiers.

Senator SENIOR - Not in the. way the Minister suggests. No argument has so far been advanced concerning why a representative selected from the Public Service should not have a seat on a Board designed to govern the Service. A representative of the Public Service who has grown up therein would be bound to know far more of its workings and requirements than the best commercial or specialist outsider. A Board having among its personnel a direct representative from the Service would certainly be better equipped to ascertain the requirements, to deal with the grievances, and reorganize the management, of the whole body of public servants.

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