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Thursday, 7 July 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) . - My first objection to the amendment is that it is too vague. It contains the phrase "nominated by the Public Service organizations." Who are these bodies ? Presumably they exist, but certainly not under this Bill. It contains no definition of them, and' has nothing to say as to who they are, how they are constituted, who brings them into being, and who controls them, or whether they comprise the whole or only portion of the ranks of civil servants throughout theCommon wealth. Nor is there any machinery provided in the Bill for conducting an election. This first objection, I submit, is fatal. Senator Senior says there is no reason why a member of the Public Service should not have a seat upon a Board of this description. I suggest that the honorable senator read the rest of the Bill. He might also recall what has been the character of our Arbitration Courts. The experience of all who have had to deal with these Courts confirms that they consist, in effect, of a Judge and a special advocate for each side; and that, in fact, neither of these latter interested parties is a Judge at all, but is purely a special advocate for the interests which he represents, and which has appointed him to his position. If one of the members of the proposed Board were the nominee of the Public Service, either by popular election or by selection of the organizations, he would be nothing but a special advocate for the Service. It would notbe his interest to safeguard the welfare of the general public; but that is what we want the Board for.

Senator Duncan - It would be a case of 30,000 people having one representative, and of 5,000,000 people having two.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Quite so, and the proportion is all wrong. If he will carefully read the remainder of the Bill, Senator Senior will discover that there is reference to a power of delegation on the part of the Board, so that any one of its members may carry out practically the whole of the functions of the Board. Should there be a special representative of the Service upon the Board, those powers of delegation could never be exercised, for it would be impossible to delegate the whole of the Board's functions upon one individual solely and specially representing the 30,000 public servants. Should some specialcase arise, say, in Western Australia, wher.e ordinarily one member of the. Board could, attend' to matters having the full powers, of the Board delegated upon him - the. whole of the> Board would- have- to: travel, to: Western Australia. In fact* the scheme generally would, break down.. If the power of delegation were placed upon the. one advocate whose special .and sole interests were those of the Public .Service, where would be the rights and interests of- the 5,000,000 people of Australia.?

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