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Thursday, 7 July 1921

Senator FAIRBAIRN (Victoria) . - When the Bill was last under consideration by the Senate, I was inclined to favour this proposal: On further thought, and after listening to the arguments advanced to-day, I am not so keen about it; We have to consider who has controlled the. Service in the past. In the first instance, the heads of Departments possessed the . power of control, and I think they were untrammelled. It was considered that, under that system, members of Parliament exercised too much influence with the heads of Departments. The Board of Management is intended to be a body that will act fairly between the public servants and their employers, the community at large, who provide the funds for their employment/ The. Board must be a thoroughly impartial body. If we have an advocate of any particular section on the Board, that will probably tend to increase the discontent in the Service.

Senator Earle - I do not think the honorable senator should anticipate that the public servants' representative on the

Board would be an advocate any more than would the other members of the Board be advocates for the Government.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - If the public servants' representative is not an advocate for those who have nominated him he will not occupy his position very long. It will be expected of him that in all circumstances he will put the case of the employees of the Government. If his advocacy should be disapproved, there will be greater discontent in the Service than there will be if the Board is constituted of three impartial men. I understand that it is the intention of the Government to appoint one civil servant as a member of the Board.

Senator Keating - The chairman would have to be selected from the Public! Service.

Senator FAIRBAIRN - Those appointed to the Board will not .continue to be public servants. We require perfectly independent men on the Board to protect the interests of the public, and at the same time to see that the employees of the Government are properly looked after. Public servants differ from men in outside employment. They will still have the protection of their parliamentary representatives. When a member of the Public Service has a grievance he soon lets his parliamentary representative know about it. We bring pressure to bear on behalf of public servants, and are practically advocates of their interests. I cannot see my way to support the amendment, because I believe that ,we require a thoroughly impartial Board. There should be on the Board one man selectedby the Public Service whose knowledge of the Service will enable him to guide the other members. The other members of the Board should be business men who will understand how the different Departments may be run economically. Such' men are specially needed. I feel sure that the 5,000,000 people outside the Public Service desire that ari absolutely independent Board shall be appointed.

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