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Thursday, 7 July 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I intend to support the amendment. We have heard a great deal in previous discussions of this Bill about discontent in the Public Service. We have been told that the substitution of the Board of Management for the Commissioner would get rid of a great deal of that discontent; but if there is to be no representative of the Public Service on the Board, I do not think that we. can , expect to get rid of the discontent which has been referred to.

Senator Fairbairn - Has the honorable senator ever known any one who was con.tented with his salary ?

Senator KEATING - No. The condition of discontent is divine. Although the members of the Public Service are only human, they still have certain divine attributes. It is urged that a direct repre: sentative of the Public Service on the Board of Management might -regard himself as to some extent the advocate of the interests of the Service particularly. We might just as well regard the other two members of the Board as representatives of the Government and the general public respectively. It might be natural for the representative of the public servants to adopt the attitude of van advocate ; but I do not think it necessarily follows that he will disregard entirely the interests of the Government or of the public. I know the difficulties attendant upon control by a Board of Management, and I have dealt with this matter in connexion with a previous clause when I made it clear that Ave were not justified in changing from a Public Service Commissioner to a Board of Control. The Government have taken this responsibility, and have chosen to appoint a Board in place of a Public Service Commissioner. If a Board has been decided upon, I am certainly going to support the proposal that the public servants shall. have the right to nominate one of the three members. This principle has been adopted elsewhere, notably in Great Britain^ as during the war period great trouble arose between the Government and the railway employees. To some extent they were overcome by the management being vested in an authority, a portion of which was directly representative of the employees. Before the war, when the railways of G./eat Britain were under the control of private companies, there was a good deal of discontent, and it had been suggested that the employees should have some voice in the management. Later, when the Government controlled the various railway services, the employees had representation on the Board of Control. The same principle has been adopted in connexion with coal min- ing and other huge enterprises. One of the basic principles in the Whitley report was a participation in the management of industries by those who were actually doing the work. If this method has worked successfully in undertakings such as I have mentioned, I have reason to hope that it will be successful, and very little reason to doubt that it would prove effective in .connexion with the management of the Public Service by the proposed Board.

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