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Thursday, 7 July 1921

The CHAIRMAN - It will be necessary for the honorable senator to move for their omission one at a time.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Very well. I move -

That sub-clause 3 be left out, with a view to insert in. lieu thereof " Any person who is appointed a Commissioner shall be appointed for seven years."

I want to prevent re-appointments to the Board at the close of three-, four, and five years, as proposed by the Government. I desire to make the Board as strong as possible, and that can only be done by giving its members a reasonable tenure of office. The Minister (Senator Russell) has urged in support of the

Government's proposal that it will ecure continuity of policy. The same can be said for the amendment I submit. The Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), when introducing the Bill to provide for a Board of Management, which was previously considered by the Senate, urged that the members of the Board should be appointed first of all in the way here proposed in order that if the Government subsequently found that the plan was not so successful as they anticipated it would be, it might be altered within a reasonable time. That can scarcely be said to be a. strong argument in favour of the proposal. It does not say much for the confidence Ministers have as to its success. We are not here to pass legislation with the idea that we may repeal it after a little time. This Board of Management will have very important functions. Under clause 15 of the Bill it may be called upon to take strong action, even against the opinion of Ministers in the appointment of officers. If it is appealed to, it may have to stand up against Ministers and permanent heads, because both Ministers and permanent heads will, under this Bill, have more say in the matter of appointments than they have hitherto had. I want to provide for a reasonable tenure of office for members of the Board, and to prevent the necessity for . continual reappointments by the Government.

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