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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I am rather opposed to this amendment. I recognise that if I call for a division I shall probably stand alone. There has been some doubt as to whether the Government have the power to make these appointments, but I understand that it has decided, on legal advice, that it has the power. The amendment will make it certain that Ministers will have the right to appoint their permanent secretaries. There was a time when I favoured that practice, but some appointments made recently have been ' somewhat unsatisfactory, and it is mainly because of them that I am not in favour of the amendment. Some people have wondered why certain recent appointments have been made.

Senator Russell - The GovernorGeneral in Council is not an individual Minister.

Senator Wilson - The GovernorGeneral in Council will do what he is told.

Senator Russell - The decision will rest virtually with the Cabinet.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will be appointment by Cabinet. I do not suggest that a Minister will appoint the head of his Department -without consultinghis colleagues. To the extent that the appointments will be made by the Cabinet, they will be political appointments. The man who has got the ear of the Minister will probably receive the appointment.

Senator Russell - The amendment is limited to heads of Departments.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is so. The old Act was limited to administrative officers.

Senator Russell - I do not know of any appointments made under this clause that any one in Parliament has taken exception to.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Members of Parliament do not always voice their objections, but there have been one or two appointments made lately which have caused people to talk. If a National Government can make appointments that are not altogether satisfactory, other parties, if they get into power, may do the same. It would be allright if the Minister were to be Minister for his life-time. I can understand that the permanent head of his Department is the one who has to carry out his policy, and it would be undesirable that such an officer should be opposed to him.

SenatorFoster. - Does the honorable senator think that if Senator Russell had a man under him who was not doing what he was told the Minister would put up with him?

Senator Russell - That man would go out very quickly.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister has not the power to dismiss anybody. He cannot dismiss an office boy.

Senator Russell - If I had a secretary who was running me, instead of me running him, he would have to get out.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) -What reason is there for giving a Minister the power to appoint a permanent head if he has not also the power to appoint a chief clerk?

Senator Drake-Brockman - Must the man who is appointed come from inside the Service?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the Minister is allowed to go outside the Service, that opens up another 'aspect of the question. If that is done, as time goes on there will be a certain amount of amusement - I put it that way - in the Departments when persons are appointed from outside. I would like the Minister to give some reasons why these appointments should be made by the Cabinet.

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