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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I take it then that the honorable senator will vote in accordance with that view. However, the Governmentbelieve in having a free hand in selecting the best men available.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And in going outside the Service?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The . Bill provides that, in circumstances where the Board is able to give a certificate that the Service cannot provide the requisite man, selection may be made from outside.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The fact is that the Government cannot choose from outside without the consent of the Commissioner.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In effect, that is so.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the appointment cannot be said to be the Minister's ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, with that modification.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is an appointment by the Minister, subject to the consent of the Commissioner, or of the Board.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Nevertheless the selection is made by the Minister from the very best men available anywhere. The question, however, is whether it would be better that the person concerned shouldbe selected by the Cabinet, with full appreciation of the responsibility, or whether the choice should be handed over to a Board, which, after all, is largely guided by regulations.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But this willbe a different Board.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable senator expects that, he must have greater faith in human nature than I possess. One hears talk of securing the rewards of merit. The Public Service is largely routine-controlled. Men receive promotion by way of seniority, plus, in many instances, records of reasonably good service. But, with respect to the rapid advance of certain others, the suggestion underlying such progress is that the Government, having free choice, have selected and promoted men who have revealed outstanding merit.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it a fact that a Minister may not even choose his own private secretary?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There are limitations in making a selection. In response to a notification that a Minister desires a private secretary, the Commissioner will submit a name. I do not imply that a Minister has absolutely no voice. He can veto a candidate whom he may not consider suitable; and that right of veto is essential.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But it is only a negative power.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - As a matter of actual practice, the power of veto can be exercised to produce positive results. It can be so used as ultimately to secure one's own individual selection. In many years' experience I have not heard of any greatevil arising from the present practice, but I can readily conceive of some unfortunate appointments being made if the system of Ministerial selection did not prevail. I ask honorable senators, therefore, to permit matters to remain as they satisfactorily exist.

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