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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) . - The honorable senator has saddled me with a desire for the introduction into the Public Service of the system of " spoils to the victors."

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not do so.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I wish to make it quite clear that I do not in the least approve of the introduction of any such system into the Commonwealth Public Service. I wish to make it quite clear also that, in my opinion, it is very desirable that where new appointments of permanent heads are being made, Ministers in charge of the Departments concerned should have a say. In this connexion, I have had a little personal experience. I came into command of a Brigade on active service. It so happened that three of the commands within that Brigade fell vacant, and three, names were sent to me of persons who were to be appointed to those commands. I knew those three men, and my opinion of them was that they were not suitable for commands under me. It was pointed out to me that some one else had recommended them as being fit for the command of battalions. I then said, "Let those people have them. I do not want them. They are not suitable, in my opinion." I was then told that I must take them. Then I said to my Divisional Commander, " Who is responsible for the efficiency of the Brigade; am I responsible, or are you?" He said, "You are."I replied, "Very well, sir, I am going to have men in command of my battalions whom I consider efficient, and in whom I have confidence. If I am head of the Brigade and responsible for it, I cannot have men under me whom I consider incompetent to manage my subordinate departments properly." I got my own way.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Suppose the honorable senator left his command for a higher one, and some one succeeded him who thought the officers whom he had appointed were not efficient, what would happen then?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - As soon as he found they were inefficient, he would take steps to get rid of them; and that, I. suppose, is what a Minister in charge of a Department would do.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of a Department cannot do that.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - In theory, he may not be able to do so, but in the Army the same theory applies.

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