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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator DE LARGIE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Yes, and they can be brought forward at what may be considered an opportune time. If this practice is followed in connexion with the staff of this Parliament, it is easy to understand what oan be done in other Departments. It shows how careful we should be.

Senator Payne - I thought we were dealing with the question of appeals, and not of records.

Senator DE LARGIE - That may be so, but as the question of records has been introduced I consider it my duty to bring a striking instance under the notice of honorable senators. I believe there is some misunderstanding concerning the question of appeals, and the opinions I hold are somewhat different to those which have been expressed by other honorable senators. Sub-clause 2 reads -

If the Chief Officer, or any officer prescribed as having power to deal with minor offences, has any reason to believe that an officer has committed a minor offence, he may call upon the officer for an explanation as to the alleged offence, and if, on consideration of the explanation, he is of the opinion that the offence has been committed, he may caution or reprimand the offending officer, or fine him an amount- not exceeding 5s.

I take it that that ends the reference to minor offences. The sub-clause then goes on -

Any caution, reprimand, or fine by an officer other than the Chief Officer shall be forthwith reported to the Chief Officer, and where the offence has been punished by a fine, the officer affected may appeal to the Chief Officer within forty-eight hours of the notification to him of the punishment. Upon such appeal the Chief Officer may confirm, annul, or reduce the punishment, and his decision shall be final.

If that sub-clause is read in conjunction with paragraph c of sub-clause, 3 and the proviso, it will be seen that an officer charged with a grave offence may appeal. But there is no appeal in connexion with minor offences.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not where a fine is inflicted by a chief officer.

Senator DE LARGIE - That is so. The provisions in that clause should be separated, otherwise it may be misunderstood.

Senator ADAMSON(Queensland) relation to offences, particularly minor offences committed by officers of the Service, the Government are inclined to take a kindly view. I am of opinion that to have too rigid, hard-and-fast, and " ironclad" clauses and regulations often leads to the commission of offences rather than exerts any restraining influence. I remember that when the Railway Regulation Bill was before the Queensland Parliament a clause was put in to wipe out the record of all past offences. That clause had a good effect on the morale of the railway service. This Bill is a thoroughly humane and truly democratic Bill, for it is seeking to advance the truest interests of the Public Service. The Minister (Senator Russell), in accepting amendments, and in his pronouncements in relation to airmen, returned soldiers, and naval men, shows that the Government are anxious to place on the statute-book an Act of the most humane kind. I think that is what we want to aim at, particularly at a time like the present. We have had plenty of blood-shedding, hard discipline, and "iron-bound" rules, and we now want something humane to appeal to the better nature of men. I have listened to the discussion as carefully as I could - I am under a disadvantage in some respects - and I think that it has been of a high order. Many things have been made clear to me. I have not had a chance of reading carefully and minutely the Commonwealth Public Service Act, although I have read the Queensland Act. In future I hope to be able to take a , more decided part in the debates in this Senate than I have been able to take foi some time past. I am thankful to members of the Senate for the kindly way in which they have treated me during the last fourteen months. They have been terrible months to me; and, probably, only I know how terrible they have been. I want to do what I can in the future for the country that has done so much for me, and I hope I shall be able to do more than I have done in the past.

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