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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I wish to refer to the time within which an officer shall reply to a charge made against him. The time provided for under the clause is fortyeight hours, even in connexion with a major offence, which might, and probably would, necessitate consultation with a legal adviser and with friends, the collection ofevidence, and a somewhat exhaustive inquiry into the circumstances under which the officer charged might successfully appeal against a possible act of injustice. We have considered the time allowed for an appeal against a fine or reprimand, or other minor penalty imposed by an officer other than the head of a Department, and during the consideration of that matter the Minister (Senator Russell) agreed that that time might not be long enough for the preparation of an appeal in the case of a major offence. I have discussed the Bill in a somewhat cursory way with one or two officers of the Commonwealth Public Service in my own State. They suggested to me that in the case of major offences four days would be a fairer time to allow for an appeal. The high council of the Commonwealth Public Service that has gone very minutely into this Bill, has suggested that seven days should be allowed in which to lodge an appeal where an officer is charged with a major offence. We have to decide as between forty-eight hours, four days, and seven days which would be the fairest time to allow.

Senator Russell - I intend to propose that the words " as prescribed " be left out with a view to inserting the words, " in such manner and after such time not exceeding seven days as may be prescribed." That should meet the honorable senator's objection.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I agree that the amendment suggested by the Minister is an improvement upon that which I intended to propose.

Amendment (by Senator Russell) proposed -

That after the word " imposed," in the 'proviso to sub-clause 3, the words " or recommended " be inserted.

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