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Wednesday, 9 November 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - I move -

That in paragraph (c) of sub-clause 5 the words " or organization " be inserted after the word " Division ".

The division just taken shows emphatically how necessary it is that the appellant should have as his representative on the Board a person acquainted with the facts from his view-point. As the Minister (Senator Russell) has indicated, the other members of the Board, namely, the permanent chairman and the officer of the Department to which the appellant belongs, will really be in a position to determine the charge. In effect, the officer of the Department will be the representative of the officer who lays the charge. It is essential, therefore, that the appellant should have a chance of being heard by the appointment on the Board of a representative of his organization.

Senator Russell - He may employ a King's counsel if he wants to.

Senator SENIOR - A King's counsel may not know so much about the circumstances surrounding a charge as a member of the organization to which the appellant belongs.

Senator Benny - But a member of the organization should not have a seat on the judicial bench - in this case, the Appeal Board.

Senator SENIOR - Upon the honorable senator's own reasoning, the appellant should be directly represented. The Committee has already determined that one member of the Board shall be an officer of the Department to which the appellant belongs. To be logical, therefore, we cannot deny the appellant himself the right of direct representation. Suppose, for instance, an officer is charged with dereliction of duty, such as neglect properly to attach telephone wires to an insulator. The details of this work can be known only to men in his organization. An officer of the Postal Sorters Union, for instance, would have no knowledge of the circumstances, and yet he might be called upon to assist in determining the charge.

Senator Russell - In such circumstances, the appellant could bring in other linesmen as expert witnesses.

Senator SENIOR - That would make the procedure of the Appeal Board too cumbersome.

Senator Russell - Take the Treasury and Home and Territories Departments, what have officers in those Departments in common with one another? Or take employees on the transcontinental railway. They are in the Public Service. What would they have in common with officers of the Treasury?

Senator SENIOR - The Minister is proving my own argument. A division includes a very large number of Commonwealth public servants. If one member of the Appeal Board is to be the elected representative of the division to which an appellant belongs, the person appointed may know nothing whatever about telephones, and the charge may be some dereliction of duty in the fixing of telephone wires. A penalty may be inflicted for neglect of duty, and because it is considered excessive an appeal may be lodged.

Senator JOHN D MILLEN (TASMANIA) - The three members of the Board should be able to weigh the evidence adduced.

Senator SENIOR - That is what I am asking for.

Senator JOHN D MILLEN (TASMANIA) - They need not necessarily be attached to any particular Department or organization.

Senator SENIOR - But the members of the Board should know the value of the evidence submitted, and whether the fine inflicted was a just one or not. A person who was not acquainted with the work of examining telephones could not say whether the neglect of duty would have serious consequences or not. A person possessing a knowledge of the work performed by the appellant - not necessarily one in the same district - should have a seaton the Board, so that he could explain exactly what the failure to perform the duty meant.

Amendment negatived.

Sub-clause 5 also verbally amended.

Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -

That after sub-clause (5) the following new sub-clause be inserted: - (5a) Every member of an Appeal Board shall, before proceeding to perform the duties or exercise the powers of a member of an Appeal Board, take an oath or make an affirmation in the form in the Fifth Schedule to this Act.

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