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Friday, 11 November 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - This clause refers to the presence in the Commonwealth Public Service of any objectionable person, described in the marginal note as an officer of enemy origin. Seeing that the Empire, which includes Australia, is at peace with late enemy countries, I do not know if it is advisable to perpetuate the verbiage of the clause, and particularly the marginal note.

Senator Reid - It provides for future contingencies in the Pacific.

Senator LYNCH - Would the honorable senator go so far as to describe our enemies of the future?

Senator Russell - The clause would cover the case of a civilian of alien origin, the citizen of a country in which the law of conscription prevails.

Senator LYNCH - Broadly speaking, it may be said that this country and the Empire are at peace with every other country in the world to-day, and I find it a little difficult to understand the justification for the reference in the clause to an officer of enemy origin. If there is good ground for believing that an officer 13 disaffected or disloyal he should not be continued in the Service; but is it wise that we should adopt the expensive and cumbersome method of appointing a Royal Commission to bring about his dismissal ?

Senator Russell - The Royal Commissioner in such a case is usually a police magistrate or a Judge of an inferior Court.

Senator Foster - Why could not the Board deal with these cases?

Senator LYNCH - That is just what I am trying to find out.

Senator Russell - Some of these are very serious cases, and call ,f or considerable inquiry.

Senator LYNCH - Could not the Board make the inquiry ?

Senator Russell - We have found this a very complicated matter in the past.

Senator LYNCH - The Minister's statement is an admission that a Royal Commission, consisting of a magistrate or a Judge of an inferior Court, would be a more competent tribunal than the Board.

Senator Russell - The reason for the Royal Commission is to confer on the tribunal making the inquiry the powers given to a Royal Commission under the Royal Commissions Act, which powers the Board would not have.

Senator LYNCH - I do not see the necessity for the adoption of this expensive method to discover whether a person in the Public Service is disaffected or disloyal. I do not see why the Board should not be armed with sufficient powers to make the necessary inquiries in these cases, and to inflict punishment where that seemed to be justified, even to the extent of dismissal from the Service.' I do not know that a magistrate or a Judge of an inferior Court would possess special qualifications which would not be possessed by the Board. It might be shown that the person charged was not actually disloyal. He might come right up to the chalk -line, but not cross it. It seems to me that it would be rather futile to appoint a Royal Commission to make an investigation which might end in smoke. If the Board can be trusted to deal with members of the Service in all other respects, I do not see why it should not be empowered to consider the case of an officer suspected of disaffection or disloyalty.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Senator Russell) proposed -

That after sub-clause (1) the following new sub-clause be inserted : - " (1a) If the Board, after inquiry, reports to the Governor-General that in its opinion the continuance of any person in the Public Service or employ is detrimental to the public safety or the defence of the Common-' wealth, the Governor-General may dismiss the person from the Public Service or employ."

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