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Friday, 26 May 1972
Page: 2193


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - Before the Minister replies, perhaps I could make my comments on this clause and the Minister could then reply to all of the arguments. I come down on the side of what Mr Killen said in the other place. The clause is so vague that 1 seek interpretation of what is intended to be the type of person who will be appointed as deputy president. I take it from the use of the disjunctive 'or' after proposed new subsection (b) that one has to have the qualifications set out in (a) or (b) or (c) but not the lot. After (c) appear the following words: and is, in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral . . .

I take it that one also has to have the qualifications in the overriding paragraph at the end of (a), (b) and (c). While (a) seems clear, one of the qualifications in (b) is experience at a high level in industry. What is meant by 'high level'? I am reminded of this by the Minister's statement yesterday about difficulty in getting commissioners because suitable people were not attracted to the position. I know several men in industry who I thought would make admirable commissioners and who applied for commissioners' jobs, but were rejected. In the appointing officer's opinion they did not have the requisite qualifications. Under this Bill they will have to have had experience at a high level in industry. Where do we draw the demarcation line to indicate a high level? Is it a managerial or executive position? Could it be the position of a foreman in industry or some other person experienced in commerce or in industrial relations? Does experience as an ordinary industrial officer at a factory or in an employer's organisation or as an industrial officer in a trade union come within the definition of 'high level'?


Senator Devitt - Or a Boeing pilot?


Senator CAVANAGH - I do not know. That could be. I think we should not leave too much discretion with the Minister. After we find out what is the definition of a high level in industry we find that to be appointed a person has to have another qualification, which is set out in the Bill in these terms: and is, in the opinion of the Governor-General, by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community, a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of a Deputy President.

I would have thought that an applicant who, by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community, was consideerd a fit and proper person to discharge the duties of a deputy president should be entitled to appointment. Irrespective of whether he is suitable in the opinion of the Governor-General, if he holds adequate qualifications he should qualify for appointment. Under this provision, no matter whether he is a fit and proper person with adequate qualifications or character references he will not be appointed if he is not suitable in the opinion of the Governor-General, which in effect means the opinion of the Minister who recommends to the Governor-General. Thus a single Minister is given the power to appoint or reject any person who has no redress in the way of appeal, whether he is seeking appointment or promotion from the Public Service to this level. Such a person meets the barriers of the opinion of the Governor-General, regardless of qualifications. I have continually opposed such provisions. If a person by reason of his qualifications, experience and standing in the Australian community is a fit and proper person he should be appointed, whether the Governor-General believes he is suitable or not. I think that is another question.







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