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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr GALVIN (Kingston) .- 1 will be very brief on this matter. The provision which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) seeks to amend - the known character provision - has, in practice, been operating for a very long time. The act itself contains no reference to an applicant being a fit and proper person to be employed in the Commonwealth Service, but in practice the Commonwealth Public Service Board, acting on reports received by it from other people, has had to make decisions on whether persons were fit and proper for employment in the Commonwealth Service. The Government is proposing to put into the act a provision which will specifically cover this position and, because this is a new departure, I think that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) could well consider accepting the amendment.

The amendment is designed to incorporate safeguards in the act. The Leader of the Opposition said that because of a mistake in identity an applicant might be refused employment in the Public Service. He said, however, that it was not very likely that such a thing would happen. But the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) pinpointed last week a case where a mistake in identity prevented a young lad from obtaining employment in the Public Service. A police report showed that the lad had some police court convictions. After representations had been made it was discovered that the convictions were not against the boy, but against the boy's father, who bore the same full name. It was not until the honorable member for Grayndler took the matter up with the Prime Minister or somebody in the Government that the case was investigated and the mistake was discovered. The mistake was thereupon corrected, and the boy was brought into the Public Service. But if that boy had not been able to approach somebody with his case the result would not have been as happy as that. Now we ask that safeguards against that sort of thing be put into the act. I should like the Parliament to go even further, and provide for safeguards with respect to promotion cases. In all cases in which a decision is made regarding promotion or appointment the authorities act on information received. The Public Service Board must make its decision on evidence contained in reports put before it. Many of these come from the security service and other organizations. The Prime Minister smiles. I gave particulars of a case in my second-reading speech. The Prime Minister was not in the House at the time.

Mr Menzies - I have read it. I will tell you about it shortly.

Mr GALVIN - The details are contained in my speech. The chap has been in touch with me since I spoke. Sir Philip McBride can substantiate the facts. I will not give the man's name in the Parliament, but it was a case in which justice was not done. I am sure the Prime Minister will have a good look at it and see what can be done. After all, mistakes do occur. 1 believe that some protection for employees should be included in the bill. If Bill Jones is told that he is not a fit and proper person for the service, he should have the right to appeal if he wishes to do so. If he has some skeleton in the cupboard which he knows would prevent him from entering the service, he is not likely to lodge an appeal. However, if it is an instance in which an incorrect report has been made against him, he will have the opportunity to present his case to the court. If his case is proved to be right, he should be given employment. We have been told that the practice outlined in the bill has been observed in the past and is now being included in the statute. It is, as it were, a known character provision. I believe that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition would make the provision in the bill quite clear and would provide a safeguard. I should like to see the amendment carried.

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