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Tuesday, 6 December 1960


Mr STEWART (Lang) . - I agree that the Public Service Board should have the right to decide who shall be a fit and proper person to be employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. That is absolutely necessary in order to maintain the integrity, honesty and loyalty of our public servants. But at the same time I suggest to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that it is just as necessary for any individual who applies for a position in the Commonwealth Public Service and is rejected because he is not considered by the board to be a fit and proper person, to have the right to learn why he is not considered by the board to be a fit and proper person. I do not for one moment think that the board will pass over people who apply for a position in the service because of some fiddling little conviction or escapade in which he may have indulged in his early days. Only recently, the son of a member of this House was caught in an escapade. It was one of those youthful skirmishes that we hear about. If the Public Service Board intends to be hidebound in its application of this provision in the bill, this person possibly will be unable to obtain employment in the service.

Many of us in our younger days were caught up in some escapade or other. Perhaps most of us escaped without being apprehended, but some of us were apprehended and now bear a blot on our record. But no one could say that we would not be fit and proper persons to be employed by the Commonwealth Public Service. Whilst I agree that the board should have the right 10 decide who is fit and proper, I also think that for the sake of justice, some protection should be provided in the bill. I do not necessarily mean the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who said that this was not necessarily the only solution to the problem. There should be in the bill some provision which will enable a man who has been rejected because he has not satisfied the Public Service Board that he is a fit and proper person for employment to find out exactly why he has been declared unfit for a position in the Commonwealth Public Service.

A person who knew full well that he was not a fit and proper person for employment in the Public Service would not make use of such a provision, because he would know that he had not a case and that he could not possibly convince the board or any one else who might hear his appeal that he was a fit and proper person for employment. Consequently, the kind of provision that we suggest would be used on very few occasions. It would be taken advantage of only by those who are firmly convinced in their own minds that they have been unjustly treated.

I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. I do not suggest that the Opposition's amendment is necessarily the only solution to the problem, but I ask the Prime Minister for the sake of justice to a few individuals to see that there is embodied in the bill a provision which will enable a person who has been declared by the Public Service Board to be not a fit and proper person for employment in th i Public Service to find out what has been held against him.







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