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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr GALVIN (Kingston) .- Mr. Temporary Chairman,the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated that he did not intend to take away from the Public Service Board the right enjoyed by other employers to determine who would be engaged - the right of the board to determine who could enter the employment of the Public Service. What the right honorable gentleman has failed to say, of course, is that the Commonwealth Public Service and the Public Service Board are quite apart from other employers in Australia. General MotorsHolden's Limited or any other big firm has the right to hire and fire at will. Such employers are not bound by any act of Parliament in this respect. They are governed by no statutory conditions as to suitable qualifications for employment, or as to appeals and the like. If these employers want to sack a man, they sack him. But the Public Service Act lays down, and this bill will lay down, conditions with respect to whom the Public Service Board may employ. The suggestion that if the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) were agreed to the Public Service Board would suffer is altogether wrong. If it is argued that the board will be disadvantaged by the proposed amendment, I submit that it can be argued just as strongly that the board is at a disadvantage already in that the Public Service Act now lays down conditions of employment and instructions as to whom shall be employed. The Opposition's proposal is a safeguard, and the Prime Minister should not laugh it off. The Commonwealth Public Service is a career service, and every Australian citizen should enjoy equal opportunities for applying for employment in that service if there is a vacancy which he feels he is qualified to fill. Certainly, if his application is rejected because of some report that he is not a proper person to fill the vacancy, he should have the right to appeal if he believes that he has been unjustly treated.

As to the other matter that was mentioned by the Prime Minister, and that I have raised on previous occasions, all I say is that I shall be supplying the honorable gentleman with facts which can be substantiated by a former senior officer of the Public Service who received a decoration from the Crown for his service to the Commonwealth, and I hope the Prime Minister will have further inquiries made upon receipt of that additional information.

Question put -

That the section proposed to be inserted (Mr.Calwell's amendment) be so inserted.

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