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Tuesday, 6 December 1960

Mr STEWART (Lang) .- I wish to refer to the same clause, but not exactly the same aspects of it, as did the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). Proposed new section 37 provides -

Where the Board is of opinion that persons appointed to particular offices in the Second or Third Division should possess professional, technical or other special qualifications, a person shall not be appointed to such an office unless he possesses those qualifications and, if the Board thinks fit, a person who possesses those qualifications may be appointed to such an office notwithstanding that he does not possess the prescribed educational qualification.

Proposed section 38 then provides for special appointment to the second or third division of a qualified person, after the permanent head of the department concerned has declared that there is no person in the Commonwealth service capable of filling the position in question. Proposed sub-section (4.) of section 38 then provides -

Where the Board makes an appointment under this section, it shall cause a statement containing particulars of the appointment together with a copy of the report and certificate referred to in the last preceding sub-section to be laid before each House of the Parliament within six sitting days of that House after the making of the appointment.

There is no such requirement under proposed section 37. A man who possesses certain professional, technical or other special qualifications, irrespective of whether he is of the prescribed educational standards, can be brought in and appointed to a position, and there is no requirement that the Parliament shall be informed of that appointment. If such a requirement is considered necessary under section 38, in respect of special appointments to the second or third division, why is it not also considered necessary in the case of appointments to positions in which professional, technical or other special qualification* are required? 1 would like to raise one other point. Under proposed section 38, sub-section (3.)-

An appointment of a person under this section to an office shall not be made unless the Board certifies, after obtaining a report from the

Permanent Head of the Department concerned, that it is satisfied that there is no officer available in the Commonwealth Service who is as capable as that person of filling the office.

There could be an occasion on which the permanent bead of a department would be influenced by personal dislike of certain officers of the Public Service possessing qualifications superior to those of persons outside the service who were applying for a particular position. It is unlikely that this would happen in many instances, but it is a possibility. Officers inside the service, possessing outstanding qualifications, might be passed over simply because they were unknown to the permanent head of the department, who would then give the necessary certificate and leave the way open for the appointment of an outside person. Any officers passed over in this way would have no right of appeal. They would have no way of finding out why they were passed over, or why the permanent head had certified that they were not as capable - and that is as high as he needs to put it - of filling the position as the outside applicant.

Those are the two points on which I would like clarification. First, I ask why proposed section 37 does not provide for a statement to be laid before the Parliament, and, secondly, I ask why there is no right of appeal under proposed section 38.

Mr Crean - Will the Prime Minister also explain the use of the expression " qualifying examination " instead of " open examination ", in proposed section 35 (a)? The existing section 34 (b) provides for open examinations.

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