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Friday, 8 July 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I do not regard the' amendment moved by Senator Elliott in the same way as the Vice-President of the Executive. Council ('Senator Russell), although thelast portion seems to convey what he suggests. If the Board of Management submits a recommendation in the interests of efficiency or economy with which the Minister and the permanent head of the Department do not approve, the Board should have the right to bring their recommendation directly before Parliament. In certain circumstances the Minister and the permanent head may be able to persuade the Board that they arewrong, in which case the recommendation could be withdrawn, and I do not know why that should not be done. The Minister said that it would not be right to withdraw a report or recommendation. ,

Senator Russell - I did not suggest that if they were still of the opinion that their recommendation was sound it should be withdrawn. _ Senator THOMAS.- I believe the Minister would fully consider the suggestions submitted to him by the permanent head of a Department, but a question of policy or finance might be involved, and the - suggestion, although of value, might be impracticable. Senator Elliott desires to provide that in the event of the permanent head of a Department and a Minister disagreeing with the Board the report shall be brought before Parliament.

Senator RUSSELL - The Bill now provides for the Board to report to Parliament.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is all the amendment provides.

Senator Russell - No. It compels the Minister to report for the Board.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Senator Elliott desires a recommendation which has been turned down by the Minister and the permanent head to be brought before Parliament, so that we may know what has been rejected.

Senator Elliott - I prefer the Minister to bring the matter directly under our notice - instead of laying a. report on the table. He would, then have the opportunity of giving his. reasons for disagreeing, and asking for support.

Senator Crawford - Does the honorable senator suggest that every recommendation to the Board should be brought before Parliament I

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. Only matters on which the permanent head of the Department and the Minister disagree with the Board. This amendment does not provide that every recommendation of the Board must be accepted. If a head of a Department is opposed to the recommendations of the Board, and he has the support of the Minister, I do not think Parliament will bother very much. I do not think we would be able to do much, even if resolutions to- which the Government were opposed were passed. There are occasions when suggestions made by the heads of Departments are turned . down, sometimes for political reasons.

Senator Crawford - Would not all the recommendations of the Board be embodied in an annual report-?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. In a report which no ohe would read, and probably if the recommendations of the Board were submitted from time1 to time they would not be read.

Senator Pearce - Is not the AuditorGeneral's report read? Every time it is brought before Parliament there is a good deal of criticism in the newspapers.

Senator Crawford - If the annual re-' port will not be read, a continuous stream of interim, reports or recommendations will have little consideration. '

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Certain, suggestions made by the Public Service Commissioner have never been considered.

Senator Russell - Every suggestion of the Public Service Commissioner has been considered, and many are embodied in. this measure.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Mclachlan/ in one of his annual reports suggested that the post-offices in all States should close at 6 o'clock, as was the case in Queensland, but it was many years before the other States adopted the practice.

Senator Russell - That is a matter of policy, and the Minister, and not the Public Service -Commissioner, would be responsible.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The recommendation was made, but apparently it was never considered by Parliament.

Senator Pearce - This amendment means that whenever a report or recommendation is laid on the table with which the Minister disagrees, a resolution must be submitted in both Houses.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is very necessary, because the matter . is then brought under the notice of members.

Senator Elliott - That is why I have submitted the amendment.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If a resolution were submitted the Minister would have to give reasons for disagreeing.

Senator Benny - The Bill provides for that. If the Board is dissatisfied with the Minister's decision they, can go direct to Parliament.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some means must be devised for overcoming the difficulties which will be created when the Board and the Minister disagree.

Senator Pearce - It might be over the appointment of additional messengers. :

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Surely a Board' which has to carry out the . important duties mentioned in clause 15 would not create dissension over such a trivial question as the appointment of additional messengers !

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