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Thursday, 10 November 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) .- I agree entirely with Senator Elliott. I should prefer to strike out the words " after report from the chief officer," and to make the clause read -

If an officer appears to the Board to be inefficient or incompetent, or unfit to discharge, or incapable of discharging the duties of his office efficiently, the Board may retire- and so on. The whole purpose of the appointment of the Board is to see that the Public Service shall be carried on economically and on business lines. It has been proposed as the result of a considerable amount of inquiry, and many reports submitted to Parliament. There has also been a demand from many quarters that the Public Service should bo placed on a business basis as far as possible.

Senator Russell - Does the honorable senator think that if one of his staff is inefficient, the head of a Department should not report the matter to the Board?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Unquestionably it should be the duty of the head of a Department to report any incompetent officer to the Board; but there is no use in saying that the Board shall not get rid of an incompetent man unless the -head of the Department has first reported his incompetency. The Board should be able to get rid of him whether the head of the Department reports his incompetence or not. Under the clause the Board may not move in such a matter unless a report from the chief officer has previously been received. If the clause were amended as I suggest, that should not relieve the head of a Department of the duty of reporting an incompetent officer. If the Board is to be anything more than mere " eyewash " and something proposed to appease a public demand, it must be given power to take action without waiting for a report from the head of a Department.

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