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Thursday, 3 April 1941

Senator McLEAY (South Australia) (Postmaster-General) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The object of the measure is to amend sections 8, 48 and 72 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1940. Under section 8 of that act it is provided that the act shall not apply, inter alia, to any person employed solely in the Naval or Military Forces. It is considered desirable to extend this provision to include persons employed solely in the Air Force, and clause 3 of the bill provides accordingly. The extension is owing to the development of the air section of the Defence Forces. Clause 4 contains a proposed amendment of section 48 of the principal act, which provides for prior government service of an officer as specified to be reckoned as service in the Commonwealth PublicService. With regard to paragraph a of this clause, the principal act provides that where a person becomes an officer of the CommonwealthService and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with, inter alia, permanent service in the Police Force of the Territory for the Seat of Government, his prior service in that force shall be reckoned as service in the Commonwealth Service. The amendment provides for the substitution of the words " Australian Capital Territory", the name by which that Territory is now known, in lieu of the words " Territory for the Seat of Government". Paragraph c of clause 4 will place members of the Air Force on the same footing as members of the Naval and Military Forces in regard to the counting of prior service in cases where they are appointed to the Commonwealth Service. Paragraph d provides for the insertion in section 48 of the act of a new sub-paragraph e, in order to cover the cases of officers appointed to the Commonwealth Service from the permanent staffs of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Repatriation Commission, War Service Homes Commission, and the High Commissioner's Office, London. Officers employed with these bodies were accorded superannuation rights and eligibility for furlough by Parliament in 1937, and it has been represented to the Government that, in view of the status thus conferred, steps should be taken to ensure that should any such officer be appointed to the Commonwealth Service without any break in his employment, his service with the former body shall be regarded as service in the Commonwealth Public Service for purposes of furlough and sick leave. The Government considers it equitable that this provision should be inserted in the Commonwealth Public Service Act.

No alteration is being made ofthe existing practice governing eligibility for appointment tothe Commonwealth Public Service of officers of the Commonwealth bodies mentioned above, but it is felt desirable to provide that any officer actually appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service from any one of the bodies mentioned shall carry with him the credit of his permanent service with the former body provided there is no break in continuity.

Proposed new sub-paragraphf is to provide for the counting of prior service in the case of an officer of any of the bodies mentioned in the proposed new subparagraph e who is appointed to an administrative or executive office in connexion with any of those bodies, for example, as a repatriation commissioner, and subsequently, without break in service, is appointed to a position under the Commonwealth Public Service Act.

The addition of proposed new subparagraph g is necessary consequent on the passing of the Supply and Development Act of 1939. The purpose of the amendment is to confer on persons employed permanently underthe Supply and Development Act rights similar to those conferred by section 48 of the Commonwealth Public Service Act on persons employed permanently in a civil capacity in the Department of . Defence under the Defence Act. Under paragraph c of sub-section 1 of section 48 the prior service of such a person in the Department of Defence, who, without any break of employment, becomes an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service, is reckoned as service in the Commonwealth Public Service for the purpose of furlough and sick leave. As many persons previously employed permanently in a civil capacity under the Defence Ad are now in the Department of Supply and Development, it is considered desirable to extend the provisions of section 48 to them. Paragraphs b, e andf effect consequential variations of section 48 of the acceptanceof the other amendments of the section already explained.

The existing provisions of section 72 of the Principal Act cover the granting of leave of absence to (a) officers serving in an expeditionary force, (b) officers called up for service in the Citizen Forces, and (c) officers under agreement with the Minister of Defence for service as munitions workers. They do not, however, contain authority for the granting of leave to officers for the purpose of service in other forces or to engage in other war service as required under present conditions. It is considered desirable, therefore, to amend the act in the manner proposed in the bill. The classes of case not now covered, but for which it is desired to have authority to grant leave on the passage of the bill, are the following : -

(a)   Officers serving in the Air Force or the Naval Forces, other than the Citizen Forces.

(b)   Officers serving in the forces of the United Kingdom or of other parts of the Empire.

(e)   Officers employed in. other work or employment considered necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the Commonwealth and the territories of the Commonwealth, or the efficient prosecution of the war; for example -

(i)   Officers employed on Red Cross duty overseas.

(ii)   Female officers employed as full-time members of Voluntary Aid Detachments.

(iii)   Officers employed outside the Commonwealth service in munitions or aircraft production work.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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