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Friday, 26 June 1903

Mr BATCHELOR - I admit that as a general rule a certain amount of discretion will be exercised ; but a difference of opinion must always exist as to what matters trespass upon the political domain, and should not be allowed to be discussed, and what are perfectly harmless. As a rule, the temperance question does not, in Australia, divide political parties, and it is not considered a question which is likely to affect politics very considerably. But any member of the Commonwealth public service who joined a temperance alliance, or who spoke on the public platform for or against. the liquor traffic, would be a fool, because he would thereby, under this regulation, render himself liable to dismissal. I know that it is objectionable for public servants to interfere in political matters, more especially those connected with the Department in which they may be employed, but this is not the right way in which to try to prevent such interference. We do not want to employ a steam hammer to crack a nut, but that is what the Government are doing. The regulation puts it in the power of any future Government to tyrannize over the public service of the Commonwealth. Some Governments tyrannize over their public servants, and stretch the regulations as far as they can against them. Therefore, we should see that the Government do not take more power under the regulations than is necessary to enable the work of the service to be carried on efficiently.

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