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Tuesday, 23 September 1958

Mr TOWNLEY (Denison) (Minister for Supply) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The need for this bill arises from the proposal agreed upon between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales that an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service should be appointed as a member of the Joint Coal Board. This board is constituted under the authority of two complementary acts, the Coal Industry Act of the Commonwealth Parliament and the Coal Industry Act of the Parliament of the State of New South Wales.

This is the first occasion upon which it has been proposed that a Commonwealth officer be appointed to membership of the board. There is a provision in the Commonwealth act which fully protects the rights of a Commonwealth officer employed by the Joint Coal Board, but at present no similar provision exists to protect the rights of a Commonwealth officer who may be appointed to membership of the board. The rights of officers of the New South Wales Public Service appointed to membership of the board have been protected because New South Wales legislation has permitted the necessary action being taken. An anomaly exists, therefore, which means that a limitation is imposed on the Commonwealth from which the State is free. The anomaly in the Commonwealth act will be removed by the bill now before the House.

The concurrence of the New South Wales Government has been given to the amendment which is proposed by the present bill. This concurrence has been given pursuant to the requirement in the acts of the Commonwealth and of the State that if one government desires to amend the act of its parliament, the concurrence of the other government must first be obtained.

I believe that honorable members will agree with the view of the Government that the Commonwealth should not suffer any restriction where it is a question of one of its own officers being appointed to membership of the board. The amending bill before honorable members will remove the restriction that now exists. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.

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