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Thursday, 19 May 1960

Mr STEWART (Lang) .- I am seeking some advice from the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) concerning proposed changes in the existing staff regulations as they apply to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said -

It is not intended to provide in the new staff rules for the Appointments Advisory Committee established under division 5 of the existing staff regulations. The committee at present comprises two senior executive officers and a representative of a staff organization. One of its principal functions is to review proposed nominations for vacancies, the majority of which are, of course, later subject to appeal to the independent Promotions Appeal Board. It also reviews changes affecting the staffs salary and employment conditions . . .

The Minister went on to say that administrative arrangements had caused this amendment. I want the Minister to inform the House exactly what are the functions of the Appointments Advisory Committee. Is it in fact a promotions committee, which investigates applications received for promotion to positions within the service of the commission? If so, why is it that some delays were experienced by the Appointments Advisory Committee? Is it, as the name suggests, merely an advisory committee which goes through the list of persons likely to fit a position and recommends accordingly, or have positions been advertised and then filled by another body?

I want to be certain that, under this amendment to the existing staff regulations, the rights of employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are safeguarded. I want to be sure that the commission will not be able to take some one out of hand from a position and promote him over the heads of various members of the commission staff. I noticed that, under the principal act, seniority is supposed to be taken into account when persons are promoted, providing their qualifications are equal. I want to be certain that this rule will continue to apply, and that in future, when vacancies occur, information concerning them will be circulated throughout the staff. I should like to see the actual appointments made by a promotions committee. Then, if a junior man is appointed to a position, the men who have been passed over should still have the right of at least one appeal.

It is proposed to amend section 69 of the principal act, which is the section that relates to banking accounts of the commission. The principal act states -

The Commission shall open and maintain with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and may open and maintain with any other prescribed bank, an account or accounts, into which there shall be paid all moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of the Commission and all other moneys received by the Commission.

I want the Postmaster-General to reconsider the attitude he adopted towards a previous amendment very similar in character to that proposed in the bill in clause 24. Will the Minister consider making it mandatory for the A.B.C. to bank its money and operate its bank accounts only through the Commonwealth Bank?

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