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Thursday, 19 May 1960

Mr WILSON (Sturt) .- I want to refer, first of all, to clause 22 of the bill which seeks to repeal section 56 of the principal act whereby the commission was given the power to dismiss an officer, or to reduce his status or rate of pay for incapacity or misconduct. I do not think that there can be any objection to that provision. Clause 22 gives those powers to the commission with the additional power to fine an officer.

I should have thought that it was elementary to the Australian and the British ways of life that a person cannot be imprisoned or fined except by due process of law. I am very perturbed at this modern tendency to deprive people of their liberty or to impose fines upon them without trying them in a court of law. Under this new provision the boss - the commission - without any trial, in complete secrecy, and possibly without any notice to the person concerned, is empowered to impose a fine upon an officer. It is true that if the fine exceeds £2 the officer has a right of appeal, not to a court of the land but to what is described as a disciplinary board. Now we are finding a tendency in this country to get away from the traditions of democracy and the retention of the judiciary and courts of law to the establishment of bureaucracy, boards and commissions, purporting to exercise judicial functions. I ask the Minister to have another look at this clause before this bill reaches another place, or perhaps even in this chamber. I cannot see any reason why the commission, which as 1 say, is the boss of the employee, should be able, in secrecy and without being accountable to anybody, to impose a fine upon one of its officers.

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