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Thursday, 9 November 1905

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) - The last speaker, I dare say, will call to mind a very old saying that a man cannot serve two masters. My impression is that when a person accepts a position as a civil servant he does so on the distinct understanding that he is to give his services to his employer. I myself have been connected with a banking institution for many years, and the rule which applies to the Commonwealth, civil servants always applied to us. I do not see that it did any harm. We -may be quite sure that if a man serves his master faithfully he has no lime to attend to municipal matters. If a man accepts a position as an alderman, and does his duty properly, he has to make himself acquainted with all the public works of the municipality. He must do that in the day time, because public works cannot be properly inspected at night. Again, many municipal councils hold their meetings in the afternoons. There is no hardship in adhering to the present rule. I am rather surprised that Senator Stewart, at this, time of day, should speak of the degradation of a public servant by his being deprived of the so-called right to serve on a municipal council. It seems to me to be undesirable for a person to be at the same time a servant of the public and a .representative elected by the public. Many banks do not permit their officers to accept positions as justices of the peace unless they can discharge the duties without interfering with their banking work. I know of an instance where a bank manager, who was a justice of the peace, was so frequently on the bench, and so seldom attended to his duties during banking hours, that a rule had to be made that in future the servants of the bank should not accept such a position, except with the permission of the board.

Senator Henderson - The duties we are referring to would not be discharged in office hours.

Senator WALKER - How can a man be a member of a municipal council and be sure that he will not have to attend to some of its duties during office hours?

Senator Pearce - Hundreds of them do.

Senator WALKER - Take the case of a postmaster of a town. What time has he to space for municipal duties?

Senator Pearce - If he had not the time he could not take the position.

Senator WALKER - The honorable senator knows perfectly well tha't many persons have such a large bump of vanity that they like to belong to all kinds of institutions. They are not content with doing their duty to one or two institutions, but wish to belong to a dozen. In the interests of the public servants, I shall vote against the motion. When they retire, either voluntarily or on a pension, let them offer their services to outside institutions, but not before.

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