Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - Senator McGregor's rejoinder surely overlooks the main contention of Senator St. Ledger. Every one knows that there will be no cases before the Arbitration Court under this Bill unless there is a real or imaginary grievance. But that is not the point. Senator St. Ledger's point, as I understood it, was not as to how cases are going to get before the Court, but whether everybody paid out of the public purse will have the right to go to the Court. We know that the great army of public servants employed under the Public Service Act clearly have that right under the Bill. But a great number of persons who are paid out of the public purse are outside the Public Service Act. Senator St. Ledger wants to know whether they will have the right to go to the Court. Take the attendants and others employed in and about the Houses of Parliament. They are outside the Public Service Act. They are not under the control of the Public Service Commissioner. But under subclause 3 we are not merely giving to the public servants whose employment is controlled by the Act and the Commissioner the right to go to the Court, but we are giving that right to everybody who receives his pay out of the public Treasury.

Senator McGregor - If the honorable senator will read clause 4, he will find that it is there stipulated how persons are to go before the Court.

Senator MILLEN - It is not a question of how they are to go. but of who are to go-

Senator McGregor - They cannot go unless they organize.

Senator MILLEN - The Minister himself said the other day that if there were five public servants of one grade or class, three of them could go to the Court as an organization. Suppose that there are five attendants at Parliament House, and that three of them decided to form an organization and appeal to the Court. Is it intended that they should do so? I am not saying whether it is desirable ornot ; but this ambiguity is in the Bill. When the

Bill was originally drafted, I have no doubt that it was intended to apply only to those individuals who are paid out of the public Treasury, and whose employment is controlled by the Public Service Act. But, as it stands, it covers everybody who is paid out of the public Treasury, whether he is under the Public Service Act or not.

Senator McGregor - Why should it not?

Senator MILLEN - Is it intended to do that?

Senator McGregor - It is not prevented.

Senator MILLEN - If that be so, we are not merely passing over to the Court the right to determine wages for public servants properly so called, but we are also annulling two or three other Acts.

Senator McGregor - Is the honorable senator afraid of the Judges forming a union ?

Senator MILLEN -I am not afraid of anything..

Senator McGregor - They could do it.

Senator MILLEN - We can leave the Judges on one side. We have quite a number of little grades of employes who are expressly excluded from the Public Service Act. There was a good reason for excluding them. Honorable senators know the reason for excluding the attendants at Parliament House. It was thought that Parliament itself has an intimate knowledge of what is going on here, and was far better able to deal with such officers than any outside authority could. But now this Bill says that while these officers are excluded from the Public Service Act and the authority of the Commissioner, they shall, nevertheless, be allowed to go to the Court. I venture to say that when this Bill was drafted the class of people to whom I refer was lost sight of. It was never intended to bring them in. The very reference to the Minister and Commissioner being parties to a claim shows that the ordinary Public Service was intended to be referred to. Who is going to represent the paymaster, Parliament, if the attendants employed in this building choose to appeal to the Court ? No Minister has any authority over them. The Public Service Commissioners has nothing to do with them.

Senator Lynch - Who controls them: now ?

Senator MILLEN - The President and Mr. Speaker deal with all these officers.

Senator de Largie - Is there any probability of such a dispute arising?

Senator MILLEN - The Bill makes provision for it, and Senator McGregor tells us that it is intended that they shall be covered by the measure. It is of no use to say that they are to be covered unless we assume that they are going to make use of the provisions of the measure. If, on the other hand, that is not intended, it should be made quite clear.

Senator Mcgregor - It is quite clear. Under the definition clause, everybody employed by the Commonwealth except the Naval and Military can appeal to the Court.

Senator MILLEN - But who is going t6 represent the President and Mr. Speaker in responding to a claim advanced by the employes of Parliament House? This Bill says that the only persons to be represented before the Court, apart from the employes, are the Minister and the Commissioner. Those officials, however, have nothing whatever to do with the class of servants to whom I refer. What Minister would represent the Commonwealth?

Senator McGregor - They are under the Treasurer.

Senator MILLEN - They are not; they are under the President and Mr. Speaker.

Senator McGregor - Parliament is under the Treasury.

Senator MILLEN - We are only under the Treasury to the extent to which we are under the painful necessity of going there for payment. The class of public servants to whom I referred are absolutely free from Ministerial control. They are entirely under the President and Mr. Speaker. Are the President and Mr. Speaker to be entitled to be represented in this Court ? No Minister will have anything to do with the matter. Then, again, the Commissioner will say, " I have nothing to do with it; I have troubles enough of my own ; you have removed these officers from my jurisdiction, and must settle your troubles with them yourselves." If it be intended that everybody who is paid out of the public purse shall be entitled to come under this measure except the Naval and Military, we ought to alter the clause which says that the only persons entitled to representation shall be the Minister and the Public Service Commissioner.

Senator de Largie - Does not the honorable senator think that we shall be quite safe in allowing the clause to pass as it stands, allowing the parliamentary attendants to wait a little while?

Senator St Ledger - Suppose they get in ahead of us?

Senator de Largie - If they do, what will happen?

Senator MILLEN - I have only referred to the attendants about Parliament House, but they are not the only body of employes, apart from public servants in the ordinary sense, who would be brought under the operation of this measure. I know the natural desire of the Minister to hurry this Bill through, and appreciate the wish of honorable senators who support its general principles to get rid of it as rapidly as possible. But a defect has been pointed out, and should be remedied. I am not responsible for the Bill, and if the Minister and those who support him are content to pass legislation concerning which there is the doubt which has been pointed out, it is their responsibility, not mine.

Suggest corrections