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Tuesday, 3 June 1969

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I think that the Minister's explanation has made my point more forceful. Under clause 12 there are two methods of dismissing a member from office. Subclause (2.) states:

The Minister may . . .

I do not know why the word 'may' is used instead of 'shall'. The provision continues:

.   . at the request of the organization or organizations that a nominated member represents, terminate the appointment of that person as a member.

That provision is understandable. The member is the representative of an organisation. It may decide that it has no confidence in him and it may appoint another representative. It will then approach the Minister and request him to terminate the appointment of the first representative and appoint the new nominee. That is only one method of replacement. The other provision makes no reference to the organisation. Sub-clause (1.) provides:

The Minister may remove a member or the deputy of a member from office for incapacity, incompetence or misbehaviour.

There is no provision for reference to the organisation and the removal of the member may be contrary to the wishes of the organisation that he represents. It will be the Minister's decision, not the decision of the organisation that nominated the member, that the member has an incapacity, that he is incompetent or that he has been guilty of misbehaviour. The Minister relies on the fact that he cannot visualise a Minister taking this action without proper cause. Neither canI. But a Minister should not have the right to do this. We do not know what will be the future of the Committee or whom we may have as Minister in the future.

Senator Little - A person could take civil action if he were wrongly removed from office.

Senator CAVANAGH - The honourable senator may be a better legal man than I am but I know of no civil action that such a member could take, because he would not have a case. In the Minister's opinion the member may be incompetent if he makes what the Minister thinks is unjustifiable criticism of the Minister's representative on the Committee. In the Minister's belief, this may be misbehaviour but in the belief of the organisation that nominated the member the criticism may be justified and in support of the aims of the organisation. If the Minister's opinion is that the member's conduct amounts to misbehaviour, I do not see what right of civil action the member would have. Surely the provision can be clarified and tightened up so that it will not be necessary for a member to have recourse to civil action to establish his right to continue, when he has the support of the organisation that nominated him.

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