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Thursday, 21 June 1906

Mr EWING (Richmond) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I ask the Committee and the honorable mem- ber for Kalgoorlie to remember that this is a case with which the Government have had very little more to do than has any private member.

Mr Frazer - Has the Public Service Commissioner ever refused to recognise the recommendation of a Ministerial departmental head ?

Mr EWING - Parliament, in its wisdom, gave the Public Service Commissioner certain powers, and if. in dealing with an officer, he is within the law, no Minister can interfere. The right honorable member for Swan brought the cases of Snooks and Stevens before the Department several times, and within the last two days I have sent them back to the Public Service Commissioner to secure the consideration of the questions which, he has raised as to the legality of the action taken, and as to its wisdom and humanity.

Mr Carpenter - The honorable gentleman promised to let me have the papers in this case, but I have not received them.

Mr EWING - The statement of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will also be placed before the Public Service Commissioner, and I shall be ready to inform honorable members at any time exactly what has been done.

Mr Frazer - I do not wish it to be supposed for a moment that I desire that Snooks and Stevens shall be re-instated. All that I ask is that their positions shall be filled in the ordinary manner by calling for applications.

Mr EWING - I do not wish to enter into a discussion with regard to the powers of the Public Service Commissioner ; but one cannot help being struck by the aspect of the case that has been put by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. He asks whether men who have sat in judgment upon certain officers should subsequently be appointed to their positions. That is a serious matter, but can no doubt be fully explained. Probably I shall be in a position to make a further statement at a later stage. Honorable members must, however, remember thai the Public Service Commissioner is placed in a certain position by law, and that, unless the law be altered, it is not competent for the Minister, or for the House, to interfere with him.

Mr.JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) [8.47]. - The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has mentioned circumstances which certainly require investigation. If an officer has been removed from the service on the ground of incompetency, andis about to be re-instated-

Mr Frazer - He was not removed ; he was granted six months' leave of absence.

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