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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2380

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs) -

I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend section 88 of the Public Service Act 1922-1973 and the Second and Third Schedules to the Act. Section 88 empowers the Governor-General, where an Act, regulation, etc., confers powers and duties on the holder of an office, to direct an officer to exercise or perform those powers or duties during a vacancy in the office or when the office-holder is absent or unavailable to perform the duties. Where the occupant of a Public Service office is absent or unavailable, or the office is vacant, the chief officer of a department may direct another officer under Public Service Regulation 116 to perform, on a temporary basis, the duties of the office. However, where these duties comprise the exercise of statutory powers and functions under other Acts, etc., these cannot be performed and exercised unless there is also a direction by the GovernorGeneral under section 88. The amendment to section 88 will enable an officer who is performing the duties of an office in a department pursuant to a direction under regulation 116 to exercise and perform also the statutory powers and duties which attach to the office without the necessity for action by the Governor-General under the section. This will simplify the procedures.

The lists of departments and permanent heads in the Second and Third Schedules to the Public Service Act are to be amended to bring them up to date by the inclusion of the changes that have been made since the Schedules were last amended in 1967. While the Public Service Act provides that the Schedules are deemed to be amended by a notification in the Gazette of the creation, abolition or variation in the name of a department or of an office of permanent head, it is considered desirable that the Schedules themselves be amended from time to time to incorporate changes made over a period. The opportunity is also being taken to make a number of formal amendments to the Act in accordance with current drafting practices. I commend this Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr King) adjourned.

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