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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1385

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I want to say something about the appointment of arbitration inspectors, about which we have heard much this evening. I did not want to raise this matter but since I have been forced to do so I must say that there is serious doubt as to whether arbitration inspectors who are now operating are legally entitled to carry out their functions. Such an opinion has been expressed by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor in New South Wales. He believes that if the validity of the appointment of an inspector were challenged or if an inspector's position were challenged a case could be thrown out of court and the inspector could be held to be a person who is acting without authority because he is performing the type of duties which require his appointment by the Minister. This matter has been raised in another way. According to my notes section 67 of the Constitution provides that until the Parliament otherwise provides, the appointment and removal of officers of the Executive Government, other than Ministers of State, shall be vested in the Governor-General in Council. Section 92 of the Public Service Act provides that every appointment of an officer by the Board, a permanent head or a chief officer under that Act shall, for all purposes, have the same force and effect as if made by the Governor-General. This section traditionally has been regarded as making provision for the appointment of officers for the purposes of section 67 of the Constitution.

Mr Killen - Why do you not incorporate this in Hansard and save time?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I do not want to incorporate it because you would not be able to follow some of the writing.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Chairman, I ask that the Minister table the paper from which he is quoting.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -It is confidential.

The CHAIRMAN - The honourable member for Wannon is out of order in requesting that a paper from which the Minister is quoting be tabled.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Why?

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -It is confidential.

The CHAIRMAN - That is not the point. The Standing Orders provide that a request may be made for a document that has been quoted from to be tabled. While the Minister is quoting from that document such a request is out or order.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - I can wait until after the Minister has finished quoting?


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I can give the reply to such a request now. The paper is confidential and under the Standing Orders the tabling of a confidential document cannot be required. There are some unsatisfactory features about the appointment of inspectors under the Public Service Act. For example, it would seem that a person directed temporarily to perform the duties of the office of inspector under the Public Service Act would not be an inspector. Moreover it would be difficult to prove the valid appointment of an inspector if that should ever become necessary in a court, especially if he became an inspector by promotion. Certainly grave doubt exists as to whether the present inspectors are validly appointed under the Act. This is another reason why the Government believes that the situation should be regularised. I make it clear that the Government will not accept the amendment that is proposed. It will not accept it in the Senate either.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - We could have a new Bill.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - All right. If the Opposition is prepared to throw out a Bill that is absolutely crucial to good, commonsense industrial relations just because honourable members opposite want their way; if they are not prepared to see re-enacted something that was in the Act from 1934 until 1952; if they have this silly fixation about the Minister's appointing arbitration inspectors - it will be on their heads, not mine.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Chairman, may I suggest that we move on. We will not get anywhere on this. The views of both sides have been put.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - Order! The honourable member is not in order in addressing the Chair and I have no power in the Committee to put a question while honourable members are rising.

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