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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) .- There can be no question that this clause will confirm the gentleman who now occupies the position of Registrar of the Arbitration Court in his position, and at the increased salary set down. I do not think any better officer could be appointed to the office, and I have nothing but approval for the appointment. That view will be held by any one who has the slightest acquaintance with the Arbitration Court. The officer deserves the salary that it is proposed in this clause to pay him. Having said so much, I am compelled to call a halt, and ' to inquire why this Parliament should go out of its way to place this officer, excellent though he be, in a position superior to that occupied by other officers of the Public Service and beyond parliamentary control ? With very few exceptions, notably the Judges of the High Court, the conduct and salaries of officers of the Public Service come under the review of Parliament every year in the discussion of the Estimates. Despite what has been said, this officer does not occupy a judicial position, nor is he at the head Of a great service like the Public Service Commissioner, which should make it necessary for him to be placed beyond parliamentary control. As Registrar of the Arbitration Court, he is subject, first of all, to the direction of the Judge of that Court. I fail to see any reason why he should be placed in such a favoured position as is here proposed. It is a most salutary rule that the Public Service should, with the exceptions referred to, have everything connected with their officers brought under the review of Parliament every year. If this precedent is to be followed, and other officers appointed in this way, beyond parliamentary control, Parliament might just as well be moribund, so far as its power to deal with public servants will be concerned. The Government would be well advised to withdraw this clause, which is a blemish and a blot upon the Bill, and would vitiate the principles upon which we have hitherto been guided in the management and control of the Public Service.

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