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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2066

Senator WILLESEE (Western AustraliaSpecial Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs) - in reply- I thank the Senate for its handling of this Bill. There are 2 points to which I will refer. Firstly, Senator Greenwood raised the question of cost. Let me tell him that I am painfully aware of the cost. In the second reading speech I said that certain provisions: . . will preserve or improve existing rights and terms and conditions of service of the present locally engaged High Commission staff, who will all continue in employment.

I might clarify that a little by saying that that is at the immediate time. Obviously, at the moment they will come under the normal Public Service Board requirements. The employment of staff in the future will be under the Public Service Act. Staff will be subject to all the usual provisions relating to termination of employment and so on, as are all locally engaged staff at other Australian missions. They will come under exactly the same conditions. Senator Greenwood's question about costs reminded me of the old idea that everybody is there and there forever. Obviously it is not meant to be so and I sought to put the record clear.

Senator Mulvihill asked what our future opposite number would be over there. Mainly it will be the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which is the equivalent of our Foreign Affairs office here. The extra word 'Commonwealth' is retained in the name over there. That will be the official line of communication on questions such as immigration to which I think the honourable senator referred specifically. The Home Office certainly would have something to do with that matter. However all these things are pretty well in the field of administration. Problems undoubtedly will arise but they should not be any harder to deal with on that sort of level. Both the previous Government and this Government believe that it is time that this area was brought under the Department of Foreign Affairs, the same as all other posts. As for the question of hand-over, Mr Evan Collings of the Public Service Board has gone over as a special adviser to review the change-over and how the Public Service Board conditions will fit into it. I thank the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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