Extract from First Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, 22 September 1924, pp. 5–6.
The principal features of the new Public Service Act, involving departure from conditions established under former legislation, may be shortly stated as follows:
- A Board of Commissioners (three members) constituted in lieu of a single Commissioner, the tenure of office of members being five, four and three years respectively, with eligibility for re-appointment for a term not exceeding five years, with annual salaries fixed at £2,500 for the Chairman of the Board, and £2,000 for each of the other members.
- Important and far-reaching duties imposed on the Board to devise means for effecting economies and promoting efficiency in the management and working of departments by improved organisation and procedure, closer supervision, limitation of staffs, improvement in training of officers, avoidance of unnecessary expenditure, checking expenditure as to adequacy of value received, institution of standard practice, advising upon systems and methods as to contracts and supplies, &c.
- The disposal of excess officers by transfer or retirement from the Service to be determined by the Board instead of, as previously, by the Governor-General.
- Classification of the Public Service within four prescribed divisions in accordance with importance and character of work. Provision for appeals against classification and determination of appeals by the Board. Power to make regulations for prescribing salaries of officers.
- Power to grant or refuse annual increments of salary vested in permanent heads of departments, with the right of appeal by officers to the Board in case of deprivation of increment.
- Appointments to the Service to be made by the Board and, where such appointments are probationary, to be subject to confirmation by the Board, instead of, as previously, by the Governor-General. Principle of preference to returned soldiers maintained.
- Promotions and transfers to be authorised by the Board subject to the right of aggrieved officers to appeal. Appeals to be considered in conference between appellant (or his agent), a representative of the Department, and the Board, with final determination of appeal by the Board.
- Powers granted permanent heads to deal with disciplinary cases and to decide punishment, including recommendation for dismissal. Right of appeal is allowed to an Appeal Board, comprising a permanent Chairman, with legal qualifications, a representative of the Department, and an elected representative of the Division of the Service to which the appellant belongs.
- Provision for summary dismissal by the Board, after investigation and hearing, of officers directly fomenting or taking part in a strike which interferes with or prevents the carrying on of any part of the public service or utilities of the Commonwealth.
- The Board empowered to deal with incompetent or inefficient officers by transfer to other positions or retirement from the Service.
- The former provisions as to furlough liberalised. Under the previous Act officers who had completed twenty years’ service were eligible for six months’ furlough on full pay. The new provision enables furlough to be granted up to a maximum of twelve months on full pay where 40 years’ service have been completed, or payment in lieu of furlough on retirement, or, in the event of death of an officer, payment in lieu to his dependants.
- Provision made enabling the Board to exercise a close check on temporary employment. Under the new law not only must the Board be satisfied as to the necessity for temporary assistance, but the selection of persons to be temporarily employed is vested in the Board, and not, as previously, in departments.
- Allowances for special services other than those prescribed under Regulations to be made by the Board are payable only with the approval of the Board.