Opinion Number. 1419

Subject

NEW GUINEA PUBLIC SERVICE: NEW GUINEA: COMPLAINT AGAINST OFF ICER: temperamental disability and objectionable conduct: WHETHER OFFICER unfit to discharge or incapable of discharging the duties of his office

Key Legislation

PUBLIC SERVICE ORDINANCE 1922 (NG) s 42

Date
Client
The Secretary, Home and Territories Department

The Secretary, Home and Territories Department, forwards the following memorandum for advice:

An officer of one of the Branches of the New Guinea Public Service recently resigned his position and stated, in explanation of his resignation, that he objected to work under the officer in charge of the Branch for the reason that the latter–

flies into a rage over trifles, is extremely suspicious, deliberately sets traps, is an obstructionist, is indolent and a bluffer, interferes with and unfairly runs down every one in the Administration.

Section 42 of the Public Service Ordinance of New Guinea reads as follows:

If an officer appears to the Administrator, after full investigation of all the circumstances, to be unfit to discharge or incapable of discharging the duties of his office efficiently, the Administrator may, with the consent of the Minister, deal with such officer by retiring him from the Public Service or transferring him to some other position of equal or lower status and salary.

In the event of its transpiring that the experience of other officers employed at various times under the Branch Head referred to has been similar to that described above, and that this can be substantiated by evidence of specific acts, a question will arise as to whether action should be taken against the superior officer under section 42 of the Public Service Ordinance on the ground that his conduct and temperament are prejudicial to the efficient working of his Branch and that he is consequently unfit to discharge the duties of his office efficiently.

The favour of early advice would be appreciated as to whether, in your opinion, temperamental disability and objectionable conduct of the nature described constitute ‘unfitness’ within the meaning of the section quoted.?In my opinion, temperamental disability of the kind referred to, and being of so marked a character as to prejudice the efficient working of the service, may properly be regarded by the Administrator as constituting unfitness for office.

It is for the Administrator, after full investigation, to determine whether the disability, as shown by the facts brought to his notice, is of such a character as to render the officer unfit to discharge the duties of his office efficiently.

[Vol. 23, p. 221]