Donald Robertson was the first public service commissioner. During his term (1913–20), the merit principle was introduced, and he classified all public service positions and graded employees. The merit principle had limited application when it came to gender, however – Robertson barred women from the public service entrance examination, made them resign if they married, and fixed their maximum salaries at lower rates than those of men. Robertson’s approach to women in the public service was maintained and in some ways extended over subsequent decades.
Before becoming public service commissioner, Robertson was secretary of the Post and Telegraph Department (he is shown here in his office). The ‘P & T’ was an important government department, but exempt from the commissioner’s control. It had a powerful influence on the public service commissioner’s office and the procedures it set up.
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Archives New Zealand - Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Reference: AAME W5603 8106 130
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