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Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - A number of points have been made in this debate which really carry on from where I left off. I regret that what I said seems to have made little impact. I will very briefly refer to it again because. I am not sure whether the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was present in the chamber. I find it very difficult to distinguish between the presidential member and the other members because they are sitting on the same bench and each of them has the same right of decision. That is the whole essence of the tribunal. The lay members of the tribunal have power to override the judicial member. The tribunal has a predominance of lay members.

That being the case, it is manifestly unreal to say that that presidential member, upon being appointed the presidential member of the tribunal, must disclose his direct and indirect interests when he has not been required to disclose them in relation to his initial judicial appointment - the appointment in which he experiences life tenure. To say to a presidential member: "When you go on to the Trade Practices Tribunal you must do what you have not been required to do before ", would be to foreclose the opportunity to appoint people whom you would otherwise wish to appoint. They might say, and very properly: " We will not do it."

I come to the next point. An amendment has been moved by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and an amendment has been moved to that amendment which I think does not differ from the original amendment in respect of the fact that the disclosure is to be made to the AttorneyGeneral. There is no point whatever in disclosure to the Attorney-General because he has no part in the consideration of the divisions of the tribunal. Under clause 19 of the Bill, this is the responsibility of the presidential member of the tribunal. If one says "All right, then the disclosure is to be made to the presidential member ", why is there need to make a statutory requirement for disclosure when the President is a member of the same tribunal?

One might equally say, in relation to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, that every member of that Commission, the Commissioners and the presidential members, should disclose all of their direct and indirect interests to the President of the Commission. That has never been suggested, and I think that it would be demeaning the standard of that tribunal to impugn the motives of its members. I have never heard that suggested, and I personally would never support it in relation to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Yet I am positive that if a member of that Arbitration Commission did have a direct pecuniary interest in a matter that was coming before it, he would say to the President of the Commission, who has the same powers of constitution of the Commission as the President of the Trade Practices Tribunal will have in respect of that body: " I should not sit on this matter." I am not quite sure whether the honorable member for Mackellar means that every member of the tribunal should forthwith make a public disclosure.

Mr Wentworth - No, I do not say that for a moment.

Mr SNEDDEN - Then the honorable member suggests that, at the time when he

Is about to sit, the member should make the disclosure.

Mr Wentworth - If he has an interest in that case.

Mr SNEDDEN - The honorable member says he should make the disclosure if he has an interest in that case. The point I am making is that the men who will be appointed to this tribunal will have already indicated to the president of the tribunal that they have an interest and the president, therefore, when constituting the tribunal to hear the case will not include the particular member making the disclosure.

I cannot accept the suggestion that this would not happen unless there was a statutory requirement to do it. I do not believe that a statutory requirement would achieve any more than one would expect the members of the tribunal to do in any event. What the honorable gentleman seeks to enforce by statute will happen in any event. This matter was given most intense consideration. I do not agree with either the amendment or the amendment to the amendment.

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