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Wednesday, 10 November 1976


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

The document read as follows-

SENATE ESTIMATES COMMITTEE 'F*

Attorney-General's Department

QUESTION BY SENATOR WRIGHT: DIVISION 172

At the meeting of the Committee on 9 October 1975, Senator Wright asked:

(i)   the names of the present Judges of the Industrial Court, and

(ii)   details of their judicial and extra-judicial work over the last four years.

The names of the present Judges of the Industrial Court have been furnished and were notified in Hansard of 10 October 1975.* The following information is now furnished in answer to the second part of Senator Wright 's question.

 

Other Matters

1.   Chief Judge Mr Justice Spicer-

(a)   Court of Marine Enquiry: MV Bass Trader, 1972-7 days MV Joseph Banks, 1974-4 days MV Straitsman, 1974-8 days SS Lake Illawara 1975-20 days

(b)   Airlines Agreement 1974-10 days.

2.   Mr JusticeDunphy- Court of Marine Inquiry

MV Blythe Star 1973-19days MV Blythe Star, 1 974-20 days.

3.   Mr JusticeNimmo-

(a)   Lawful Subdivision of Freehold Land in the Darwin Area, September 1974- January 1975

(b)   Future Status of Norfolk Island and its Relationship to Australia, March 1 975 continuing

(c)   Leader of the Australian Delegation on ' Revision of the Geneva Convention ', June and July 1971

(d)   The Criminal Law Reform Commission on Behalf of the Attorney-General in Relation to the Criminal Law Code of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, July 1971.

4.   Mr JusticeWoodward-

(a)   Sittings of the Trade Practices Tribunal 1 975-2 1 days

(b)   The Aboriginal Land Rights Commission, February 1973-May 1974.

5.   Mr JusticeFranki-

(a)   The Chairman, Designs Law Review Committee During the Term 1970-June 1973-50 days

(b)   The Chairman, Copyright Law Committee on Reprographic Reproduction, 1974-11 days; 1975-32 days

(c)   The Sub-Committee on Reprographic Reproduction of Inter-Governmental Copyright Committee of the Universal Copyright Convention (Leader of the Australian Delegation), 1975-20 days.

6.   Mr JusticeSweeney-

(a)   Committee of Inquiry on Co-ordinated Industries Organisations, 1974-31 days

(b)   The Royal Commission on Alleged Payments to Maritime Unions, 1974-40 days; 1975-53 days.


Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I thank the House. An examination of the number of sitting days which the judges of the Industrial Court put in during those years, with a couple of exceptions, will show a deplorable lack of dedication to duty. I recognise that the Chief Judge, Mr Justice Spicer, in 1972 had 7 days away from the

Industrial Court on a number of marine inquiries, that MrJustice Dunphy spent some 19 days in 1973 and 20 days in 1974 on a court of marine inquiry, that Mr Justice Nimmo had a number of inquiries to conduct and that Mr Justice Woodward spent most of 1973 and almost the first half of 1974 with the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission. He also spent a part of 1 975 at sittings of the Trade Practices Tribunal. Of course this indicates the extra work done by judges of the Australian Industrial Court. I suggest to the Attorney-General that he could use his good offices to ensure that Federal judges are in fact giving a fair return for their very high salaries.

I will not reflect on the judiciary because that is against Standing Orders. I am sure that if honourable members were to examine the figures of the actual sittings of the Australian Industrial Court there would be, to say the least, some raised eyebrows. I have not been able to get figures for all the other courts. Perhaps the incorporated material gives a general example of the whole system. If that be the case, rather than appointing more judges perhaps we should be considering retiring the present judges as quickly as we can in order to decrease the numbers and thereby to ensure that they are all contributing as we would like.

I wish to refer once more to salaries. I find it amusing that the nation's Prime Minister receives a salary that is $3,000 a year less than that of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia; that the nation's Deputy Prime Minister receives less money than the judge who is second in charge of the Family Court; and that the nation's Treasurer, the man who is supposed to come forward with all the answers to save the nation, receives a salary barely more than that of an ordinary Family Court judge. I ask you, Mr Deputy Speaker: Does this indicate to you that perhaps the Ministry- whether it be a Labor Ministry or a Liberal Ministry- is being grossly underpaid or that perhaps the nation's judiciary is being grossly overpaid? It is suggested that very high salaries have to be paid to entice these gentlemen and ladies away from fairly lucrative law practices. I concede that a successful lawyer in private practice could command a very high income if the practice were well conducted. But to be made a judge, even if judges are worth almost 25c a dozen compared to politicians who are worth about 2 bob a dozen, is surely a great honour. To be made a judge- a Federal judge particularly- is a way of ensuring a job for life. Only the other day Mr Justice McTiernan in his late eighties at last threw down the flag. If anyone suggested for a moment that a man in has late eighties was not quite as able as a much younger man to produce a judgment, that person would face a great deal of problems for having made such a suggestion against a member of the judiciary. I believe that to be appointed a judge of this nation is a great honour. I believe that to serve in this nation's Parliament is also a great honour.

I also believe that it is high time the Government of the day either reviewed the salary ranges of the Ministers to bring them up to the level of those of the judiciary or, alternatively, ensured that the judiciary has its salaries pegged until such time as the Ministry- the men in whose hands we have entrusted the future of this nation- are paid the same salaries. Either the nation's Ministers are being hopelessly and recklessly underpaid, or the judiciary is being recklessly overpaid. I leave you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to decide that, and I remind you that it is a judge who is in charge of the Remuneration Tribunal which sets salaries for both judges and members of this Parliament.







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