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Thursday, 4 October 1984
Page: 1194

Senator DURACK(12.10) —I do not want to prolong the argument on this subject except to say that some of those arguments that the Attorney- General (Senator Gareth Evans) used in relation to Dr Griffith's home in Melbourne, and so on, were a little hard to follow. Nevertheless, the situation has arisen and I think it would have been far better if it had been organised as a salary package in the first place rather than in the way that it has been presented to us, apart altogether from the other questions that have been canvassed in the debate. I conclude on that point by saying that I believe that there are still enough people in Australia, and I hope there will continue to be , who are prepared to perform some public duties even at salary or income disadvantages to them. I think the fact that Dr Griffith is taking this position , with or without the present benefits, is probably a good example. I am sure when he took the job he did not believe that he would not be subject to public criticism in this chamber or anywhere else if he deserved it. Such criticism must be accepted as part of his office.

The other matter I wanted to raise briefly follows upon what the Attorney said in reply to the question I raised about the Family Court judges. I am pleased to learn that he has made a submission in the terms that he has indicated to the Remuneration Tribunal, but I also observe that he has had the same disappointment as I did in submissions of that kind, which apparently seem to be fairly similar to ones that I made, in that they do not seem to impress the Tribunal. So we have something in common in that regard. It appears to me, in view of the constant rejection of these arguments that have now been made to the Remuneration Tribunal by successive governments in regard to the Family Court judges that the question of seeking to establish a proper status for Family Court judges in the Federal judicial hierarchy, is one which will really have to be determined by parliament.

I would like the Attorney to indicate whether he believes any further steps can be taken without that step being necessary or whether he feels that the time has come when some legislative decisions will have to be made in order to resolve what I think has now become a matter of deep and continuing concern to Family Court judges. It is particularly a matter of concern in light of the challenges that that Court has made and of the very considerable sacrifices that Family Court judges have made and are continuing to make. I believe that because of the very heroic way that they are handling the grave problems and the terrible threats to which they are subjected, it is time that they should be relieved of the continuing disappointment and dissatisfaction that they have held in relation to this matter.