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Thursday, 12 July 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - It is with great misgiving that I agree to the proposal to substitute a Justice for the Board, and if it seemed possible to obtain competent men, whose disinterestedness and impartiality could be guaranteed, I should prefer their appointment to the setting up of a legal tribunal. The reference of questions of this kind to a Justice invariably leads to the creation of a Court, even though his inquiries may not be governed strictly by the rules of legal procedure, and it has been my experience that a Justice does not deal with business matters with the facility which characterizes a business man, nor does he, perhaps, administer the same broad-minded, rough, substantial justice. I have seen several instances in which, in the decision of matters of this nature, laymen have proved superior to men of legal training, and the honorable member for Newcastle will bear out the statement that, in the settlement of industrial troubles in his district, laymen have given more satisfaction than have lawyers. We have had similar experience in connexion with the Arbitration Court.

Sir William Lyne - Can the honorable member suggest abetter tribunal?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The only suggestion worthy of consideration which occurs to me now is that of Mr. Irvine, published in to-day's newspaper. He suggests the appointment of a small permanent Board of Trade to deal with these matters. A Justice is, however, preferable to Ministerial appointees,whose impartiality, disinterestedness, and freedom from political taint could not be guaranteed. From a Justice we shall always be certain of getting a disinterested and impartial decision, though the inquiry may be prolonged and costly.

Mr Isaacs - And the decision will be non-political.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. But while a judicial inquiry means cost, loss of time, a.nd legal technicality of procedure, I think that, if the advantages are weighed against the disadvantages, the appointment of a Justice is preferable to the appointment of such a Board as this. I shall, however, reserve the right to make, between now and the passing of the measure, some such suggestion as that to which I have referred, because I foresee that, if inquiries are multiplied, we shall inevitably have a kind of legal Court set up, whereas the settlement of business matters requires not only disinterestedness and impartiality, but practical knowledge and despatch, if the trading community is not to suffer great inconvenience and loss through delay

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