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Friday, 20 July 1906

Mr McLEAN (Gippsland) . - I should have been better pleased if the Attorney-General, instead of proposing the appointment of two additional Justices, had introduced a Bill to further limit the jurisdiction of the High Court.

Mr Isaacs - That would not have helped. The only portion of its original jurisdiction which we could take away is that relating to the- interpretation of the Constitution. Its other original jurisdiction is vested in it by the Constitution.

Mr McLEAN - I know that we cannot take from the Court jurisdiction vested in it by the Constitution. But it will be a great mistake to go on increasing the work of the Court, knowing, as we do, that the expense of its maintenance is additional to the expense of maintaining the other judicial tribunals of the Commonwealth. I believe that the High Court will become an extremely costly institution. I agree with the AttorneyGeneral that it is at present constituted of men of conspicuous ability, who have discharged their duties to the entire satisfaction of the community, and arte likely to continue to do so.

I would remind honorable members that when the Judiciary Bill was first introduced we were strongly pressed to appoint five Justices. We were told that no smaller number would meet the requirements of the case. We now know full well that if we had yielded to the solicitations of the Government at that time, two-fifths of the actual money voted for defraying the cost of the Court would have been wasted, because three Justices have succeeded in practically keepin,g the work up-to-date. The only necessity "for. the appointment of additional Justices has manifested itself in connexion with the Arbitration Court.

Mr Watson - Other matters quite apart from that are now hung up.

Mr McLEAN - I do not see how that can be the case, because the Justices can afford to devote three months out of the twelve to holidays

Mr King O'malley - They become very tired.

Mr McLEAN - I know that the work is trying and I admit that reasonable holidays should be provided for; but it seems absurd to speak of pressure of work, and the withholding of justice from the public, when one-fourth of the vear is devoted to holidays The vacation now enjoyed bv the Justices might be shortened by at least one-third.

Mr Isaacs - It must be remembered that during a portion of the vacation, their Honours are considering reserved judgments.

Mr McLEAN - Of course, the actual sittings of the Court occupy only a limited time upon a limited number of days in the year.

Mr Isaacs - The work done in the Court does not represent all that is done by the Justices during the days of sitting.

Mr McLEAN - I understand that ; but if their Honours sat upon the Bench for five hours daily, they would still have three hours upon sitting days to devote to their work outside the Court. However, it is not worth while to labour that point. I am prepared to support the second reading of the Bill, and I shall go as far as to approve of the appointment of one additional Justice. I think, however, thatwe should make a fatal mistake if we provided for anything more than the actual requirements of the case. I listened very carefully to the Attorney-General and to my mind he failed to make out a case for the appointment of more than one Justice. We must remember that the work of the Arbitration Court is likely to be extremely limited, because that tribunal can deal only with cases extending beyond the limits of any one State. When two or three cases are settled, the President of the Arbitration Court will have nothing to 00. If we appointed one additional Justice he would be able to attend to the work of the Arbitration Court, and would very soon be released from his duties in that tribunal, and be able to go back to the ordinary work of the High Court Bench. Therefore, I hope that the Attorney-General will see his way to limit has request to one additional Justice

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