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Tuesday, 31 August 1920


Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) .- I support the amendment, and am prepared to go very much farther in advocating simplicity of language in Acts of Parliament, particularly in industrial legislation. The language of industrial legislation should be such as to be readily understood by any layman, and, if possible, I would have a lay Court from which the legal fraternity were excluded entirely. That would be a wholesale, but wholesome reform.


Mr Groom - The honorable member's party gets good legal men, does it not?


Mr FENTON - This country would be better without any legal gentlemen at all. One may take an Act of Parliament to half-a-dozen lawyers, and get halfadozen different opinions as to its meaning. As a rule, an ordinary individual can understand a newspaper paragraph. Why should we not have the same simplicity and clarity of language in our Acts of Parliament? Legal argument as to the meaning of Statutes has wasted more time and money than has anything else. Any opportunity I can get to limit the opportunities of the legal profession I shall fake. There are comparatively few lawyers in the ranks of the Labour party, but, in any case, I would sooner have a man like the late Mr. Frank Hyett appearing for me in an industrial case than any legal man in the community. Mr. Smith, the present secretary of the Victorian Railways Union, and Mr. E. J.

Holloway, are able to present an industrial case to the Court in a way that wins the appreciation of the presiding Judge. Over and over again, Mr. Justice Higgins, who was an equity lawyer before his elevation to the bench, has complimented officers of unions upon the manner in which they have presented their case to the Court. Unionists will lose nothing by being represented by men of their own organization, who understand all the technicalities of their industry.


Mr Groom - Nobody says a word against those gentlemen, but is there any reason for depriving other persons, who cannot put their case, of the assistance they desire?

Mr.FENTON. - Neither employers nor employees are in such a bad case. We have arrived at a stage when we can say good-bye to a lawyer at his office, and enter the Court without him. The Committee should grasp the opportunity of introducing the reform which the amendment suggests. The majority of honorable members do not belong to the legal profession, and for that reason they bring to bear on the businessof the House a greater amount of common sense.







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