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Tuesday, 31 August 1920

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) .- If the proposal of the honorable member for Adelaide were directed to reducing in some way the emoluments or earnings of the members of the legal profession who are interested in industrial work, and if it were likely to have that effect, I should have contented myself by taking no part in the discussion, and enjoying a pleasant half-hour in the club-room while it was in progress. But there is an aspect of the amendment which moves me to say something, and to make quite clear why I am opposed to it. It has already been pointed out that, as the result of some amendments of the Arbitration Act, it is no longer possible for a party to arbitration proceedings to be represented by a legal practitioner unless all parties to those proceedings consent. It is not enough that an organization may desire to be represented in the Court by a legal representative, because the opposing parties may veto that desire by declaring that they do not consent. An organization of employers or an organization of employees might desire to exercise what, in other Courts, would be the right to be represented by counsel, but they may be prevented by this very drastic provision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act from being so represented in the Arbitration Court, which requires the consent of all parties to proceedings before counsel may appear in the Court. The honorable member for Adelaide finds that, spite of this very strict legal enactment, there is an extraordinary and incorrigible tendency on the part of some industrialists in this country to seek legal advice and assistance.

Mr Gabb - Why?

Mr BRENNAN - The honorable member asks me why. Surely it must be for the pleasure of paying the lawyers, or the joy they derive from association with them. It cannot be, one may suppose, that as sane men exercising their free will, they desire to avail themselves of the expert knowledge of experienced men in presenting their evidence or their case.

Mr Gabb - Might it not be because the unionists know that sitting behind the employer is a trained lawyer, advising him, even though he does not appear in Court, and, as a consequence, both sides are represented by lawyers?

Mr BRENNAN - That might be the reason, to some extent. It might be that the industrialists know perfectly well that the employers, whoever they may be, though they are in Court apparently without legal assistance, have, in fact, the benefit of legal advice. But how does the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) propose to overcome that difficulty? He proposes that-

No legal practitioner, whether on the rolls or not, or solicitor's clerk-

Honorable members will mark that - shall be allowed to appear before the Court or to attend the Court in any hearing or determination' of an industrial dispute. 1 venture to say, with great respect, that a more ridiculous proposition was never submitted to a sane Parliament, if the proposed amendment be clearly understood in all its bearings. If it is to be logical, and certainly if it is to have any effect in the direction the honorable member expects, his amendment should go much further, and I would suggest to some extent how much further it should go. It should read -

No legal practitioner, whether on the rolls or not, or solicitor's clerk shall be allowed to appear before the Court, to be heard, to attend the Court, or to be seen anywhere within the hearing of the Court, or in the right-of-way leading to or in proximity to the Court, or in the neighbouring hostelry within the hours that the same is open for the sale of liquor; and no industrialist shall be found in suspicious conversation with a legally qualified legal practitioner or his clerk or his typist, male or female, either in his office or elsewhere wheresoever.

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