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Tuesday, 31 August 1920


Mr GABB (Angas) .- I rise to support the proposed new clause moved by the honorable member for Adelaide. It is not often that we agree, but on this occasion I must confess that he is right, in spite of the ridicule of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). A majority of trade unionists are of the opinion that lawyers should be kept out of the Arbitration Court, and I am convinced that the trade unionists in South Australia think it would be in their interests if lawyers were prevented from appearing in industrial cases.


Mr Brennan - If a unionist "wants to consult a lawyer, would the honorable member be in favour of preventing him from doing sol


Mr GABB - I would be in favour of permitting him to obtain advice in regard to the preparation of his case.


Mr Brennan - Then, your whole argument falls to tHe ground.


Mr GABB - The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Blundell) is not necessarily of the opinion that the advice of a member of the legal profession cannot be helpful to a trade unionist, or to a union organization, but that the presence of a lawyer in the Arbitration Court involves 3, waste of time and money; expenses are piled up, and the hearing is protracted, t is a simple matter for the lawyers to prolong a Court hearing. I can quite understand a wealthy employer being quite willing that his legal representative should protract a hearing. There are many employers who can afford to pay £1,000 where a struggling trade organization may find it hard to raise £10. The object of adding expenses, in such circumstances, is obvious. The point has been advanced that a lawyer is not permitted to be present in the Arbitration Court unless by consent of both parties. The honorable member .for Batman (Mr. Brennan) says, " Surely the unions know their own business best." It is not so much a matter of the unions knowing their own business as of their feeling the necessity for engaging a lawyer in order that he, with his expert knowledge and training, may be able to counter the quibbles and technicalities raised by the lawyer for the other side. I once had to engage a lawyer. I did so, not so much that I felt that I could not conduct my own case, as that I was afraid of the legal technicalities which might be raised by the lawyer opposed to me. I have been sorry ever since, for my lawyer charged me two guineas for his advice that I should plead guilty.


Mr Groom - The honorable member got off lightly.


Mr GABB - The point is that I was not guilty. The engaging of lawyers by unions is not due to the fact that the secretaries have been unable to adequately conduct their case, but it has been done because the unions are afraid of the disadvantage at which they might find themselves without the service of a lawyer when it came to the matter of arguing legal technicalities. I can quite understand the fears of the organizations in this respect. Before I went to college, I was always afraid to enter into an argument with a collegebred man, because I had the feeling that his special education gave him advantages which I would not be able to withstand. I had that same feeling of diffidence before I entered Parliament. I used to feel, when I was attending Labour conferences, and the like, that I was not equipped to enter into argument with members of Parliament, because they appeared to be especially wise and . sane persons. Since I have entered this political arena, however, those ideas have departed. I sympathize with the attitude of trade unions generally towards members of the legal profession. They rightly fear that advantage may be taken by the other side if they themselves have not engaged legal advice. The bulk of public opinion is that the Arbitration Court would be infinitely more acceptable and successful if lawyers were barred.







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