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Thursday, 24 November 1927


Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (11:13 AM) . - As a representative from Western Australia I desire to say something about the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman, who also represented that State in the Federal Parliament. The Attorney-General has .attempted to depreciate the value of newspaper criticism by saying that reporters are often youthful people, and that they had no knowledge of the circumstances of this case. That argument may have been sound had the adverse criticism of Judge Drake-Brockman's appointment come only from our yellow journals, but it was almost universal, and must be regarded as reflecting the general opinion of the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman also said that many excellent appointments had been made from ex-parliamentary men. No objection was based on the fact that Judge Drake-Brockman is an ex-parliamentary man, or that he was a supporter of the party that made his appointment. The principal objection is that he belongs to, and aggressively supports, that section of the community which, from time to time, clashes with the workers. Any one, to be a satisfactory appointee to an industrial tribunal, must possess an impartial temperament, an unbiased outlook, and the trust of all concerned. I have known ex-Senator Drake-Brockman for a number of years, and socially he is a fine man. Although he differs from us in politics, we do not despise him for that. But if I were appointed an Arbitration Court judge, which of course is an impossibility, because of my lack of legal training, there is no doubt that my views would be reflected in my judgments. If the Chairman of the Trades Hall of Sydney was similarly appointed, there would be an outcry throughout Australia, and what applies to one should apply to another. Ex-Senator Drake-Brockman, although he is not an employer, was the President of the Employers' Federation. He has therefore taken a definite stand against the workers of this country that utterly unfits him for appointment to a tribunal which has to prevent and settle disputes between employer and employee. The leader of the Opposition read from Hansard an extract from a speech made by ex-Senator Drake-Brockman, and it showed clearly that he had no faith in the Arbitration Court. Against that the Attorney-General quoted a speech made by the same gentleman in 1926, but even that did not show that he was definitely in favour of the court. It certainly showed that he was getting ready to essay a flight to a new realm. Prior to the last election it was well known that ex-Senator Drake-Brockman was not to be a candidate for the Senate. He was spoken of in Western Australia as a stranger, inasmuch as he rarely went there. He was dropped because the United party, in its own interests, agreed to accept the Country party's nominee. In view of exSenator Drake-Brockman's party sacrifice, he has been given some other position. When the honorable' member for Darling (Mr.

Blakeley) was speaking, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked why he had not protested against the appointment of. a gentleman named Foster, who has Labour tendencies, to the County Court bench of Victoria. The cases are not parallel, because the County Court does not fix wages. It has been suggested that the qualifications of exSenator Drake-Brockman were such that he could not be overlooked. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) endeavored to make out a case on this point, but it is well known, at any rate in Western Australia, that he had no practice there. He was also rather unfortunate in Melbourne as he had little or no practice there. He was appointed by the Government to represent Australia at Geneva, and while abroad he failed to secure selection for the Senate. He was at a loose end, and no doubt the Government, wishing to reward him for his sacrifice in the interests of the party, appointed him to the Arbitration Court. That tribunal' is one of the most difficult in which to adjudicate, because its principal function is to prevent and settle disputes be twee .i employer and employee. I am pleased that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) brought this subject up, because ex-Senator Drake-Brockman was certainly not fitted for the position of judge of the Arbitration Court, and I regret very much that the Government saw fit to appoint him.

I should like the Government to inform honorable members if anything has been done to co-ordinate the different electoral offices throughout the Commonwealth. There are joint electoral offices in Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia, and the system is working satisfactorily. At this time, when every one is preaching economy, the Government should once more approach the recalcitrant States with a view to having joint electoral offices throughout the Commonwealth.







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