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Wednesday, 6 May 1942


Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- Whilst I have always had a very great admiration for the man who is to be the Government's appointee in Washington, there is one aspect of this matter to which, I believe, insufficient attention has been given. It is very important that the High Court of Australia should be composed of as able men as can be had from the ranks of the legal profession, especially at this time, when the High Court is really the only check upon the actions of the Government. Within the next few months, it is quite possible that the court will be called upon to determine the validity of legislation affecting the whole federal system. It. is desirable that at such a time the High Court should be as strong as possible, lt is no reflection on the men who constitute the High Court at present to say that the court must be distinctly weakened, first, by the withdrawal of the honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), and now by the temporary loss of Sir Owen Dixon. The Government should consider whether the High Court as at present constituted is strong enough to solve the important problems that the war will present, and those important problems which the Government, I understand, is about to present to it. The sending of Sir Owen Dixon to the United States of America without replacing him by a leader of the bar from ono of the Australian States, will leave the High Court much weaker than before. When the honorable member for Barton left the Bench, the court nas weakened. I do not know enough about his successor to say whether he was fully qualified to take the place of the honorable member for Barton, but I know that if Sir Owen Dixon goes, and no one takes his place, the court will be weaker. If the constitutional question of the taxing powers of the Commonwealth and the States be submitted to a weakened High Court the people will not have the 3ame confidence in its decision as they had before, and that question affects the whole structure and nature of the federal system.







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