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Wednesday, 10 April 1946

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) (Postmaster-General) . - This debate would have taken an entirely different turn had it not -been for a further attack on the judiciary by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). The members of both the Opposition parties are unanimous on one point. They view with alarm' arid very great misgiving the way in which some Ministers, but particularly the Minister for Transport, periodically make publicly most scathing statements which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be linked with the policy of the Government of which they are members.

Mr Pollard - The honorable gentleman has read only a garbled report of what the Minister said.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - The Minister has not denied the statement. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), when questioned on it, replied that the Minister has a perfect right to say what he chooses. Until the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General (Dr, Evatt) states that the views of the Minister for Transport are not the views of either the Government of which the one is the leader and the other- the legal member, or of the party which supports them in. office. Opposition members must view with grave misgiving the introduction of legislation which aims at altering th(Mr. Williams). Listening to him, I felt like one in the Old Testament felt about Absalom when he was going out to his friends, ,of whom the prophet remarked, " They went forth in their innocence, for they knew not anything." The honorable member for' Robertson put to the Attorney-General, a.s though that-

Tight honorable gentleman' has not enough intellect to arrive at a decision unaided, the proposition that, if he cared to amend the Judiciary Act so ' as to provide for the payment of a full pension upon retirement; he might have two vacancies , on the High Court Bench in addition to that which he is now about to fill. That would be a new method of creating vacancies on the Bench. I have not previously heard it suggested, I am led to observe that this appears to be a very odd procedure until one realizes that this is really an oddfellow's .government, out of which anything may come. I am next moved by the belief that, in matters of this sort, there is safety in numbers. I am staggered at the modesty of the AttorneyGeneral in wanting to appoint only one more justice. If the views expressed by my honorable friend from Richmond (Mr. Anthony) be correct, and I am not disputing them - they are his, and he has expressed them well and forcefully - the number of justices- of the High Court Bench should be increased not from five to six but from five to eleven. Then there could be sittings of the High Court all over Australia,' and a great congregation of justices whenever a constitutional issue had to be decided. I am reminded of Napoleon's dictum to his armies, "You have to disperse to live and concentrate to ,fight." The next matter that concerns me is the identity of the person who is to be the new justice. I have heard some most astounding reports in the last few days. I would not dare to mention here the name of one gentleman that I have heard, because it. might prejudice him and might not _ be quite fair to the Attorney-General. I know that the right honorable gentleman would not mind my referring to him, because he has-been a Justice of the High Court.

Dr Evatt - Who started that rumour? Forget it.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Should the right honorable gentleman intend to return to the High Court Bench, this chamber would be turned by members of the Opposition into a. " wailing wall ", and upon his return to the Bench he would be feted as was the prodigal son. The fattest calf that could be taken to Flemington meat market would be produced for the celebration of the occasion. I accept his assurance that, at the moment, he does not intend to take that step. That forces me on to a hew line. It eliminates prospect No. 1. But I have still to ruminate on the possibilities of the situation, and to wonder exactly who the new appointee is to be.

Mr Lemmon - " Max " is, an applicant.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I should not be a bit surprised if he were. I was told a long time ago that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) had very grave objections to one highly placed legal gentleman who is to have a trip overseas. The matter is of particular interest at the moment, because the Parliament is faced with a dual position: first, there is the question of who is to be the new justice. Coupled with that, is the unanswered question addressed to the Attorney-General, "' Who is to be the new Solicitor-General?". The guess of any other honorable member is as good as mine.

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