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Tuesday, 6 December 1960


Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) (2:23 AM) . - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill is complementary to the one dealing with the salaries of the judges of the High Court of Australia. Its purpose is to increase the salaries of the judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Federal Court of Bankruptcy and the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and the salaries of the Presidential Members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It will establish a basic judicial salary of £7,000 a year for judges of those tribunals, and a salary of £8,000 a year for the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

Australia - and I am sure the House agrees with me on this point - has the greatest respect for the judiciary and the functions it performs, and knows that it is essential to the maintenance of our democratic way of life that the rule of law, whether it be in the industrial sphere, in bankruptcy administration or in the ordinary administration of justice, be impeccably observed. This can be achieved only if the judiciary is completely independent, and consists of men of the highest quality and integrity. The salaries of the Commonwealth judges with which this bill deals must be such as will enable them to discharge their singular responsibilities with independence and without financial embarrassment and ought not to be so low as to deter the best-qualified persons from accepting the duties and the personal sacrifices of the Bench. Amongst these sacrifices, in the case of the federal judges, are the interruptions to the family and personal life of the judges necessarily involved in the ambulatory character of Commonwealth courts.

When the Government reviewed the salaries of the justices of the High Court, it also looked at the salaries of other federal judges, and was confronted with the same disparity between the present salaries of those judges and the remuneration payable to other public officers of the Commonwealth and State judges to which I referred in my second-reading speech on the Judiciary Bill (No. 2) 1960 which dealt with the salaries of High Court judges. In the industrial sphere, the disparity since 1955, when the present Commonwealth salaries were fixed, is obvious from the table which, with the concurrence of honorable members, I shall incorporate in " Hansard " at this point. It is as follows: -

The allowance payable to the members of the New South Wales Industrial Commission is in the same case, in relation to taxability, as are the allowances payable to the judges of the Supreme Court, whereas the whole of the salary of Commonwealth judges is taxable. It will be seen, therefore, that all members of the Industrial Commission of New South Wales are now better paid than is any member of the Commonwealth Industrial Court or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

As I mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Judiciary Bill (No. 2), the Government's view is that judicial salaries should not be altered with great frequency, but on the contrary should be fixed so as to provide a just remuneration over a substantial period, making it possible to disregard changes in the meantime in other salary levels. In particular, in the Government's view, there can be no question, in salaries of this kind, of mere adjustment by arithmetical formulae in response to movements in industrial wages or prices.

It is the Government's view that the salaries of the judges of the superior courts created by the Parliament should not be less than those fixed for the Presidential Members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I have already mentioned the considerations that make necessary an increase in the salaries of the Presidential Members. Several judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court at present also hold appointments in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and similar assignments of judges from one Commonwealth court to another may be found to be convenient in future. These considerations make a measure of uniformity desirable as between the various Commonwealth tribunals on the mainland.

Clause 2 of the bril, for the reasons I gave in explaining the Judiciary Bill (No. 2), provides that the new salaries will take effect from 1st October last.

I commend the bill to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.







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