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Thursday, 8 December 1960


Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- Mr. Temporary Chairman,I support the criticism by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) of the clause now before the committee. It states -

This Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the first day of October, One thousand nine hundred and sixty.

The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) says that this measure and a similar bill were not introduced by stealth. Let me tell him that we on this side of the chamber, too, found it a great inconvenience to have to wait here until half-past two in the morning.


Mr Peters - We had to wait until after half-past three in the end.


Mr DALY - That is right. We had to wait until after half-past three. This bill should have been introduced at a proper hour - in the day-time. I am not at all enamoured of the Attorney-General's statement that this bill was introduced in the early hours of the morning at very great inconvenience to him. When all is said and done, he receives a very good salary, and it is his job to be here at the right time and not to introduce legislation in the early hours of the morning when he knows that it will not be debated. The Minister is afraid of this clause, as he has shown by the manner in which he introduced the bill and by his action this evening in preventing the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) from speaking on a point about which the Attorney-General was very touchy.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member is not in order in referring to matters that did not arise in committee.


Mr DALY - That is right, Mr. Temporary Chairman. But reference has been made to other things that did not occur in committee, and especially to the reasons why the bill was introduced in the early hours of the morning. I mention that only in passing.

The Attorney-General says that this measure is to be back-dated to 1st October That is very generous. After all, I suppose that these judges who are at present battling along on something more than £120 a week cannot wait for increases of about £40 a week. I suppose that they have overdrafts unlimited and must have the higher rates of salary back-dated in order that they may meet their obligations. These High Court judges and others are doubtless struggling to satisfy their creditors and just cannot do so unless their salary increases are backdated. I point out that this back-dating of the salary increases by more than two months will give them each about £320 a year.

The honorable member for Scullin has stated that no such consideration was given to the poor, the needy, the sick, the aged and the infirm. They were given an increase in pensions of only a miserable £13 a year, but even that was not back-dated for so much as a week or a day. They were not given the benefit of £1 or £2 by the back-dating of the validating legislation. The Government deliberately stopped the Opposition from criticizing that legislation because had we done so we should have delayed the payment of the higher rates of pension to all those needy people who were looking forward to the additional 5s. a week, which represents only a miserable pittance compared to the additional salary of about £40 a week now being given to men who can well afford to continue on their existing salaries. As if that were not enough, these increases for judges are to be back-dated by more than two months under the terms of this clause.

I am not at all impressed by the Government's attitude. As the honorable member for Scullin has said, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced in his Budget speech that age pensions were to be increased. Why could that increase not have been back-dated to the date of the announcement?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! 1 hope that the honorable member will not continue on that line.


Mr DALY - This is a pertinent point. The increases in judges' salaries are being backdated to 1st October, 1960. We are told that this increase to High Court judges is to be granted as from a certain date. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, we on this side would not oppose retrospectivity if the Government applied that principle generally. We are pointing out the privileged position of the judges and the patronage which the Government is giving High Court judges by back-dating the increases; and we cannot help but think that there is some ulterior motive for doing this. What consideration will these men who are having their salary increases back-dated give to the wages claims of those who may want increases back-dated to the date on which they lodged their applications, which, in in some cases, would be twelve or eighteen months previously? This is an instance of inconsistency de luxe on the part of the Government. It proposes to give plenty to those who have wealth unlimited. It proposes to back-date the increases of men in receipt of from £120 to £200 a week, and it will give nothing at all to the pensioner on £4 or £5 a week, or to the factory worker who is on £15 or £16 a week.

Why does not the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) rise and justify his action in voting to back-date the proposed rise of £40 a week to judges of the High Court while refusing to give the pensioners a paltry 40s. by way of retrospective payments? I should like the Government to justify its action in this instance and to explain its inconsistency. Is it to show the judges some form of political patronage?


Mr Drury - I rise to order. I submit that under Standing Order No. 77 the honorable member is out of order.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order! I did not hear properly what the honorable member for Grayndler said. Will he repeat it?


Mr DALY - My memory is not clear on that.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The committee will come to order. I cannot 'hear what the honorable member for Grayndler is saying.


Mr DALY - I do not speak from notes, and I just cannot remember precisely what I said. If the honorable member for Ryan will repeat what I said, I shall be able to tell him whether he is reasonably accurate.


Mr Killen - The honorable member for Grayndler said that the effect of this proposal was to bestow political patronage upon the judiciary. It was heard by every one on this side of the chamber.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! Did the honorable member for Grayndler say this measure was designed to bestow political patronage on the judiciary?


Mr DALY - I did not use the words which the honorable member for Moreton said I used.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN

Order! The honorable member for Grayndler will proceed.


Mr Killen - You have not got the backbone of a jellyfish.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member for Moreton will come to order.


Mr DALY - I wish I could have a few moments to recover from that terrible insult. What I said was that we must place some interpretation on the Government's action in back-dating this increase to 1st October. Let me repeat that I am con vinced it is being done just because the Government thought that it should be granted as from that date. It is probable that it was considering some date months earlier than 1st October.

What is the justification for granting substantial retrospective payments to men who are in receipt of huge salaries when less privileged sections of the community are not accorded the same treatment? That is something that must be explained. Why does not the honorable member for Moreton, who was so vehement in his attack upon me a moment ago that he cut me to the quick, stand up in this place and defend his attitude towards this issue? It is significant that although honorable members on the Government side interject and criticize from their seats, very few rise to their feet to support the Attorney-General's attitude. I ask them to stand up and support it. I ask all those who made such an outcry, who joined in the cry of the wolf pack when they gagged the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) a few moments ago. to stand up and justify this back payment to the High Court judges. The reason why members on the Government side are silent, the reason why the Attorney-General is acting like a little fascist dictator-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member for Grayndler will withdraw that remark.


Mr DALY - In deference to the Chair. I withdraw it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

And apologize.


Mr DALY - Yes. The point 1 am making is the reason why the AttorneyGeneral does not want this particular clause to be discussed in detail. He does not warn us to know why he is doing this; he does not want us to know why he at least wants to be on the side of the judges in the courts of this country.

I repeat that the only interpretation the man in the street can put on his attitude is that for some hidden reason the judges are entitled to privileges in connexion with salary increases which are denied to the average working man. the pensioner and others. Is it not reasonable for the man in the street to say that the reason why the back payments are being made to judges is that they must have something on the Government, that the Government must want something from them, that it must want them to do something and for that reason has decided to back-date their pay to give them wealth unlimited?


Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - 1 rise to order. Surely the honorable member's remarks are a gross reflection on the judiciary and are, therefore, out of order?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN

Order! The honorable member for Grayndler may proceed, but I ask him not to reflect on the judiciary. He knows very well that to do so would be entirely out of order.


Mr Whitlam - He has not done so.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! I am not suggesting that he did. I am asking him not to do so.


Mr DALY - Not for a moment in my wildest dreams would I reflect on the judiciary. I am reflecting upon the Government as completely divorced from the judiciary. Not for a moment would I believe that these judges would be a party to such a thing. I am merely putting the hypothetical case; I am merely saying what the man in the street must think of it. I am asking what the average man must think when he reads in the press that a government will not back-date pay increases for workers, a government which will not backdate pension increases, has decided that the salaries of judges are to be back-dated at the rate of £40 a week to 1st October. I am suggesting that he can only think that the Government is looking after the judges for some particular reason.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member for Grayndler will not proceed in that strain.


Mr DALY - Very well. At the same time, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I think you are adopting a most restrictive attitude. I was putting a hypothetical case.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member for Grayndler will resume his seat.


Mr Pollard - I move -

That the honorable member for Grayndler be beard.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN

Order! The honorable member for Grayndler exhausted his time.


Mr Daly - You did not say that.


Mr Pollard - You did not sit him down because of the expiration of his time. You said, " The honorable member for Grayndler will resume his seat ". You did not say, " The honorable member for Grayndler's time has expired ". I move -

That the honorable member for Grayndler be heard.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member's time has expired.


Mr Pollard - But only since this point of order has been under discussion.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honorable member.







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