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Thursday, 8 December 1960


Mr CHANEY (Perth) .- -I think it was absolute hypocrisy on the part of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro-


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I ask for a withdrawal of that expression and an apology from the honorable member for Perth.


Mr CHANEY - I withdraw the word " absolute " and say that it was hypocrisy.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw.


Mr CHANEY - I withdraw and say-


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I ask for an apology.


Mr Forbes - Filthy hypocrite.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! I have asked the honorable member for Perth to withdraw.


Mr CHANEY - I have already done so. I say that the honorable member for EdenMonaro who was talking about back pay-


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I direct your attention to the remark by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) who called me a " filthy hypocrite ". I ask for a withdrawal and an apology.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! I did not hear the honorable member for Barker make that remark.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then I request you, Sir, to ask the honorable member for Barker whether he said it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Did the honorable member for Barker use that term?


Mr Forbes - Yes, and I repeat it most sincerely.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! 1 did not hear the honorable member for Barker. I ask him to withdraw that remark if he used it.


Mr Forbes - At your request, Sir, 1 withdraw it.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr. Temporary Chairman, the words used are unparliamentary and I ask for a withdrawal.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! I call the honorable member for Perth.


Mr Peters - What a beautiful chairman!


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member for Scullin, who is a Temporary Chairman himself, will withdraw that remark.


Mr Peters - I am in very grave difficulties, but I withdraw having said that you are in any way beautiful.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member will withdraw and apologize to the Chair. He was reflecting on the Chair and not on me personally.


Mr Peters - I withdraw the statement I made, " What a beautiful chairman! "; and I apologize to the Chair for ever having made it.


Mr CHANEY - First of all, let me say that I apologize to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for saying he was hypocritical in his approach to this question. All I can say is that any member of this House who has shown opposition to backdating this legislation is hypocritical, regardless of who he is, because recently in this House we had a bill to raise parliamentary salaries. Apart from two or three voices that were raised in some sort of protest, the measure was back-dated and members wholeheartedly agreed with that provision. Apparently, when you come to raise parliamentary salaries, you cannot possibly compare them with the money that you pay to pensioners, but when you raise the salaries of judges of the High Court of Australia, it seems that you can compare them with the benefits paid to pensioners.

Let us study the criticism of the Opposition. The honorable member for EdenMonaro said that the Government introduced this measure at 2.30 o'clock in the morning. He said it was a sneak action on the part of the Minister. Where is the Opposition penalized if a bill is read a second time at 2.30 a.m.? The penalty lies on the side of the Government, because the Opposition is not asked to do anything about such a measure at that time. The next morning, at 11 o'clock, members of the Opposition can read the " Hansard " report and the full text of the second-reading speech. They can read it with rested minds because they have been in bed, and they can criticize the measure when the debate is resumed. That is exactly what happened in this case.

Until the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was elected to this Parliament, no one with wide experience of these matters had been a member. Here we have an honorable member elected who knows the task that the judges undertake. Throughout the history of Australia we have had cause to be thankful for the fact that we have had on the Bench of the High Court men of high repute of whom Australia can be proud. If the standard of the High Court judges is high we have nothing to fear. For years, judges of the High Court were going along, dedicated to their task and considering it an honour to serve the country.


Mr Daly - I rise to order. As a matter of interest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, can you inform the committee on what clause the honorable member is speaking?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order! The honorable member is quite in order.


Mr CHANEY - For the first time, a bill has been introduced into this Parliament to give these judges the remuneration to which they are entitled. If any one would tell me that the honorable member for EdenMonaro, or myself or any other member of this Parliament is worth £3,500 a year and a High Court judge is not worth the salary that is provided for him in this bill, I think he would be quite crazy.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member for Perth will relate his remarks to the operation of the bill, not to the amount of the remuneration.


Mr CHANEY - I will do so, Mr. Temporary Chairman. It is a pity that in the ranks of the people who constitute this Parliament there is no former High Court judge who could tell with honesty how he fared in relation to the economics of his daily life. I am quite certain that there is not the sincerity shown here that one would expect on a measure like this . It is quite ridiculous to relate the salary of a High Court judge, and the back-dating of an increase of salary to a High Court judge, to any payment to pensioners, whether or not one believes that pensioners are underpaid or overpaid. These things fall into different categories and, as I said earlier, I think it is sheer hypocrisy to try to make comparisons between them. What we as a Parliament have to do, if we have the legislative power to do it. is to give an adequate reward to the men who hold the highest positions in the land. The High Court of Australia is a memorial to the men who have made it the greatest High Court in the world. It is something of which we can be proud. The public can rest assured that, whatever happens in the parliaments of Australia, there are in the High Court men who will act without bias and with reasoned judgment - men who will carry out their tasks to the utmost of their ability. I challenge the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who has just interjected, to point out one case in the history of Australia where a judge of the High Court has given a decision influenced by political bias. The honorable member could not do so. Furthermore, he could not do it in relation to Sydney or anywhere else. It is extremely simple to get up here, covered by parliamentary privilege, and say things about High Court judges and other people, knowing that you cannot be brought to account for your statements.


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Temporary Chairman.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Docs the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. The honorable member for Perth said that I had objected to the provision that the increase of the judges' salaries be made retrospective and that I did not object to increases of salaries of members of Parliament being made retrospective. I did not, and do not, object to the making of the increases of the salaries of the judges or of members of Parliament retrospective. What I do object to - and the whole of my argument was based on this - is that the Government refuses to make increases of social service benefits retrospective, while it makes the increases of salaries of members of Parliament and judges retrospective.







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