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Tuesday, 18 April 1961


Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- Mr. Temporary Chairman,clause 9 fixes the salary of a judge of the Northern Territory Supreme Court at £7,000. This is the same figure as the Parliament set last year for federal judges of comparable status in the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Bankruptcy Court and the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. At the time, the House divided on that matter. Although on this occasion my party is not opposing the appropriation, it still does not agree with the figure that has been set or with the timing of the increase. It also feels strongly that the time has come when there should be some consultation between the Commonwealth and the States on the question of judges' salaries. Last year, because of the leap-frogging between the States of New South Wales and Victoria in respect of the salaries which they were constantly setting for their judges, the Commonwealth felt compelled to set a salary for High Court judges which was above that of the Supreme Court judges in New South Wales and Victoria, from whose decisions the High Court judges hear appeals.

The Opposition is still of the view that this unseemly competition between the State Supreme Courts should be regulated in some way and we feel that the Commonwealth is in the best position to take the initiative in this matter. There are many other matters which could be discussed between the Commonwealth and the States concerning not only the remuneration of judges, but also their allowances, their travel, their leave, their pensions and the circumstances in which their libraries are taken over and maintained. There are unnecessary anomalies between all the jurisdictions, Federal and State, on all these matters.

It would be quite unreasonable to fix a salary for the Northern Territory Supreme Court judge below that of other federal judges of similar status, in particular those who are now to be appointed as additional judges to the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

As I said during the second-reading debate, the Supreme Court judge of the Northern Territory operates in the Northern Territory, in the Cocos Islands, and on Christmas Island in circumstances which are more challenging than those which confront any Australian judges except those in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Aborigines in the Northern Territory and thoroughly mixed populations in the island Territories are a challenge to any judge. In addition, the judges in this jurisdiction are isolated and have less assistance than is available to any of their brethren elsewhere in Australia.


Mr Makin - Would the judge of the Northern Territory Supreme Court be entitled to preside over courts in the other Australian States?


Sir Garfield Barwick - A judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory could be used in Canberra or on Norfolk Island.


Mr WHITLAM - As I understand it, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is establishing a judicial pool from which judges can be drawn to sit in any Federal Supreme ,Court or comparable jurisdiction. !l would like him to go further and extend the .provisions as the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden-) was agreeing should be done. The Commonwealth Industrial Court .could be renamed and extended to deal with all matters of domestic and commercial and administrative jurisdiction under the Matrimonial Causes Act, the industrial property legislation and other Commonwealth statutes.

The Opposition feels that it would be wrong to determine a salary -for the Northern Territory Supreme Court judge lower than that 'which is set for this federal colleagues. Nevertheless to illustrate the anomalies which have now risen between the 'federal judges and the Supreme Court judges in all States other than New South Wales and Victoria I shall cite the salaries of judges as they were given to me by the then Acting Attorney-General (Mr. McMahon) in reply to a question which I put on notice and which he answered on 20th October, 1960. Under the bill before the committee, the salary for the Northern Territory Supreme Court judge will be £7,000. In Queensland, the salary of the Chief Justice is £5,300 and that of the other judges is £4,900. In South Australia, the Chief Justice receives £5,750 and other judges receive £5,000. In Western Australia, the salary of the Chief Justice is £5,290, the senior puisne judge receives £4,790, and the other judges receive £4,640.

Those three States all border on the Northern Territory. It was anomalous and illogical that federal judges m the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, in the Bankruptcy Court, or in the Commonwealth Industrial Court should have lower salaries than the Supreme Court judges of New South Wales and Victoria. It was still more illogical that the High Court judges should have lower salaries than the Supreme Court judges of New South Wales and Victoria as was the position until the end of last year. Now, the Northern Territory Supreme Court judge will have a considerably higher salary than that of any of the Supreme Court judges of the States which border the Territory. So while we do not oppose this clause, and we shall not vote against or seek .to amend it, we feel that it clearly illustrates the need for the Commonwealth to take the initiative in co-ordinating judicial conditions throughout Australia.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 10 to 34 - by 'leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 35 (Practice and procedure in matters not provided for).







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