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Friday, 19 November 1965


Mr KILLEN (Moreton) . - I doubt that I have ever listened to a more shocking speech in my life than that just delivered by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). A very great deal can be said about his speech and I shall be making a glancing reference to it here and there, but I want to say at once that this morning, in terms of relevance to the Bill before the House, he was rather like Christopher Columbus. Any relevance that he discovered was entirely by accident and certainly not by design. I hope that the House, people outside, and particularly those in his electorate will harken to the appalling language used by the honorable gentleman this morning. The references that he made to the judges of the High Court of Australia were absolutely outrageous. Having said that, may I turn to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and say to him: Arthur, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. This morning you have lent the prestige of your office to this miserable and contemptible attack upon the High Court of Australia and upon the other bodies involved.


Mr Calwell - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. The words used by the honorable gentleman are most offensive to me. He said that I made a contemptible attack upon the judges of the High Court.


Mr Snedden - No, he did not say that. He said that the honorable gentleman had lent his name to it.


Mr Calwell - If he said that I lent my name to it it becomes even worse. It makes it an indirect attack upon me. His remarks were grossly offensive.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member for Moreton will withdraw the remark.


Mr KILLEN - I do so. If I have in any way injured the feelings of the Leader of the Opposition I certainly withdraw the remark, but I do not withdraw the charge that the Opposition this morning has made what amounts to an attack upon the judges of the High Court. I propose to develop this argument.


Mr Jones - I rise to order. I made no attack whatever on the judges of the High Court. I compared the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to its employees other than judges and its attitude-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - There is no substance to the point of order.


Mr KILLEN - I do not want to make honorable members opposite sit on a pile of noogoora burrs. I will content myself by saying that they have made some rather unfelicitous references to the judges of the High Court.


Mr Jones - That is still a lie.


Mr KILLEN - The honorable member for Newcastle said that we have one law for the rich and another for the poor.


Mr Jones - That is still a lie.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.


Mr Jones - I withdraw the remark, but what the honorable member said was not true.


Mr KILLEN - The honorable member does not understand what I mean. I could have been referring to a horse running at Canterbury tomorrow as far as he is concerned. The honorable member said that there is one law for the rich and another law for the poor. Does he deny that?


Mr Jones - That is correct.


Mr KILLEN - Does he deny having said that it is not a bad sort of job?


Mr Jones - No. Again that is correct.


Mr KILLEN - Of course he does not deny it. Does this not amount to a reflection upon the judges of the High Court? If the honorable member for Newcastle had his way, and if some of those who sit around him had their way, they would have the judges of the High Court working according to the principles of the Stakhanovite system in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. When it came to the Judge in Bankruptcy they would pay him according to the number of bankruptcy matters that he handled each day. I think that the Opposition this morning has gone right down into the very depths of argument to put its case. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should be ashamed of himself. I ask him to realise the tremendous injustice that he has done to those concerned. I believe that it is a completely false basis on which the Opposition has proceeded. As my friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), pointed out in what I thought was a very temperate, a very clear and a very reasoned speech this morning, it is completely wrong to compare judges with civil servants. I think we do well to recall that the High Court of Australia has exactly the same origin of creation as this Parliament - the Constitution. In my respectful submission it does not reflect any credit at all upon Her Majesty's Opposition to come here with this cheap, miserable argument which it has advanced today.

If I were to be asked what would be a reasonable basis on which some assessment should be made of the salaries to be paid to judges, I think I would be tempted to say that some heed should be paid to what they could earn in private practice. If the judges of the High Court of Australia were to go back into private practice, there is not a man among them who would not be capable of earning twice or three times the amount that is to be paid to them under this legislation.


Mr Jones - £36,000?


Mr KILLEN - The honorable member for Newcastle may belittle the legal profession, but the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), I am reliably informed, has reason to be grateful to it, and the Leader of the Opposition has great expectations.


Mr Jones - That is unfair.


Mr KILLEN - I do not think it is unfair. I suggest that if the House were to ask what the earning capacity of these men would be in private practice it would find that what is proposed under this legislation is quite reasonable. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), joined the debate this morning. Sir, I do not think I reflect on you in any way when I say that he was treated as though he were a koala bear. He came in here and, poor little chap, said: " I have been misrepresented and misunderstood." He is always protesting that he has been misrepresented. He said across the table: " I have to go and do some work on the Matrimonial Causes Bill". Does he not think that other honorable members also have work to do on other bills? I do not think he did his cause any good by coming in here and absolutely squeaking this morning and protesting: " I have been misunderstood."

I want to adopt part of the argument used by the honorable gentleman in 1955 when debating the Judges Remuneration Bill. My honorable and learned friend, the honorable member for Parkes, has already adverted to this argument, but I should like to quote in detail what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in 1955 when he had, if I may say so with great respect, a particular claim to respectability. It is a pity the honorable member does not want to come into the chamber and join in the debate this morning. I venture the view that if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did join in this debate and if he were to give of his true convictions to this matter he would not subscribe to the views that have been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Newcastle. What did the honorable member for Werriwa say in 1955? I hope that the House will listen to this. He said -

The bill renders substantial wage justice to one section of the community.

I interrupt myself there. Would the honorable member for Newcastle say that in 1955 there was one law for the rich and another for the poor? Would he have turned round in 1955 and said: "Not a bad sort of a job?" This is the sort of argument that does not, in my view, help the Opposition's case in the least. But the honorable member for Werriwa went on -

The case made for it is not diminished by reason of the fact that judges are the highest paid of all persons for whose income the Commonwealth Parliament is responsible, and also hold office for the longest period.

That argument was sharply relevant in 1955. I submit that it is as relevant today as it was then. Then, having gone a little further in his argument, the honorable gentleman was interrupted by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), another honorable gentleman who has had reason to be grateful to the legal profession in the past for services rendered. The honorable member for Hindmarsh interrupted and asked a question. What did the honorable member for Werriwa - that is, the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition say? He said -

The honorable member can refer that question to me by asking a solicitor to brief me for my opinion.

There, in 1955, was the honorable member for Werriwa, to put it in homely language, searching for a quick quid. He then went on to say -

Cases have arisen, it is true, where new appointees to these courts have experienced genuine difficulty in meeting their commitments for income tax and the like, but purely on the basis of comparative incomes of judges at the time the courts were established, and incomes in other walks of life and in other professions, the Bill surely is not only justified but overdue.

Again I ask the honorable member for Newcastle whether he would say: "Not a bad sort of job; again one law for the rich and another law for the poor", as though he was out crutching sheep or doing something of that sort. I put this to the honorable gentleman with the utmost goodwill: The basic fallacy of bis argument -


Mr Jones - You are talking like a jackeroo.


Mr KILLEN - The honorable member wrings no apology from me for having been a jackeroo - none at all. On the outer Barcoo, they would wonder whether the honorable member was a clucky emu or whether he had just strayed along by chance. I was dealing with the basic fallacy of the honorable member's case. The basic fallacy was his comparison. The judges of the High Court of Australia are not to be compared with civil servants, or with those who are working in industry or with those who are working in business and in commerce. At first blush, that may appear to be unreasonable, but when we come down to a consideration of the office which the judges hold and of the incomes which they could earn in private practice, the unreasonableness disappears in a twinkle.

Let me go on further with the argument advanced by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I was most impressed with it. I thought it was a very carefully pleaded argument. He went on to say-


Mr Jones - I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Moreton entitled to refer at length to that case in support of his argument, in view of the fact that I was not entitled to refer at length to a report?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Moreton is quoting from the report of a debate on this subject when it was before the House previously.


Mr KILLEN - The honorable member for Werriwa went on to say - lt seems not an inappropriate time to refer to the fact that this Parliament, and, in particular, the major party on each side of the House, are fortunate that they are being led by right honorable gentlemen who, before they were elected to this Parliament, were in receipt of much larger incomes than they could ever receive in this Parliament.

Then he went on to say - and here I adumbrate the honorable gentleman's case - that if they had been outside they would have continued to earn far more than they could have earned here in the Parliament. The last part of the honorable gentleman's argument that I adopt, and which I commend to the honorable member for Newcastle to think about, was this statement -

We do not flatter the judges, nor enhance thenprestige or standing in the community, by attributing to them actions for which they were not responsible in the past, and for which they are not responsible now.

My final point to the House this morning in its consideration of this legislation is that this Parliament does not enhance the prestige of the judges of the High Court by regarding them as being the menial servants of the community, by likening them to people in commerce and industry, as though there was some sort of trade union atmosphere about it. I say nothing at all detrimental or unfair about the trade union movement, but I say that the honorable member for Newcastle proceeded from a completely wrong premise this morning. I regret that the Leader of the Opposition supported, advanced and even initiated for the Opposition a case which amounts to a miserable comparison between judges of the High Court and those elsewhere. I hope that all people outside this Parliament will realise the singular nature of this attack which has been made this morning.

The Australian community has been superbly served by those who, since 1903, have sat on the High Court of this country.

They have given to the Australian community the ultimate sense of protection from Parliament and from the Executive. They have ensured that right shall be done between all manner of men. In my view, the Opposition has added no lustre this morning to its claim to be put on the Treasury bench as the Government of Australia.







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