Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr BUCHANAN (McMillan) .- This clause is a pretty vital one. I can understand why there is quite a lot of feeling on it. I refer, first of all, to sub-clause (1.), which says that a person shall not be appointed a presidential member unless he is or has been a barrister or solicitor of not less than five years' standing. The point has been raised that he need not have practised as a barrister or solicitor. I suggest that the Attorney-General has an alternative here. He has said that this is to be a judicial appointment. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowen) has pointed out how the alternative could be adopted. The clause could be amended to read that the legal member of the tribunal should be a judge. If, in the view of the AttorneyGeneral, this should be a judicial appointment, I believe that that should be stated specifically in the Bill.

After all, when this legislation is in force other governments may come to power and they may have a different view from that of the present Government. As the clause stands, a presidential member has merely to be a barrister or solicitor. I suggest very definitely that the word " practising " should be inserted between the word " a " and the word " barrister ". I would even suggest that the words " or has been " seem to be superfluous. But in the legal jargon they may be necessary. Those words are indicative of something that appears throughout this Bill. There are always alternatives or references to something in the past. They may be necessary, but I can see no real benefit in their inclusion in the wording of the Bill.

The other matter is the phrase " knowledge of or experience in industry". The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) suggests that the word " or " should be " and ". I believe that that would solve the problem to some extent. It would certainly be much more acceptable for the member to have knowledge and experience. However, the point at issue at the moment is in regard to economists. Much more than necessary has been made of this point. We have no objection to economists as economists. The honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out that there is no reason why an economist should not be a member if he has the other qualifications. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has just made the point the other way round; namely, that an economist may have the other qualifications. But the clause, in its present form, as the Government has written it and as I expect the Government hopes to have it passed, reads " knowledge of, or experience in, industry, commerce or public administration ". I hope that we will alter clause 18, when we come to it, so that one member of a Division of the Tribunal must very definitely have experience in industry. The way that clause stands now, a division of the tribunal could consist of two economists. Where would we be in that event? They would never agree.

It must be pretty clear from other clauses - particularly clause 12 - that public servants will comprise a very important field of recruitment for members of this tribunal. The result could be that the members had no experience in business at all. Public servants do a fairly good job in their own place. Although I suggested in my speech in the second reading debate that public servants might be appointed to this tribunal, I did not mean it to be taken that I was at all in favour of that. I do not think anyone would read my speech in that way. Now the Opposition proposes the addition of the word " economics ". I was rather intrigued by the reference made by the honorable member for Parramatta to pure economists. That seemed to envisage university professors or lecturers being appointed to the tribunal. Such people love these part time jobs. They give talks on the radio, they appear on television and they write articles for the newspapers. These people infuse into our lives a lot of material that very often is a source of amusement and usually a basis for debate - or perhaps for argument, if honorable members like to put it that way.

Surely we are not to take it that these economists, academics, public servants and people from industry are to sit in judgment on what goes on in industry. It may be a very good idea to have these people engaged in many fields. As was mentioned to me a moment ago, the banks like to retain economists. But they retain them only to provide statistics and opinions and to give advice. The banks do not put economists in positions in which they will have judicial powers and make decision of the sort that are inherent in the far reaching examinations that the proposed Trade Practices Tribunal will have to make. I ask the AttorneyGeneral seriously to consider these two points and see whether he can agree to the alterations that have been suggested. If he wants judicial appointments, all right: Let us specify judges. If he wants to leave the clause in its present form, in which it uses the phrase " a barrister or solicitor ", let us accept the proposition that an appointee shall be a practising barrister or solicitor. Let us also accept the proposition that in the phrase "knowledge of, or experience in, industry " the word " or " should be replaced by the word " and '*. As I was making my last observation it was suggested to me that there will not be sufficient barristers or solicitors available to become members of the Tribunal because they all will be so busily engaged by industry as not to want appointments on the Tribunal.

Suggest corrections