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Wednesday, 1 December 1965


Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - A great amount of consideration was given to this very point. I considered it over a long period of time. For a considerable time I was of the view that probably such a provision should be inserted. But I was not thinking of it in terms of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), which restricts it to the ordinary members of the tribunal and does not include the presidential member.


Mr Whitlam - It could include him, too.


Mr SNEDDEN - If we were to do this, we would have to do it in respect of all members of the tribunal and not draw a distinction between the presidential member and the other members.


Mr Buchanan - The presidential member will be a judge.


Mr SNEDDEN - That is the very essence of the matter. To my knowledge, it has never been the practice that a judge should be required to disclose his interest in advance. The well known practice is that, if a judge has a matter to come before him for hearing and he has any relevant interest, he proclaims his interest and declines to sit on the matter. It was on that basis that I decided that this provision could not be appropriate to the presidential member, and as it was not appropriate to him it could not be appropriate to the other members either.

But, in point of fact, there is a stronger reason why it should not apply to the other members. They will have no judicial background. They will have to be carefully selected - I use the term " selected " in a real sense - for their capacity, temperament and probity. They will sit on the tribunal. They ought to have created around them an aura of responsibility and of acting in a semi-judicial manner. If such people, who are sitting in this quasi-judicial manner, were required to disclose not only direct but also indirect interests - that is, if their wives were their trustees, or anything of that kind, they would have to disclose such interests - that would tend to detract from the standing that they ought to have.

It was for those reasons that, on balance, I came down on the side of declining to include such a provision. I assure the honorable member for Moreton that this matter occupied my attention for a very considerable period. After giving the matter very close consideration, having had the advantage of putting k to members of the Cabinet and having had the advantage of their consideration of the full range of its implications, one way and the other, I say that the Government does not accept this amendment.







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