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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Dr MACKAY (Evans) .- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has made some points which, of course, have been in my mind, and I am sure that other members of the Committee also share his concern. He made the point that the presidential member would be put in a false situation by the adoption of the course I am proposing. He asked: "How can the parties concur if they do not know of the interest of a lay member? " I agree that in this particular regard a great responsibility devolves upon the presidential member. ,

Mr Buchanan - Which amendment are you speaking of?

Dr MACKAY - I am speaking of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Mackellar with regard to the necessity for public disclosure on the ground that this would be the only means of enabling the parties before the Tribunal to obtain natural justice. It is agreed that there could be on this Tribunal a place for a person with expert knowledge and, indeed, interest in the field. This is agreed because the Tribunal will be concerned with commercial or industrial matters of great detail and therefore its deliberations might be enhanced by the inclusion among its members of someone with a personal interest in the field. As has been pointed out, and as is agreed, the procedure here is different from that of the normal courts of law.

I believe that there are only two considerations involved. The first is whether the interest of the member of the Tribunal is of such a nature that it could disadvantage the parties appearing before the Tribunal. If it is of such a nature, the presidential member, being aware of it, can take the step that is envisaged and not appoint that person to the Tribunal. But if that person's expert knowledge and interest are such that his presence on the Tribunal will not disadvantage the parties concerned but rather will contribute something useful to the proceedings, there is no worry; the President would be in order in appointing him to the Tribunal. If the President, in his judicial capacity, and with all the integrity with which we can shroud him, decides to appoint that man to the Tribunal, then, in his own conscience and in the normal course of events, he is answerable for the decision of the Tribunal.

This legislation, as we envisage it, may not be perfect but it is tentatively feeling its way forward into a vitally important field for Australia. Indeed, the number of amendments submitted is indicative of the way in which every effort is being made to evolve this complicated legislation in a form which will be in the best interests of all concerned.

I submit that it would be of far greater disadvantage in many instances to have a public disclosure of the interests of a member of the Tribunal and perhaps even crossexamination of him by the parties. Such a procedure might prevent this country from obtaining the services of some of its best and most able business men. I cannot agree with the honorable member for Mackellar.

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