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Thursday, 2 December 1965


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - I have indicated to the Committee that I am not entirely happy with this amendment. I am sorry that you, Mr. Chairman, in your discretion, did not allow an addendum to it because it seems to me that this clause is a denial of natural justice. I put this to the Attorney-General because I hope that the amendment that has been ruled out of order here will be pressed and carried in another place and that the Bill will come back to this House, as indeed it should.

There is no reason why the members of the Tribunal who are interested in a matter should not be known by the parties to be interested. Anything else is a denial of natural justice. I think the phrase " star chamber " is colourful. It may be that some honorable members think that using it is going a little far but in substance it is correct. You cannot have these relevant facts not known to the parties to the case before the Tribunal. It is quite different from a court. In a court we do not want a judge sitting on matters in which he has a substantial interest. In this case, we may want a member of the Tribunal sitting on matters in which he has a substantial interest. But if he is so sitting, then the parties to the case are entitled to know that he has that interest. They are not entitled to know the extent of the interest but they are entitled to know that the interest exists. If they object to the member so sitting then they are entitled to express that objection. Earlier in this debate the Attorney-General set up a number of straw men and knocked them over with customary legal facility. But they were straw men. Nobody has suggested that a person should be compelled to disclose his private affairs. The Attorney-General misinterpreted what I have said in this regard. I do not say he did so deliberately. I believe he misunderstood me.

Let me explain the matter to him. I would agree with the point he made that disclosure to the parties is no different from public disclosure. But what I was saying was that no member of the Tribunal was compelled to make any disclosure at all because, if he did not wish to disclose his interest, all he had to do was not to sit on the Tribunal. This is a matter which would be perfectly private. It would be between that member and the President. Nobody would know about it at all. It would never come under public scrutiny. This would be done at his election. Under my proposal, if he still wanted to sit on the Tribunal he could do so subject to no objection being made, provided it was known that he was an interested party. What was wrong with that suggestion? Nothing at all. Thus it has not come under any of the strictures put up by the Attorney-General. In this connection, he built up one of the straw men which he knocked down. I hope that honorable members are not impressed over much by these legal and procedural tricks which, of course, are the legal stock-in-trade of lawyers. That is how they make a living.

In this Committee we should be looking at the substance of the matter. The clause before the Committee, although it is an

Important part of the Bill - and I acknowledge it to be important - goes only half way towards accomplishing the objective I raised last night. It is still not sufficient. I hope that when this Bill is dealt with in another place the amendment, which you, Mr. Chairman, have ruled out of order, will be moved in that other place and carried; that the Bill will come back to this chamber; and that the clause will be incorporated in the Bill. Without it the Bill is defective in quite a material particular.







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