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Tuesday, 12 December 1911


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I hope, for 'the credit of the Senate, that the Minister will not accept the amendment, even if he is prepared to adopt the idea that Senator' McDougall is aiming at. Surely the honorable senator has not considered the purport of the words which he desires to add. The clause provides that " no organization or person shall in any proceeding under this Act be represented by counsel or solicitor." The proposed amendment would affect the Minister's right to be represented. How can it be said that the Minister is an organization, and how can we provide that the Minister shall be. represented by a member of the organization which is appearing in a particular case? Both the Minister and the Commissioner are entitled to be represented.


Senator Rae - Yes ; as representing the Commonweal th .


Senator MILLEN - Whatever may be the object aimed at, Senator McDougall's words are grotesque, and will have to be altered.


Senator McDougall - We might say " or agent not being a member of the appealing organization."


Senator MILLEN - That is lovely! The Minister and the Commissioner, who are called upon to defend an action, cannot be represented except by a member of the organization which is taking action against them ! That reduces the thing to an absurdity. It would be tying the hands of the Commissioner, and providing that he could only be represented by one of the very men who were fighting him.


Senator McDougall - It is not so at all ; the honorable senator does not understand the position.


Senator MILLEN - I admit that I do not. As to the object in view, in my opinion, nothing that Senator McDougall can put into an Act of Parliament will have the effect of keeping out that very class of persons to whom he has referred.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Is there anything in the measure which would prevent an organization making such a person a member of the organization?


Senator MILLEN - Nothing at all. Senator McDougall would leave the door open for the appearance of what he be lieves to be a still more undesirable class. There is nothing to prevent an organization from making a disbarred solicitor a member.


Senator McDougall - Yes, there is.


Senator Rae - That shows that the honorable senator knows nothing about trade unionism.


Senator MILLEN - If an organization made up its mind to open its doors to thisclass of persons, it could do so. A danger arises out of our efforts to penalize the lawyers. If our arbitration laws remain on our statute-book, we shall have appearing in our Arbitration Courts a body of men who will act in all respects as if they were lawyers, and will, in fact, be lawyers, except that they have not submitted themselves to legal examination. They will become experts in arbitration matters, and the only difference between them and fully-equipped lawyers will be that the latter have passed, examinations and been formally admitted to practice.


Senator Rae - Just like land agents under the New South Wales land laws.


Senator MILLEN - That is a good case in point. An effort was made to put intoour land laws in New South Wales a prohibition against lawyers appearing in connexion with applications for land, and inregard -to everything else pertaining to land. Land agents, however, became far more expert than ordinary lawyers were in regard to the Land Acts. That is exactly what will happen in connexion with the Arbitration Acts. We shall create a special' class of men, expert in arbitration law. We cannot prevent employers or employe'sfrom getting advice from lawyers beforetheir case goes into Court. This amendment simply means that you are going to have the lawyer's advice in the office before the case goes into Court, and a special' class of persons - called " arbitrationagents," if you like - to represent the parties in the Court. The words, now proposed to be inserted are insufficient and rather ridiculous, because they mean that the Minister or Commissioner would haveto be constituted an organization. How can the Commissioner call himself an organization ?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - - Suppose the Commissioner appoints the Deputy PostmasterGeneral to represent him in an arbitration case, would he not be an agent?


Senator MILLEN - Under this amendment the Commissioner could not do that. There would have to be two organizations,. one representing the employes on the one side, and the Commissioner or Minister on the other. It is quite different in the case of private employes. There is always more than one employer in a given trade or calling. But in the Public Service there cannot be an organization on more than one side. The employes can be organized, but on the other side there is only the Minister or Commissioner.


Senator McDougall - Is not the Government an organization?


Senator MILLEN - The Government is not entitled to be represented as such. An organization involves the banding together of two or more persons to form it. It is clear, therefore, that if the Commissioner is to be allowed to appoint as his agent only a member of his organization, he will not be able to appoint any one as an agent, and must himself appear in every case. If that were insisted upon his time would be wholly taken up in dealing with these matters.







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