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Wednesday, 23 June 1926

Senator REID (Queensland) .- During this discussion it occurred to me that I could give the Senate an example of the nature of the appointments that might be expected under Senator Lynch's amendment when party feeling runs high. While I believe that there is a good deal in the honorable senator's suggestion, I have a high appreciation of the judiciary of Australia, and of other countries within the British Empire. On the whole, the men appointed as judges have been a credit to the country whose laws they have administered, but in Queensland we had recently a glaring example of what can be done in this connexion.

Senator Lynch - That is why I submitted my amendment.

Senator REID - On the death of a judge of the Queensland Supreme Court, it was necessary to appoint a successor. One member of the Cabinet - an honorary minister - was anxious to receive the appointment, but the other members of the Cabinet did not consider him to be fit for the position. Nevertheless he canvassed the caucus; and because others were anxious to obtain his position in the ministry, he obtained sufficient votes to secure tho judgeship, notwithstanding that the other members of the Cabinet were against him. He secured the position by one' vote. When he approached one minister for his support he was almost kicked out of his room.

Senator McHugh - When did that happen ?

Senator REID - Last year. The person to whom I have referred, and who now occupies a position on the Supreme Court Bench of Queensland, obtained it by manoeuvring. The interests of the public were ignored.

Senator McHugh - Where did the honorable senator obtain his information ?

Senator REID - It was published in the Queensland newspapers. I obtained it also from persons who were acquainted with the facts. That man not only has received an appointment to a very high position, but, should he retire, he will, receive a pension. I am anxious that such a thing should not be possible in connexion with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Parliament is not the place where the merits of applicants should be discussed. In Queensland, also, recently, Ave had men appointed to the Arbitration Court, who should never have been placed in positions of authority.

Senator McHugh - Who were they?

Senator REID - I shall not mention names.

Senator McHugh - The honorable senator probably refers to Mr. Dunstan, who is one of the best industrial experts in Australia. The honorable senator ' is endeavouring by innuendo to . besmirch the characters of honest men.

Senator REID - If they are honest, my opinion will not hurt them. The people of Queensland know me, and they know the men to whom I have referred. I am content to let them be the judges. The honorable senator's opinion carries no weight with me. I mentioned these instances to show what might be the effect of Senator Lynch's amendment, if agreed to. I do not think that Parliament should have this right. The making of appointments should be vested in the executive, and the executive should be responsible to Parliament. The illustration I nave given indicates how pernicious political influence may become. There was a time when the Queensland Supreme Bench commanded the respect of people throughout Australia. At present, owing to the manner in which appointments have been made within the last six or seven years, the public has absolutely lost faith in it. Whether or not there is any justification for this feeling is another matter, but it is for every, one. I am opposed to the. amendment.

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