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Wednesday, 23 June 1926

Senator OGDEN (Tasmania) .- I was not aware that the provision in the Constitution related to other than High Court judges. In the circumstances it is useless to persist with the amendment, and I ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn .

Senator GARDINER(New South

Wales) [5.43]. - I move-

That the words " and of each other judge," proposed new section 13, be left out.

I wish the Government to have a free hand in deciding whom it shall appoint to the two subordinate, positions. If my amendment is agreed to, only the chief judge will require to be. a barrister or solicitor. There may be in the community nien who are not barristers or solicitors, but who are otherwise qualified by experience, character, and attainments for appointment as arbitrators. The Government seems to place lawyers on a pedestal. I have met many lawyers, and without wishing to show any unfriendliness towards them, I must say that with a few brilliant exceptions they have not impressed me. I have generally found them to be most impractical. A business man is brought into contact with the whole of the community, and his mind is broadened. Lawyers are trained in a groove which is altogether different from that of tradesmen or business men. Until recent years this chamber has been fairly free from the influence of lawyers. When 1 first entered it one of its most distinguished members was Sir Josiah Symon, and prior to that Mr. R. E. O'Connor - afterwards Mr. Justice O'Connor - was a member of the Senate.. They were both distinguished lawyers. For a lengthy interval the Senate conducted its business smoothly, without the aid of lawyers, although Senator Keating was a barrister who could have filled any position with distinction. The latest batch of legal men have never displayed exceptionally practical tendencies. When matters of law have to be determined, barristers and solicitors will always be appointed ; but in selecting a man for a position on the Arbitration Court bench the Government should look' for the one who is best fitted to discharge those duties, irrespective of his knowledge of law. A lawyer has not attributes of learning, ability, or distinction that entitle him to preferential .treatment over other members of the community. Confidence in the individual appointed is the chief consideration, and if the executive appointed a person calculated to have the confidence of the community the court would be invaluable. If a practical man were appointed to assist the chief judge it would be of great value to the court, because important points are often entirely overlooked by lawyers. Why should the appointments be limited to lawyers, when the matters at issue are not questions of law, but of arbitration, requiring that the scales of justice shall be held evenly between employers on the one side and employees on the other? In the event of disputes concerning industrial conditions in coal or gold mines, I venture to say that numbers of laymen associated with those industries could be found who, because of their practical knowledge, would be- more capable than any lawyers of adjudicating in those disputes. The men appointed to the bench should have a knowledge, too, of the motives of those participating in industrial disputes. Judging by recent debates in this chamber, compulsory arbitration has its opponents even at the present day. I have watched its progress since 1891, when a royal commission was appointed to inquire into industrial grievances. Governments were then beginning to feel their way in the direction of compulsory arbitration, but we still have men among us who are incapable of understanding, not merely the value of what arbitration has done, but its advantage to the community because of the industrial turmoil that it has prevented. My amendment would enable the executive to appoint the most suitable persons available for the positions.

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