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Wednesday, 23 June 1926

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I feel sure that the committee will not accept the amendment. Pensions are provided for Supreme Courtjudges in every State except Queensland. I thoroughly agree with honorable senators on both sides who have emphasized the importance of having qualified men as judges; but I point out that in order toget the best men we must make the positions attractive. The salaries proposed are not as high as those paid to some Supreme Court judges, and the pensions proposed are equal to those given to judges in New South Wales. Surely the calibre of the Commonwealth judges should be equal to that of the judges attracted to the Supreme Court Benches of the States. It will be found that the leading members of the legal profession earn salaries at the bar far exceeding those provided in the bill. Unlike lawyers in private practice, the judges would not be at liberty to increase their income by doing outside work. The positions must be made attractive, and the judges must be assured of a pension that will be sufficient to enable them to maintain the same position in the community upon their retirement as they occupied when members of the Bench. They must have a pension commensurate with the income that they would probably have provided for themselves if they had continued in practice at the bar. I do not think that the proposed salaries are excessive; but, with the nensions attached,we should be able to make our choice among members of the legal profession. We need the most highly-qualified judges available, so that Australia may entrust to them with confidence the mighty issues with which the Bench will have to deal.

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