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Wednesday, 23 June 1926

Senator McHUGH (South Australia) . - I favour the amendment. I notice that the Attorney-General, under this clause, may " intervene in the public interest in any proceeding before the court in which the question of standard hour3 of work in any industry, or of the basic wage, is in dispute in relation to either of those questions." We do not know how often the Attorney-General may intervene, nor do we know how eccentric an individual he may be. .Senator Elliott stated that persons appearing before the court must employ counsel; but that is not so. After the AttorneyGeneral has given notice in the Gazette, any person or organization or association of employers or employees may apply to the court for liberty to be heard. It would be dangerous to allow one person to appear before the court, and to exclude another. Any person so entitled is to be permitted to examine and crossexamine witnesses, and I remind honorable senators that some laymen are even more competent than lawyers to examine witnesses in industrial cases. Supporters of the Government have referred to the necessity to expedite the work of the court; but if lawyers are to be allowed to appear there is bound to be further delay and consequent industrial trouble in future. The bench will be composed of men of probity and ability, and it can be relied upon to do the work entrusted to it. If the amendment were not agreed to, it would be possible for some persons, that are prepared to spend a lot of money on industrial matters, to hold up awards by making a large number of applications to the court. I suppose that at least one of the judges would have to spend much of his valuable time in dealing with such applications. The industrialists of this country have a suspicion, at any rate, that the words complained of have been inserted with some ulterior motive.

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