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Wednesday, 21 July 1926

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - Since the Government has a substantial majority in both this Chamber and another place, the passage of any measure that it elects to submit appears to be a foregone conclusion, regardless of arguments that may be advanced against it by honorable senators on this side. It is quite true, as has been stated, that according to the provisions of section 71 of the Constitution, justices of the High Court are appointed for life, but section 72 contains provision for their removal if Parliament so desires. Justices of the High Court knew very well, when they accepted the appointments offered, that they would not receive a pension upon retirement. It is true that a departure was made in the case of the late Chief Justice, and of late years there seems to be a fixed determination to pass measures to provide very substantial pensions for members of the judiciary.

Senator GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable senator opposed to pensions to senators?

Senator GRANT - Senator Greene seems to be developing sound common sense. There would be something to commend a proposal to provide members of Parliament with a pension after serving, say, three years. If Senator Greene had the courage to introduce such a proposal it would receive almost unanimous approval of members, if not the approval of the electors. I fail to see why members of the judiciary cannot invest their hard-earned salaries just the same as other people do in recognized public companies, or become bondholders in any of the numerous loans that have been floated by the Commonwealth and the States. I have no doubt that many of them do this. If a company in which they are interested became involved in litigation, justices of the High Court would, I am sure, deem . it desirable not to adjudicate. Even if they did, I have sufficient confidence in their integrity to believe that in any circumstances they would do what they believe to be the right thing. Why should they be singled out for pensions on such a generous scale as is contemplated ? We all have complete confidence in the Commonwealth and State Judiciaries, but it is not many years since the Queensland Government deemed it necessary to instruct the late Mr. T. J. Ryan to conduct several appeals against Supreme Court judgments before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. As a result, six or seven decisions of the Supreme Court of Queensland were set aside, and there is every reason to believe that if a number of other decisions were submitted to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council a tribunal for which I have the highest respect, they also would be upset. Since members of the judiciary are at liberty to invest their savings, I fail to understand why they should be provided with pensions. Notwithstanding the increase in the cost of living, due in my opinion to our policy of protection, it cannot by any stretch of imagination be urged that our judges are anywhere near the bread-line. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens are in that position, and all they can look for when they become too old to work is an old-age pension of £1 a week. I shall oppose the second reading of the bill.

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