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Wednesday, 7 December 1927

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - I desire to address the committee on a recent appointment to the Arbitration Court bench. Not very long ago we had in this chamber a gentleman, who, with others, represented the State of Western Australia. I refer to ex-Senator DrakeBrockman. He filled an important position in the Senate, being whip to the Government, and was exceedingly helpful to the Ministry on many occasions, particularly in the matter of legal advice in respect of measures that came before the Senate. In fact he looked upon himself as part and parcel of the Ministry.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I rise to a point of order. I submit that this discussion in committee is relevant only if it refers to some payment under the bill to the gentleman concerned. The bill makes no provision for the salary to be paid to judges of the High Court or the Arbitration Court. Those salaries are provided for by a special appropriation in the act under which they are appointed I contend, therefore, that Senator Findley is not in order in discussing the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman to the Arbitration Court Bench.

Senator Findley - The appointment to which I take exception was made by the Government on the advice of the Attorney-General, whose department is now under review. I consider that I am in order in making reference to it. In another place there was a long discussion concerning the appointment when Estimates for the Attorney-General's Department was before the members of that chamber.

Senator Sir George Pearce - That does not make it right here.

Senator Findley - The Government did not make any attempt then, as the Leader of the Senate is doing now, to prevent criticism of the appointment, which cannot be justified by the Government.

Senator Needham - I contend, Mr. Chairman, that you cannot give a ruling along the lines suggested by the Leader of the Senate. Senator Findley was criticizing the action of the Government in respect of a certain appointment which was made on the advice of the AttorneyGeneral, whose department is now under discussion. The Attorney-General is the legal adviser to the Ministry, and I consider that Senator Findley is in order in directing attention to an appointment made on the advice of that department.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).I have examined the list of divisions in the Department of the Attorney-General, and T see no reference in it to the appointment of ex-Senator DrakeBrockman to the Arbitration Court Bench. The honorable senator had an opportunity to discuss the appointment on the motion for the first reading of the bill, and he would be in order in referring to it in the committee stage if, in any of the divisions, there was an item relating to it. As there is not, I must rule the honorable senator out of order.

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