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Thursday, 26 March 1942

Senator McLEAY (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition) . - In view of the statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane), I hope that he will agree to the adjournment of the debate. Senator Spicer mentioned the possibility of a barrister or solicitor who had been struck off the roll, but who had subsequently become a land agent, acting for a tenant. I ask the Minister to protect the interests of elderly people whose family solicitors have been looking after their affairs for many years. The Minister told us that he had taken an active part in the framing of regulation 25 which provides for the representation ofthe parties by agents. He admitted that he was biased against the employment of legal men.

Senator Keane - Absolutely!

Senator McLEAY - I had been wondering whether the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) was responsible for the inclusion of this regulation, but it now appears that the points usually advanced by prominent trade union organizers or secretaries for the benefit of the unthinking section of the people are not lost sight of by them when they attain ministerial office. They seize every opportunity to embody their individual ideas in the laws of the land.

Senator Keane - Practice before theory.

Senator McLEAY - The Minister has been an honest gold-digger and a zealous trade union secretary, but he now puts himself forward as better qualified to conduct an arbitration case than men specially trained in a university for that work. The barring of counsel from appearing in such cases is on a par with the appointment of politicians to fix wages and the selection of laymen to perform major surgical operations.

Senator A.J. McLACHLAN (South Australia) |5.12]. - I understood the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) to say that regulation 25 does not apply in respect of premises the rent of which exceeds £200 per annum, but I can find no such limitation in the regulations. I suggest that the attention of the appropriate officials should be directed to the fact that in all of the capital cities there are huge flats which represent, the investments of wealthy persons and all kinds of people, and that those buildings are managed by persons in combating whom there would be some advantage in employing a lawyer; but the unfortunate tenant who may require to seek relief is to be debarred from obtaining competent representation by regulation 25. Under regulation 24 no costs are to be allowed in any proceedings under these regulations, but we are placing the tenant, at a great disadvantage. I welcome the spirit in which the Minister has received this motion. If he wishes to help the big landlord, let him exclude counsel 'by all means; but if he wishes to enable tenants occupying small properties such as the occupants of flats to obtain relief, they should be allowed to engage counsel to represent them. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.

Leave not granted.

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