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Wednesday, 14 October 1964


Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I rise in deference to the thoughtful speech of Senator Cohen, but before I refer to: that speech I want to make passing reference to a few observations that have just fallen from the lips of Senator McClelland. I wonder whether the Minister of Justice in New South Wales has given consideration to the process that obtains in America where, when a President is assassinated, the prisoner who is accused of the crime is available to be shot when in custody. That to me seems to be an indictment of American practice, and should deter us from too hastily copying the methods used there.

It may be that there is not as much in Senator McClelland's suggestion as he implies. If he simply wishes to put an accused person in a more accessible post: tion to converse with his legal advisers, well and good, but let us never place the accused on the bench in the hope that we will remove all prejudice from him. Let us remember that some accused are dangerous persons and have to be searched every time they come into the company of law abiding persons. We do not want to generate the idea that there is any great prejudice against an accused. I merely make these few remarks to remind the Committee that the paramount interest in a court of criminal jurisdiction is justice. An accused person should certainly not be prejudiced but neither should he be put on a pedestal, or in a position of preference in relation to other people in the court. I would hate to see an accused person put in a position where he could not be observed by the judge and the jury, or by the public. On the other hand, the public may feel a little prejudiced against the accused, and therefore for his own protection he should be in a special position. Similarly, for the protection of the public, he should be in an isolated position. In saying that I raise no argument against the plea that an accused person should not be prejudiced.

But I rose just to say how much I appreciate the manner in which Senator Cohen put his material in regard to the proposition that the appeal to the Privy Council should be abolished. I have come into the chamber without having formed any concluded view upon that matter myself and I trust it will not detract from what Senator Cohen has said if I do not join in the advocacy of his cause. I only wanted to add, in the hope that the Attorney-General's Department is actively giving consideration to that matter as incidental to other matters that are on its programme at the present time, that I noticed in an article in the last issue of the "Law Quarterly Review" that the evolution of the English Court of Appeal and the House of Lords as a dual appeal system was evolved in 1875 out of most extraordinarily minute and trivial political circumstances. Ever since that time England has, from the point of view of its own municipal system, a dual appeal from a Justice of the High Court to the Court of Appeal and then normally to the House of Lords.

In Australia, since the formation of the Federal system, from a single judge who exercises the principal jurisdiction of a Supreme Court, there is an appeal, first of all, to the Full Court of the Supreme Court; then, if it is a civil matter involving over £1.500 as a civil right, there is next an appeal, as of right, to the High Court; and after that there is an appeal by leave to the Privy Council.

I simply state those facts because I have been interested to read the recent article written by Sir Garfield Barwick when he was Minister for External Affairs and before he assumed the office of the Chief Justice of the High Court, and published in the recent edition of the "Federal Law Review" in which he indicates reasons for establishing an intermediate appellate tribunal in the Federal system in Australia. Now, if we were to get that system we would have an appeal from a single judge of the Supreme Court to the Full Court of the Supreme Court, then to the intermediate

Federal Court, then by leave to the High Court and then by leave to the Privy Council. 1 know that the Attorney-General's Department is actively considering this establishment of an intermediate federal appeal court, and I rise not to join in a thoughtful discussion of this question of the appeal to the Privy Council, but only to ask the Attorney-General's representative here to take note that within the legal profession there is a growing anxiety that the system of justice, overweighted by an indefinite succession of appeals with the consequent cost and delay, is being impeded. I simply wish to make that reference knowing that the matter is under active consideration by the Attorney-General's Department.

One other word I cannot forebear to express whilst on my feet: 1 hope that the Minister will offer some observation as to the utility in the year 1964 of legal service bureaux. To me it is quite inappropriate that these bureaux should continue to exist. If there are dependants of ex-servicemen and ex-servicemen themselves who are in need of legal advice I feel sure that the officers of the Attorney-General's Department, if they had the spirit and energy to fertilise this purpose, could make a far moire comprehensive arrangement with the legal profession generally whereby, in deserving cases, advice and advocacy would be forthcoming without fee on an infinitely more efficient and comprehensive basis than it is available from these legal service bureaux which, I think, are inappropriate to the present day.







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