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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1477

Senator CAVANAGH (South AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I wish to clear up a few points that have been raised. I am now in a position to say that the Government will accept the Australian Democratic Labor Party's amendment. I think there is quite a lesson to be learned from this short debate this afternoon. The Waterside Workers Federation or any other trade union could teach the legal profession something about trade union unity. The trade unions believe that an injury to one is the concern of all. Today we have seen honourable senators on the other side of the chamber who are also members of the legal profession stand in their places and condemn the members of their own profession by questioning whether they have enough work to do in the Commonwealth Industrial Court. We have heard from them such brutal things as the statement that anyone who, through invalidity, is unable to pull his weight should be retired. Apparently that is the attitude of the legal profession. It would never be the attitude of the trade unions. There is a loyalty in trade union circles that is not apparent in professional circles.

Mention has been made of the use of judges on other than judicial functions. It should be remembered that it was not the present Government that initiated that procedure. Judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and other courts have for a long time been used on other than arbitration and judicial matters. I cite the appointment of a judge to inquire into the defence forces retirement benefits scheme. 1 cite also the appointment of a judge to inquire into the allegations of bastardisation at Duntroon. A judge was even appointed to decide the salaries and allowances that members of this Parliament should receive. He was engaged in that task for many weeks. That is what was done under the previous Government.

I thought the legal profession was an honourable profession that determined issues on the basis of justice, fairness and a strict interpretation of the law. Apparently, from what was said today, there are men in the legal profession who would be prepared to make a decision that accorded with the views of a particular government if it appointed them as judges. It was unfair of

Senator Millinerto suggest that Senator Wright would ever enter a disgraceful outfit that, sitting as a court, would be influenced by whoever appointed its members. I suggest that Senator Wright would never stoop to the extent that the professional men on the other side of the chamber are suggesting their legal colleagues would stoop to if they were appointed judges by a particular government. It has never been the intention of the present Government to encourage that. It has never thought that a professional man who took an oath of office to carry out the law in accordance with his strict interpretation of it would be influenced in his interpretation of the law by the views of the government that appointed him as a judge. That may be the opinion of honourable senators opposite of the attitude that their professional colleagues would adopt, but I am not of the opinion that it would be the attitude of those whom the Labor Government appointed to high positions in this country. As I have said, the Government will accept the amendment moved by the Democratic Labor Party.

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