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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr BANDIDT (Wide Bay) .- The argument advanced by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) is an unusual one. He says that because a man has honour and glory bestowed upon him by his appointment as a judge, his salary should not be increased beyond the figure at which it has stood for the last five years. The natural corollary to that argument is that judges should be satisfied to accept onethird of the amount they are receiving now because of the honour and glory they enjoy. The honorable member for Lang pointed out that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is receiving a great deal less to-day than he enjoyed when he was in private practice some time ago. He argued that, because the Attorney-General was satisfied to accept so much less, judges also should be prepared to accept a great deal less. In other words, he is suggesting, in effect, that a salary of about one-third of the amount they are receiving to-day would satisfy the judges because the loss would be counterbalanced by honour and glory.

Honour and glory have their place, but they are not enough. What a strange state of affairs it would be under present conditions if the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria were invited to sit on the High Court bench and accepted! How ridiculous it would be if the salary of Supreme Court judges remained at £6,750 a year plus an allowance of £500, and the salary of a High Court judge remained at £6,500! It is ridiculous to suggest that any judge who is elevated to the High Court should be paid a great deal less than he received as a judge of the State Supreme Court.

If we are to adopt the reasoning of the honorable member for Lang, it is also equally logical to argue that even if the States of New South Wales and Victoria continued to increase the salaries of their judges the remuneration of High Court judges should remain at the present figure, and the disparity between the two should be allowed to widen without correction. It is only common sense to argue that judges of the High Court, because of the ability they must possess, because of the integrity they always show, because of their independence of thought, because of the necessity that they be financially independent, and because of the dignity attached to the position they occupy are deserving of the highest possible salary this country can afford to pay them.

Australia has been the envy of all other countries in the world because it has enjoyed the services of judges of the highest integrity and ability. We are being told to-day by honorable members of the Opposition that although the salaries of High Court judges have not been raised for five years they should remain as they are. My contention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that the salaries that have been laid down in this bill are fair and reasonable. They pertain to men of high office and of great distinction. This House will do itself credit by passing the 'bill.

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