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Thursday, 8 December 1960

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- This bill, particularly the clause now under debate, deserves much more mature consideration than it has received this evening. I wish to join with honorable members on this side of the chamber in deploring the manner in which this legislation has been brought to the Parliament. The Parliament, Mr. Temporary Chairman, has a solemn responsibility in this matter. It has, indeed, a sacred duty to safeguard the interests of the people of this country. I deplore the excitable, irrational and hysterical attitude shown by some members on the Government side in relation to this clause, in the face of opposition voiced in a vigorous, free and easy way by some members of the Opposition. When all is considered, Mr. Temporary Chairman, this is a parliament of Australia, and it must be expected that in the hurly-burly of parliament, during the consideration of legislation brought down for good or evil, vigorous discussion and criticism will inevitably arise. This would be a strange parliamentary institution if we were to consider a matter like the retrospectivity provision in this bill without some measure of criticism and analysis. The Opposition is entitled to consider a clause which proposes to back-date the increase of judges' salaries to 1st October. 1960.

There has been wide and general discus sion of this clause. In the course of his remarks, the honorable member for Perth tried to make it appear that the rank is hut the guinea stamp, that Bobbie Burns had put his finger on the pulse of things, and that unless we paid judges vast sums of money and made their salary increases retrospective we could not get the type of judicial consideration of the various matters which might come before the courts-

Mr Chaney - I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Here, again, is a case of a reflection' on the judiciary. It should not be allowed.


Order! There is no substance in the point of order.

Mr LUCHETTI - I am not reflecting on the judiciary. I am doing the reverse. I say, in view of the remarks made by the honorable member for Perth suggesting that we must pay vast sums of money to the judiciary and back-date their salary increases, that if that is the only standard that this Government applies to the country's courts, it is a grave reflection on the judges of our land, and the honorable member for Perth ought to be ashamed of casting that reflection.

I want to sum up this matter in a reasonable and dispassionate manner. As I said at the outset, this clause deserves much better consideration. When we have before us a clause providing that increases of salaries of judges be made retrospective to 1st October of this year, I would ask the honorable member for Perth and other honorable members-


Order! The honorable member for Macquarie will address the Chair.

Mr LUCHETTI - I do so, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Through you, I want the message to come home directly to the honorable member for Perth, because he needs some correction in regard to the erroneous views he expressed. He dealt with certain things that happened in other days. He dealt with the condition of the economy when payments were back-dated to certain people in this country.


Order! The honorable member might deal with the bill.

Mr LUCHETTI - I am dealing with it. and I am pointing out that I oppose the back-dating of these increases because of the changed circumstances to-day, when, the

Government admits, we have an economic crisis - such a crisis as to require new financial and economic measures on the part of the Government. I say to honorable members, through you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that people who rely on incomes derived from the land have suffered reductions of their incomes. Wages have been pegged, pensions have been pegged, and standards have fallen in the present conditions. Therefore, the Parliament has no right to vote the taxpayers' money away in this fashion by back-dating the salary increases as proposed by the bill.

What do the people outside this Parliament expect of the Parliament? They expect justice. They want an equal measure of justice, a standard of justice, measure by measure, no more to one than to another. If we were to adopt the bill as presented to us, and back-date these salary increases, we would leave ourselves open to attack throughout this land. Whatever the Parliament may want to do in regard to judges' salaries, I think that there is need for responsibility on its part. There is need for the Parliament to consider this clause fairly and squarely in the light of existing circumstances. Knowing, as we do, that wages have been pegged, that pensions have been pegged, that there has been a fall in rural incomes, that secondary industries are in a state of crisis, we have no right to do what has been suggested by the Attorney-General and supported by a number of members on the Government side.

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