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Thursday, 8 December 1960


Mr WHITLAM - That is fixed under the Constitution, which is a British act. This salary is higher than any salary fixed by any act of any Australian parliament.


Mr Bandidt - Did the same argument apply five years ago?


Mr WHITLAM - Yes, I think it did. What I have said consistently throughout these proceedings is that we should not have allowed ourselves to be manoeuvred into the position where something had to be done to correct the Australian judicial scale We should have done something to ensure that judicial salaries throughout Australia bore some relation to each other throughout that quinquennium. The other States, including the State from which the honorable member for Wide Bay comes, have not engaged in the leap-frogging process and there is an adequate margin between the salaries of the Chief Justice and the puisne justices of the High Court and the Chief Justice and puisne justices of the Supreme Courts of the other four States. The margin is still a handsome one.

I was coming to the question of this very large difference between the salary of the Chief Justice of Australia and the salaries of the puisne justices of the High Court. This is a very much larger difference than the difference between the salaries of the Chief Justice and the other Supreme Court judges of all the States. Furthermore, the Chief Justice of Australia has no constitutional or judicial function which is not also a function of the puisne justices of the court. He does not perform the ceremonial functions which by tradition the Chief Justices of the States perform. When a Lieutenant-Governor dies or resigns, the custom is to commission the present Chief Justice to succeed as LieutenantGovernor. There are functions of a public or ceremonial character which the Chief Justices of the States perform and which the other Supreme Court judges of the States do not perform. There are no ceremonial functions performed by the -Chief Justice of Australia. His functions are precisely those of every justice who sits beside him on the High Court bench.

In fact, the only difference between the Chief Justice and the other judges of the High Court is that where a full court of the High Court is equally divided on a matter other than an appeal from a justice of the High Court or from a State Supreme Court the opinion of the Chief Justice prevails. But there is no other circumstance in which the functions of the Chief Justice differ from those of his fellows. Why is it, therefore, that there is this very great margin between them? In the United States of America, for instance, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States receives 500 dollars and no more in addition to the salary received by the associate justices.

If the increases in salary which are proposed for the puisne justices of the High Court are adopted, there will be a considerable margin between them and all other judges in Australia, including the Chief Justices of the States. What is the reason for having such a large difference between the puisne justices of the High Court and the Chief Justice of the High Court? In this instance, it is £1,500, but the margin between the Chief Justices and the other Supreme Court judges of the States is very much less. We fix very much smaller differences between the President and the presidential members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and between the Chief Judge and the other judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The States set the following margins between the Chief Justice and the other judges of their Supreme Courts: -

 

We are setting a margin between the Chief Justice and the other judges that is about three times as great as the margin between any other Chief Justice and his colleagues. There is no difference in function between the justices of the High Court, but there is some ceremonial or public difference in the functions of the Chief Justice and the other judges in the States. T believe that that at least requires explanation by the Attorney-General. Even if the difference between the salary of the Chief Justice and the salaries of the puisne justices were set at, say, £500 or even £1,000, his salary would still be well ahead of the salaries of all other judges in Australia. This is the highest salary received by any person under an Australian act of Parliament, and it is the highest salary received by anybody in public employment in the southern hemisphere.







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