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Tuesday, 18 April 1961

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) 15.51 - in reply - The speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) ranged over a fairly wide field. He has read a curtain lecture to judges as to what they should and should not do when they retire. No doubt, on matters of manners and decorum, the judges of Australia will give to the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition such weight as they care to give them. They will be able to evaluate them for themselves. He has made reference to one individual judge, and I suppose what I have just said goes for that case too.

The amendment that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has moved is one that I do not quite follow. In this bill, we are simply making it clear that the judge of the Northern Territory Supreme Court will have the same rights of pension as would a judge of another federal court, not being the High Court. This debate has been made the occasion for the suggestion that we should not include our own judges in this scheme until we have been around the States? To do what? To get the States to pay their judges bigger pensions, or smaller pensions? I do not know. When you analyse it, this magic word " co-ordinate ", or the phrase " get uniformity in judicial practices ", is a little thin. Is the proposition that when this House thinks it is all right to pay its own judge £7,000 and give him a certain pension, our own judges should not get these emoluments until we race around Australia to see if we can get the States to pay more, or less, or the same in each State? After all, those who practise the law in Western Australia would not hope to get the same fees for the same work that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would ask for if he were practising in New South Wales.

Mr Stewart - Why not?

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK - Because money standards for the work in the two States are quite different. I am sure that a man who accepted appointment to the Supreme Court of Western Australia would not expect to get the same salary as a man who accepted a post on the Supreme Court of New South Wales. This is not measured by work value. It is measured in relation to the standards of the profession, what they earn and expect and the security they have in the various State professions.

With great respect, I would not know how I would go about saying to all States, " I want some uniformity of judicial procedure in these respects. I want you all to pay the same salary to all your judges." I would soon be in trouble. Or if I said, " I cannot suggest you pay the same salary; let me fix a scale ", I would not know how to do that. It would have to be worked out by each of them. So in truth, the suggestion is not only impracticable but also quite unreal. We had much the same trouble when fixing the matrimonial causes rules under the Matrimonial Causes Act. Would we fix the court fees federally? We saw immediately that we could not because the rates and standards were so diverse through the States and were matters peculiarly within the interest and competence of those State bodies. So I have little hesitation on this occasion in saying that the Government cannot accept the amendment that has been proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

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