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Thursday, 2 December 1971
Page: 4009

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Deputy Speaker,earlier this year the Government of Fiji inquired of the Australian Government whether an Australian judge could be made available to succeed the retiring Chief Justice of Fiji, Sir Clifford Hammett. When I visited Fiji last September I was able to convey to the Prime Minister of Fiji the Australia Government's agreement in principle to this request. It is with pleasure that in introducing the present Bill I am able to announce that Mr Justice John Angus Nimmo, a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, has agreed to accept appointment as Chief Justice of Fiji, and subject to the passing by the Parliament of Fiji of enabling legislation. His Honour will take up the appointment in the New Year. The appointment will be for 4 years.

Mr JusticeNimmo has had wide and distinguished judicial experience in Australia. In 1963 he served as an acting judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria. In 1964 he became a deputy president of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In 1969 he was appointed to his present office as a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He holds, in addition, appointments as a judge of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and he has served extensively in those jurisdictions. He has also, since 1966, been a deputy president of the Trade Practices Tribunal.

I am sure that honourable members will welcome the opportunity that Australia has been afforded, through the initiative of the Government of Fiji, to co-operate with a Pacific neighbour with which Australia looks forward to having an increasingly close association. I am sure too that honourable members will be pleased that Mr Justice Nimmo has accepted the appointment. His judicial experience, his sense of public service and his well-known and respected human qualities ensure that he will carry out his new duties with skill, with dignity and with credit both to Fiji and to Australia.

In 1964 the Commonwealth Parliament opened the way, by an amendment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, for a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court to accept appointment to a judicial office in any part of Her Majesty's dominions outside the Commonwealth of Australia. Section 103 a of the Act makes provision for that purpose. The section makes clear in sub-section (1) that the acceptance of such an appointment does not affect the appointee's office as a judge of the Court. In the present case, therefore, Mr Justice Nimmo will continue to hold office as a judge of the Industrial Court.

Sub-section (2) goes on to provide that a judge who accepts such an appointment shall be remunerated only with the salary and annual allowance that he receives as a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, together with such travelling allowance as the Governor-General determines. The provision in this sub-section is appropriate to what I think was contemplated at the time - namely, the seconding of a judge of the Court for a relatively short period. The provision is not suitable to the particular case now under consideration, having regard to the high judicial office in question and to the fact that the appointment will be for a period of years. The Bill now before the House has therefore the short purpose of excluding the application of sub-section (2) of section 103a of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in the case of Mr Justice Nimmo's appointment as Chief Justice of Fiji. I am sure that the House will cordially welcome the appointment that it has been my pleasure to announce. I commend the Bill to the House.

Leave granted for debate to continue forthwith.

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