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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1484

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - An individual may appear before the Commonwealth Industrial Court now without seeking leave to appear. The disqualification arises only if he seeks to represent his organisation. This strikes me as patently absurd. Here we have a court specifically created for the consideration of problems concerned with trade unions. The only person who has to seek leave to appear is an officer of one of those organisations. I have been in the Industrial Court and I have seen able, competent trade union officials stand up and ask for leave. I have seen some of them humiliated. As a matter of fact, I have part of a transcript here which I propose to read to the Committee in order to highlight the sort of indignity which I believe representatives of trade unions should be spared. I think this matter involved the dispute about the Atlantean buses in Sydney. A Mr Ludeke, Queens Counsel, who has since been appointed to the Bench- in fact he sat on the recent medical tribunal case- announced his appearance. He said:

I appear in this matter for the claimant. Mr J. Dey appears with me.

Mr Deywas his junior. Chief Judge Spicer said:

Are there any other appearances?

Mr P.Ryan, the official of the union, said:

If Your Honours please, I appear on behalf of the union as secretary of the union and Mr J. Coulthart as an organiser of the union.

One of the other judges, Mr Justice Dunphy, said:

You first of all seek leave to appear?

Mr Ryan:Yes.

Dunphy, J.: You did not say that.

Mr Ryan:If I omitted the words 'I seek leave to appear' it is because I have not appeared before a Tribunal of this nature before, Your Honour.

Dunphy, J.: You have no right to have a junior.

Mr Ryan:It is a matter for Your Honours. If I could comment here, I would make the comment ifI am allowed to thatI do not regard Mr Coulthart as junior to myself.

Mr Coultharthappened to be the New South Wales Secretary of the union and Federal president. He had peculiar knowledge of the circumstances of the case. These two reputable, competent citizens had to demean themselves by asking permission of the Court to appear and assist the Court in a matter in which they knew much more than any counsel whom they might have briefed. This strikes me as a matter which is not calculated to build up the confidence of the unions in this Court. It is an obstacle which we believe should be removed as soon as possible.

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