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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2662

Senator BUTTON (Victoria) -I agree with all the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) has said on this point. I should say that the Committee while discussing this matter was less diplomatic than he has been. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson who asked a question on this matter should look further down the section and see what the judge might do in these circumstances. One of the things he might do is to adjourn the proceedings to afford the parties an opportunity to consider a reconciliation. It was felt, in addition to the matters which the Attorney-General has mentioned, that for some reason of his own a legal practitioner might have an interest in obtaining an adjournment of the proceedings. As the Attorney-General said, it is felt that the proper consideration in that matter should be the views of the parties and not the interposed view, as it were, of a legal practitioner who might for some reason unrelated to the welfare of his client in the particular circumstances seek an adjournment. That is another consideration which the Committee took into account and which it regarded as important.

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSON (New South Wales) (4.21)- Strange as it may seem, I have some concern about the removal of the words by the amendment which the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) has moved. I have some experience of people and problems of reconciliation and associated matters. I have gained some experience, as I think many others have, from the work I have done in a voluntary capacity. Frequently parties to a problem have not got the ability to capture, to express or to bring out the very point that they want to make. Senator Button said there may be circumstances in which a legal practitioner has regard to his own convenience rather than the convenience of his client. I hope I did not misinterpret the honourable senator.

Senator Button - Not at all.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - There may be circumstances like that. I have seen adjournments taken in lower courts to suit the convenience of legal practitioners on both sides and the parties to the action have to go away and come again another day with much inconvenience to themselves. I put that aside for the moment. I do not wish to waste too much time on this. I think that on balance a legal practitioner becomes absorbed in the problems of his client; not that the contrary should be the position. By becoming completely absorbed or objective, perhaps, a legal practitioner can put his client's case more adequately. In the same way a medical practitioner or a member of any other profession becomes completely absorbed in the case of his client. In that way he can give his best know-how and judgment. The lower echelon of educated people, in particular, do not have the ability to express a point. A legal practitioner can bring the points out loud and clear before any legal body, judge or any form of judiciary. Against the risk that there may be embarrassment sometimes when the practitioner is thinking of his own convenience rather than that of his client, on balance I prefer to have the clause as it is.

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