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Thursday, 14 December 1905

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Although I belong to a profession whose members are supposed to be always endeavouring to create means of increasing their fees, I shall show that I am perfectly willing that, in this instance, its wings shall be clipped. I shall not deal with the exaggeration in the statement of the honorable member for Riverina about the proceedings between himself and Mr. Blackwood.

Mr Chanter - There was no exaggeration. I will prove my statements.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have already shown that those proceedings did not cost the honorable member anything. I understood the honorable member to stand up here as the champion of the poor man. who, he considered, ought not to be called upon to nay even a minimum of £100.

Mr Chanter - I say so still.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - These clauses as they stand are of such a character that I am satisfied that the High Court would not investigate a case without requiring that the two parties should be represented by either counsel or attorney. No Court that desires to carry on its business expeditiously would willingly permit two parties, unless they showed themselves to have the competence of counsel, to conduct their own cases. . Therefore, the Committee may assume that the High Court would in every case require the parties to be represented. The clauses provide that one suitor may recover from the other costs amounting to £100. I would ask honorable members whether they consider that that is a condition that ought to exist? I pleaded for the High Court, because I considered that it was an eminently superior, and more impartial tribunal than a Committee of the House. But we know very well that parties can appear before an Elections and Qualifications Committee without incurring any costs. I want honorable members to see where these clauses will lead them. They would expose the poor candidate, who might fail in his suit, on account of the neglect of some electoral officer, to the risk of having to pay £100 ; and as no Court would undertake to hold an inquiry without ordering the suitors to be represented, there is every chance of that amount being incurred.

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