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Thursday, 24 November 1927

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order ! I have called upon the honorable member for Kennedy to speak.

Mr McGrath - I do not consider that you are doing the right thing.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order ! The honorable member for Ballarat will resume his seat.

Mr McGrath - The honorable member for Kennedy and other honorable members opposite voted for the application of the guillotine, thus denyiug to honorable members who sit on this side the right to speak to the extent that the Standing Orders would otherwise allow. I therefore move -

That the honorable member for Kennedy be not further heard.

Motion negatived.

Mr G FRANCIS (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) because he was dealing with vitally important questions. It is a simple matter to attempt to discredit appointments that are made to the judiciary; but such a taskought to be undertaken with the utmost care and circumspection. During the course of the honorable member's speech I recalled the appointment of the late Mr. Justice McCauley to the presidency of the Queensland Arbitration Court and to a seat on the Supreme Court bench, of which he later became the Chief Justice. He was almost unknown to the legal profession throughout Queensland, and his appointment was received with a great deal of mistrust.

Mr Forde - For years he had been Crown Solicitor.

Mr G FRANCIS (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - He was Crown Solicitor for several years, but he bad had practically no experience as a practising barrister. It is usual for appointees to the judiciary to have practised for at least five years at the bar. However, in a few short months, Mr. Justice McCauley, by his ability, the clarity of his judgments, and the soundness of his law, established the wisdom and the prudence of his appointment. The members of the legal' profession in Queensland accepted the appointment of Mr. Justice McCauley and believed that he exercised a strengthening influence on the judiciary. But there have been other appointments in Queeusland. I do not propose to discuss general principles, but I should like to remind honorable members that the Arbitration Court in that State was flouted by the unions generally and declared black by some. The State Labour Government withdrew an award that was in force and subsidized the unions for having declared the court black. It was then found necessary to make additional appointments to the Arbitration Court bench. It stands to the credit of the legal profession in Queensland that no member of it was willing to accept such an appointment. To escape from the dilemma in which he found himself the Premier of the day abolished the Arbitration Court and created in its stead a Board of Trade, of which he appointed himself the chairman and Mr. W. J. Dunstan a member.

Mr Forde - It is absolutely incorrect to say that no member of the legal profession would accept a seat on the Arbitration Court bench.

Mr G FRANCIS (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - It is a fact that is undeniable. The public of Queensland regarded those two appointments to the Board of Trade as political appointments. Such a slur is easily cast. Possibly those gentlemen were chosen because of their familiarity with certain phases of industrial life. The question is, have they justified their appointment ? I think it will be generally agreed that Judge Drake-Brockman has justified his appointment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court by the impartiality and fairness ' he has displayed in every matter that has come before him. It is easy to make the assertion that in the Mount Lyell case he indicated a certain condition of mind after the perusal of the evidence of only one side and before he had heard what the other side had to say. Only a. short while ago, Mr. Piddington declared that it was his duty to make anaward fixing a living wage before he had heard any evidence; and several weeks later he proceeded to the hearing of evidence, presumably in order to support the judgment he had already given.

Mr Charlton - In every instance his actions have been upheld on appeal. The most recent endorsement of his attitude has come from the High Court of Australia.

Mr G FRANCIS (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - The Arbitration Act provides that claims may be placed upon a file in the registry and served upon the other party. There is provision also for the takingof evidence by affidavit ; and such evidence may be answered by opposing affidavits. In the Mount Lyell case, certain evidence had been placed upon the file; but, although a sufficient time had elapsed to allow of the filing of answering affidavits that action was not taken. Naturally the court considered what was before it, as it was in duty bound to do. After a consideration of all the cases that have since come before Judge Drake-Brockman there can be only one verdict; that is, that the appointment has been amply justified by the wisdom, the moderation, the fairness and the evenhanded justice which the learned judge has displayed.

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