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Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is a simple but important one which I think might well be accepted by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). When all is said and done, clause 10 provides for the qualifications of members to be appointed to the tribunal. Their capacity and their ability to judge the matters that will come before them will decide whether or not this legislation is a success. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) mentioned certain people who might ultimately be appointed to these positions. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) has indicated that there is great fear on the Government side that the men appointed might not have the desirable qualifications. On this side I express extreme concern about whom this Government might appoint to the tribunal. One has only to recall the qualifications of members of the Commonwealth Bank Board of the 1930's which a government of the same political ilk as this one appointed. We had, for instance, one man appointed because he was a good polo player, a man named Ashton. He knew nothing whatever about banking but he was put there because he was a supporter of the government that appointed him. He was certainly a reputable citizen but his qualifications for the position were nil. I cannot recall the names of the other members, but the records of this Parliament show that in the 1930's, when finance was a most important matter to the economy and the welfare of the people, as it is today, the Commonwealth Bank Board was dominated by people, appointed by an anti-Labour government, very few of whom had any knowledge of banking.

So, Sir, I view with trepidation the type of men who might be appointed. So does the honorable member for McMillan. He said the other day -

As for the Commissioner - the person who will put everybody on the spot for examination. . . . This could make a good job for a defeated Minister.

As I look round the chamber at the legal men aspiring to this position I think that there are a few candidates opposite who are making a trial run - and I am not impressed by their capacity to carry out the job. The honorable member for McMillan asked what the term "knowledge of Industry" meant. He said -

This leaves the field wide open for senior public servants who may need to be shifted from posi tions they hold or ex-members of Parliament who may be looking around for jobs.

Imagine if the honorable member for McMillan were appointed? What a shock to front up to him on a tribunal of this type? Where would that get the people of this country? One can see the dangers in the legislation unless the precaution proposed is added.

What about a man from the banking industry, like the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin)? What if he ended up on the tribunal? He has certainly got a limited knowledge and has had limited experience of commerce and public administration, and therefore has the qualifications in those fields. But what does he know about economics? Nothing whatever, and yet he would be judging on matters of great importance to the community. When Government supporters express concern about who might be appointed to the tribunal we on this side shudder to think of whom the Government might appoint. We could even have the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) and people like that. Honorable members can see the dangers that exist. Take for instance the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn). If he were defeated at the next election he might be appointed to this tribunal, and in the Eisenhower tradition he might be administering a law with which he did not agree. So, the dangers are there.

What is wrong with a knowledge of economics? Take my friend the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who is a man with notable achievements in the field of economics. People with his qualifications might well be the type who are required on this tribunal. I should like to know, with due respect to my deputy leader, why those in the legal profession are being exalted? Have they all the knowledge in the world required to administer this Bill when it becomes law? The only qualification for appointment as a member of the Trade Practices Tribunal is that an appointee must have been a barrister or a solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State of not less than five years' standing. I have the greatest respect for the members of the legal profession but the fact that a man has been a lawyer of five years' standing does not qualify him for appointment to this Tribunal. I have seen some lawyers of 10 or 20 years' standing who could not get a person out of a case before a Court of Petty Sessions. The point I am making is that the appointment of a person with legal qualifications to this Tribunal must be justified. That is why in the amendment moved by the Opposition, simple though it is, would give full cover on the question of economics.

Clause 10 (2.) provides -

A person shall not be appointed as a member other than a presidential member unless he appears to the Governor-General to be qualified for appointment by virtue of his knowledge of, or experience in, industry, commerce or public administration.

Now, everybody realises that the GovernorGeneral, with due respect to him, will not know whether the person concerned has the ability or qualifications necessary. The man who will be making the appointment is the Attorney-General. The appointment is to be made exclusively on his recommendation to the Governor-General. No-one will convince me that the distinguished Governor-General we have today will consider the qualifications of all persons who might be appointed to this Tribunal. He will take the word of his Ministers, as he is bound to do. What could be better than to know that the man to be appointed to the Trade Practices Tribunal, as well as being a barrister or solicitor, is qualified in the field of economics. In every way he would be qualified to carry out the responsibilities of a member of this most important Tribunal. I urge the AttorneyGeneral to give consideration to this proposal.

I understand that the Attorney-General is to introduce an amendment in relation to the part time members of the Tribunal. The polo players who were members of the Commonwealth Bank Board in years gone by were part time members also. If it is good enough for the Government to set up a tribunal of this kind to control restrictive trade practices, it ought to be good enough for members of that Tribunal to be appointed on a full time basis. I can see no reason why they should not be appointed full time. It is like the part time company directors of which the judges spoke at the recent legal convention. It is because of these part time directors that so many companies have crashed in commerce and industry in recent times. These crashes occur because part time directors are members of a dozen, 20 or 30 boards. I think that appointment to the Trade Practices Tribunal ought to be on a full time basis and also that the appointee ought to be qualified in economics. Above all else, he ought to be completely free of political interference, or anything of that kind, by the government of the day.

In view of some government appointments, I sincerely trust that the gentlemen appointed to the Tribunal will be impartial. I hope that none of them will have been tied up with some of the great combines in this country or have appeared for them before courts or bodies of that nature. If appointment to this Tribunal is to be part time, the Government will find that those appointed will not give up their interests or their connections in industry or law. For that very reason, and to safeguard the integrity of the Tribunal, to see that its members are impartial in every way and to ensure that it is not used as the pawn of government policy, the Government must make appointments full time. The persons appointed should have not only those qualifications already written into the Act but also a sound knowledge of economics. I urge the Attorney-General, in his wisdom, to accept the amendment. It is a very important one which cannot be taken for granted. A dozen and one honorable members looking at me at the moment appear intelligent and act intelligently but they may not be qualified, as defeated members, to take a position to which the Government might appoint them on this Tribunal. I submit these constructive remarks to the Attorney-General for his consideration.

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