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Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - There seems to be a good deal of misconception about this matter. I hope, if I can in a few short words, to put it into correct perspective. The first thing is that at the initial stages I did contemplate that the members of the Trade Practices Tribunal would be full time members. I have given very close examination to the rapidity with which matters can come to the tribunal. I have had the opportunity of looking at the experience in the United Kingdom. I came to the irresistible conclusion that it would not be proper to require people to serve full time on the Tribunal when they could not be occupied full time. For that reason I decided to put to the Government - and the Government agreed with my submission - that an amendment should be introduced to enable members of the tribunal to serve part time. By enabling members to serve part time on the Tribunal we are able to have on the panel of members men of calibre who may have been difficult to obtain if the appointment had been full time. A great number of men reaching the age of 60 or thereabouts have had a life time of experience in industry and commerce and have a great contribution they could make to this tribunal. But they would not have been prepared to serve full time on it. I was constantly meeting complaints by people who no doubt, generally speaking, support the views of those three or four members who oppose this Bill to some degree. These people representing that point of view strongly put to me the proposition that they did not like the appointment of full time members who had been drawn out of industry. They said that to accept the appointment these full time members may be people with little future in industry or alternatively people who had reached the end point of their capacity in industry. Therefore the proposition was strongly put to me that there should be a panel of members which could be drawn from on a part time basis as and when required. The members of this panel would not need to serve full time and they might be able to bring to the Tribunal a wealth of experience and knowledge which otherwise would be denied to it. Allied with that is another very important aspect; namely, that by having part time members of the tribunal it would be possible to have as a presidential member a man already of judicial status. When he was not fully occupied, he could return to his normal judicial duties.

I am reinforced in the views which I put to the Government, which the Government accepted and which are the essence of these amendments, by the experience of the United Kingdom Restrictive Practices Court. The President of that Court is a member of the judiciary. When the Court is not sitting he returns to his duties in the High Court. He serves a considerable part of his time in the Restrictive Practices Court, but also spends part of his time, when he is not in that Court, on his normal judicial duties. That is what the Government sees for the presidential members of this Tribunal. The other members of the United Kingdom Court are part time members. They are drawn from a panel by the presidential member. That is what is proposed in these amendments. I believe that they are highly desirable.

I undertook to reply to my friend, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), on a couple of points. As we sat next to each other for so many years, I owe him a reply. Although a presidential member is appointed for seven years, be carries with him the tenure of office that he had in his original appointment. If, for instance, a judge of a court or a person with judicial status in some arbitral tribunal were made a presidential member of the Trade Practices Tribunal, he would retain his original tenure of office and he would have his tenure of office of up to seven years, depending on the terms of his appointment, on the Trade Practices Tribunal. So they are in separate compartments.

The other point that the honorable member for Moreton raised was on the retiring allowances of other members of the Tribunal. This provision was inserted principally because it was contemplated that the other members would be appointed full time. That is not now the proposition. However, one does not know what experience will show. It may show that there should be full time members at some time in the future. If that were the case, it would be necessary to have this provision. So I think it is wise to leave it undisturbed for the time being.

Question put -

That the amendment (Mr. Snedden's) bc agreed to.

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