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Tuesday, 30 June 1903


Mr THOMSON (North Sydney) - I do not think the Committee understood that under this provision the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth would be disqualified from accepting the appointment of Acting Governor-General. Of course, I do not accuse the Attorney-General of desiring to deceive the Committee. I was under the impression that the provision would merely have the effect of preventing a Justice of the High Court from acting as a State Governor.


Mr Deakin - It has that effect.


Mr THOMSON - But does it prevent the Chief Justice of the High Court from being appointed Acting Governor-General?


Mr Deakin - It does.


Mr Isaacs - I confess that the point which has been raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio did not occur to my mind.


Mr THOMSON - I think that some good reasons should be given for disqualifying the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth from accepting the position of Acting GovernorGeneral. I cannot conceive of any gentleman who ought to be better fitted to fill the position should an emergency arise. Moreover, such an arrangement would overcome that clashing of interests which otherwise would frequently make a temporary appointment a troublesome matter. Seeing that the mover of the amendment did not understand that it would have the effect referred to, I think the Committee should be afforded an opportunity of reconsidering it.

Mr. ISAACS(Indi). - I am very glad that the disqualification of the Chief Justice has been pointed out, because it did not occur to my mind. My remarks referred only to the office of the State Governor. I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that it would be wrong to exclude the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth from accepting the position of Acting Governor-General, and I have no objection to the addition of words which will make that clear.


Sir Edmund Barton - Is the honorable and learned member quite sure that it is desirable to allow the Chief Justice to occupy an Executive as well as a judicial position ?


Mr Glynn - Is it better to appoint the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth than the senior State Governor, who at present fills the office in the event of it becoming vacant under His Majesty's Commission ?


Mr ISAACS - It was not my intention to exclude the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth from temporarily filling the office of Governor-General ; but as there appears to be a difference of opinion upon the matter, I will not submit an amendment.


Mr DEAKIN - When the honorable and learned member for Indi proposed his amendment, I read it as excluding the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth from accepting the position of Acting GovernorGeneral. The words " any such judicial office" at once disqualified him. For my own part, I think it is highly undesirable that we should have any Acting Governor-General. If such an appointment is to be made, it is better to allow the senior Governor of the States to fill the position. He is an Executive officer in his own State,, is appointed by the Crown, and is only asked to exercise functions of a similar nature to those which he has been discharging. From my stand-point, a State Governor is distinctly preferable for this position to the Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, who should not be drawn from his high office with its many duties by any Executive call. Moreover, if the number of Justices of the High Court is liable to be diminished by one of the three being called upon to fill the position of Acting Governor-General, which office may require hispresence in another part of the Commonwealth, we shall still further reduce the strength of an already far too small Judiciary. I think that is a practical reason which will appeal to the honorable member for North Sydney, whose remarks on this question are quite to the point, and, in fact, express views I myself originally held, but which I have now abandoned for the reasons given.







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