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Tuesday, 28 November 1905


Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - I thoroughly agree with Senator Symon that the expenses of the High Court should be cut down to a reasonable amount. No one wishes to lessen the dignity of the Court,' but there is a limit to expenditure, and there is also a limit beyond which travelling expenses should not be permitted to go. Every one who has a knowledge of what it costs to travel, and what hotel expenses are in the capital cities, must admit that the charges of the Judges were out of proportion to what the Commonwealth should be expected to pay. Senator Symon performed a very good service to the Commonwealth in placing, a limit upon that expenditure. But when he proceeded to limit the sittings of the High Court to the principal cities, I did not agree with him. It is a very good thing that the High Court should travel to the various. States to try cases, instead of bringing litigants great distances to get justice. Justice should be made available readily and cheaply to every litigant, no matter in what part of the Common- wealth he resides. Therefore I do not agree that the Court should not be an itinerary Court.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia). - I intend to move a reduction in respect of the salaries of the associates to the Justices of the High Court. Associates are altogether inappropriate to such a Court as the High Court of Australia is. There are no associates in the United States Supreme Court, and there are none in the Supreme Court of Canada, which are the two Courts fulfilling' similar" constitutional functions to the High1 Court of Australia. There are no associates in connexion with the Privy Council. An associate is an officer connected with what are known as Courts of common law - that is the ordinary Courts of the realm exercising ordinary civil and criminal jurisdiction. I think that the true position was misconceived altogether, both in respect, of the appointment of tipstaffs and associates. The High Court occupies a very different position from that of an ordinary civil Court. It has no criminal jurisdiction, nor has it any civil common law jurisdiction in the ordinary sense. The associates occupy no place at all in connexion with such Courts as this. Personally, at my own expense, I have communicated with America, to ascertain exactly the footing of the Supreme Court of the United States in this respect. I also communicated with Canada, and with authorities, in respect of the Privy Council, and what are called the Lords in Ordinary -in the House- of Lords, which is another great Court of appeal. I find that in connexion with the Supreme Court of Canada, there is only one clerk for the whole of the Judges. He is a stenographic clerk. In the United States each Judge of the Supreme Court has a stenographic clerk, who is a. shorthand writer, and typewriter. These officers are most experienced men. Mv informant, who is an eminent barrister in the United1 States, tells mc that they are men of great experience, and that their salaries run up to a maximum equivalent to about £300 or £310 in our currency. The Lords of the Privy Council have no clerks at all. They' receive a salary of £5,000 a year, and provide their own clerks if thev want them. The distinguished Judges called the Lords in Ordinary have no clerks.


Senator Walker - None of those Courts are peripatetic.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - -That makes no difference. An associate is not a walking-stick to a Judge. Having ascertained that, I thought it tetter that the services of these clerks should be .retained. I took no exception to each of the Judges having a clerk; and I think that a very liberal arrangement, especially if the clerk does the stenographic and type-writing work, as I suppose he does. What I believe is really wanted - and I commend the suggestion -to (lie present Government - is a well-salaried Registrar, in order to put the Court on a proper footing. The chief executive officer of the High Court ought to be a Registrar, stationed at the principal seat of the Court; and if it be decided that the Court shall be an .itinerating Court, he ought to have subordinate officers in the other States, if necessary. The salary paid to each of the associates is £300 par annum ; and if it be desired to retain the inappropriate name of " associate," I take no exception. I think. However, that the salary of £300 per annum is a. great deal too much. I find that in New South Wales the associate to the Chief Justice is paid £290 per annum, while £254 per annum is paid to the associate of each of the other Judges.


Senator Givens - Are associates not generally the sons, brothers, or other relatives of the Judges?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - ,Yes, and that is the case in the High' Court. As is generally the case, the associates to Mr. Justice Barton and Mr. Justice O'Connor are men who have been admitted to the Bar; but I believe the Chief Justice's associate is not a professional man. In Queensland each of the four Judges' associates receives £250 per annum.


Senator Drake - I believe the salaries have recently been reduced from £300.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The salary was £250 in May last.


Senator Croft - Does the honorable senator suggest that a man who has studied and been admitted to the Bar is not worth £^300 per annum ?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - He is not worth £300 per annum if he is merely doing clerks' work.


Senator Croft - Why not abolish the office?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I think the office ought to be abolished, but I do not propose to interfere with the retention of the services of the associates, or with the privilege of the Judges to choose them. _ It seems to me that a salary of £250 is quite enough ; but I do not wish the reduction to take effect immediate] v. I think that each of the salaries might be reduced by £25, because the end of the year is coming, and if we allow for a long vacation, during which the Court does not sit, they will have practically an equivalent of three .months' .notice. I move_

That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item " Associates to Justices - at £300, £900," by ^75.

Senator KEATING(Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - There is some little distinction between the High Court of Australia and "the Courts to which Senator Symon made reference. The Courts which he cited were the Supreme Courts of the United States and of Canada, and the Privy Council. But the Supreme Court of the United States is not an appellate Court, which travels, and neither is the Privy Council. Much of the work done by associates is caused by the travelling on circuit.


Senator Clemons - What work arises because of the travelling?


Senator KEATING - I think that more than fifty per cent, of an associate's work is owing to the fact that the Judge has 1o travel.


Senator Clemons - Is it proper work to be done by an associate?


Senator KEATING - An associate acts in many respects as secretary to the Judge. As a man of legal training and experience, he assists the Judge very materially, and in a way in which a thoroughly trained secretary, who was without legal knowledge, could not assist him. The associate does a great deal of work in searching up au.thorities, and so forth - what is called "devilling." Reference has been made to the salaries paid to associates in the States, but no reference has been made to "Victoria, where, I understand, more than one associate receives a salary of £350, and others receive £250.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia). - Senator Keating is mistaken in thinking that the associates of the States Courts do not travel. As a matter of fact, the States Courts travel in what I may describe as a much more detailed way than does the High Court, even under the present system. The States Judges go on circuit in civil and criminal jurisdiction, and it is during these sittings that the services of an associate are really absolutely necessary. In Victoria the salary of the associate of the Chief Justice is £350, whilethe normal salary is £250.

Senator DRAKE(Queensland). - Nodoubt the figures quoted are correct in regard to the other States, but that is no reason why a salary of £300 should not be paid, to the associates of the Federal' Judges. These associates should occupy at least as good a position as the associates of the States Judges. I feel perfectly sure that in the case of Queensland, £250 represents a special reduction made during the last year or two, because the salary used to be £300. We ought not to reduce the salaries of Federal officers because the salaries of State officers have been temporarily reduced.

Request negatived.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia). - I move -

That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item " Tipstaffs - one at £175 and two at £150- £475."

My object is to substitute an officer to be called a High Court officer.


Senator Playford - The honorable senator cannot initiate a new vote.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - At any rate, that is the object I have in view.


Senator Croft - Why not make more use of the tipstaffs?


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - But there are three of them, who travel about with the Judges, and are practicallypersonal attendants.


Senator Mulcahy - These tipstaffs travelled with the Judges in Tasmania, where they were not wanted, and were laughingstocks.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - There is a procession of three associates and three tipstaffs, and the latter are simply and recognisably valets.







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