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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Senator HIGGS (Queensland) .- I move -

That the word "now" be left out, with a view to add the following words " this day six months."

I move the amendment, not because I have any doubt about the necessity for appointing two extra Justices, for I understand that the Court is worked at great pressure, and .that at least one Justice is showing signs of very hard work. My objection to the Bill is based upon the fear that Ministers who have, as a shibboleth, the cry of " Australia for the Australians " are likely to follow the example of the Government of Western Australia, who, during the past three years, have imported two barristers to fill positions upon its Bench. The Government appear to be extremely anxious to have coats, boots, collars, and cuffs made in Australia - and that is a very laudable ambition - but, apparently; they have no confidence in the capacity of Australians to fill these high offices, lately they have been casting round outside Australia for a gentleman to fill the position of Administrator in Papua. So far they have not been able to get a gentleman, but they are marking time in the hope that they_ may discover one. If that is their attitude towards the filling of an office which I do not think requires as much education or ability, as does the position of a Justice of the High Court, is it likely that they would appoint Australians to the additional Judgeships ? I do not think it is.

Senator Dobson - What ! not for the two High Court Judgeships?

Senator HIGGS - The honorable senator has heard my argument, and I ask him if he has any reason to believe that the new ' Justices would be selected from amongst the citizens of the Commonwealth?

Senator Dobson - If I were a sporting man, I would lay the honorable senator odds that they would be.

Senator HIGGS - My reason for taking up this position is that, during the past three years, the Government of Western Australia have appointed as Judges a barrister named McMillan and a barrister named Roth. The Government has not given us any assurance that two Australians will be appointed. Many names have been suggested, and if I could rely upon it that two of the gentlemen who have been mentioned would be chosen I should not oppose the second reading of the Bill. Because* T fear that the Government has not a complete sense of what is due to the Commonwealth, and has not confidence in the capacity of Australian citizens, I shall submit mv amendment, and press it to a division if I can get a supporter.

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