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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Senator MCGREGOR (South Australia) . - I rise to support the Bill in the form in which it is presented to us, and I do so for the reason that I believe it to be in the interests of the public.

Senator O'Keefe - Everything we do is in the interests of the public.

Senator McGREGOR - Decidedly ; but we hear a great deal about the high pressure at which the members of the High Court are being worked, and about the economy that might be affected by the appointment of only one Judge. It must be remembered, however, that the Commonwealth Parliament is passing a number of new laws, and creating a variety of positions which did not exist under the States Parliaments. In this way we are placing those who are foolish enough to go to law in a very dangerous situation. We have passed a Commerce Act. and an. Arbitration and Conciliation Act, and we have before us the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, all of which, together with a number of other new laws too numerous to mention, will provide work for the Courts of law. Whether we look at the present Bill from an industrial or a commercial stand-point, we cannot but realize that thousands of pounds might be lost to the community in one twelve months if the Court were not in a position to deal promptly with the cases which come before it. That is the reason why we should be prepared to remove any difficulties which there may be, not in connexion with the Court itself, but in connexion with those who are compelled to go to law. If, for instance, a case under the Commerce Act, or under the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, which we hope to pass, involved the suspension of a gigantic business for six months, there would probably be misery caused and more money lost than would justify the employment of five Judges for all time. When we judge of the work of the future by the work which has been done in the past, we shall be very foolish if we do not take care to create an effective Court. The only objection that weighs to any extent with me is that raised by Senator Higgs, when he points out the danger of the present Government appointing outsiders to these positions.

Senator Higgs - Why did the honorable senator not second my proposal?

Senator McGREGOR - I do not desire to see the Government go outside Australia to fill the positions created by this Bill.

Senator Croft - The Government went outside to seek a Lieutenant-Governor for New Guinea.

Senator McGREGOR - What makes me sympathize with Senator Higgs is the fact that the Government were prepared to go outside for what might be called an unimportant officer, as compared with the occupant of a seat on the High Court Bench. In all the States there are men occupying very prominent positions in connexion with the law, and, therefore, I hope that no attempt will be made to go beyond the confines of Australia for Judges.

Senator Higgs - There is a slight difference between the positions. I do not suppose a member of the Government would go to New Guinea as Lieutenant-Governor, but one might go to the High Court.

Senator McGREGOR - I am not looking at the matter in that light. We ought to pass this Bill expeditiously, so as to create greater confidence in the public mind with regard to the administration of the Acts passed by this Parliament. The reason I did not support Senator Higgs' amendment is simply that I believe the common sense of the Senate to be such that we should have gained no support, seeing that Senator Zeal is not here. I do not like to be continually in a minority, but always, if possible, to be in the majority when I am right. I hope the Bill will be passed as quickly as possible; and I see no necessity for an amendment.

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