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Wednesday, 22 August 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - What it is proposed to do is to give the High Court a power, which it may or may not exercise at its discretion. Under section 86 of the Judiciary Act, the Court is given power to make rules for several purposes - for appointing and regulating the sittings of the Court, for regulating procedure, pleading, and practise, regulating matters relating to the duties of officers, prescribing forms to be used, regulating fees to be charged bypractitioners, and fees to be collected by officers of the Court, prescribing the extent to which the Act shall be applicable to the Courts of Territories of the Commonwealth, and generally regulating all matters of practise and procedure. All that it is proposed to do in this clause is directly to empower the Court to make regulations for the admissions of persons to practise as barristers and solicitors, and to prescribe the conditions of and qualifications for admission. We do not throw upon the High Court any obligation to make such provision, but simply empower it to do so, leaving it to the Court to act as it thinks fit. At the time we passed the Judiciary Act, it was necessary to make provision as to persons who would be entitled to practise before the High Court, and it was considered onlyreasonable that every practitioner admitted in a State should be entitled to practise before the Federal Court. We now propose to empower the High Court to make regulations regulating admission in regard to other persons. The Court has had the advantage of experience in every State, and has come into contact with the Bar in every State. It will be able from its experience to exercise this power if it thinks fit. We throw no duty- upon the Court, but simply give it the right to. exercise the power prescribed.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales) [10. 11]. - I cannot see the necessity for the clause, even after the explanation of the Minister. In section 49 of the Judiciary Act, it is expressly provided that a person entitled to practise as a barrister or solicitor in any State shall, have the right to practise before any Federal Court, provided that he produces to the Principal Registrar evidence showing that he is so entitled. There is also a sub-section enabling the High Court to direct the name of any person to be struck off the register, upon proof that he has been guilty of conduct which renders him unfit to be allowed. to continue to practise before the High Court. It appears to rae that the Judiciary Act has already made ample provision in this connexion.

Senator Keating - Why should admission by a State be the sole qualification? It is quite possible that there are competent men who have never been admitted to a State Court, and who may nevertheless desire to practise before the Federal Court.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - If it is desired to enlarge the number of persons who may practise before the High Court, my objection is to some extent removed. But at the same time, a grave question arises as to whether it is necessary to take a step of this character. It is perfectly well known that a man who wishes to practise before the Federal Court will be all the better qualified if he is a practising solicitor or barrister in a State Court.

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