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Thursday, 24 October 1912

Additional Judge. conflicting statements.

A subject of comment in the lobbies of Federal Parliament House yesterday was the reply made by Senator McGregor to a question by Senator Needham as to whether the Government intended to appoint another High Court Judge. The matter, said the Vice-President of the Executive Council, was under consideration. Speculation was rife in the lobbies as to who would be appointed, and the names of several eminent barristers were mentioned.

The Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) was questioned subsequently on the matter. He declared emphatically that the Cabinet had not yet given consideration to the question of appointing another Judge.

In view of the dissimilarity of the replies, the Prime Minister (Mr. Fisher) was asked to make a statement on the subject. He said that, if the Attorney-General had stated that the reply given in the Senate was not correct, that sufficed. On the subject of the High Court, the AttorneyGeneral was the responsible Minister. Mr. Fisher added that somewhat diffidently he had stated some time ago that it seemed to him that, in spite of the knowledge and energy of the High Court Bench, their work was accumulating in such a way that the question of appointing another Judge must soon be considered. He had nothing to add to or to take away from that opinion.

It may therefore be gathered from the remarks of the three Ministers that the matter has been mentioned informally in Cabinet, but has not been given the attention which would constitute "consideration" in the mind of the AttorneyGeneral.

In view of these conflicting statements, is the Vice-President of the Executive Council prepared to make a definite announcement as to whether or not the Government are seriously considering the appointment of an additional Judge to the High Court Bench ?

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