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Thursday, 31 July 1930


Senator DALY (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - As a matter of fact, the officer in question is not exposed to being summarily dismissed by the AttorneyGeneral. The proposed new sub-sections are absolutely consistent with the principles of British justice. The AttorneyGeneral may suspend a conciliation commissioner from office for misbehaviour or incapacity.


Senator SirHal Colebatch - Of which the Attorney-General is the judge.


Senator DALY - Not necessarily. The Attorney-General is the leader of the Bar, the head of the legal fraternity of Australia. If he did not act consistently with the principles of British government, goodness knows who would. He may suspend a conciliation commissioner from office for misbehaviour or incapacity. There is nothing extraordinary about that. He will not suspend such an officer excepting for misbehaviour or incapacity. A similar provision has operated in the" various States in connexion with the wages board system. He suspends the commissioner for proven misbehaviour or incapacity. No Attorney-General would take upon himself to suspend a commissioner until some tribunal had heard him in defence and had held the charge of misbehaviour or incapacity to be proved. To show conclusively that there must be an inquiry before a suspension, it is further provided in the proposed new section that -

The Minister shall within seven days after the suspension, if the Parliament is then sitting, or if the Parliament is not then sitting, within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament, cause to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament a full statement of grounds of the suspension, and if within sixty days thereafter an address is presented to the Governor-General by the Senate and the House of Representatives praying for the restoration of the Conciliation Commissioner to office, the Conciliation Commissioner shall be restored accordingly; but if no such address is so presented the Governor-General may confirm the suspension and declare the office of the Conciliation Commissioner to be vacant, and the office shall thereupon be and become vacant.

If Senator Colebatch will suggest an amendment preserving the high dignity of this particular office, I am not pledged to the verbiage, of sub-section 4. All that the Government desires is to place before Parliament the exact grounds upon which a conciliation commissioner may be suspended. He may not be suspended except on the grounds of misbehaviour or incapacity, and I do not mind if the honorable senator seeks to strengthen the case by inserting the word " proved," because Parliament could then assume that the ordinary practice which operates under the British system of executive government had been applied - that when Parliament throws on the AttorneyGeneral the responsibility of suspending a man for misbehaviour or incapacity he will try the man first before inflicting on him the punishment of suspension.

Senator SirHAL COLEBATCH ("Western Australia) [4.2]. - I propose to submit two slight amendments. The Leader of the Senate has not touched upon the real principle at stake, that it should be impossible for the executive to interfere with the administration of justice, and in order to protect the position as much as possible, I move -

That after the word " for," sub-section 4, of proposed new section 18c, the word " proved " be inserted.

If the Leader of the Senate has no objection to that I shall have an equally trifling amendment to move in the next sub-section.


Senator Daly - I accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Senator SirHAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [4.3]. - I move -

That after the word " Senate ", sub-section 5 of proposed section 18c, the word "and" be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word "or".

The effect of that amendment is to restore something like the protection afforded to judges. Under the Constitution, before a judge can be removed from the Bench, both Houses of Parliament must agree as to his proved incapacity or misbehaviour. The sub-section as it now stands reads -

The Minister shall within seven days after tlie suspension, if the Parliament is then sitting, or if the Parliament is not then sitting, within seven days after the next meeting of the Parliament, cause to be laid before both Houses of the Parliament a full statement of the grounds of the suspension, and if within sixty days thereafter an address is presented to the Governor-General by the Senate and the House of Representatives praying for the restoration of the Conciliation Commissioner to office, the Conciliation Commissioner shall be restored accordingly; but if no such address is so presented the Governor-General may confirm the suspension and declare the office of the Conciliation Commissioner to be vacant, and the office shall thereupon be and become vacant.

Under that provision both Houses of Parliament must agree upon the suitability of a commissioner to be restored to his position. My amendment is to make it impossible for a commissioner to be removed if either House of Parliament considers that his incapacity or misbehaviour has not been proved.







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