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Tuesday, 12 December 1911

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - I think that the Committee ought to have an assurance that no lawyer shall be allowed to assist the Commissioner or the Minister in connexion with any pro>ceeding before the Arbitration Court.

Senator Rae - We cannot bar the Crown Law authorities.

Senator STEWART - I have always recognised that this difficulty would arise. Of course, the Commonwealth will have all the resources of the Treasury at its back.

Senator Henderson - Is not that right?

Senator STEWART - I am not finding fault with that. Here is a Court for the purpose of deciding what is fair and reasonable as between the Commonwealth and its employes. I think that if the employes are put to any expense in preparing a case for submission to the Court, that expense ought to be defrayed out of the public purse, too.

Senator Millen - Although the Court might hold their claim to be unreasonable?

Senator Henderson - Why not defray the expense of all other unions which appear before the Arbitration Court?

Senator STEWART - We are not dealing with other unions just now, but with a particular union. We are dealing with a state of affairs altogether different from that which prevails in private employment. There we have the employers on the one hand, and the employes on the other, who are fighting each other tooth and nail to get an advantage. But in this particular case we have the Commonwealth, which I presume wishes to act fairly and squarely by its employes - at least, that is the mandate which the people have given to this Parliament - and I do not see why the servants of the Commonwealth should be put to any expense in preparing a case. The Government has every year an enormous surplus to dispose of which may be frittered away in employing lawyers to defeat the claims of employe's of the Commonwealth. It is only fair that when a case is submitted by the men, their reasonably fair expenses should be met by the Commonwealth. It has been said that there will be no expense incurred in regard to witnesses. We do not know whether that will be the case or not. The Court may sit in Sydney, and it may be necessary to call witnesses from

Melbourne, Brisbane, Townsville, Rockhampton, indeed, from the uttermost parts of the Commonwealth. Now, if men are called from Townsville to Brisbane - and it is a fairly reasonable assumption that they may be, who will pay their expenses - the organization, which calls them, or the community, in whose interests they are called? We ought to have a clear understanding of what is going to be done in these matters. I hope that there will be some statement to that effect. We know that, no matter what the Bill says, the Commonwealth will have the advantage of legal advice, and, in all probability, if the Commissioner, or one of his officials, appears in the Court, he will have prompting him and instructing him all the time some member of the legal fraternity. If that is done on the one hand, it will tempt the employes to do it on the other. I would go even further than say that no counsel or solicitor should appear for either of the parties. I would say that a counsel or solicitor should not be permitted to enter the Court except as a spectator, and that he should not be allowed to have any intercourse with those engaged in the suit on the one hand or the other. If that is not done, the whole intention of the measure will be defeated.

Senator Millen - Do you know what you would bring into existence - a number of men who had qualified as barristers, but who would refrain from being called?

Senator STEWART - I do not know what would happen.

Senator McGregor - Leave the clause as it is if you have any doubt.

Senator Henderson - It is a matter of talking for talking's sake.

Senator STEWART - Senator Hendersonseems to know a great deal mon:' of what I think than I do. If his power of thought-reading is as great as he would have the Committee believe, then he is in the wrong place. There is a vast and much more profitable field awaiting him outside this Chamber.

Senator Millen - We call them " quacks " when they practise it outside.

Senator STEWART - I do not care what they are called, and I do not know that Senator Henderson would object to that name, so long as the profession proved a profitable one.

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