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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 1474

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) - I am very relieved to hear that if the amendment of the Liberal Party Opposition is not to be carried, at least we have the safeguard contained in Senator Little's amendment. I think that 2 considerations are involved here. Firstly, to constitute a Court consisting of an unlimited number of judgesa number that shall be decided by the executive of the day- gives an opportunity of stacking a court that we should prevent by law.

Senator Cavanagh - It was not the intention.

Senator WRIGHT - I am sure that it was not. I am sure that the Government has all these wonderfully good intentions well covered for the time being. But what might erupt if the Government gained the power? It would not only be I who would suspect. What I am saying is that the important principle here is that a court should be constituted which is statutorily limited in its number of appointments. Parliament controls the number, otherwise the executive will have an opportunity to stack the court. We are dealing with a real court, a judicial court, that operates in the industrial field which is a most important jurisdiction in the Commonwealth law.

The other factor that deters me is the thought that any section of the Opposition in the Senate will accept the mere suggestion of the Government, without even a word of averment, that the present number of judges cannot conveniently discharge the duties of the Court. We have here a most miscellaneous congeries of people under one name, of Industrial Court. They are dispersed almost from Cape York to Matsuka in discharging all sorts of miscellaneous dutiesjudicial and for a large part, executive advisory duties. A judge of a Commonwealth Court should very rarely accept executive advisory duties. He is a member of the judiciary. He should devote his time exclusively to it. Not only are the various jurisdictions dispersed, but it has not been suggested, stated or proved that the time of the judges is fully occupied with judicial work. I regret the facile way in which we slip into burdening the expense of government with even an extra 2 judicial appointments if they are not shown to be necessary. If there were any statement or any proof that the appointments were at all necessary I would agree completely with the advocacy of Senator Milliner and other Government senators; err on the side of too many rather than too few. If 5 out of the 7 judges are devoting themselves to duties other than Industrial Court duties, do not come along to this Parliament seeking the passage of a Bill which provides for other appointments. That, in itself, would indicate that the real purpose was to stack the Court and not to have a Court sufficiently, duly and properly constituted to do its duties.

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