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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1823

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) -Will the AttorneyGeneral explain the functions of Professor Howard, whom, he has informed the Senate, he will appoint as his general counsel? Why does the Attorney-General require a general counsel, to be paid at a sum of $25,000 a year? In what way is the legal advice from his Department inadequate or unsatisfactory?

Senator MURPHY - It is not a question of proposing to engage Professor Howard. I indicated yesterday that he had been engaged. The fee is an appropriate one. It is a very proper fee for an eminent lawyer. I do not need to stress his qualifications. I understand that not even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would question the eminence of Professor Howard in the field of law in Australia. As to his functions, his engagement has been, if I might say, with the concurrence of the Department- not that that is at all necessary. A great deal of constitutional and other legal work is facing the Government at the moment. Honourable senators will be aware that there are a number of referendum proposals and that the Australian Constitutional Convention is still continuing its work. There is a great deal of movement in the legal field. I think it has been commented on in the Senate that there is an enormous amount of important legislation which is affecting the whole economic and social area of Australia.

Senator Greenwood - That is usually done by the Department.

Senator MURPHY - The honourable senator interrupts and says that that is usually done by the Department. If he presses me I will say that I, as Attorney-General, inherited a run-down organisation. The best is being done to repair the failures of the previous Government to provide the proper facilities and backing for a lot of zealous officers who were trying to do their best in an area which was badly organised and not provided with proper facilities or sufficient manpower to cope with the problems of the previous Government let alone those of a Government which is endeavouring to achieve outstanding legal reform.

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