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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2888

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - It is interesting that Senator James McClelland has now requested elucidation. In the earlier stages of the debate on the Bill elucidation was the very last thing that he and his colleagues were interested in having. This was elucidated yesterday, but I am very happy to repeat it now. In relation to the amendment circulated yesterday by the Attorney-General concerning the oath of allegiance to be taken by a judge of the Family Court I drew attention to 2 important omissions. The first omission was the omission of an oath of allegiance. An oath of allegiance is required to be taken by every judge in this country; yet for reasons which were unexplained the Attorney-General omitted this provision from this Bill. I know that he omitted it for the reason that the Government omitted it last year from the Public Service Act and I know that he is proposing to omit it from certain other things for which he is responsible. But I believe that it ought to be included in this Bill. Therefore I welcome, after our remonstrations yesterday, the fact that the Attorney-General has now seen fit to repair the omission. I do not think that point is really in dispute.

The second point is the form ofthe oath which a judge should take. The amendment, as it stands at the moment, provides that a judge shall swear or affirm that he will well and truly serve in the office of Chief Judge, Senior Judge or Judge, as the case may be. of the Family Court and do right to all manner of people according to law without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, so help him God. The oath which is traditionally taken is in a different form and we have not been told why there has been a change.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What does the honourable senator want us to do, for God's sake?

Senator GREENWOOD - If the honourable senator will only stop shouting and accept that there is a point of view which -

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do not talk all night about it. The honourable senator has talked about it for 3 days. The honourable senator should let us know what he wants so that we can get it over with.

Senator GREENWOOD - 1 spoke on this Bill for half an hour today and even that half an hour apparently was sufficient to cause concern among supporters of the Government. I am sorry if I have touched Senator James McClelland on the raw. What I am saying is that the form of oath which is contained in the AttorneyGeneral's proposal is different from the form of the oath which is made by other judges when they accept office. It is a simple distinction but it is an important distinction. The traditional form of oath is for a person to swear that he will well and truly serve Her Majesty the Queen, her heirs and successors according to law. Those words have been omitted from this Bill by the AttorneyGeneral. I do not know why. He has not deigned to inform us. My amendment, which was circulated yesterday and which is currently before the Senate, seeks to prescribe a form of oath which contains those words. I hope that the Senate will agree with it.

The CHAIRMAN -Order! I think it may suit the purposes of the Committee if I were to be allowed to reverse the decision I made that Senator Greenwood's amendment is before the Chair and to give permission to the Attorney-General to move his amendment in the form in which he now proposes to put it. If that were to happen perhaps the debate could be resumed and any objection or amendment to the AttorneyGeneral's proposition could be stated. I call upon the Attorney-General to move his new amendment.

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