COURTS LEGISLATION MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS BILL – Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Posted on 13. May, 2010 in Speeches

Mr LIM (Clayton) — I also rise to support the Courts Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2010. It goes without saying that this bill underscores what this Attorney‑General is all about. He is about modernising and improving the judicial system in this state to make it second to none in the country. He is at the forefront in continuing to do that and is admired around the country as such.

Three different groups of amendments in relation to the courts and judicial officers are made by the Courts Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Bill 2010, and they serve as the overall purpose of the bill. The acts which are amended are the County Court Act 1958, the Coroners Act 2008, the Constitution Act 1975, the Supreme Court Act 1986 and the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

First, the bill amends the County Court Act 1958 to preserve the entitlement to a pension of an associate judge, formerly known as a master, of the Supreme or County courts, who is subsequently appointed a judge of the County Court of Victoria after the commencement of section 18 of the Judicial Remuneration Tribunal Act 1995 on 18 May 1995. The entitlement of those associate judges who were originally appointed to judicial office before the commencement of the Judicial Remuneration Tribunal Act 1995 will be preserved. Judges in this category of associate judge are entitled to a pension at age 60, subject to accruing 10 years service.

This amendment is consistent with amendments made by the Courts Legislation (Juries and Other Matters) Act 2008, which also ensures that the pension entitlement at age 60 is preserved if an associate judge who was originally appointed before 1995 is later appointed a judge of the Supreme Court.

Second, the bill amends section 94(5) of the Coroners Act 2008. A key objective of this amendment is to preserve the status quo relating to salary and allowances for fixed‑term coroners appointed under the old Coroners Act 1985. Under the new Coroners Act 2008, the status quo in relation to salary and allowances for acting coroners will also be maintained. In essence, acting coroners appointed from 1 November 2009 are to be paid the same salary and allowances as a magistrate. The implementation of this measure will be retrospective; therefore, any judicial officers appointed on or after 1 November 2009 will be covered by the new act.

To sum up, this amendment addresses unintended outcomes of section 94(5) — namely, that coroners appointed under the old act on a short‑term basis and reappointed under the new act would see their allowances decrease upon commencing their new appointment, and the same applies for acting coroners appointed under the new act.

Finally, the bill will create the office of judicial registrar in the Supreme, County, Coroners and Children’s courts. The creation of the office will provide an opportunity for the courts to operate in a more responsible and effective manner. A successful example in this respect is what the Magistrates’ Court (Judicial Registrar and Court Rules) Act 2005 established in 2005 — that is, the office of judicial registrar in the Magistrates Court. The legislative framework is accepted by the legal profession, with its efficient operation and integration into the proceedings of the Magistrates Court.

The creation of the office of judicial registrar will not only be consistent with this legislative framework but will also enable judicial officers to address matters of greater importance with the implication that it will result in judicial officers having more time and energy. The separation of duties of judicial registrars and judicial officers, and the capacity to appoint judicial registrars, will offer a higher degree of freedom and efficiency in making appointments to handle demand in the court system. Victorian courts will have judicial registrars so that the judiciary can be assisted in managing its workload in a more cost‑effective way.

In conclusion, all the above amendments are consistent with the government’s justice statement 2 initiatives that aim to have a more modern court system. Judicial independence will be maintained. As I mentioned at the beginning, I have nothing but praise and admiration for the Attorney‑General who has had the vision to bring such a bill to the house. I therefore commend the bill to the house and wish it a speedy passage.

Comments are closed.