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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 4 Hansard (20 March) . . Page.. 1108..


MR SESELJA (Brindabella) (12.05): I move:

That this Assembly:

(1) notes:

(a) that the ACT Bar Association took the extraordinary step of making a formal complaint in regard to an ACT Supreme Court Judge in December 2012, due to extensive delays in reserved judgements;

(b) that the ACT Law Society is seeking "urgent remedial action"in regard to these delays;

(c) that the backlog in cases is causing criminal matters to be listed for mid-2014 and some reserved judgements are more than four years old; and

(d) that the Attorney-General has failed to listen to the numerous informal complaints made about the delays; and

(2) calls on the Government to immediately appoint a fifth Supreme Court Judge to assist with the timely administration of justice.

This morning I am moving this motion calling for a fifth judge, and I will go through the reasons for that in some detail. The delays in the ACT court system are well known. The delays continue to get longer year after year. The Attorney-General is only prepared to take short-term measures that take off some of the pressure for a few months, and then the delays continue. Currently we have some reserve judgements that are more than four years old and criminal matters are being listed for mid-2014. This situation is unacceptable.

The Canberra Times reported in December:

Justice Dyson Heydon was moved to extraordinarily florid language for a High Court judge: "A party which has a duty to assist the court in achieving certain objectives fails to do so. A court which has a duty to achieve those objectives does not achieve them. The torpid languor of one hand washes the drowsy procrastination of the other."

Unfortunately for the people of the ACT, this cannot be treated as a joke. These are real people, real lives and real implications we are talking about. It is a well-known legal maxim but an applicable one in this case that justice delayed is justice denied. The delays do not serve to benefit anyone. Many Canberrans have had their lives turned upside down by court cases, and the continued delays in addressing them have meant that their suffering is exacerbated. Businesses caught up in long litigation put at risk their livelihoods and cause untold stress.

The accused awaiting trial are often detained on remand at the AMC only to be released soon after trial as they are deemed to have served their sentence. Their

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