Page 1928 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 27 June 2023

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We received 52 submissions to our inquiry. There was significant evidence to support the understanding that reproductive health is a basic human right. This is the premise of the report. This is scaffolded by evidence, and our recommendations remain.

Courts Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (11.06): I present the Courts Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 together with its explanatory statement, including it Human Rights compatibility statement:

Explanatory statement to the Bill, incorporating a compatibility statement, pursuant to section 37 of the Human Rights Act 2004.

I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Courts Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 to the Assembly. The bill makes changes to the Court Procedures Act 2004, the Supreme Court Act 1933 and the Magistrates Court Act 1930, and makes consequential amendments to other legislation, to improve the efficiency of the ACT courts’ operations, structures and processes, making it quicker and easier for people to access justice. Enhancing the efficiency of our ACT courts will support greater flexibility in allocation of court resources and improve the court’s capacity to serve the community in a more efficient way. The bill increases flexibility in the allocation of court resources and pursues greater equity within the courts by removing the associate judge position, known as ‘master’, which will be replaced with the appointment of a sixth resident judge on the ACT Supreme Court.

The role of the associate judge was originally introduced as a more junior judicial role that would predominantly preside over interlocutory work and some other civil matters. However, over the years since the introduction of the role, the jurisdiction of the associate judge has widened significantly, such that it is now very close to that of a resident judge.

The associate judge’s role was expanded through amendments to the Supreme Court Act in 1988 and 1991, and with the introduction of the Court Procedure Rules in 2006. The associate judge now exercises the same inherent civil jurisdiction of a single judge of the Supreme Court. Moreover, the associate judge was given jurisdiction in some criminal matters through amendments made in 2009, 2017 and 2018. Appeal processes also changed in 2015 so that appeals of decisions by associate judges were treated in the same way as appeals of decisions of a single resident judge.

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