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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 1 July 2008) . . Page.. 2535 ..


and civil jurisdiction and it also investigates complaints against the judiciary. That was the most controversial point, but now it raises little controversy.

The New South Wales commission investigates about 100 complaints a year and deals with many more grievances that do not become formal complaints; that often might simply mean pointing people in the right direction by telling them their appeal rights. The commission follows a certain process with these complaints, which I have set out in my study report, which I commend to the Assembly. It is a pretty fair system. It ultimately could lead to a conduct division being set up if the complaints really are investigated very thoroughly; there have been only some 18 conduct divisions set up in 20 years. They comprise three members—two members of the judiciary plus a non-judicial member appointed by parliament—and the two non-judicial members in most recent times were a former police commissioner and woman involved with victims of crime.

The commission has had an interesting history with those 18 complaints over 20 years, which is not many. Six judicial officers resigned. Of the four complaints that went to a hearing, only one went to parliament; with the other three the judicial officers resigned. The one incident that got to parliament related to Justice Bruce sitting on judgements, and members are probably aware that he survived on a vote of the parliament. Western Australia is looking to set up a similar judicial commission based on the New South Wales model. Queensland taps into the very good data the commission has in New South Wales.

In relation to the commission’s sentencing role—this is probably particularly handy for the ACT because we could probably lock in terribly cheaply, as Queensland and indeed the commonwealth do—all New South Wales judicial officers have a sentencing handbook and that is continually updated. Also, all sentences in all courts in New South Wales, be they in a Magistrates Court through to the Court of Appeal, are accessible via the web. They are constantly updated, on a daily basis, and they are categorised, so that literally by pressing a few buttons on the computer—I saw Ernie Schmatt, the CEO, do this when I was there—any judge or magistrate in any New South Wales court can see what the usual tariff is for any kind of offence and for basically any list of possible offenders who might fit various characteristics of an offender before the court.

The commission also provides a criminal and civil trials bench book and a Magistrates Court bench book, and these books include such things as suggested directions to juries for hundreds of offences. They are available electronically with direct links to the Crimes Act, relevant case guideline judgements and summaries of cases and decisions prepared and put in by the commission. The commission now has some 2,000 pieces of legislation on its database, updated daily. It has 38 staff, including retired judges. It runs the Queensland and commonwealth sentencing information systems; Queensland pays a small sum for it. Naturally Ernie would not tell me how much because that is commercial-in-confidence. I would strongly suggest that the ACT could do the same here.

In New South Wales, judicial officers, the legal aid office, the police and the Public Defenders Office all use the system for free. Private practitioners have to pay for it, as


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