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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3102 ..


If you are not up to a big decision, take a smaller one than you are contemplating.

Ten days after Mr Corbell’s announcements, the dust had had time to settle, people had had time to gather their thoughts and to come to a view about the worth of Mr Corbell’s big new idea, his virtual district court. But still no-one liked the idea. On 14 May, a report was published that reflected the thoughts of the ACT Bar Association. Association President Mr Pilkinton described Mr Corbell’s idea as “perplexing”. The article reports him as debunking Mr Corbell’s big new idea as one that had come “out of the blue” and “ignored the advice of court officers and practitioners”.

The CityNews weighed into the fray, too, declaring in its edition of 20 to 26 May:

Corbell’s cheap justice won’t work.

Its author, legal identity Ric Lucas, said Mr Corbell’s virtual district court “creates more problems than it solves”. Then the letters to the editor started. On 25 May, a letter from barrister Ken Archer was published. Mr Archer was the first to talk about the elephant in the room. He said that “this proposal was very much an attack on the Supreme Court” and he further said that “yet again, criminal justice policy is driven by personality politics”. His view is that the district court creates further complexity in a criminal justice system that “is already too bureaucratic”. He said his view about Mr Corbell’s big new idea is shared by just about everybody in the legal profession in the ACT. He even suggested that the establishment of a virtual district court “completes the emasculation of the Magistrates Court, the jurisdiction of which has been decimated by the ACAT disaster”, another one of Mr Corbell’s inventions. Indeed, Mr Archer cringes “when thinking about the jurisprudence that might come out of the District Court”.

But Mr Archer was not the only correspondent. On 2 June, fully a month after Mr Corbell’s announcement, still the mistrust for his big new idea continued in another letter, this time by barrister Shane Gill. Mr Gill suggests the establishment of a district court “fails to grasp the fundamental problems with an additional court structure and the pre-existing problems in the territory’s system”. He too gave some advice to Mr Corbell. He said that “perhaps the first matter Corbell ought to turn his attention to is to improve the standard of justice with the court that is most accessed by Canberra’s population, the Magistrates Court”.

The final nail in the acceptance coffin of Mr Corbell’s big new idea came from a joint statement by the ACT Law Society and ACT Bar Association, published in the Canberra Times on 17 June. They described the court proposal as “an unnecessarily complex solution to a simple problem”.

Mr Corbell’s response to all of this has been to go on the defensive. He sent a letter to the editor of the Canberra Times in response to Mr Archer’s letter. It was published on 31 May. In just over 200 column centimetres Mr Corbell did little more than reject entirely Mr Archer’s assertions. That was stated in the first three words of the text. The rest of his letter is a defence of his big new idea but fails to explain why he rejects


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