Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 April 2018) . . Page.. 1174 ..
MS FITZHARRIS: I reject that there is an inevitability about that. What I would say is that the government has taken an important decision. We will take the time to work on the implementation plan. We will do that in consultation with stakeholders, staff and the community. That is a very normal process.
What I would also add is that we are the last jurisdiction, particularly since the national health funding reforms were implemented between the commonwealth and all states and territories in 2011, to implement such a model. This model exists in every other jurisdiction.
As I said in my previous answer, we are not the smallest jurisdiction. We also serve a significant and growing region in south-eastern New South Wales. We have good models to work from. We will learn from those and we will determine come 1 October the model that works best for our community.
MS CODY: My question is to the Attorney-General. How will adding an eighth permanent ACT magistrate provide greater access to justice?
MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cody for the question. A justice system is, as I have said before, only truly a good justice system when it is accessible, transparent and timely. Resourcing for the courts, and everyone who supports the members of our community through the courts, helps to achieve this.
The Magistrates Court undertakes critical work for some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Magistrates make decisions about family violence orders in response to people seeking protection. Magistrates make decisions about bail that involve crucial public safety and individual liberty considerations. Magistrates oversee coronial investigations that uncover the causes of tragic deaths and can make recommendations for public safety.
These are vital public functions. The government is committed to ensuring that our justice system is resourced properly at all levels to provide them. The government’s decision to fund an eighth magistrate is based on engagement with the courts to analyse their ongoing workload and to ensure that they have sufficient resources to keep providing first-rate court services to this community.
MS CODY: Minister, what measures has the ACT taken to ensure transparent and merit-based selection of magistrates?
MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cody for the supplementary question. The ACT government recognises the importance of, and adheres to, a transparent process for selecting judicial officers. The process and the criteria for selecting a new magistrate are set out in the Magistrates Court (Magistrates Appointment Requirements) Determination 2009, which is available online.