Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3959 ..
should recognise the experience and wisdom that comes with age as an asset is a position we as Liberals deeply equally support and uphold. This bill can and should be a recognition that age on its own is no barrier to being able to contribute to our community. The Canberra Liberals support this bill and all seniors in our society.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.31): The Courts and Other Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (No 2) makes a range of amendments to legislation relating to the operations of the ACT courts and tribunals. The bill will amend a number of pieces of legislation to create further improvements and efficiencies in ACT court and tribunal structures and processes and the operation of the ACT justice system.
The bill makes a range of amendments to the terms, conditions and governance of appointments to judicial and justice-related statutory offices to allow for more flexible working arrangements. Whilst relatively straightforward, I believe these changes are very important as society recognises the importance of having flexible work arrangements.
The first set of amendments in this bill will increase the retirement age of magistrates, the ACAT president and the Director of Public Prosecutions from 65 to 70. This will bring the retirement age into line with that of the ACT’s Supreme Court judges, who are already eligible to sit until the age of 70. These amendments will also bring the ACT into line with most other Australian jurisdictions.
The change will mean that sitting magistrates, directors and tribunal presidents will not be required to leave the bench at age 65. This sends a strong message to the Canberra community that older persons are valued and respected in the workplace. All workplaces benefit from the experience and participation of older persons, and these changes will ensure that our justice system can continue to benefit from the presence of older persons in the workforce.
The issue of the retirement age of magistrates was first raised by Mr Hanson in his bill of May this year, and I thank him for bringing this issue to the Assembly, and the Attorney-General for implementing this change as part of this bill.
The second set of amendments will allow magistrates to work on a part-time basis. Whilst this has been allowed in similar courts interstate, in the ACT there have been no provisions for this. These amendments recognise that the courts should be viewed similar to other workplaces. It also recognises that magistrates will likely have commitments outside of the workplace, such as family or carer responsibilities. Importantly, this will also allow magistrates to transition towards retirement by reducing their work loads.
The part-time work arrangements will be negotiated between the magistrate and the Chief Magistrate but will be required to be approved by the Attorney-General. This will ensure that flexible work arrangements can be balanced against the requirements of the justice system.
Magistrates perform an incredibly important and challenging role in the justice system. In many ways magistrates are at the coalface of the justice system because they are