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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3961 ..

supports the inclusion of older Canberrans with their considerable experience and training in the justice workforce for longer.

Stepping briefly into my role as minister for seniors in the ACT, I wish to emphasise the great asset that we have in our society in our older Canberrans. The bill improves the legislative foundations for the administration of the court and adjusts the retirement ages for key justice office holders and provides more flexible working arrangements for the court.

I note with thanks Mr Hanson in the way that he has engaged on this cooperatively and for being willing to work with the government on an alternative to his originally introduced bill. This bill now has tripartisan support, and that is important. Clearly it is not appropriate to be politicising the operations of the court, and approaching legislation that impacts our judicial officers from the perspective of policy and not politics is critical. I thank all members in the chamber for taking that approach today.

The government has engaged with the courts over the course of this term and this bill is the result of that engagement, bringing together a broad series of improvements that have been identified in cooperation with the courts.

As has been noted, a key set of amendments arising from the bill increases the retirement age of magistrates, the ACAT president and the Director of Public Prosecutions from 65 to 70. The increased age of retirement means that sitting magistrates, directors and tribunal presidents will not be required to leave office at the age of 65. This change will bring the ACT into line with other jurisdictions as well as our own jurisdiction as our Supreme Court judges are eligible to sit until they are aged 70.

Increasing the age of retirement recognises the importance of these roles within our justice system. The change also recognises the values we place on older Canberrans in the workforce. All of our workforces benefit from their participation and their experience, and the justice system is no exception.

The next set of amendments will further enhance the inclusion and flexibility of the courts as a workplace. Unlike some other courts interstate, there has previously been no provision for magistrates to work part time in the ACT. This bill creates an option for our magistrates to work on a part-time basis. The part-time work arrangements will be negotiated between the magistrate and the Chief Magistrate but will be required to be approved by me as Attorney-General.

These amendments do not disturb the overarching responsibility of the Chief Magistrate for ensuring the orderly and prompt discharge of the business of the court; they simply provide the Chief Magistrate with more flexibility in the discharge of this function and also provide government with the ability to have oversight of the resourcing arrangements of the court.

The introduction of this provision will create increased flexibility in the working arrangements of magistrates and help support them to manage family or carer responsibilities or potentially transition towards retirement.

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