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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3962 ..

The bill makes amendments to the statutory framework applying to the associate judge of the Supreme Court. The role of the associate judge has evolved from the traditional role of master. Historically the role of master on a court was confined to a limited set of civil matters. This differing role meant that, unlike a judge, the master’s term of appointment could be for a seven-year term.

As the name change implies, the associate judge performs many of the same functions as resident judges, and her jurisdiction has recently been extended to cover some criminal matters. The government currently has the option of appointing the associate judge for either a seven-year term or until the age of 70. The government chose to make its most recent appointment until retirement age.

The amendments in this bill recognise the evolution of the role by increasing its independence from the executive government through the removal of the legislative option to appoint an associate judge for a term of seven years. As with the current appointment, that will that mean all future appointments to the role will be until the age of 70.

Finally, this bill improves court legislation by making amendments to the Court Procedures Act 2004 that clarify the governance arrangements for the statutory office of the principal registrar. The principal registrar is the key office that manages the administration of our courts and tribunal.

These provisions deal with the responsibilities of the office and its powers to manage staff and are modelled on similar provisions, such as the DPP and the Solicitor-General. This bill largely aligns the conditions under which the executive can make decisions about the principal registrar’s appointment with legislation about the Solicitor-General and the DPP.

Importantly, the bill prescribes additional grounds upon which the principal registrar’s appointment may be ended early, including where the occupant of the position engages in misbehaviour. While these provisions are expected to be used rarely, they play an important role in inviting public confidence in the operation of the justice system by ensuring that the oversight arrangements for this important statutory officeholder are robust and appropriate.

This bill demonstrates the government’s commitment to recognising the importance of the contribution of older Canberrans in the workplace. It shows our ongoing commitment to improve not only our criminal and civil laws but also to strengthen and modernise the laws which provide the framework for our justice institutions. The improvements will support our justice system to keep on offering high quality services to this community. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

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