Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3500 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
We believe that we should leave to the Remuneration Tribunal the question of what pay a judge of the Supreme Court receives. We have a tribunal in place and we think it most appropriate that we leave it to that tribunal to determine the most appropriate salary for a judge of the Supreme Court of the ACT. It is our view that if the Remuneration Tribunal thinks it appropriate it can set the remuneration of resident judges at the level of Federal Court judges. It is our view that that decision should be for the tribunal and not for the Assembly.
A stated intention of the Bill is to ensure that judges of the Supreme Court are engaged under the same terms and conditions as those judges of the Supreme Court that have a joint appointment to the Federal Court. I note also that without further legislation this will not necessarily be the case while ever we have a court of resident judges appointed while another judge holds a Federal Court appointment and others are not so appointed. Some will have the terms and conditions of a Federal Court judge and others will not. The anomaly will remain. Whilst ever we have judges enjoying joint appointment to the Supreme Court and the Federal Court, the need for this Assembly to be involved in setting terms and conditions otherwise than approved by the Remuneration Tribunal will continue.
It seems to us that it is not for the members of this Assembly to automatically assume that a judge appointed only as a member of the Supreme Court has the same range of responsibilities, the same role, as a judge appointed to both the Supreme Court and the Federal Court. We feel that that is a decision best left to the Remuneration Tribunal. We really cannot understand why the Assembly should take to itself the decision as to a particular judge's salary, namely, a judge appointed solely to the Supreme Court. Why should we take that particular role from the Remuneration Tribunal? It seems to the Labor Party that there is no cogent reason for the Legislative Assembly putting itself into the position of the decision-maker in relation to the terms and conditions of a judge of the ACT Supreme Court.
The second component of this Bill gives the Supreme Court power to declare a person a vexatious litigant and deny that person the right to institute or continue proceedings without leave of the Supreme Court. I might say, briefly, that I find the combination of the terms and conditions of a member of the Supreme Court and the situation of vexatious litigants being dealt with in the one Bill slightly odd.
Mr Humphries: It happens all the time, actually.
MR STANHOPE: I take the point, Attorney. It does, but I must say it struck me in relation to this Bill. I take the point you make and I accept it, but I did find it remarkable in this case. It is just a passing comment, but I take the point you make.
In relation to the provision in connection with vexatious litigants, we all understand how frustrating vexatious or frequent litigants can be. They are incredibly frustrating and very difficult to deal with. However, the Labor Party remains to be convinced that we should move down this path; that we should allow individuals within the community, or the Attorney, to make application to courts to have a person declared a vexatious litigant per se irrespective of whether or not at the time that person is necessarily engaged in a matter.