Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 August 2008) . . Page.. 2824 ..
Other members of the committee or other members of the Assembly may wish to speak to this report. I have certainly given them a lot of scope to discuss it. I want to thank the committee members—Mr Mulcahy in the first couple of years, Ms MacDonald, who was there throughout the inquiry, and Mr Smyth, who came along later. I want to thank the committee secretariat, who have assisted greatly in the preparation of this report. In this case, the report was drafted by Derek Abbott, who is probably well known to people who have been in this Assembly for a long time.
I would like to see the government’s response to this report. Most particularly, I recommend that it initiates an independent inquiry into the appropriateness of applying the South Australian model of administration, with a comprehensive examination of the associated costs and benefits. It is not good enough just to reject something out of hand without giving good reasons for doing so. A basic tenet of our democracy is the separation of the courts, the parliament and the executive.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (11.32): I would like to say a few words in relation to this report. Obviously, I have only just received the report, so I have had only a limited time to speed-read the elements of it. I am heartened and encouraged by the strength of enthusiasm that the chair of the committee has directed towards the South Australian model.
As one who chaired the committee for a substantial period when this inquiry took place and who was involved in the collection of evidence, I thought our experience in meeting with members of the judiciary in South Australia was extremely productive. We met with the Chief Justice of South Australia, a member of the District Court and the Chief Magistrate of South Australia. I was singularly impressed when I left Adelaide, as were my committee colleagues. We also met with the Law Society of South Australia. There seemed to be considerable merit in looking at the South Australian model.
For that reason, recommendation 9—that the ACT government commission an independent report on the appropriateness of applying the South Australian model of courts administration in the ACT, including a comprehensive examination of the associated costs and benefits—is one that I sincerely hope that the Attorney-General will consider.
I think there has been too much resistance to looking at the South Australian model. It works extremely well. There is a level of transparency in the management of the finances of the court that is not so evident in other jurisdictions. There is the curious situation in South Australia where the Chief Justice is more than comfortable with going on talk-back radio to talk about the administration of the courts. I find that to be a refreshing approach. The Chief Justice made it clear to the committee when we were taking evidence that he was happy to appear before the estimates committee in South Australia, where he would defend the budget that had been put forward—and, of course, it was also subject to scrutiny by or agreement with the Attorney-General. I think those safeguards are in place. The report notes on page 61:
In South Australia the Council comprises the Chief Justice, the Judge of the District Court and the Chief Magistrate.