Page 4490 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 14 October 2009

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The Assembly voted−

Ayes 11

Noes 4

Mr Barr

Ms Gallagher

Ms Bresnan

Ms Burch

Mr Hanson

Ms Hunter

Mr Coe

Mr Hargreaves

Ms Le Couteur

Mr Corbell

Ms Porter

Mr Rattenbury

Mr Doszpot

Mr Smyth

Mrs Dunne

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Courts and Tribunal (Appointments) Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed from 19 August 2009, on motion by Mrs Dunne:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (4.51): The government will not be supporting the changes proposed by this bill. Instead, the government is going to propose amendments to the Supreme Court Act 1933 and the Magistrates Court Act 1930 to formalise the judicial appointments protocol.

The intent of this bill is to change the appointments protocol that was introduced by the government in 2007, a process that established a new level of transparency to the judicial appointment process and which has successfully delivered two strong candidates as new judges to the Supreme Court of the ACT. It is paramount that we retain public confidence in the judiciary by appointing judicial officers on merit rather than patronage, characteristics or partisan belief. Any perception that a person has been appointed on the basis of a political alignment or on the basis of familiarity should be avoided. Although I appreciate that many stakeholders would like to be involved in the final decision, this is not the way the system works here in the ACT or indeed anywhere else in the country.

Under both the Magistrates Court Act and the Supreme Court Act, the power to appoint judges and magistrates lies with the executive, the elected representative government of the territory. The final decision does not rest with specific stakeholder interest groups or non-executive members. That is not to say that the views of these stakeholders are unimportant. They are crucially important and we believe it is appropriate to ensure that their views are given due consideration. But the opposition’s bill would go beyond that. The bill would require the proposed appointments of presidential members to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court to be referred by the executive to the relevant Assembly committee for consideration.

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