Page 1113 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 20 March 2013

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in the ACT. When the Supreme Court decided to adopt the docket system, it was an evidence-based decision. It was not a knee-jerk reaction. The adoption of the case management system will assist the court to take control of cases to make the best use of the time and resources of the court.

In addition, in 2012, the government provided over $1 million worth of funding for a successful blitz of civil and criminal matters during two six-week periods in 2012. In addition to funding two acting judges, additional support was provided to the DPP, Legal Aid, Corrective Services and the courts administration. The blitz was highly successful in bringing forward and disposing of a large proportion of civil and criminal matters.

Let me elaborate. The civil cases listed to take place during the blitz had previously been listed to take 396 court days. That is more than a year of court sitting. Instead, they took just 86 court days. In other words, more than 300 court days were saved. That is 300 days the court now has free to use for other cases. The story is the same for criminal matters. The estimated court days for the cases listed before the blitz commenced were 303. But in fact only 51 days were used. What does this tell us? Not that we need a new judge but that we need better management of the lists to recognise the reality that most cases will settle before they are heard. The taxpayer should not be asked to pay for another judge when courts sit empty.

It is important at this point to recognise the commitment of the Chief Justice to implementing change in the court to address delay. Regrettably, the Assembly has not always been as supportive. The Chief Justice asked the government to consider allowing sentence reduction for offenders who facilitated the administration of justice by cooperating to ensure that the trial is focused as effectively as possible on the real issues in dispute.

The government moved an amendment to give effect to the Chief Justice’s very sensible proposal. Sadly, the previous Assembly was not as keen to listen to and support such sensible measures for reform. It defeated the change. Sentence reduction is an important initiative to reduce court delay, and it is disappointing that it was not supported. If the opposition are as sincere as they seek to proclaim they are about the need to address delay, I will consider reintroducing this measure and ask again for the Assembly’s support.

Additional resources have also been made available to the court to help with case management. This has included $9½ million in the most recent budget for developing a new courts and tribunals ICT case management system to facilitate the efficient operation of the courts. The system will help the courts to manage cases, court orders, hearing times and associated financial payments and reporting.

The most recent budget also allocated over $2 million over four years to introduce an ACT sentencing database. This will allow sentencing information to be more easily used by the judiciary and facilitate greater transparency and consistency in sentencing.

So you can see very clearly that the government is not reluctant to make investments where they are needed. I have just outlined investments worth over $10 million to

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