Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 February 2015) . . Page.. 101 ..
So under this new process, removing a judicial officer from office would require a complaint to the judicial council, which would refer a serious substantiated complaint to a judicial commission. The commission’s report could then result in the Assembly passing a resolution to remove the judicial officer from their office.
I also note that the role of the New South Wales judicial commission is significantly broader than the scheme being established in the territory under this bill. The New South Wales commission is a statutory office and it also has an education function. It provides wide-ranging advice to the Attorney-General on any matter it sees fit and it also has a special function of researching and encouraging consistency of approach to sentencing across New South Wales courts. These are interesting and potentially quite valuable functions which in the future the ACT may wish to explore. Could it be, for example, that in the future the ACT’s judicial council expands its functions to provide a research and advisory role on sentencing to help judicial officers and, indeed, government access reliable sentencing information and to help ensure appropriate and consistent penalties are imposed? That is an idea that is for another time.
One academic recently commented that the New South Wales judicial commission, over the nearly 30 years it has existed, “has become an integral part of the court system, harbouring a good reputation and pioneering new methods and resource tools shared among the legal profession as a whole”. Perhaps this could be the future for the ACT judicial council if it develops and potentially grows and expands its functions over the coming decades.
I want to draw attention to the fact that this bill does not establish a process for dealing with complaints about members of ACAT, but I see that the Attorney-General has committed to creating such a scheme in the near future via an instrument. I look forward to seeing the detail of this.
Lastly, I note that the scrutiny of bills committee made some comments on this bill, which the Attorney-General has addressed in a return letter. In my view, his response is satisfactory and I understand that the attorney will move a minor amendment in response to a scrutiny committee concern. This amendment will ensure that a complainant will be notified of an early dismissal of his or her complaint, and I will be supporting that minor amendment.
I support this bill and I welcome the establishment of the council here in the ACT.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (5.30), in reply: I thank members for their support of this bill today. The bill establishes a new and robust judicial complaints mechanism which realises an election commitment made by the government in 2012.
Before I speak to the matter of the bill further, I would like to foreshadow that I will be moving an amendment to give the council the power to advise a complainant that their complaint has been dismissed early, following a preliminary examination. This amendment follows a recommendation of the scrutiny of bills committee and is consistent with the principles of procedural fairness.