Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 September 2015) . . Page.. 3078 ..
I think this is a matter that can touch the hearts of all of us. These are families who have taken in children who are in need of a loving and supportive family, and they are providing that to those children. We should be doing whatever we can to facilitate those adoption orders to be made.
I reiterate, this is not a criticism of the a step up for our kids strategy. I have had briefings. I have had discussions with the minister and his office. I am very supportive of a step up for our kids and I am looking forward to it rolling out further and further. What we are saying here is that whilst you are doing everything you can in this area, the bottleneck is occurring in the court area. That is what the thrust of this motion is today and I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (12.23): I thank Ms Lawder for moving this motion today and I am pleased to speak to this motion and advise the Assembly about the important work that the Supreme Court has been undertaking with the support of the government to improve its performance. My colleague Mr Gentleman, as the responsible portfolio minister for adoptions in the ACT, will be speaking further about the steps the government is taking across a range of areas in relation to this important matter.
I would like to address the immediate substance of the issues Ms Lawder is raising in relation to the performance of our courts. I have to inform the Assembly that the assertions that Ms Lawder is making in her motion are simply incorrect. It is not true to say that there is a backlog of civil cases in our courts and that this is responsible for families experiencing long waits for adoptions to be finalised. I understand that families may find the adoption process a long one from the time it is commenced to when it is finalised through the courts. However, most of this time is involved with the process prior to the matter being lodged with the court. The court only becomes involved at the end of the process.
I have received advice about this issue from the Supreme Court. It is worth reminding members that the Chief Justice is responsible for the management and listing of matters in the court, not the government. But that said, the court has advised that in 2014-15 the average time from lodgement to listing for adoption matters was seven weeks and then from listing to finalisation was an average of four weeks. The fact that the court process is so prompt underpins the importance of the work that precedes the filing of an application in court and speaks to its thoroughness.
These facts do not support Ms Lawder’s call on the government to take immediate action to reduce the backlog of civil cases in the ACT court system and report back to the Assembly in November this year because there is no civil backlog impacting on adoption matters, nor is there a blitz on criminal matters in the Supreme Court, as Ms Lawder asserts. There are periods of intensive listing of criminal matters but this is business as usual for the court nowadays.
So it is not clear to me where Ms Lawder is getting her information from. But there is no evidence to support a call to prioritise faster processing of adoptions in the ACT