Page 1625 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 9 May 2018

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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms J Burch) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Magistrates Court (Retirement Age of Magistrates) Amendment Bill 2018

Mr Hanson, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This is a simple bill but it goes to an important matter. The purpose of this bill is to amend the Magistrates Court Act to extend the retirement age of magistrates from the current 65 years old to 70 years old. This brings the retirement age in the ACT Magistrates Court into line with the retirement age that applies in the Supreme Court and also with that in most other jurisdictions in Australia.

In a submission to the New South Wales parliament, the president of the New South Wales Bar Association, Mr Arthur Moses SC, stated that there were “compelling reasons” to lift the judicial retirement age to 75, including stemming the loss of experienced judges “who would otherwise have had the capacity to continue to make significant contributions to the development of the law”.

Closer to home, lawyers have also spoken on this issue. I present the highlights from an article by Mr Andrew Fraser, but I maintain his meaning. He writes:

The ACT’s magistrates are the victims of mandatory sentencing.

They must quit when they hit 65.

In NSW and Tasmania, magistrates run to 72; in Victoria, the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia it’s 70 … What’s holding us back here?

It is said that the ACT Government, in a previous incarnation, did not rate a higher magisterial retiring age as “a priority” but a new Attorney might take a fresh look.

What would it take?

How about a Bill in the Parliament that amends “65” to “70”? … Not too difficult.

Indeed, that is precisely what this bill does. It is not too difficult. I know this is an issue that has been talked about for some time here in the ACT, in other states and

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