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Judicial Administration (Auxiliary Appointments and Powers) (Qualification for Appointment) Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: The Liberal position remains unchanged: we will not be supporting the passage of the bill. Since the second reading, the shadow attorney, the member for Bragg in the other place, had an opportunity to ask questions of the Chief Justice in respect of the bill during the estimates process, which renders it unnecessary for me to further interrogate the clauses of the bill during the committee stage.

There was nothing coming out of the conversation on this bill during estimates to warrant a reconsideration of the Liberal Party’s position. There remains no coherent public policy imperative to support this legislation. The Liberal Party does not think it satisfactory for the government to simply state that it is introducing enabling legislation and then go on to say, ‘We will work through the details later.’

We are not convinced by the assertions of the Chief Justice that there are adequate controls in place, for example, for bringing in a judge from a jurisdiction that has the death penalty. Whilst I personally take comfort from the Chief Justice’s statement that he is implacably opposed to bringing in a judge from another jurisdiction to hear criminal cases, the Chief Justice is not immortal and a new chief justice may take a different view.

We acknowledge that there must be regulations laid on the table to prescribe the office held by the judge, as well as the foreign court, if one is to be brought into this jurisdiction but, as anyone knows with a rudimentary knowledge of the workings of this place, each time the regulation is disallowed, it can be tabled by the government the next day and so on and so forth. The practical reality is that the government position is likely to prevail in the absence of sustained community outrage.

There is no rationale or considered plan regarding judicial exchanges. Next we will hear on this will be that there are regulations laid on the table. I would like to think, and I suspect that I will be disappointed, that we will be briefed ahead or in advance of such judicial plans to bring certain judges from overseas, rather than be briefed by radio transmission. The Liberal Party will not support the bill at the third reading; however, I acknowledge that we do not have the support of the majority of crossbenchers so I will not be calling a division.

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