23/07/2007 - 09:01

McGinty calls for new judge at Family Court

23/07/2007 - 09:01

Bookmark

Save articles for future reference.

Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty has called on the Federal Government to appoint a judge to the family court, replacing Chief Judge Michael Holden, who retired in February.

McGinty calls for new judge at Family Court

Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty has called on the Federal Government to appoint a judge to the family court, replacing Chief Judge Michael Holden, who retired in February.

 

 

The full text of a Ministerial Announcement is pasted below

Federal Attorney General Philip Ruddock's refusal to replace a retired judge has seen the average time families wait for their cases to be heard in the Family Court blow-out by five months since February.

Western Australian Attorney General Jim McGinty said that when Chief Judge Michael Holden retired, families were waiting a year on average for their case to come to trial. They are now waiting a year and a half.

"Family Court funding is a Commonwealth responsibility and excessive court delays can cause enormous disruption to the lives of the separating parents and their children," Mr McGinty said.

"The time people wait will continue to grow unless Mr Ruddock agrees to appoint a new judge.

"I am not asking for an extra judge for the court - just a replacement for the one that has retired.

"There is no doubt that the blow-out in the court's lists is largely attributable to the delay in appointing a replacement judge, with the number of judges reduced from five to four.

"There have been no increases in the number of judges appointed to the bench of the Family Court of Western Australia since 1977, and the workload in terms of quantity and complexity has increased exponentially since then."

Funding shortfalls and a failure to support the appointment of necessary staff meant couples were now waiting five-and-a-half months longer for their cases to be heard in court than they were a year ago.

The number of matters waiting a trial date has increased from 336 in July 2006 to 516 in June 2007.

Mr McGinty accused Mr Ruddock of starving the WA Family Court of funding.

"WA has 9.79 per cent of Australia's population and covers one third of the country's land mass, but in 2006-07 the State received only 7.5 per cent of the money allocated by the Federal Government for Family Courts throughout Australia," he said.

"Based on current projections, the court is under-funded by $1.1million per annum.

"Since 2003, the Commonwealth has not provided the court full cost-of-living adjustments on an annual basis.

"The court faces the reality it will run out of cash by early 2008."

Mr McGinty also said that in April last year he had applied for an increase in family court resources for the rapidly growing South-West region.

"A year and three months later, I have not had an answer from Mr Ruddock,"
he said.

"I applied for funding for the appointment of a family law magistrate, family consultants and support staff to be based in Bunbury.

"The demand in this region continues to grow and Mr Ruddock's failure to act is putting families at a severe disadvantage."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

Subscription Options