Chief Justice criticism shows merger won’t address chronic under resourcing

The CPSU says newly revealed criticism by the Chief Justice of the Family Court shows the Government should focus on addressing the chronic underfunding of the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, not come up with half baked plans to cut more resources.

Attorney-General George Brandis introduced legislation to Parliament in December to merge the administrative functions of the Federal Court with the under resourced Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

Media reports on correspondence by Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant indicate she feels “considerable concern and dismay” and believes the plan “breaches the current independence of the courts”.

CPSU National President Alistair Waters said: “Chief Justice Diana Bryant’s frank assessment has only added to our deep concerns about the situation that the courts face. This consolidation is a half-baked plan that will not address the real issue that these courts are chronically under resourced.”

“Chief Justice Bryant’s comments add to the grim picture of underfunding painted by Federal Circuit Court Judge John Pascoe last year, when it was revealed he was considering taking judges out of some of the country’s busiest courts in response to a lack of resources.”

“Agency mergers cannot magically create the resources to address this situation, which is having a real and painful impact on the lives of families and children. Senator Brandis has responded by going consultant shopping, ignoring a KPMG report that identified the real problem of underfunding and instead commissioning a second E&Y report to back his consolidation agenda.”

“The Government has taken some of the necessary steps to tackle the issue of domestic violence, which predominantly affects women and children, yet Senator Brandis in this case has put his political agenda ahead of the interests of those families who are struggling through the courts system.”