Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Semple review: will the FMC be split?

The Australian reported two days ago that the Semple review into the operation of the Family and Federal Magistrates Courts is considering three options: splitting the Federal Magistrates Court into arms of the Federal and Family Courts respectively, changing the standing of the Federal Magistrates Court, or the creation of a Federal Courts Authority.

Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has commissioned former Attorney-General's Department guru to undertake a review of the operation of the Family Court, the Family Court of Western Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court.

I am only a little fish in a big pond. From this Brisbane family lawyer's point of view, the current administrative arrangement between the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court is crazy. Federal Magistrates have far too much work to do. There seems to be duplication between those courts in some of the administrative positions.

But to create a Federal Courts Authority? Madness. This is an authority that would be beholden to no court and to no one but the Attorney-General. Each court should have the resources that it needs. The media has taken great pleasure in repeating the gossip about lack of teabags in Adelaide. Do we want to repeat those fights with more bureaucracy?

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