Tuesday, 25 May 2010

FMC to go: Attorney-General

The Attorney-General Robert McClelland announced yesterday that Federal Magistrates undertaking family law work will be moved to a new second tier of the Family Court. This is what he told a press conference yesterday:

There has been concern voiced that there has been duplication of resources between the Federal Magistrates Court and the Family Court of Australia, in particular and most significantly in respect to parties' access to counselling resources. There has also been some inefficiencies in the ability to transfer matters between the the Federal Magistrates Court and the Family Court. And there have also been concerns expressed, as recently as January of this year, with the Australian Institute of Family Studies expressing concern about the disparity in approaches between the two courts giving rise to potential unfairness.

On that basis, there will be a restructure in respect to the family law jurisdiction of the Federal Magistrates Court. Federal Magistrates undertaking family law work will be offered commissions on the Family Court of Australia. They will be offered a commission as a judge, but it will be to preside in a lower tier of the Family Court. They will not be entitled to traditional judicial superannuation arrangements. Their conditions will otherwise be preserved.

It's anticipated that the legislation will be introduced in the winter sessions of Parliament. That, of course, will be dependent on the timetabling of the House and Senate programs, but we are certainly keen to get that legislation on as soon as we can, with the new court structures to operate in late 2011.

There will, of course, be consultation in terms of arrangements involving the courts, the military and also with the Law Council of Australia.

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