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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7614

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (8:26 PM) —I have made inquiries as to the number of former judges, and that might assist the committee at this stage. I will come to Senator Faulkner's question in a moment. The Attorney-General's Department does not have records of potential former judges in states and territories. From a Commonwealth point of view, the number of judges who served for the last 10 years and who are still under 72 years of age is: in the New South Wales Federal Court, five; in the ACT Federal Court, one; in the New South Wales Family Court, seven; in South Australia, one; in Victoria, four; in Tasmania, two; and in Queensland, two. So, from the Commonwealth point of view, the total number across Australia would be 22. Those judges would have to consent. My office has made inquiries and we are endeavouring to ascertain further numbers.

The question was put to me from my experience in Western Australia. Looking at judges who would be under the age of 72— because that is what the opposition is proposing—and who have 10 years experience in a superior court, the problem you would run into is that most judges retire at age 70, so you do not have too many left who are under 72. You would have a handful. The Attorney-General himself is of a view that you would have only two or three who would fit that requirement in Western Australia. That is merely anecdotal evidence, and by no means is it by way of some record— but that is the question I was asked. We are endeavouring to see if we can find further numbers. When you look at that number, from a Commonwealth point of view, it is certainly not great at all. The total number for New South Wales is 12; South Australia, one; the ACT, one; Victoria, four; Tasmania, two; and Queensland, two. And, from a Commonwealth point of view, I do not think there is one in Western Australia.