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Monday, 25 June 2012
Page: 7687


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (16:06): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs I present the committee's advisory report on the Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Bill 2012 and the Courts Legislation Amendment (Judicial Complaints) Bill 2012, together with the minutes of proceedings and evidence received by the committee.

In accordance with standing order 39(f) the report was made a parliamentary paper.

Mr PERRETT: by leave—I would particularly like to mention the efforts of the previous member for Denison and now President of the AAT, Duncan Kerr, in making this legislation become reality. The Courts Legislation Amendment (Judicial Complaints) Bill 2012 seeks to introduce greater transparency and accountability in the handling of complaints about judicial officers in the federal courts other than the High Court of Australia. The Judicial Misbehaviour and Incapacity (Parliamentary Commissions) Bill 2012 introduces a framework for the establishment of a parliamentary commission to investigate misbehaviour or the incapacity of a judicial officer.

It is important legislation; however, I would point out that the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs has had three policy inquiries, we have had 10 bills inquiries tabled, we have a foetal alcohol spectrum disorder policy inquiry underway and six more bills coming towards us. It is certainly a hardworking committee, as I am sure the member for Pearce opposite would agree. I thank the hardworking secretariat for putting up with the amount of work that is going through this committee, and I note that Rebecca and Natalya are here in the chamber.

As these bills are the subject of a concurrent inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to avoid burdening stakeholders with a request for multiple submissions on the same bills and in light of the work we are doing, the committee decided to reference the submissions accepted and published by the Senate committee. This committee held a public hearing with the Attorney-General's Department and the Law Council of Australia to clarify matters.

This advisory report, which is the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee's 11th, addresses a number of issues that were raised in the submissions and at the public hearing, such as payment for legal representation, the exemption of heads of jurisdiction and High Court justices from complaints handling, and the appointment of parliamentary commission members. The committee also makes comment on some issues that caused it concern, such as the specific need for the two bills, the protection of the reputation of the judiciary and the potential for political interference.

Ultimately, however, the committee concluded that the bills achieve their objectives and do not warrant any amendments. The report contains the committee's recommendation that both of the bills be passed by this House. I actually stood to do this several months ago but was not given leave. I thank the committee for their work, particularly the Hon. Philip Ruddock, who contributed as a supplementary member for the purposes of this inquiry, and commend the report to the House.