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Legislation to rearrange Federal Jurisdiction

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He said the Government would co-operate with

the Committee and looked towards a report as soon as

the Committee was able to complete it.

Canberra ,

26 September 1978

52/78 . ‘

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Legislation to relieve further the workload

of the High Court and to confer wider jurisdiction in

federal matters on State and Territory Supreme Courts

was introduced into the Senate today.

. The Attorney-General, Senator Peter Durack,

Q.C., said the changes in the legislation were in line

with the Government's policy to have a co-ordinated

structure of State and Federal Courts in Australia. It

would also avoid the disadvantages of a dual court

system which had caused so many problems in the United


Senator Durack said that in 1976 legislation

removed from the High Court the original jurisdiction

that it had under Commonwealth law in the areas of

greatest workload. Most of this original jurisdiction

was vested in State and Territory Supreme Courts, some

in the Federal Court of Australia and some in the

Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The policy of the Government was that the

Federal Court of Australia would have jurisdiction only

in those matters w h e r e , for historical or special


policy reasons, it was desirable that jurisdiction be

exercised by a federal court. This applied to both

original and appellate jurisdiction in federal matters.

"The State and Territory Courts, being courts

of general jurisdiction should be primarily the trial

courts in federal as well as State matters.

"The High Court should be free to concentrate

on its role as a constitutional and appellate court in

matters of general importance," he said.

Senator Durack said that although a unified

court system in Australia would be the ideal, he

accepted that this was unlikely to be achieved for the

time being.

"The policy of a co-ordinated court system is

a satisfactory alternative and in the view of the

Government is a practical one.

"I hope the States will seriously consider

investing federal courts with jurisdiction under State

laws where that would be convenient in the same way as

the Federal Government has been to invest State courts

with wider federal jurisdiction where that is sensible

and convenient. „

"In this way, I believe that most of the

problems which can arise with State and Federal

jurisdiction could be avoided," Senator Durack said.


28 September 1978


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