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Family court judge for Townsville

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SENATOR DURACK - I will take note of the question and give a written reply as requested.

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SENATOR MAUNSELL - I ask the Attorney-General whether a decision has been made to appoint a Family Court judge who will be permanently based in Townsville. If so, when is the appointment be made?

SENATOR DURACK - No decision has been made to . appoint a Family Court judge who would be permanently resident in Townsville. The Government has made a decision to increase

the number of Family Court judges by two. Regulations enabling this to be done have been made and tabled. Of course, no steps to that end can be taken until a certain period has elapsed after tabling, to permit disallowance to be moved. I am not sure whether that period has yet expired,

but,, if disallowance has not been moved, the Government would, I believe, now be in a position to make two such appointments. What I have said is that an additional judge will be appointed to Victoria and one to Queensland, that

the Queensland judge would be located at the Brisbane registry and that would permit added assistance to be given

to the Townsville registry and thus effect some improvement in disposing of the backlog of cases in that centre. I aim aware of the concern in north Queensland regarding the matter and of the tradition, in the case of State courts, of having resident judges in Townsville. I gave very close

consideration to the question whether the appointment of an

additional Family Court judge to Townsville could be made but in the end was persuaded that the additional costs involved and the demands of the Brisbane registry, and indeed other circuit areas related to Brisbane, were such . that it would be a more efficient use of the additional

judge if he or she were based in Brisbane. However, I am very conscious of the tradition in Queensland for there to be a Northern Judge resident inTownsville. I hope that in

due course an appointment will be made to the Family Court in Townsville.

Page 1963



SENATOR CHIPP - I ask the Attorney-General a question concerning the Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs, headed by Mr Justice Williams, which was appointed in October 1977. The Minister would agree that that was well before any allegations against the Federal Narcotics Bureau had surfaced from anyone. Is it true that when the

Commission was established certain Commonwealth officers were seconded, as is normal, to assist the Commission in its inquiries? Is it true also that officers were seconded to that Commission from the Comonwealth Department of Health,

the Minister's Department, and the Commonwealth Police? Is

it true also that the offer by the Federal Narcotics Bureau of assistance to the Commission through the Department of

Business and Consumer Affairs was declined by the

Commission? I ask the Attorney-General a question in two