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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3599

Mr Price asked the Attorney-General, in writing, on 12 March 2009

(1)   Did the ‘Semple report’ (Des Semple and the Attorney-General’s Department, Striking the Right Balance, August 2008) estimate how the greater efficiency associated with the proposed merger translates into lower legal costs for litigants before the family law merged courts; if not, why not.

(2)   Has he requested his department model savings in legal costs for family law litigants before the merged courts; if not, why not; if so, what are the anticipated savings and how will he ensure that the savings are passed on.

Mr McClelland (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   The Terms of Reference for the Review of the delivery by the federal courts of family law services required consideration of governance options for a more integrated family law system, structures and management processes necessary to achieve this, and impact of any such changes on administrative or judicial structures. The issue of legal costs for litigants was beyond the scope of the Terms of Reference for the Review. However, the Report of the Review, Future Governance Options for Federal Family Law Courts in Australia: Striking the Right Balance, does note the improvements for litigants, such as less forum confusion, which could result from the proposed merger (paragraphs 100 and 124).

(2)   I have not requested my Department to model savings in legal costs for family law litigants before any implementation of the restructure of the federal courts recommended by the Report of the Review. At this stage my Department is focussed on improvements in the corporate governance, judicial case management and structure for the family court system. These improvements will enable a greater number of disputes to be resolved as efficiently as possible without the cost and trauma of protracted litigation, including through simpler procedures, front end support for users and better integration of courts with other dispute resolution services.