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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14938


Dear Mrs Chair

Thank you for your correspondence of 18 February 2019 regarding Petition EN0836, presented to the Standing Committee on Petitions, raising concerns about the constitutionality and appropriateness of the use of judicial mediation in federal courts.

The concerns have been raised in the context of the recently issued Practice Direction No. 1 of 2019 of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC), which sets out procedures and protocols for the use of judicial mediation in family law matters in the FCC. The petition requests that the House of Representatives legislatively clarify that judicial mediation shall play no role in the resolution of disputes arising under federal legislation.

It is an essential feature of the Australian system of government that our courts are independent and free of interference from the executive arm of government. Federal courts are each responsible for their own operation and management.

I note that Practice Directions are generally designed to provide information to litigants and legal practitioners on how the court manages its processes and procedures. Directions work in accompaniment with legislation and Rules of Court.

I understand that the arrangements for judicial mediation set out in Practice Direction No. 1 of 2019 of the FCC have been designed to complement the existing arrangements for the resolution of family law disputes in a way that is consistent with the proper role of judges and courts in our constitutional system. I also understand that the Direction was issued by the Chief Judge in consultation with the Court's Legal Committee.

Thank you again for bringing these concerns to my attention.

Yours sincerely

from the Attorney-General, Mr Porter(Petition No. EN0836)