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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7862

Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:12 PM) —It is not an oversight, and the senator is correct to point it out. The senator might also point out the other change in relation to the prescribed authority going to judges who have served for a period of five years. The effect of reducing the time period from 10 years to five years increases the size of the pool. It is also true that removing an age constraint also increases the size of the pool. I cannot say by how many judges the pool will be increased.

The clear approach the opposition are proposing here is a cascading amendment. We want to try and ensure that the prescribed authority is a retired judge, and I am sure increasing the pool of retired judges will assist the Attorney-General in having an adequate panel to draw from. As I have indicated, I do not want to see some logistical or technical problem mean that there are insufficient judges to undertake this task. That is the spirit in which the opposition have proposed this amendment. You are correct to point out that change and I have identified another one, possibly to save you asking a follow-up question. The amendment has been worded in this way to ensure that we maximise the pool of retired judges and that, if a retired judge is not available, we maximise the available pool of judges serving in the state jurisdictions—that is, in the state or territory supreme courts, district courts or their equivalent. Then it cascades into a third tier, which I explained at some length in my earlier contribution in relation to judges who are presidents, presidential members and deputy presidents of the AAT. It is quite deliberate and it has the effect of widening the pool from which the prescribed authority can be drawn.