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Tuesday, 8 November 1977
Page: 3144

Mr Lionel Bowen asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 23 August 1977:

(1)   Has Mr Kilduff, Chief Stipendiary Magistrate, Canberra, been unable to hear argument on the issue of bench warrants on charges of criminal conspiracy against Ian Viner, Malcolm Fraser and Joh Bjelke-Petersen because of the acute shortage of magistrates in Canberra.

(2)   If so, is the informant Daniel Bruce Munro being prejudiced by this delay.

(3)   wm he take urgent action to grant Mr Kilduff magisterial assistance to enable him to hear legal argument immediately so that these charges can be dealt with as expeditiously as aU other cases before the Canberra Court of Petty Sessions and not especially delayed as has happened until now.

(4)   Will he ensure that a hearing of the charges can take place by 15 September 1977 at a time suitable to the counsel for the informant

Mr Howard - The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(   1 ) to (4) The proceedings to which the honourable member refers came before the Chief Magistrate on 21 July 1977 for the purpose of fixing a date for their hearing. The date then fixed was 7 October 1977. The proceedings were part heard on 7 October 1977 and adjourned, the Chief Magistrate having reserved his decision on several submissions that had been made.

A Stipendiary Magistrate was appointed on 22 September 1977 to fill an existing vacancy on the Court On that date a Special Magistrate was also appointed. These appointments will help relieve the workload of the Court and are expected to make significant inroads into the number of cases awaiting hearing. I am informed that the Chief Magistrate has since invited practitioners and parties to apply to him for expedited hearing of urgent matters.

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