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Friday, 22 February 1985
Page: 83

Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Attorney-General)(3.12) —I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the High Court Justices (Long Leave Payments) Act 1979 and the Judges (Long Leave Payments) Act 1979 to provide for pro rata payment in lieu of long leave to judges of the High Court and other Federal courts, who retire with entitlement to a pension under the Judges Pensions Act 1978 although not having served for 10 years, and to exclude judges of the Northern Territory Supreme Court from the scope of the Judges (Long Leave Payments) Act.

The two Acts now being amended were enacted following parliamentary pressure for legislation to regulate payments to retiring judges in lieu of long leave. The effect of these Acts is that judges of the High Court and other Federal judges are entitled to a maximum of one year's salary on retirement in lieu of long leave not taken, subject to a requirement of a minimum of 10 years service as a judge. Entitlements under the Judges (Long Leave Payments) Act extend to office holders who have the status of a judge of a court created by the Parliament.

In 1981 the Judges Pensions Act was amended to provide that a judge who, upon reaching a mandatory retiring age, is required to retire before serving the 10-year qualifying period for a pension will be entitled to a pro rata pension after six years service. No change was then made to the legislation providing for payment in lieu of long leave not taken. Consequently, we have the situation that a judge who is forced to retire before reaching 10 years service, either because of reaching a mandatory retiring age or because of invalidity, has no right to payment in lieu of accrued long leave. This is out of step with other long leave schemes, for example, that applying to Commonwealth employees under the Long Service Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1976. Further, the absence of any pro rata entitlement to payment in lieu of long leave is a disincentive to older persons accepting judicial appointment.

The effect of the present Bill is to ensure that a judge who retires on pension before having served for 10 years, whether because of invalidity or having reached a mandatory retiring age, will be entitled to a lump sum payment in respect of accrued long leave. Thus, for example, a judge who retires in the circumstances mentioned after having served for seven years and who had not taken long leave in that time would be entitled to 70 per cent of his or her annual salary. These are special cases. The Government believes that 10 years should otherwise remain as the qualifying period in the normal case for payment both of pension and of a lump sum in lieu of long leave not taken.

The approximate cost of the proposed amendment in this financial year, 1984-85, will be $61,000. The approximate cost in the next financial year, 1985-86, will be $110,000. Unless an eligible judge retires on invalidity grounds, there are no anticipated costs in the following financial year.

The effect of the definition of 'Judge' in the Judges (Long Leave Payments) Act is to apply that Act to judges of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. The conditions of service of these judges are now a matter for the Northern Territory Government; consequently the definition is to be amended so that it does not include judges of that Court. The Act will, of course, continue to apply to judges of the Federal Court who also hold commissions on the Northern Territory Supreme Court. I commend the Bill to the House.

Mr N. A. Brown —I thank the Attorney-General for the advance copies of the Bill and the second reading speech. They will enable the Opposition more properly to reach a decision on the matter.

Debate (on motion by Mr N. A. Brown) adjourned.