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Greens still talking to Govt on Judicial Matters

31 March 2004

Greens still talking to Govt on Judicial Matters

Green MP Nandor Tanczos today clarified the Green position on the Judicial Matters Bill, saying that he was still talking with Attorney General Margaret Wilson about the possibility of a Judicial Appointments Commission.

However he warned that his party may not support the Bill if progress was not made on appointments.

The Judicial Matters Bill is currently before the Justice and Electoral Select Committee and is due to be reported back to the House in the first week of May. The legislation sets up a procedure for investigating complaints against judges and provides for a foreshortened process for increasing the maximum number of judges, which currently requires its own piece of legislation.

"During the select committee hearings last year on the Supreme Court, some members of the public raised concerns about the judicial appointments process," said Nandor, the Green Party Justice Spokesperson.

"The Green Party would like to see a more transparent judicial appointment process which allows input from laypeople.

"The Greens signalled their support for a Judicial Appointments Commission with the Government during the passage of the Supreme Court legislation and they indicated appointments could be addressed in the Judicial Matters Bill.

"That hasn't happened so far, but discussions are continuing. We need to see something substantial and a promise to talk sometime in the future about an appointments commission won't cut it."

The Greens are generally supportive of the Bill's intention to introduce an independent complaints process for judges and are continuing discussions with the government about ways to move forward.

"We are also not opposed to a simpler process for increasing the maximum number of judges, but it raises reasonable fears that it may make 'panel packing' more likely. The question of who appoints those judges therefore becomes even more significant.

"A process that allows judicial recommendations to be more transparent, while retaining some accountability to Parliament, would help address those concerns," said Nandor.

ENDS

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