30 October 2015
After months of delays the Attorney-General George Brandis has finally acted and appointed a replacement judge to the Newcastle registry of the Federal Circuit Court.
The appointment of Mr Steven Middleton is most welcome and will provide some immediate relief to a court system that has suffered through the Attorney-General’s inaction. The appointment, however, won’t ease the backlog of cases that has built up because of the Liberal Government’s failure to provide adequate funding and resources to the Court.
The Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, has said that additional funding to the broader court system is required to help undertake risk assessments and provide urgent reports and case management involving family violence.
Mr Middleton’s appointment follows a period of four months where the Newcastle registry had to operate with just two judges, causing significant delays for families, parents, children and members of the public waiting for their court cases to be heard.
Despite warnings from the legal profession of the impact that a delay in appointing a replacement judge would cause, the Attorney-General went through a period of blame-shifting and deferral.
Acknowledgement must go to Jill Emberson and the team at 1233 ABC Newcastle for continuing to bring the issue to the public’s attention, and to retired Judge Coakes who through his speaking out on the issue, has been a valuable advocate to the families and children who have been impacted by these excessive delays.