Senior members of Newcastle’s legal community joined with Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon today to call for a replacement judge to address the ‘dire’ overload at the Newcastle Registry of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
Ms Claydon stated that the Newcastle Registry has been down a senior judge for two months since the former Judge Matthew Myers was appointed to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into Indigenous incarceration.
“The Newcastle Registry is now close to a crisis point, with people having to wait months, if not years, for resolutions to their Family Circuit Court matters,” Ms Claydon said.
“The Attorney-General’s failure to fill this position is causing untold and unnecessary grief for families at what is already one of the most difficult times in their lives.”
Retired Federal Circuit Court Judge Giles Coakes said it is the responsibility of the Australian Government to provide appropriate and efficient judicial and court services to the people of the Newcastle Hunter region.
“It is something that residents not only deserve but to which they are entitled and need increasingly,” Judge Coakes said.
“The failure by the Attorney General to make a new appointment amounts, in my view, to inexcusable neglect by the Government to meet its’ responsibility. Newcastle Hunter residents ought to expect better from their Attorney General.”
President of the Hunter Valley Family Legal Practitioners Association Christopher White reiterated the urgency of the situation, saying Attorney-General George Brandis had expressly stated the vacancy would be resolved in consultation with the Court.
“To date, and despite the calls of the local family law profession, it is apparent the Attorney General has failed to take any proactive steps on the part of the Commonwealth Government to replace Judge Myers,” Mr White said.
“The Newcastle Registry of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia deals with some of the most complex cases in Australia. These cases often involve children who are at serious risk of harm following the breakdown of a family. In many cases which are before the Court, children have been exposed to extreme family violence, drug and alcohol abuse and significant mental ill-health on the part of one or both of their parents.
“The delay on the part of the Commonwealth Government to make a timely appointment to the Newcastle Registry of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is compounding what is already a horrific set of circumstances for many children within the Newcastle and greater Hunter region.”