Call to Parties: Time for a judicial commission

Preservation of a strong and independent judiciary is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice and the promotion of the separation of powers.

The consultation draft of the Queensland Law Society Call to Parties document for the 2020 state election seeks members’ views on this crucial topic, saying that a judicial commission will enhance openness, transparency and independence of the judicial system.

The consultation draft seeks a commitment to the establishment of a judicial commission, initially to:

  1. Organise and supervise an appropriate scheme of continuing education and training, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural capability training of judicial officers. The commission should also be responsible for considering ways to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander judicial officers across the state.
  2. Examine complaints against judicial officers, including delays in delivering judgments and inappropriate or unreasonable conduct directed towards workers or persons appearing before the officer.

The call for a judicial commission is echoed on a national level, with the Law Council of Australia saying that strengthening Australia’s systems of integrity, accountability, and anti-corruption is critical to public confidence in all arms of government, including the judiciary.

The Law Council has been consistent in its submissions to several inquiries supporting the establishment of an independent federal judicial commission to promote transparency and accountability for judges.

It says that any allegation of serious misconduct or corruption or concern about judicial capacity in the federal judiciary should be dealt with separately in a standalone federal judicial commission established by a separate Act of Parliament, possibly based on the model operating in New South Wales, which enables an independent, procedurally fair and transparent means of dealing with complaints against judicial officers.

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Members are invited to review the QLS Call to Parties draft consultation document and provide their feedback to policy@qls.com.au by 13 August 2020. The Queensland state election is due to be held on 31 October.

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