The Queensland state election is fast approaching and one of the key areas of concern for QLS members, and the community at large, is the effective operation of our justice system.
In the QLS Queensland State Election 2020 Call to Parties Statement (Call to Parties), QLS has called on the next State Government to commit to the establishment of a judicial commission in Queensland. Commissions currently operate in some other Australian states and QLS has also supported calls for the establishment of a federal body.
We believe that a key responsibility of the commission should be to “(o)rganise and supervise an appropriate scheme of continuing education and training” for judicial officers. We see this issue as critical, not only for the effective operation of the courts but also for the health and wellbeing of judicial officers and court users, including the legal profession and its clients.
The Call to Parties Statement also makes specific calls for better resourcing for the justice system in Queensland. In our view, a holistic approach is needed to ensure the our justice system can cope with the demands placed on it and respond to changing environments, such as the effects of a global pandemic.
Continuing professional development, accessible support services and adequate resources must be part of a structured system. A judicial commission that provides and oversees this development and support will also assist with the body’s other purpose outlined in our Call to Parties Statement, which is to, “(e)xamine complaints against judicial officers, including delays in delivering judgments and inappropriate or unreasonable conduct directed towards workers or persons appearing before the officer”. When issues do arise which warrant complaint and investigation, there needs to be a clear and systematic process to respond. A judicial commission can give clear guidance and certainty to all parties involved.
As we have stated in this election period and in previous advocacy:
“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. A judicial commission will enhance openness, transparency and independence of the judicial system.”