Queensland’s Magistrates Courts are on schedule to clear backlogs created as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and return to “pre-COVID operating levels” by the end of July.
Chief Magistrate Judge Terry Gardiner said today that Magistrates Courts in Townsville and in the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast regions had already returned to normal operating levels, with the rest of the state expected to follow next month.
Judge Gardiner made the comments during a speech to welcome newly appointed Magistrate Eion Mac Giolla Ri at Brisbane’s George Street Magistrates complex.
“(Magistrate Mac Giolla Ri’s) appointment is important to the court as we continue the recovery period from the (COVID-19) pandemic,” he said.
“I am pleased to report that the Magistrates Courts in the Townsville, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast regions have returned to pre-COVID operating levels.
“The rest of the state is tracking to return to pre-COVID levels of active cases by the end of next month.”
He said Magistrate Mac Giolla Ri’s appointment was the first of seven magistracy vacancies to be filled within the next couple of months.
“These vacancies arise due to the retirements of Deputy Chief Magistrate Leanne O’Shea (Brisbane), Magistrates Brian Kilmartin (Beenleigh), Trevor Morgan (Pine Rivers), Stephanie Tonkin (Caloundra), Trevor Black (Cairns) and James McDougall (Brisbane),” Judge Gardiner said.
“And most recently, on June 1, we experienced the unexpected and very sad passing of Magistrate Donna MacCallum (Ipswich).”
Judge Gardiner made special mention of the fact Ms MacCallum, who was the regional coordinating magistrate and had served in the Ipswich jurisdiction since 2001, was the second woman to be appointed to Queensland magistracy and that September would have marked her 30 years of service on the bench.
Ms MacCallum also acted briefly as Queensland’s Chief Magistrate in 2005.
Magistrate Mac Giolla Ri is scheduled to preside in the Brisbane Magistrates Courts until December and then transfer to Mt Isa, more than 1800km north-east of Brisbane in the Gulf country region, for two years.