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What QLS members want from the next Federal Government

Queensland Law Society has prepared a consultation draft of the federal election 2022 Call to Parties Statement (Call to Parties) in anticipation of the upcoming federal election.

The Call to Parties outlines key areas of concern for Queensland’s legal profession across a number of practice areas, including access to justice issues, funding and resourcing for federal courts, tribunals and commissions, and the need for a federal judicial commission. It calls on the political parties and candidates seeking election to commit to specific actions to address these areas of concern.

The areas of concern currently included have been compiled by QLS after an initial round of consultation with QLS policy committees. However, given the diffuse and varied nature of Queensland’s legal profession, QLS is releasing the draft Call to Parties for consultation with the broader legal profession to ensure the issues canvassed in the document accurately reflect the concerns of the Queensland legal profession.

From the preliminary consultation, it was clear that access to justice and appropriate legal services remain a major concern for Queensland practitioners. Accordingly, QLS has raised access to justice as a key issue in the Call to Parties and has called for further action from the Australian Government to ensure the community receives appropriate advice and assistance, no matter how they enter the justice system.

QLS is seeking a commitment from the Australian Government to supplement the existing level of federal legal assistance funding by an additional $300-$400 million a year across criminal, civil and family law matters.

QLS has also called for future funding to legal assistance services to be determined by a transparent and evidence-based model that is adequate, predictable, sustainable and long-term, and that the eligibility tests for service, including means tests, are appropriate.

Alongside further funding for legal assistance services, QLS has called on the Australian Government to appropriately fund and resource federal courts, tribunals and commissions, including the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and the Fair Work Commission.

The Call to Parties states that appropriately resourcing federal courts, tribunals and commissions includes appointing a sufficient number of judges, promptly filling judicial vacancies and adequately resourcing federal registries.

Another issue of importance to QLS is the need to ensure a strong and independent justice system, which is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice and the promotion of the separation of powers. To promote a strong and independent justice system, QLS has called for a commitment from the Australia Government to establish the following institutions:

  • a judicial commission to enhance openness, transparency and independence of the judicial system
  • a Commonwealth Integrity Commission to address allegations of corruption at a federal level.

At the time of writing, the federal election has not been called; although, we note the Australian Government has until 21 May 2022 to hold the election.1

The Call to Parties document can be found on the QLS website.

Members are encouraged to provide their comments or feedback on the Call to Parties to QLS Policy by COB 8 April 2022.

Once the Call to Parties is finalised, it will be sent to parties, candidates and other stakeholders, with any responses published on QLS platforms for members to consider.

Yale Hudson-Flux is a graduate intern at Queensland Law Society.

Footnote
1 Parliament of Australia, Timing for the 2022 federal election.

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