Court merger off the table
A planned merger between the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court has officially been canned by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.
On Friday 8 June the Attorney-General released the Strategic Review of Small and Medium Agencies in the Attorney-General’s portfolio (Skehill Review).
The review looked into a multitude of agencies under the Attorney-General’s portfolio, including the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Native Title Tribunal and the Federal Court and the Family Court.
The review made a number of criticisms of the efficiency of Australia’s court system and recommended the implementation of an administrative arrangement to foster greater cooperation between the separate Commonwealth courts.
The report envisaged that such an arrangement would allow the Government to assess what is being achieved every six months and also if, in the long-term, a “more dramatic (legislatively-driven) structural change option, should be implemented”.
“We want to encourage administrative collaboration between the courts to ensure that court resources are directed where they should be, delivering justice for all Australians,” said Nicola Roxon.
Despite calling for greater cooperation between the various Australian courts, it did not recommend a merger between the Family Court and the Federal Magistrate’s Court.
The Skehill Review also called for the transfer of the mediation functions of native title claims from the Native Title Tribunal to the Federal Court.
Nicola Roxon also used the timing of the release of the Skehill Review to announce that the name of the Federal Magistrates Court and the title of Federal Magistrates would be changed after a period of consultation with the courts.