Retrospective legislation had to be applied in Queensland following the appointment of coroner Michael Barnes to magistrate in June.
Barnes temporarily served in the position in June in breach of the Coroners Act 2003, The Courier Mail reports. He presided over more than 100 decisions during his three-week secondment.
Before the amendment, the Coroners Act had stated: "While a magistrate holds appointment as the State Coroner, the only functions and powers that the magistrate has are the functions and powers of the State Coroner".
The Coroner's Act amendment was enacted on 26 August, with the Queensland Government stating in the explanatory memorandum that the changes were merely "to improve operational efficiency in the coronial regime".
Section 50 (6) of the Coroners and Other Acts Amendment Act 2009 states that "Despite subsections (4) and (5), the State Coroner-(a) may be appointed to act as, and perform the functions and exercise the powers of, the Deputy Chief Magistrate."
The amendment also specifies that sections of the Magistrates Act apply to the State Coroner while acting as Deputy Chief Magistrate.
Opposition justice spokesman Lawrence Springborg has criticised the Queensland Government for failing to inform the Parliament that the additional amendments to the Coroners Act retrospectively affected cases.
"We were only told it was about addressing a technical anomaly to allow the State Coroner to act as a magistrate," he said.
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