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High Court to open Sundays

High Court to open Sundays

The High Court will open its doors to the public on Sundays, Chief Justice Robert French announced on Friday, with a pointed reminder to the government of the need to secure more funding for the…

The High Court will open its doors to the public on Sundays, Chief Justice Robert French announced on Friday, with a pointed reminder to the government of the need to secure more funding for the court.

Justice French said the new opening hours, commencing October 4, would encourage more visitors to the court and highlight the important role it plays as the third branch of government, with hopes of opening the court on Saturdays in the future.

More than 130,000 people visited to court in the 2008/09 financial year, an increase of 30 percent compared with the previous year.

The initiative, reportedly driven by French, will reflect the opening hours of other institutions in Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle which are also open on weekends.

Funding for the new Sunday hours will be brought about through cost savings in other areas, meaning the institution will be forced to close one of its three courtrooms to visitors on non-sitting days.

The move comes as French has lobbied the Government for a new funding model to be applied to the court's budget to ensure its independence and effectiveness.

"We think it ought to be rebased and there should be a separate appropriation for the court," French told The Australian on Friday.

The court had previously been open on weekends since the building's construction in 1980, but this practice was abandoned in the 1990s due to budgetary constraints.

The first Sunday opening will feature a constitutional law moot, with Justice French residing.

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