A plan by the Victorian Government to axe the office of Justice of the Peace has been withdrawn following a zealously pursued campaign by Justices of the Peace (JPs), the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition and community organisations.
However, the Government may still implement plans to introduce a five-year limit to JPs' terms of office, renewable only by the Victorian Attorney-General or public servants, without public consultation.
Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced the Government's intention to abolish JPs in June 2009, stating: "It is open to debate whether there is still a need for Justices of the Peace in the 21st century."
Hulls's comments were based on his belief that JPs were superfluous because the witnessing of documents, one of a JP's primary duties, could be undertaken by various other professionals under the Evidence Act 2008.
At the time, Hulls's comments were met with stiff opposition by the Coalition, and not much has changed.
"Abolishing JPs would waste the time of the frontline police, who would spend countless hours witnessing documents when they should be on the street trying to stem Victoria's rising tide of violent crime," said shadow Attorney-General Robert Clark in a statement this week.
Clark said the Government's backdown was a welcome move, but stated that the Coalition would "be vigilant" against any future attempts to abolish JPs "without good reason or independent safeguards".