Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has introduced legislation to establish a Military Court of Australia, effectively reshaping the current federal court system.
The Military Court of Australia Bill 2010, co-sponsored by Defence Minister John Faulkner, will establish the Military Court of Australia as a separate court under Chapter III of the Constitution, offering the same independence and constitutional protections as other federal courts.
The new court will replace the temporary system established following the High Court's decision last year in Lane v Morrison, which effectively invalidated the Australian Military Court established by the previous Government.
Judicial officers of the Military Court of Australia will be required to have Australian Defence Force (ADF) experience or knowledge, and must not be serving ADF members or reservists.
Judges of the Federal Court and the Federal Magistrates Court may be offered dual roles in the new court.
"The new Military Court of Australia will strengthen our system of military justice. The new court meets the strict constitutional requirements for an independent court, but also retains a clear military character. This is important to ensure the court has the confidence of servicemen and women," said Faulkner.
The new Military Court of Australia is part of a restructured federal court system, which will be implemented via the Access to Justice (Family Court Restructure and Other Measures) Bill 2010.
Under the proposed new framework, the Family Court will be the only court to deal with family law matters and will comprise two Divisions: the Appellate and Superior Division, and the General Division.
The Federal Magistrates Court will continue to conduct federal law matters.
The Federal Court will continue in its present form and will administer the Military Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court.
"The proposed new structure will create efficiencies and facilitate a more streamlined approach in the delivery of justice to the Australian community, including members of the Australian Defence Force," McClelland said.