find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
Cabinet block on judges’ pay condemned

Cabinet block on judges’ pay condemned

THE RECENT furore surrounding judges and what they are paid, what they should be paid, and who’s trying to stop them filling up their deep pockets has now received the commentary of Victoria’s…

THE RECENT furore surrounding judges and what they are paid, what they should be paid, and who’s trying to stop them filling up their deep pockets has now received the commentary of Victoria’s peak judicial body.

While judges launch a public campaign against those that vetoed recommendations for their pay increase, Victoria awaits the final vote in parliament on this now political issue.

Victoria’s Attorney General Rob Hulls was overruled by his cabinet colleagues recently when they voted to block a pay rise for judges and magistrates of 13.6 per cent. Recommended by the Judicial Remuneration Tribunal, the pay increase would be an addition to last year’s 8 per cent increase.

So the state’s judges have launched an unprecedented attack on the Government, claiming a decision to block the increase would make judges and magistrates in Victoria the lowest paid in Australia.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Victorian Bar Council chairman Robin Brett QC said the Council was “very disappointed” at the Government. He said it had acted wrongly in two ways. The first was that it “effectively said it would be happy for the Victorian judiciary to be paid less than other states”. Brett said this stance had expressed “a lack of confidence in Victorian courts as well as the state’s judges”.

“Currently, Victorian judges and magistrates are paid less than their interstate equivalents,” Brett said. “The State Government has now apparently decided that they should continue to be paid less … This is the wrong message to the people of Victoria.”

While a Supreme Court judge in NSW is paid $258,960, their counterparts in Victoria receive $227,100. In Queensland that judge would receive $234,115. Similarly, while a magistrate in NSW is paid $186,450 and in Queensland $188,240, their peers in Victoria receive $157,500.

The Victorian Government had not justified why the state’s judges should be paid less than other states, Brett said. “They have a wages policy to keep all pay increases within a limit and they say that this request is outside the limit, so they are rejecting it,” he said.

The second mistake the Government had made was to turn judges’ remuneration into a political matter. Arguing the Government had announced they were going to use their numbers in the lower house to disallow the recommendation that the Tribunal had made, Brett said “this is putting the agenda back into the political arena”.

“This can only compromise the independence of the state’s judiciary,” Brett said. Claiming the current legislation on judicial remuneration was introduced by the current state Government for the purpose of enhancing judicial independence, Brett said “the Government’s announcement indicates that they have now gone back on this basic principle”.

Law Institute of Victoria president Chris Dale also told Lawyers Weekly he was concerned by views that the Government should not adopt the increase because it was out of line with community expectations, arguing that this seemed “entirely spurious”.

Also concerned by the way in which the veto was announced — via a leak to a newspaper without any consultation with the judiciary — Dale said “that must represent a low point in communications”.

“One hopes that there may be improvements in that regard in the future”, he said.

In SA, Attorney General Michael Atkinson said that state would not follow Victoria’s lead by trying to block pay rises for judges. Unlike in Victoria, decisions by the Independent Remuneration Tribunal in SA were final, he said. In December last year, the state’s judges received a pay rise of 9.2 per cent, despite the A-G’s pleas to not exceed an increase of 3.6 per cent.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Cabinet block on judges’ pay condemned
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...