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New federal court to open in 2011

A new federal military court is set to be established in Australia, the Attorney General announced today._x000D_

user iconThe New Lawyer 25 May 2010 The Bar
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A new federal military court is set to be established in Australia.

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland and Minister forDefence, Senator John Faulkner, have today announced the Government’s decisionto establish the new court, the Military Court of Australia.

The new court, established under Chapter III of theAustralian Constitution, will replace the interim measures put in placefollowing the High Court’s decision in Lane v Morrison, whichlast year invalidated the Australian Military Court established by the previousGovernment. 


“Judicial officers appointed to the new Military Courtof Australia will have the same independence and constitutional protectionsthat apply in other federal courts,” McClelland said.

To ensure that the new court has the necessaryunderstanding of the requirements and critical nature of military discipline,all judicial officers appointed to the court must have either past militaryexperience or a familiarity with the services.  They may not, however, beserving ADF members, nor members of the Reserves. 

“This new specialist court will deliver a system ofmilitary justice for ADF members that combines the necessary independence andconstitutional protections for the judiciary, with an understanding of thevital importance of military discipline in the operation of our armed forces,”Senator Faulkner said.

“Timely and fair trials in the new court will enhancemilitary justice and promote discipline in the ADF, which in turn will contributeto improved morale and operational effectiveness,” he said.

“After last year’s High Court ruling that theAustralian Military Court (AMC) established by the former government wasunconstitutional, I announced that the Government would move quickly to putinterim arrangements in place to ensure continuation of the military justicesystem, and that we would move to a Chapter III resolution for the militaryjustice system,” Senator Faulkner said.

“The new Military Court of Australia will form part ofa restructured federal court system in which the Federal Magistrates Court willcontinue to hear general federal law matters,” McClelland said.

Existing Judges of the Federal Court and FederalMagistrates Courts with the requisite background may be offered dual commissionsto the new military court.

“Under the new arrangements, a lower tier of theFamily Court will be established and commissions offered to Federal Magistrateswho undertake mainly family law work,” McClelland said.

“This new structure will achieve a more integrated andefficient system in order to effectively deliver legal and justice services toboth the civilian and defence community.” 

The Government is now consulting withthe courts and the Law Council of Australia to finalise the restructureprocess. Meanwhile, it's expected the new court will open in late 2011. 

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