The ACT is to get an eighth full-time magistrate after the Government announced $3.1 million in funding to the courts over the next four years.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the funding package also included $987,000 over four years for the Director of Public Prosecutions to employ extra staff, and $1.3 million for Legal Aid to employ two more staff members.
He said these extra resources would help both agencies deal with the increased workload as a result of the appointment of the eighth magistrate.
“Maintaining a fast and effective justice system that works for all Canberrans is a priority for this government, especially as the city’s population continues to grow,” Mr Ramsay said.
“An eighth magistrate means our courts can build on their excellent work from recent years, and also provide the Court with the resources it needs to meet increasing demand for years to come.”
Recruitment for the additional magistrate will begin soon and be conducted in line with the provisions set out in the Magistrates Court Act 1930.
Mr Ramsay said the appointment of a new magistrate would also ease the pressures being experienced within the coronial system.
“The Government is committed to providing timely access to justice where a person has died in circumstances that require the involvement of the Coroner’s Court,” Mr Ramsay said.
“The Government expects the appointment of an additional magistrate – combined with recent amendments to the Coroners Act that have narrowed the focus of the Coroner’s Court and simplified inquest processes – will ease the burden currently being experienced.”
Mr Ramsay said the extra magistrate would also boost the capacity of the courts to provide justice for those most vulnerable in the community, such as victims of domestic or family violence.
“The trauma affecting individuals in these cases can be significant, and having the capacity to progress these cases expediently can at least go some way to starting the healing process for these individuals,” he said.