5 September 2011

Magistrates want more money

| johnboy
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The ABC brings word that Canberra’s magistrates have joined the queue of those wanting a pay rise from the ACT Government.

The ACT Government’s changes were designed to share the legal work load more evenly between the magistrates and supreme court jurisdictions.

But in a submission to the ACT Remuneration Tribunal, the magistrates say the result has been an extraordinary increase in their court’s jurisdiction both in civil and criminal practice.

The submission explains that magistrates are dealing with more cases and mounting workloads, since being given the power to punish criminals with up to five years in jail and dealing with civil claims up to $500,000.

The magistrates say their pay should now be closer to that of judges in state district courts.

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creative_canberran11:11 pm 07 Sep 11

I would encourage everyone to have a seat in one of the Magistrates Court rooms one morning, Mondays are great, and see what they deal with. Sometimes it’s hard hitting* but often it’s a mind numbing quick succession of absolute crud. There’s the drunks, each one dealt with in 5 mins, the DPP stating what they did and then asked by the magistrate why they pissed on an ATM? Then there’s the petty, repeat criminals who are so well known, magistrates will say “Hey, saw you x weeks ago did I?” Finally there the worst cases, the ones where two sides of a broken family and police are outside as they deal with breached AVOs.

So they do deal with a broad range of issues, under tight time constraints and often in less than ideal circumstances. One shouldn’t downplay their role as a decision production line.

Now about the pay: the current magistrates salaries in NSW (and ACT) as determined 2010 are:
Magistrate and Children’s Magistrate: $265,300 (ACT: $262,728)
Deputy Chief Magistrate: $280,280
Chief Magistrate: $331,000 (ACT: $299,000)

Judges in NSW don’t receive a motor vehicle, they do however receive a “conveyance allowance” to cover fuel and maintenance of a private vehicle.
The remuneration for ACT judges also includes a travel and accommodation allowance. I’m not sure where Tooks got the idea they get a car as it’s not in their latest remuneration deal. There may be some scheme though I’m not aware of outside their remuneration that provides that entitlement, wouldn’t mind if a source could be provide for that.

I think increasing the remuneration to parity with NSW is fair. $70,000 though sounds a bit steep, a 30% pay rise is well beyond achieving parity and matching CPU increases.

*like the time I went in, the Registrar realised they hadn’t put a closed court sign up and that I’d been sitting there for 10mins watching and listening a Police sergeant give sensitive evidence. Registrar was very nice though and (after the magistrate mentioned my presence to her) came over and said I could stay so long as I didn’t make any notes and didn’t take any existing notes from the room.

easy, if more work is being channelled to the Magistrates now, just knock $70k off the Justices. problem solved.

Poor buggers. $262k a year (plus car). Yeah, they definitely should get the $70k payrise they’re after.

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