In Legal Affairs

Victoria Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu

Coalition To Slash Court Delays

Victor P Taffa

• Transfer excess Department of Justice policy advisers and other public servants to work in the Director of Public Prosecution’s office, Victoria Legal Aid and the courts

• Vest management of court administrative staff and IT systems in the new Courts Executive Service

• Agree with the courts on a comprehensive range of published measures of court performance

• Work with courts to enable judges to be based at major regional centres

• Provide for online filing of all paperwork, online directions hearings and online notifications to courts of defendants’ legal aid status

• Reduce complexity of jury directions and improve information provided to jurors

• End mandatory pre-litigation procedures for debt recovery and other inappropriate proceedings

• End raids on the Public Purpose Fund and scrap Labor’s proposed cuts to the Appeal Costs Fund.

A Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition government will slash court delays with a comprehensive package of reforms, Coalition Leader Ted Baillieu said today.

“We need to be able to bring alleged offenders to justice more quickly and reduce the trauma and anxiety of long waits for victims and witnesses.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“Due to Labor’s interference and bungling, Victoria has become a state where justice delayed is justice denied.”

“Our state’s criminal case waiting lists have grown by 36 % since 2003. Victoria now has Australia’s longest waiting lists for Supreme Court appeals, for County Court trials, in the Magistrates Court and in the Children’s Court.”

“As at 30 June last year, there were 42,508 criminal cases awaiting trial in Victoria’s courts, compared with 26,085 cases in NSW.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“Poorly drafted legislation, intrusive bureaucracy and bungled IT projects have made it harder rather than easier for our courts to deliver justice.”

“A Coalition government will boost staffing in Victoria Legal Aid, the Office of Public Prosecutions and the courts by transferring 250 excess Department of Justice policy advisers, Victorian Government Solicitors Office lawyers and other staff.”

“Around 200 Department of Justice public servants in the Courts and Tribunals Unit, who currently spend much of their time supervising and second-guessing the courts, will come under the direct control of the new Courts Executive Service we will establish to be run by the courts themselves providing a real boost to hands-on court administrative staff in Melbourne and in regional and country courts.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“Instead of being forced to spend their time giving Policy advice to an Attorney-General bereft of his own ideas, and in unnecessary litigation such as fighting FOI requests, a further 50 highly-skilled and often legally-qualified public servants will be transferred or seconded from the Department of Justice to make a real difference in providing timely justice working in the DPP’s office or for Victoria Legal Aid.”

“A Coalition Government will transfer management and administration of the courts to the new Courts Executive Service we will establish, with staffing and budget allocations under the direct control of the courts.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“We will also give the courts control of their own IT systems, free from the dead hand of Government Bureaucracy.”

“As part of the establishment of the CES, a Coalition Government in consultation with the Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee will agree with the courts on a comprehensive range of performance measures to be published by the courts and the CES.”

“These will cover matters such as the numbers of cases heard by judges and magistrates, times taken between hearings and judgement, and times between cases being ready for trial and trials occurring.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“We will also work with the CES to enable judges to be based in the major regional centres of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Latrobe Valley (Morwell) on an ongoing basis, rather than just on short-term circuit visits as at present. This will provide greater continuity and a substantial boost to productivity by slashing time lost due to travelling time and handover issues.”

“As well, we will work with the CES to resolve outstanding issues with Labor’s bungled CJEP and ICMS, to ensure ongoing compatibility and efficient work flow and data transfer between the courts’ and VCAT’s information and communications systems and the systems used by Police, the DPP, Victoria Legal Aid, the Department of Justice and other relevant bodies.”

We will support the CES to introduce online filing of all paperwork, with parallel paper-based documentation only where needed by disadvantaged parties, and also online notification to the court by Victoria Legal Aid of the status of all legal aid requests for cases before the court so that cases aren’t abandoned at the last minute due to problems with Legal Aid.

“We will also support the courts to introduce on-line directions and similar decision-making either by remote conferencing or by text-based exchanges.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“A Coalition Government will amend Labor’s recently passed Civil Procedure Act to make clear that pre-litigation procedures are not required where they are inappropriate, such as in debt-recovery type proceedings or where they would be unfair to a disadvantaged litigant.”

“Labor has repeatedly added to the complexity, time and cost of trials through legislating to impose ever more complicated and detailed requirements on judges as to the directions they give to juries.”

“However, Labor has failed to act on the Victorian Law Reform Commission report which they themselves commissioned on how to remedy these problems.” Mr. Baillieu said.

“A Coalition Government will legislate in line with the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s report to reduce the complexity of the directions judges are required to give to juries and improve the ways in which information is presented and made available to juries.”

“The Coalition will also put an end to attempted raids on the Public Purpose Fund to pay for items that should be met by government, such as Labor’s attempted raid to pay for its Costs Court. We will also abandon Labor’s proposed cuts to the Appeal Costs Fund.”

“This will ensure that funds in the Public Purpose Fund remain available for Legal Aid, community legal centres and other public purposes.” Mr. Baillieu said.

Responsibility for Election Comment

Under the provisions of the relevant Electoral Act responsibility for all election comment is assumed by Editor Victor P Taffa. The Registered office of The Southern Thunderer is at 4/69a Darvall Road, West Ryde NSW 2114.


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