House debates

Monday, 8 February 2016

Statements by Members

Family Court

Photo of Stephen JonesStephen Jones (Throsby, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a sad fact that 41 per cent of contested family law matters involve domestic violence. Over 80 per cent of Federal Circuit Court matters involve family law matters. Against this background, I am asking for the support of every parliamentarian to resolve the stand-off, the crisis, in the appointment of new family Federal Circuit Court judges at the Wollongong registry. Right now, the Wollongong family law docket, excluding divorce matters, has in excess of 590 matters. This is an increase of 20 per cent in the last 12 months alone with no changes in the resources allocated to the registry. If somebody makes an application today, they may get a mention for that matter in May, but there are no slots for a final hearing of the matter in this year alone. It is not unusual for a matter to lie two or three years before it gets a final hearing.

As anybody knows, when you are dealing with Family Court matters, you are often dealing with families who are under some of the greatest financial and psychological stresses. Against this background, you can understand that all Illawarra based members—including myself, the member for Cunningham and even the Liberal member for Gilmore—were surprised to learn that a new Federal Circuit Court judge was appointed to the Rockhampton-Mackay registry, where they have a fraction of the excess matters in place. I am asking the Attorney-General to listen to the voices of local members and resolve—(Time expired)