Tuesday, 20 March 2018
Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia; Order for the Production of Documents
I, and also on behalf of senators Pratt, Hanson and Hinch, move:
That the Senate—
(i) the failure of the Government to adequately fund the Federal Circuit Court of Australia and the Family Court of Australia,
(ii) that the Government's neglect of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia means that families facing the most serious family law issues can wait up to three years before a final trial,
(iii) that the continued failure by the Government to adequately resource the family law system has served to create a snowballing effect, the social and economic cost of which will continue to be felt by the community for years to come,
(iv) that the Government has failed to consult with the courts and the legal profession to formulate a clear plan for the future,
(v) that, in March 2014, a report by KPMG, commissioned by the Attorney-General's Department, into the funding of federal courts was presented to the Government but has still not been released,
(vi) that the KPMG report, obtained by The Australian in 2014, warned of significant cuts to service and staffing levels potentially leading to increased delays in litigation, the closure of smaller registries and cutbacks to services in regional Australia,
(vii) that the warnings in the KPMG report appear to have gone unheeded by the Government,
(viii) that, in 2014-15, as part of the response to the KPMG report, the Attorney-General's Department undertook additional work with Ernst & Young to develop costings scenarios involving federal courts, and
(ix) that KPMG's comprehensive report confirming the financial crisis facing federal courts and proposing a range of possible solutions, along with the Ernst & Young costings in response to the KPMG report, should be released prior to the Senate voting on the Family Law Amendment (Parenting Management Hearings) Bill 2017; and
(b) orders that there be laid on the table, by the Minister representing the Attorney-General, by 9am on 22 March 2018:
(i) the KPMG report into the funding of federal courts, and
(ii) the Ernst & Young costings in response to the KPMG report.
Notice of motion altered on 19 March 2018 pursuant to standing order 77.
The government is absolutely committed to ensuring the Federal Courts operate as efficiently as possible and facilitate greater access to justice for Australian families. Thanks to steps taken by this government in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 budgets, the courts have a clear path to financial sustainability. Measures include: a $22.5 million funding injection; $13 million efficiency dividend relief; streamlining courts administration, with all savings reinvested in the courts; $10.7 million for additional family consultants; $12.7 million to establish parent management hearings; and $40 million to transform and digitise court processes. Each of these measures will enhance the courts' capacity to provide services, particularly in family law.