Justice Misc. (Increasing Judicial Retirement Age) Bill 2021 (No. 15)
Wednesday 25 August 2021, Second Reading speech
Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I rise to make a brief contribution in support of this bill. Maintaining a retirement for judges allows the judiciary a greater degree of separation from influence from the legislature and the Executive, gives them certainty of tenure and secures the impartiality for a judge carrying out their role.
A retirement age, in essence, sets a guaranteed period during which a judge can work, which thereby reinforces judicial independence, somewhat like tenure in academia. Judicial retirement ages are the product of a long history and in Australia have gone between periods of indefinite judicial appointment to lower retirement ages, which are gradually increased as time has gone on in some jurisdictions. We are now looking at increasing it again here in Tasmania.
For the purposes of maintaining judicial independence, I see the increase of the Tasmanian retirement age as being a good thing. It is one of the many issues that need to be considered when ensuring the independence of the judiciary and while it might be debated it should be scrapped altogether at this stage an increase from 72 to 75 is not unreasonable.
These additional three years will help to ensure continuity of leadership and knowledge in the courts, retain valuable institutional knowledge as it is passed on from older judges to younger ones and will contribute to more expedient disposition of the backlog of cases we have in Tasmania, as the Leader discussed in her second reading speech. I am sure we are all aware of the backlog that just keeps getting longer.
It is undeniable with age comes knowledge and expertise that can only be gained with experience. These additional three years could potentially make a great deal of positive difference in the way our judiciary develops. Judges do not merely become judges overnight, they become judges after a number of decades, of distinguished service to the legal profession and to the administration of justice. The longer we can retain these highly specialised skills it would follow that the better our legal system can be.
Mr President, I support the bill.