THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
Government response to the Australian Law Reform Commission Report on Judicial Impartiality and the Law on Bias
The Albanese Government has given in-principle support to the establishment of a federal judicial commission as a transparent and independent means to address concerns about the conduct of judges and reinforce public trust in the judicial system.
The establishment of a federal judicial commission is one of 14 recommendations in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) report on judicial impartiality and the law on bias “Without Fear or Favour”.
The ALRC found that, in general, the Australian public has a high level of confidence in Australian judges and courts, that the Australian judiciary is highly respected internationally, and that the substantive law on actual or apprehended bias does not require amendment.
The Commonwealth’s response to the ALRC’s report, released today, addresses the three recommendations directed to the Commonwealth Government and to the Commonwealth Attorney-General.
These recommendations are that the Australian Government should:
- Establish a federal judicial commission;
- Develop a more transparent process for appointing federal judicial officers on merit; and
- Collect, and report annually on, statistics regarding the diversity of the federal judiciary.
I am a longstanding supporter of a federal judicial commission to deal with complaints against judges.
The Government will now consult closely with the federal courts and other key stakeholders on the recommended establishment of a federal judicial commission.
The Government is already acting to restore integrity in the judicial appointments process by establishing a more transparent, merit-based approach.
The Albanese Government is also committed to improving diversity in the federal judiciary and will engage with the federal courts to consider the best approaches to data collection and reporting on characteristics of the judiciary.
The Government notes the remaining 11 recommendations directed at the federal courts, the Council of Chief Justices of Australia and New Zealand, and the Law Council of Australia. The Government will consult with these entities on these recommendations where appropriate.
The Government Response to the Australian Law Reform Commission Report Without Fear or Favour: Judicial Impartiality and the Law on Bias is available here.
Thursday, 29 September 2022