Judicial appointments in Australia are being reviewed amid calls from the Coalition for the Senate to be scrapped, a new study has found.
The National Centre for Law and Justice (NCLJ) released a report on Tuesday into whether the Senate’s ability to select its own judges should be suspended.
The report found that in the last parliament the Senate could elect up to two-thirds of the federal judges, but since 2015 it has only appointed about 15% of its own judicial vacancies.
“The Senate has appointed about 5,500 judges and about half of them have been confirmed,” the NCLJ said.
“It seems reasonable to assume that this number would be even higher under the current circumstances, with the Senate having to select a majority of judges to fill vacancies.”
Given that the Senate only appoints about 10% of the Federal Court’s judges, this means that it has a serious problem in ensuring that judges are properly selected.
“The report also found that of the total number of federal judges in the Senate, the Greens and the Liberal Party both have the highest number of judges.
The Greens, which is currently on the Government’s shortlist to replace retiring Justice David Black, have already nominated a judge.
The Liberal Party, which has nominated two judges, has nominated none.
“The Government has made the case that the selection process must be open and transparent, and that the public has a right to know the candidates who are nominated for judicial appointments,” he said. “
A system of judicial selection should be open, transparent and democratic,” NCLS President and CEO James Fergusson said.
“The Government has made the case that the selection process must be open and transparent, and that the public has a right to know the candidates who are nominated for judicial appointments,” he said.
“[But] it is also clear that the Government does not have the ability to implement its proposed changes.
The Government must urgently act to ensure that judicial appointments are appropriately targeted to suit the needs of the Australian community, not to suit partisan interests.”