Reducing court backlogs in Tasmania

Elise Archer,Attorney-General and Minister for Justice

As Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, I am committed to introducing reform to the State’s court system.

I acknowledge that delays, particularly now due to COVID-19, in the court system continue to lead to a backlog of cases in the Supreme Court and improvements can be made. This is why I have previously committed, as a matter of priority, to introducing legislation aimed at administrative and procedural change that will reduce the backlog.

Today, I was pleased to table the Justice Miscellaneous (Court Backlog and Related Matters) Bill 2020 in State Parliament. This Bill has been developed and progressed in close consultation with key legal stakeholders, including the Magistrate and Supreme Courts and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It includes a range of reforms already passed through the Parliament in the Magistrates Court reform package, that have been identified as changes that could be introduced earlier than the commencement of that Act.

In addition to the extensive assistance provided by legal stakeholders through working and advisory groups, a consultation version of the Bill was also released for public consultation via the Department of Justice website.

Some of the reforms in the Bill aimed at reducing court backlogs include:

  • amendments to the Justices Act 1959, the Criminal Code Act 1924 and related Actsto implement preliminary proceedings reforms;
  • minimising unnecessary inefficiencies in the movement of matters between the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court;
  • amendments to bail provisions to improve efficiencies in the bail process and avoid unnecessary hearings for bail in the Supreme Court; and
  • introducing a number of new minor summary offences that mirror more serious crimes enabling the prosecution to exercise discretion and ensure a matter is dealt with in a way that is appropriate for the nature and scale of the specific offending.

These changes will ensure that the Supreme Court’s time is not unnecessarily used to deal with matters that could be more quickly and efficiently dealt with in the Magistrates Court.

I take this opportunity to thank the numerous legal stakeholders for their substantial input and contribution to this important law reform.

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