Eight new magistrates a good start to better access to justice in Queensland: QLS
12 October 2017
Queensland’s peak solicitor body has applauded the state government’s appointment of eight new magistrates across the state – including three charged with the specific task of helping combat domestic and family violence.
Queensland Law Society president Christine Smyth said the appointments of two solicitors and six barristers to the Townsville, Mackay, Caboolture, Brisbane and Southport Magistrates Courts – the state’s busiest court – would provide much-needed resources.
Ms Smyth said she was particularly delighted three of the appointees – Stephen Courtney (Townsville), Louise Shepherd and Clare Kelly (both to Southport) – had been specifically chosen to act as Domestic and Family Violence Court magistrates.
“The Society has consistently supported the idea of specialist courts across Queensland, and we applaud the Government for recognising that more domestic violence courts are needed,” Ms Smyth said.
“Violence is a scourge in our community and domestic and family violence is a stain on our society.
“Those who suffer from these types of violence must have access to reliable and timely assistance from our justice system, and that is what these specialist courts provide.
Ms Smyth also acknowledged the appointment of Dennis Kinsella (Caboolture), Andrew Moloney (Brisbane Children’s Court), Mark Nolan (Mackay), Don MacKenzie and Kerrie O’Callaghan (both to Southport) – saying the legal profession would be unanimous in its agreement they will all be great servants to the people of Queensland in their new roles.
“I congratulate all eight appointees – including two from the solicitors branch of the profession – on their achievements to date and for their meritorious appointments as magistrates for Queensland,” Ms Smyth said.
“The Magistrate’s court is the peoples’ court and while we welcome appointments, we remain concerned at the lack of solicitors on the bench. Solicitors interact with the community on a daily basis. If we want more judicial officers with real life experience woven in with legal acumen we ask why then, more solicitors are not appointed to judicial positions, both to the Magistrate’s and higher courts? “
“Our magistrates are at the very forefront of our justice system, and we must always ensure that they are adequately resourced in order so that justice is served swiftly and adequately for all.
“I am especially pleased to see two of our very own – criminal solicitor Andrew Moloney and QCAT member Kerrie O’Callaghan – stepping into such honourable roles in our justice system as solicitors make fine and excellent members of our judiciary.’’
Ms Smyth said it was also pleasing to see half of the appointees would take to the bench at Southport Magistrate’s Court – the only courthouse servicing all of the Gold Coast, Queensland’s second largest city.
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