Governance Institute recommends broad investigative powers for new Federal Judicial Commission
Governance Institute of Australia is urging the Federal Government to establish a new Federal Judicial Commission with as few restrictions as possible, to ensure High Court and Federal judges are held accountable for bad behaviour and that trust and integrity in the system is maintained.
The Institute’s submission in response to a discussion paper recommends the Commission has unhindered investigative powers and scope to carry out inquiries in relation to conduct that occurs during the term of judicial office, and that complainants should be able to remain anonymous where appropriate.
Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto said there was a strong need for the establishment of an independent investigative body at the federal level.
“It’s necessary that the Commission can receive complaints and investigate a justice of the High Court or any Federal Judge because no court should be above scrutiny,” Ms Motto said.
“The lack of an independent body to oversee and, if necessary, investigate the conduct of Federal judicial officers, is not consistent with the public’s perception of the need for judicial officers to have high ethical standards.”
To ensure judges are aware of their obligations and responsibilities, the Institute has called for an education function within the Commission that provides expertise and support to existing judicial education bodies.
Recent results from the Governance Institute’s 2022 Ethics Index suggest the public perception of ethical behaviour of the judiciary was in decline and highlighted the increased need for oversight of the people who preside in the highest echelons of Australia’s legal system.
“By instilling the proposed good governance frameworks, the Commission would foster greater transparency and accountability and give agency to parties seeking justice at the Federal level.” The Institute’s submission can be found here.
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