Election 2013 Western Australia March 9

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Justice Matters

WA Labor’s policy to judge the Judges

Labor Statement

A McGowan Government will establish the Western Australian Sentencing Council to ensure sentences handed out to criminals reflect the community's opinions, WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan said today.

Mr McGowan said the Council would be an independent body with nine members and report to the WA Parliament.

It will be chaired by the Chief Justice and include as members the Chief Judge, Chief Magistrate, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Commissioner of Police and, most importantly, two members of the public.

"It would also have a representative from both the Law Society of Western Australia and Legal Aid WA," Mr McGowan said.

"The Western Australian Sentencing Council will give the community the opportunity to have a direct say about what WA's sentencing regime should be.

"Judges are the last and only group in our society who are not subject to any accountability.

"WA Labor's plan put sentencing back in line with community expectations."

Mr McGowan said the Sentencing Council would investigate a particular offence, for example, domestic violence, and publish a discussion paper on the sentences which were being imposed on offenders, the circumstances behind those sentences and to canvass sentencing options.

"Members of the public would then be invited to make submissions and the Sentencing Council would take into account their views, then publish a final paper comprising guidelines for judges sentencing for that particular offence," he said.

"It will be an effective, inclusive way in dealing with many of the offences which our community is concerned with and give the community a direct say in what the sentencing regime should be.

"WA Labor will also introduce a Western Australian Judicial Commission, to enable members of the public to lodge a complaint against any judicial officer.

"The Judicial Commission would go beyond the existing complaints process against the judiciary, which are currently made to the Attorney General or the relevant Member of Parliament.

"Under a McGowan Government, the public would be able to submit a complaint to the Judicial Commission, an independent body which had these options: informally caution a judge, officially reprimand a judge, suspend a judge or make a recommendation to Parliament for the dismissal of a judge.

"The Western Australian Judicial Commission would comprise the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge of the District Court, the Chief Magistrate of the Magistrate's Court, the Chief Judge of the Family Court plus a respected community member.

"A quorum will always involve the presence of a respected community member.

"To ensure its independence from Government, the Judicial Commission will have a public representative who is chosen from a panel of three eminent persons appointed by the WA Governor."

Mr McGowan said WA Labor would also establish a college of judicial education within the Department of the Attorney General and chaired by the Chief Justice.

"Its functions will involve organising annual judicial conferences and publishing education papers for the judiciary on current topics, for example, a prevalent offence or racial or gender issues," he said.

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