Legislative Council, Thursday 17 August 2023
Ms FORREST question to LEADER of the GOVERNMENT in the LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL, Mrs HISCUTT
To follow-up on my adjournment speech on 30 May my questions is:
1. Will or has the Attorney General and Minister for Justice work with the Burnie City Council to ensure FCFCOA matters can be dealt with in Burnie;
a. If so, what action has been taken;
2. Has a suitable location in Burnie been identified to ensure equity of access to justice for all Tasmanians particularly matters related to families and children of the North West and West Coasts;
a. If so;
i. where is this; and
ii. when is it available?
b. If not; until the new Burnie Court is built, how will access to justice for these families be supported?
The Department of Justice has regularly met with relevant senior officials from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA) to provide assistance to the FCFCA to source alternative accommodation on the North-West coast.
Following the unavailability of the Burnie Arts and Function Centre, my Department met several times with senior officials from the FCFCA with regard to other options to provide whatever assistance they could, many of which have been explored by the FCFCA and my Department, and are unfortunately unsuitable given the limited options on the North-West Coast that can accommodate the requirements of a court.
While my Department of Justice did not work directly with Burnie City Council as part of that process, I am very willing to do so if it is necessary in the future for the benefit of the Tasmanian Community. However, the sourcing of suitable premises for the FCFCA is a matter for the Federal Labor Government. Therefore, I have recently written to the Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP, with respect to the opportunity for the Federal Government to invest in the Burnie Courts Complex to provide long term security for the FCFCA, while we consider the design phase of the Complex. To date, I have not received a response to that time sensitive offer.
In the interim, the Supreme Court of Tasmania has now made arrangements with the FCFCA to allow it to again sit on the circuit from the Supreme Court in Burnie.