Federal Court invalid, lawyers to argue

Government lawyers have argued that decisions by the Federal Magistrates Court are invalid if federal magistrates were to win legal action over access to the judicial pension system, Senator George Brandis says.


In June, 58 out of 63 federal magistrates commenced legal action against the Commonwealth arguing that they should not be excluded from the judicial pension system.

On Tuesday night, opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis tabled a letter dated October 11 from the Australian Government solicitor who wrote to the solicitors for the federal magistrates.

Speaking under parliamentary privilege Senator Brandis said “it must be one of the most remarkable letters ever written on behalf of the Australian Commonwealth.”

“What it foreshadows, the Commonwealth will argue, is that if the federal magistrates’ action were to succeed then the necessary legal consequence would be that… no decision of the Federal Court is valid,” he said.

“The Act which created the court is invalid, or the magistrates appointments were invalid or they could not validly exercise judicial power.”

“Think of it, the Commonwealth of Australia… proposes to argue before the High Court that every decision of its principle trial court is invalid – every divorce, every custody order, every maintenance order.”

He said the Attorney General in instructing legal advisers to make such a submission was “extraordinarily reckless.”

“But such seems to be the Labor Party’s determination to destroy this court,” he said.

Senator Brandis said the Attorney General should tell its legal team not to persist with the argument because it would cause “unprecedented chaos for the Australian judiciary and community at large.”

Morale within the federal magistrates court is at an all time low because of ongoing uncertainty of the court’s future, he said.