Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia




The Coalition has successfully prompted Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to act to give judges in the Federal Circuit and Family Courts protection from being found personally liable in matters over which they preside.

Media reports indicate the Government will introduce legislation in the Senate next week which will grant the same rules of judicial immunity for Division 2 judges that higher level judges already have.

The Bill is being introduced after Shadow Attorney-General Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash wrote twice to Attorney-General Dreyfus in recent weeks calling for urgent action. She also highlighted the issue in the media, and in her address to the Australian Bar Association’s annual conference.

“We all want out legal system to be fair. But the Stradford decision raised questions about whether judges would be able to decide cases without fear or favour.”

“I am pleased that the Attorney-General has finally listened to my advice that he should act on this matter,’’ she said.

“This issue mainly affects families going through family court proceedings. We heard last week in Senate Estimates that the Court had been forced into transferring matters to other courts. This can only mean added cost and delay for Australian families going through some of the most difficult period of their lives.”

In September media reports indicated that some judges were considering to refuse to sit on cases until the matter was dealt with by the Attorney-General.

The situation arose following the matter of Stradford (a pseudonym) v Judge Vasta in which Judge Vasta, a judge of Division 2 of the Federal and Family Court was found personally liable in respect to proceedings over which he presided.

In her letter to the Attorney-General, Senator Cash pledged that the Coalition would work constructively with the Government in relation to any legislation required to ensure judges can exercise their judicial functions without fear or favour.

“We will now review the legislation when it comes before the Senate. Hopefully it will be drafted in a way that ends the uncertainty once and for all,’’ she said.

“The issue needs to be resolved quickly to give judges certainty and allow our court system to function properly,’’ Senator Cash said.