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


30 MAY 2024


Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has removed the Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia from a panel that recommends who should be appointed as a Judge to the court he oversees.

In answers to questions from Shadow Attorney-General Senator Michaelia Cash in Senate Estimates today Attorney-General Department officials revealed Chief Justice Will Alstergren was no longer on the panel appointed by Attorney Dreyfus.

“This is an absurd situation. The Chief Justice no longer has a say in the hiring of Judges who are coming to work for him,’’ Senator Cash said.

“If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. The Chief Justice knows better than anyone else the type of person and skills required to work in his court,’’ she said.

“Mr Dreyfus should explain why the Chief Justice has been removed from the panel,’’ Senator Cash said.

It was also revealed today that Attorney Dreyfus has taken more than 2000 days to get replacement Judges onto the bench of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

The Attorney-General’s Department revealed the delays in making appointments today in answers to questions from Shadow Attorney-General Senator Michaelia Cash in Senate Estimates.

In one case it took more than 14 months for Mr Dreyfus to get a new Judge in place after a position was vacated. Other delays for getting a Judge in place included one of 10 months and several of between six and eight months.

In the Federal Court it took the Attorney 1072 days to get new Judges in place.

“Mr Dreyfus has been way too slow to get new Judges in place right across the court system,’’ Senator Cash said.

“There is no doubt this will cause bottlenecks within our court system, delaying justice for Australians’’ she said.

“My heart goes out to those families going through the difficulties and pain of separation. We know that pain has been drawn out because of the delays caused by this Attorney-General,’’ she said.

“The effect of Mr Dreyfus’s inaction means in the FCFCOA that he would have to appoint an extra Judge who would have to work for five years to catch up on the amount of court time lost,’’ Senator Cash said.

In addition to the extremely slow action on appointing replacement Judges, Mr Dreyfus has also failed to appoint any of his promised 10 new extra Judges to the court. They were due to be appointed from the beginning of this year.