Court room battle over new Rockhampton judge

A DIFFERENT court battle is already underway over Rockhampton's newly appointed Federal Circuit Court judge and she hasn't started yet.

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has accused her Federal counterpart, Senator George Brandis, of incorrectly referring to a Rockhampton courtroom as vacant and refusing to contact her about courthouse arrangements for the judge, Anne Demack.

Sen Brandis told a Senate Estimates committee on February 9 that there was a vacant courtroom that would accommodate Judge Demack in Rockhampton, but "modest modifications" would need to be done.

But Ms D'Ath said the courtroom he referred to was actually used by visiting judges of the district and industrial courts and members of QCAT as well as the visiting Federal Circuit Court judge.

"There is no vacant courtroom," she told Queensland Parliament on Wednesday.

Ms D'Ath said Sen Brandis did not respond to her letter about Judge Demack's appointment and no arrangements were made with the State government, her department or the Chief Justice, who manages the State's supreme courts.

But Sen Brandis told the committee that it was not appropriate for the Commonwealth to speak to courts in other jurisdictions about issues of court management.

"That is a matter either between courts or between departments," he said.

Federal Circuit Court of Australia chief Richard Foster told the committee he wrote to the Queensland Justice Department's Deputy Director-General and to Ms D'Ath.

"I received a response on 7 January saying, 'services are limited but basically we do have some capacity; there would need to be some work done', and 'we should start talking about it'," he said.

"Now that (Sen Brandis) has made the announcement, we know certainly that this is going to happen, and we can accommodate it."

Sen Brandis said the Federal Circuit Court Chief Judge had also had conversations with Queensland's Chief Justice about the appointment. - APN NEWSDESK


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