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  • Federal Court magistrates launch High Court action for $174,000-a-year pension
  • By Gemma Jones
  • 04/08/2011 Make a Comment (1)
  • Contributed by: moses ( 7 articles in 2011 )
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FEDERAL Court magistrates have launched High Court action claiming their judicial independence is under threat because the Government has refused to pay them a $174,000-a-year retirement pension.

The action is supported by 58 of Australia's 62 federal magistrates who currently earn $291,800 a year, the Courier-Mail reported.

They claim they are "constitutionally entitled to a lifelong guaranteed pension".

In their statement of claim, the magistrates say they are facing "financial uncertainty" and they need to be paid 60 per cent of their income for life or they could be forced to seek employment with parties that appear before them, undermining their independence.

"The financial insecurity ... is an actual or perceived threat to the judicial independence of the Federal Magistrates Court and federal magistrates," the statement of claim says.

"The financial insecurity caused may create an actual or perceived need for federal magistrates to seek alternative means for ensuring post-retirement financial security, including by seeking promotion ... or post-retirement employment from practitioners and/or litigants appearing before the court."

Attorney-General Robert McClelland awarded federal magistrates a superannuation contribution of 15.4 per cent a year in May's Budget, up from 13.1 per cent and higher than the 9 per cent afforded to ordinary workers.

"This is in recognition of increased responsibilities resulting from further additions to the jurisdiction of the Federal Magistrates Court," a spokesman for Mr McClelland said.

It also matches the superannuation for MPs elected after 2005.

The magistrates claim the "superannuation arrangements do not redress the financial insecurity of federal magistrates" because super funds are subject to market fluctuations and require "active interest in the investment and fund performance".

The Federal Magistrates Court was created in 2000 by the Howard government to alleviate the burden on the Federal Court.

Federal Court judges are paid lifetime pensions to ensure their judicial independence.

The Government has previously announced plans in 2009 to merge the Federal Magistrates Court with a lower division of the Federal and Family Court.

Mr McClelland's spokesman said the Government was still going through "a process" to merge the court bodies.

A spokesman for the law firm representing the magistrates said he was unable to comment because the matter was before court.


    By:George Cahill from NSW, Australia on October 22, 2011 @ 8:04 am
    I think the Government should pay the $174,000 per year alright, however not to judges or magistrates or whatever those silly people in sheep's wool head pieces call themselves, rather to the parents and children who have been turned over and extorted by the system of legal yobbos.

    We also look forward to Mr McClelland making this overdue form of compensation before he is removed from office. Politicians may come and go like judges with their fat little supers and multi-million dollar benefits and business deals, however the public will never ever forget the unfair harm that has been inflicted upon them and their children. We will always remember!!!

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