Public scrutiny on court move

THE possibility of Lismore’s Family Law Court moving to the Lismore Criminal and Civil Court on Zadoc Street is an issue that must go through extensive public consultation before the Federal Government can intervene said Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

The Attorney-General visited the Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre yesterday to speak with local legal representatives and Member for Page Janelle Saffin about a number of community concerns, including the movement of the family court.

Issues of space, protection of identity and security were among the concerns voiced at the meeting but according to Mr McClelland the separation of powers prevents the Federal Government from stepping in any time soon.

“The courts are self-administered and they will be in a process of public consultation,” Mr McClelland said.

“Because there is a separation of the judicial from the executive, the court will have its own process before I will have any input. But I will be an interested stakeholder.

“The security issues in family courts when children are involved has a different focus than security issues in criminal courts where the focus is usually to keep the accused detained.

“The identity of those involved in family court matters is an issue as the mere attendance of people from the community can expose one’s identity,” Mr McClelland said.

Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin is opposed to the potential change of premises and believes the criminal and civil court environment is not ‘appropriate’ for family court matters.

“The environment at the criminal courts goes against the strategic plan of the family courts,” Mrs Saffin said.

“The family court is very personal and it needs an environment that has calmness.”

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