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Better funding days ahead: Chief Justice

Briefs

Cite as: (2003) 77(8) LIJ, p.18

Supreme Court of Victoria Chief Justice John Harber Phillips has moved to allay fears for the long-term viability of his court by revealing that the state government is considering a new formula to help courts increase their yearly funding allocation.

Chief Justice Phillips was speaking after the release in June of the Supreme Court of Victoria’s Judges’ Annual Report for 2001, which said there was an urgent need to redress the lack of resources needed to cope with an increasing work load and a 12-year erosion of the Court’s annual allocation from the state government.

The report said in part: “The Court has continued to have allocated to it by the Department of Justice an allocation which lacked any rationale and logic in its original composition and which has been eroded by 12 years of annual ‘productivity gains’ – a euphemism for cuts of at least 1.5 per cent per annum”.

Chief Justice Phillips told the LIJ that since 2001 reforms had been set in motion to fix the problems.

The most important reform, he said, was state Attorney-General Rob Hulls’ Court Strategic Directions Project, which was expected to be completed late this year.

Part of the project will call for all courts and tribunals to make a joint submission to government for funding, rather than the current system of individual submissions.

Chief Justice Phillips said all courts and tribunals had agreed to cooperate with the Attorney-General’s proposal.

“If his opinion is correct, it is hoped we would get a better funding deal in this next budget round [for the 2004/05 financial year].”

In the meantime, Chief Justice Phillips, who will retire in October, said morale within the Court was high.

“The Court will continue and always continue. Even though we might have some financial strictures we will continue to provide a very high standard of service,” he said.

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