[PDF version of this media release]
Published date: Wednesday, 27 February 2019
For the first time, Grafton will have a magistrate based in the city to preside over a new Local Court circuit that will also include sittings at Casino and Maclean and boost sittings across 10 courts in Northern Rivers by more than 200 days.
Attorney General Mark Speakman welcomed the establishment by the Chief Magistrate Judge Graeme Henson of the additional circuit in the region to commence from July 1 this year.
“The new Grafton Local Court Circuit is great news for the Northern Rivers because extra sitting days will take pressure off the regional courts and ensure victims and their families have better access to justice,” Mr Speakman said.
“Under the changes, Tweed Heads will gain 60 sitting days per year, Lismore Local Court will sit for an extra 36 days and Grafton’s sittings will increase by 24 days.
“Casino, Kyogle, Maclean, Ballina, Byron Bay, Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby will each benefit from 12 extra sitting days a year.”
The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is funding the appointment of two extra Local Court magistrates through a $4.1 million package in response to the Child Abuse Royal Commission.
The Chief Magistrate will announce the Grafton appointment in coming months, but the position will take the number of Local Court magistrates in the Northern Rivers to five. There is a magistrate at Tweed Heads, Ballina and Lismore, as well as a relieving magistrate.
“Our country magistrates do an incredible job dealing with a significant and diverse workload. The Local Court is the busiest and most efficient jurisdiction in Australia, dealing with 96 per cent of all criminal matters from start to finish,” Mr Speakman said.
The Chief Magistrate will continue to monitor workloads across NSW to determine the best use of judicial resources.