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Published date: Wednesday, 27 February 2019
For the first time, Muswellbrook will have a magistrate based in the town to preside over a new Local Court circuit that will also include sittings at Singleton and Scone and boost sittings across six courts in the Hunter and Tamworth by more than 250 days.
Attorney General Mark Speakman welcomed the establishment by the Chief Magistrate Judge Graeme Henson of the additional circuit in the Hunter to commence from 1 July this year.
“The new Muswellbrook Local Court Circuit is great news for communities in the Hunter 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, Cessnock Local Court will gain 60 additional sitting days per year, followed by 48 in each of Muswellbrook, Singleton and Toronto Local Courts.
“Tamworth and Belmont will each benefit from 24 extra sitting days a year. Sittings at Scone and Kurri Kurri will remain the same.”
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 Muswellbrook appointment in the next few months, but the position will take the number of Local Court magistrates in the Hunter to nine. There are two magistrates at Newcastle and one magistrate at Maitland, Tamworth, Cessnock, Toronto and Belmont, 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 is constantly monitoring workloads across the state to determine the best use of judicial resources.