Tuesday, 7 February 2023
Victoria’s courts crisis was laid bare in a recent Productivity Commission report that confirmed the state’s courts have the worst backlogs in the nation.
Criminal cases in Victoria’s Magistrates Court pending for longer than 12 months number 25,226. By contrast, in New South Wales there are just 6,295 cases – less than 25 per cent of Victoria’s backlog.
Every delayed criminal case means that lives are put on hold – for victims, for the accused and for witnesses.
For those on remand, court delays mean longer in jail without having been proven guilty.
Despite these shocking delays, it has now been confirmed that the Andrews Labor Government will only appoint a single new Magistrate in the 2022-23 year.
In answer to a question on notice through Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearings, the Attorney-General confirmed “One additional magistrate has been funded through the 2022-23 Budget”.
Shadow Attorney-General, Michael O’Brien, said this showed the Andrews Labor Government was not serious about fixing the crisis in Victorian courts.
“We have a backlog of over 25,000 criminal cases waiting longer than 12 months. For Labor to fund a single, solitary additional Magistrate is an insult to Victorians waiting for justice,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Labor spends millions of dollars on spin doctors and political advertising, but won’t invest adequately in our courts.
“Thousands of Victorians have their lives on hold because of the crisis in our courts however the Andrews Labor Government refuses to act.
“The worst court backlogs in the country deserve real solutions, not a token single additional Magistrate”.