Media Release

19 November 2018

Guy: Greater accountability and scrutiny for Judges

Monday 19 November 2018

Greater accountability and scrutiny for Judges

A Liberal Nationals Government will introduce reforms to ensure greater public scrutiny of the performance of Victoria’s courts and Judges.

It’s vital that Victorians have complete confidence in our Judges and courts.

There have been far too many occasions where sentences for violent crimes have fallen well short of community expectations.

Daniel Andrews and his part-time justice ministers have done nothing to fix the problems, while doing so much to make them worse.

That’s why a Liberal Nationals Government will introduce strong new measures to promote accountability of Judges for their decisions, sentences and performance.

An elected Liberal Nationals Government will introduce changes to publish performance information on individual Judges and Magistrates, including the sentences they hand down.

This information will be regularly reviewed by a revamped Judicial Commission.

The revamped Judicial Commission will have the power to recommend legislative changes to bring sentencing into line with community expectations.

These accountability measures on Judges’ performance will published quarterly and data will be made available online on:

  • The court sitting times of Judges and Magistrates.
  • The time taken by Judges and Magistrates to deliver decisions.
  • The decision and sentencing records of individual Judges and Magistrates.
  • The numbers of judgments by Judges and Magistrates overturned on appeal.

We will also look to publish recidivism rates of offenders who are given a non-custodial sentence for violent crimes.

Quarterly publication of performance data for individual courts will include:

  • Comparisons of sentencing at different courts for similar offences.
  • Comparison of convictions for similar offences at different courts.
  • Comparisons of how sentences compare to sentences for similar offences in other states.

Publishing this data will result in greater responsiveness by the courts to community expectations as well as improved public understanding of courts

The on-line availability of the sentencing and other decision-making by Judges and Magistrates will allow members of the public to know exactly what sorts of decisions individual Judges and Magistrates are making.

The public will also be able to see how the record of different Judges and Magistrates compares and to see exactly what sorts of sentences individual Judges and Magistrates are imposing for what sorts of crimes.

With modern technology allowing key data such as this to be readily collected, compiled and published in an accessible way, there is no reason for denying the public this important, basic factual information about how Judges and Magistrates are performing their roles.

We look forward to an opportunity to work with the courts on these important public interest reforms.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Liberal Party, Matthew Guy:

“All Victorians must have complete confidence in our Judges and courts.

But Daniel Andrews has protected Judges from legitimate scrutiny and more importantly, accountability.

At a time when concern about soft-on-crime justice has never been higher, it is time to open the books and for the facts to come out.

Almost every Victorian worker or small businessperson is held accountable daily for the job they do. Judges and magistrates should be no different.”

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, John Pesutto:

“Like the legislative and executive arms of government, the judiciary is subject to public scrutiny and accountability. However, currently there is only limited information that the public can access about the performance of courts, Judges and magistrates.

This will change under a Liberal Nationals Government. We strongly support judicial independence, but with independence needs to come scrutiny and accountability, and that requires information to be available on which accountability can be based.

Having this greater information available will enable the public to be better informed about the important work of our courts and Judges, where the problem areas are, and what further reforms are needed to ensure our justice system is one in which the community can have confidence.

The judiciary serves a vital role in our democracy. Courts are not about spin, they are there to deliver justice.”