Premier Alan Carpenter and Attorney General Jim McGinty today announced that a second permanent magistrate would be appointed to the Kimberley region to boost local people’s access to justice and cut trial delays.
Mr Carpenter said more than $700,000 had been allocated for a second magistrate and two support staff to be based in Kununurra as part of the May budget.
“It will mean the huge Kimberley court circuit can be split between the two magistrates into West and East Kimberley rounds,” he said.
“Travelling from a base in Kununurra, the new second magistrate will be able to spend more time on circuit through communities in the East Kimberley such as Halls Creek, Kalumburu, Oombulgarri, Warmun and Balgo.
“This will give residents in some of the most distant parts of our State greater access to the justice they deserve.”
Mr McGinty said that Broome-based magistrate Robert Young was currently the only magistrate covering the 421,000 square kilometres of the Kimberley.
“Mr Young sits for 10 days a month in Broome and spends the rest of the time on circuit through the Kimberley,” Mr McGinty said.
“The appointment of the second magistrate is expected to reduce court waiting time for trials in the Kimberley from 25 weeks on average to less than 15 weeks.
“This will especially benefit Kununurra, where there is currently a 40-week wait to get a half or full-day trial.”
The recruitment process will start immediately and the new magistrate is expected to start by July 1.
The appointment will complement a new Legal Aid centre which will open in Kununurra in May this year. The six-staff member office will be established using $1.1million in Commonwealth funding, with the State Government paying $2.4million over four years for running costs.
A permanent Legal Aid presence will enable communities to have regular contact with
Legal Aid lawyers experienced in family law, child protection, violence prevention and criminal matters.
The Premier and his Cabinet colleagues are meeting in Broome today as part of the State Government’s ongoing commitment to holding Cabinet meetings in regional areas.
Premier’s office - 9222 9475
Attorney General’s office - 9422 3000