A NEW judge will step into the Newcastle registry of the Federal Circuit Court.
Terry Betts will replace Judge Steven Middleton, who was transferred to Queensland.
Federal Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon said the appointment brought relief for the Hunter’s justice community. She wrote to Attorney-General Christian Porter in April, when Judge Middleton’s transfer was impending, to lobby for a quick successor.
The Herald reported that the city’s legal experts had launched a “pre-emptive strike” in order to have a replacement judge appointed quickly.
“Newcastle has been kept waiting as long as seven months for previous replacements,” Ms Claydon said.
“I wanted to make sure that the new Attorney-General was aware of the terrible impact these delays had had on our community, especially for the families whose lives were stuck in limbo awaiting hearings.
“I tried to impress on the Attorney-General the urgency of the securing a replacement judge, not just as a resourcing issue, but as a matter of community safety given so many of the families awaiting court attention are facing domestic violence, substance abuse and other crises.”
Ms Claydon said that she hoped Newcastle could eventually add to its resources rather than simply replace existing roles.
“Newcastle is one of Australia’s busiest registries and yet we will have only three judges, so I think there’s a strong argument to be made for more resources,” Ms Claydon said.
“I have also written to the Attorney-General about significant overcrowding at the Newcastle Courts registry so I hope he is looking into how this can be addressed too.”
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