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Justice Miscellaneous (Increasing Judicial Retirement Age) Bill 2021

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 1 July 2021

Tags: Justice, Courts, Legislation

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, the Greens are pleased to support this bill. There have been many comments made about the values of increasing the retirement age for judges. It is something in which we are in good company. Ms Haddad, the member for Clark, just said that New South Wales is the other state in Australia at the moment that has increased the retirement age for judges to 75.

This is something that the United Kingdom did this year. I believe their increase was from 70 to 75. They made the change in 1995 for the age of retirement for judges to be 70. The arguments that were made in the United Kingdom for increasing the age to 70 were that the average life expectancy in the male population had risen and that expertise and experience were being lost prematurely and unnecessarily in the judiciary at a time when there was an increasing burden on the judiciary to take an extra number of cases.

The expertise gathered at the later stage of a person's career is incredibly important. The more time you have behind the bench, the more experience you have, the more expertise you garner. The case can be made that you would expect better quality judgments from people in the later stage of their careers by the experience of time and watching different events unfold. They have gathered very important experience that you cannot hope to get as a first-year judge. That is a valuable resource to the community.

We are happy to support this extension. I believe the minister said that we are working longer and older in general. That is true, but I want to make the point that not everyone in the community is over the -

Ms Archer - It was statistically that I referred to. The statistic was that we are now - was it not 81 or 84 or something like that?

Dr WOODRUFF - That is right. Outside of this matter of the judiciary, not everyone in the community is happy with the push to increase the retirement age in general unless it is linked with the age at which you can receive the old age pension. Just because we are living longer lives on average, it does not necessarily follow that all work is the sort of work for which we should continue to push up the age of retirement.

For example, working in physically demanding work or emotionally very demanding work, perhaps nursing or working in building or working doing heavy manual care for a person, has a toll on a person. We need to make sure that we give people opportunities to retire at the time that they need to, when they have done a lot of service for the community and that we support them with the aged care pension. I know people who are single, often women in their later 50s and 60s, who can find themselves needing to keep working because they just cannot simply afford to do otherwise.

If the age of the pension continues to go up year on year, it is very harsh for some people who are working demanding jobs to continue to keep working. Many people I speak to in their late 60s are pretty tired and are looking forward to retirement.

Judges relative to other people in the community occupy a privileged position. They are privileged by virtue of income, education and capacity. It is good for individual judges to continue, if they choose, to keep working to the age of 75. It is obviously a benefit for us in Tasmania to have people with that expertise to be able to continue for that precious extra three years. It is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach to increasing the age of retirement in other areas. I look forward to this coming into place as soon as it is given royal assent.