Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Committee Stage (Resumed)
I am pleased to resume debate on the amendment. I remind the Senators that the policy of the Bill was to have a separate dedicated process in respect of senior judicial offices, namely, the Chief Justice, President of the High Court and President of the Court of Appeal, as was proposed in the original section 46 of the Bill. I have no difficulty with this aspect of the amendment insofar as it relates to what we can describe, and what we have been describing, as the three most senior judicial posts. I say this in the context of the overall architecture of the legislation, working from section 37 serving as a general explanatory provision to the effect that chapters 1 and 2 of Part 7 do not apply to procedures in respect of certain senior positions. The three senior judicial posts are provided for separately in section 44 of chapter 3 of this Part. There is, therefore, no necessity to have an exclusion in any part of chapter 2 that makes reference to the posts addressed in chapter 3, that is, in section 44.We have covered previously this issue of the disapplication of certain provisions to the three exceptionally senior positions. We dealt with it the previous day. It will not come as news to Senators that we need to do further work to section 44 on Report Stage.
There is also a new aspect in amendment No. 86h which is further to what I stated already. The proposal to remove the offices of all the courts' presidents from the commission process, including the lower courts, is new. I already indicated that I will come back with amendments to section 44 on Report Stage. I acknowledge what Senators McDowell and Craughwell have said in that regard. I want to see what I can do to expand the section 44 provision and I will consider that for Report Stage. I am not sure whether Senator Craughwell is minded to withdraw the amendment in the meantime with a reservation of right on his behalf and on the part of Senator McDowell as well to come back on Report Stage in the event of them not being happy with what I bring forward. I ask that the House does not divide at this stage, having regard to the fact that there is no much between us.