Lawyers fear northern Tasmania’s only Federal Circuit Court judge may not be replaced when he retires this year.
Judge Stuart Roberts, Launceston’s only permanent Federal Circuit Court judge, is set to retire in June and lawyers have said they are yet to see a commitment from the Commonwealth to replace him.
“What we've been seeking for a number of months is a commitment from the Attorney-General that there will be a timely appointment,” Theresa Eaton from the Family Law Practitioners Association told the ABC.
“We haven't received that commitment and the nearer we get to Judge Roberts' retirement date, the more concerning it becomes.
“It is about access to justice — we're really worried about a marginalisation of the north and north-west of the state.”
Tasmania does have a second Federal Circuit Court judge based in Hobart.
But while lawyers believe there is enough demand for a permanent judge in Launceston, which hears 50 per cent of Tasmania’s family law and child support cases, lawyers are concerned the position may be replaced with a fly-in, fly-out service.
A spokesperson for the Attorney-general’s department said an appointment would be announced closer to the time, saying, “the allocation of judicial resources is a matter for the Chief Justice of the Federal Circuit Court” of the fly-in, fly-out service.
The Federal Attorney-General’s department announced six new judicial appointments to the Federal Court last week, including two Federal Circuit Court judges.