Taxpayers are bankrolling lucrative salary increases fo judges, with the pay rises coming into effect on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taxpayers are bankrolling lucrative salary increases fo judges, with the pay rises coming into effect on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judges’ eye-watering salaries revealed

TAXPAYERS are bankrolling lucrative salary increases for Queensland's judges, including a more than $53,000 hike for the state's Chief Justice in four years.

The pay rises came into effect on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has crippled the economy and seen upwards of 130,000 people lose their jobs.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Catherine Holmes's total remuneration is now $529,798 - up from $519,406 the previous financial year.

The salary, which is more than $100,000 greater than Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's, has increased from $476,356 since July 1, 2016.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Catherine Holmes (left) now earns $529,798, Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff (right) is on $516,553, and inset from the top Chief Judge of the District Court Kerry O’Brien brings home $468,020, Chief Magistrate Terry Gardiner rakes in $400,157 and Land Court President Fleur Kingham is on $468,020.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Catherine Holmes (left) now earns $529,798, Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff (right) is on $516,553, and inset from the top Chief Judge of the District Court Kerry O’Brien brings home $468,020, Chief Magistrate Terry Gardiner rakes in $400,157 and Land Court President Fleur Kingham is on $468,020.

The average Queensland annual salary is about $80,000. The 2019-20 increases were gazetted on May 15, but they came into effect on February 7 and were back-paid until July 1 last year.

In 2007, Queensland passed laws which introduced a new system creating a statutory link between the remuneration of a Federal Court judge and a Queensland Supreme Court judge.

Wages for other judicial officers are benchmarked against the amount received by Supreme Court judges.

The President of the Court Appeal's remuneration soared from $506,421.71 last financial year to $516,553.67 in 2019-20. All other Supreme Court judges will earn total remuneration of $468,020 - up from $458,840 in 2018-19.

The Chief Judge of the District Court will also earn $468,020 which is an increase from $458,840.

Acting Attorney-General and Justice Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said that, like other jurisdictions, Queensland judicial salaries were directly linked to Commonwealth judicial salaries, as determined by an independent Commonwealth tribunal.

"Queensland's courts continue to operate during COVID-19, with appropriate social distancing and operational safeguards in place," he said.

"As reported last year, the criminal list continues to impose significant demands on the available judicial resources," she wrote.

"Nonetheless, a statewide clearance rate of 100.5 per cent was achieved. Another pleasing outcome is that the number of defendants in the group whose matters were more than 12 months (but less than 24 months) old has decreased markedly, by about 50 per cent across the state."

The Hon Chief Justice Catherine Holmes in action at the Supreme Court earlier this year. Her salary is now more than $100,000 greater than Premier. Picture: AAP/Attila Csaszar
The Hon Chief Justice Catherine Holmes in action at the Supreme Court earlier this year. Her salary is now more than $100,000 greater than Premier. Picture: AAP/Attila Csaszar

Justice Holmes also wrote the court had a number of class actions "on foot" and that it was "likely that such actions will require a significant allocation of judicial resources in the future".

She also wrote civil lodgements increased, with there being a noticeable increase in long civil trials, which had had a "significant impact on the allocation of judicial resources" because it meant one judge would be committed to one trial for an entire year.

Meanwhile, this week it was announced jury trials could resume after they were halted in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pending infection rates, jury trials will resume with limitations and precautions in the second half of this year.

One District Court judge is expected to preside over jury trials from June 22.

The number of trials will then be gradually increased depending on any difficulties.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Catherine Holmes $529,798.64

Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff $516,553.67

All other Supreme Court judges $468,020.00

Chief Judge of the District Court Kerry O'Brien $468,020.00

All other District Court judges $421,218.00

Chief Magistrate Terry Gardiner $400,157.10

Deputy Chief Magistrate Janelle Brassington $384,244.42

All other magistrates $368,331.74

Land Court President Fleur Kingham $468,020.00

Other members of the Land Court $421,218.00

Originally published as Judges' eye-watering salaries revealed


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