Queensland magistrates took wrong oath


Queensland's new first law officer has passed her first piece of legislation with the help of the Opposition.

Parliament quickly passed the legislation to correct an administrative oversight which saw 24 magistrates use the wrong oath or affirmation during their swearing in from April 2013.

A government bungle saw 25 magistrates not take the correct oath.
A government bungle saw 25 magistrates not take the correct oath.

With hundreds of court cases potentially at risk, time was of the essence in passing the legislation, which was introduced on Thursday morning and passed just a few hours later.

The government is urgently moving to correct a bungle, which saw magistrates take the wrong oath of office, and in one case, not take it at all.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath moved to correct an issue which has seen 16 acting and eight permanent magistrates take an incorrect oath or affirmation when they took on the job from 2013 onwards.

One magistrate was missed altogether.

"The government understands the oath or affirmation that was administered to each of the relevant judicial officers during the relevant period was the oath or affirmation prescribed under the repealed Magistrates regulation, 2003," Ms D'Ath said.

"The effect of taking and subscribing the incorrect oath or affirmation or not taking the subscribed oath or affirmation at all ... those judicial officers would be prevented from exercising any of their powers and functions as a magistrate or acting judicial registrar as the case may be.

"The oversight potentially affects the continuing validity of the appointment of the relevant judicial officers."

Essentially, the regulation changed but the wrong oath continued to be used.

The government will rush the legislation through and make it retrospective, to rectify any issues emerging from the administrative oversight.

"This Bill will remedy the situation by providing the 2003 oath and the 2003 affirmation that was made and subscribed by the relevant judicial officers during the relevant period will be taken to be effective as if the relevant judicial officer had taken the 2013 oath or made the 2013 affirmation," Ms D'Ath said.

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