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‘It cuts both way’: Pakula’s warning to Victoria’s magistrates

Victoria’s Attorney-General has warned the state’s magistrates to expect public criticism if they want to politicise the courtroom.

Magistrate Ross Maxted all but blamed the government for having to let out an accused drug-driver on bail yesterday, because tougher new bail laws were yet to come into effect.

“As parliament has not gazetted this to apply prior to July 1 … I’m obliged to apply the law as it is,” The Herald Sun reported him to say.

“I’m very conscious of the anxiety in the community surrounding persons accused of serious offending and the Bail Act within the state of Victoria.”

“I raised this three months ago and it’s still not fixed…”
-Neil Mitchell

In response, Martin Pakula told Neil Mitchell the laws would start July 1, and did not contain his displeasure at Mr Maxted’s comments.

“I just find that intervention to be very, very surprising,” he said.

“Magistrates, Neil, as you know, get very cranky when politicians start intervening (and) traipsing across their decisions — Well, that cuts both ways.

“It think it is unwise for magistrates to start doling out advice to the government about when laws should commence.

“I’m pretty disciplined about not getting stuck in magistrates about individual decisions, I’ve never done that.

“But if magistrate’s want to start engaging in the political debate, they shouldn’t be surprised if they get some advice coming back their way.”

Click PLAY to hear Neil Mitchell’s full interview with Martin Pakula