By political reporter Matthew Doran
The man tasked with steering the most significant reform of the family law system in 40 years has described the task as an enormous challenge, at his swearing in ceremony in Melbourne.
William Alstergren has taken over as Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia, as it prepares to merge with the Federal Circuit Court in the new year.
The Federal Government announced the change earlier this year. Attorney-General Christian Porter argued it was the best way to cut the crippling financial costs and serious delays experienced by people turning to the family law system to settle disputes.
Before an audience which included Mr Porter, Chief Justice of the High Court Susan Kiefel, and senior judges from around the country, Chief Justice Alstergren described his appointment as a “great honour”.
“We have an opportunity to unbridle ourselves of the burden of cynicism and negativity that is so often experienced by those seeking change in family law,” he said.
“This is of course an enormous challenge, we expect the support of the profession, the Government and the Opposition.”
Chief Justice Alstergren was the chief judge of the Federal Circuit Court, which he will soon also oversee in the merged-courts model.
“The hallmark of excellence in court administration is that people who come before our courts have trust and confident in our practices, can understand what we do and why we do it,” he said.
“We have not yet achieved that excellence as there are two courts exercising an almost-concurrent Family law jurisdiction, operating with distinct case-management approaches, and rules …
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