A bolstered living away from home allowance and increased long service leave are among the improvements to entitlements being requested by magistrates.
A bolstered living away from home allowance and increased long service leave are among the improvements to entitlements being requested by magistrates.

$300k-a-year magistrates want more holidays and better cars

Victorian magistrates have called for more holidays, better cars, and a boost to their living away from home allowance.

Magistrates, who earn in excess of $300,000 a year, also want all e-Tag expenses paid for, five extra leave days to attend conferences, and the same long service leave as judges.

The list of requests were detailed in submissions to the state's Judicial Entitlements Panel, an independent body which makes recommendations to the Attorney-General.

In a report tabled to parliament on Tuesday, the panel recommended increasing magistrates annual leave from four weeks to six weeks.

The move, expected to cost $1.25 million, fell short of calls by magistrates for eight weeks leave to bring them in line with County Court and Supreme Court judges.

"Magistrates work at the sharp end of the judicial system and - for reasons for equity, wellbeing and sustainability - should be similarly entitled to longer annual leave," the panel found.

"The cost of implementing this recommendation, which would require the appointment of an additional three magistrates, is not insignificant, but is a small increase to the Budget and the overall cost of the Victorian justice system."

It also recommended a boost to the $453-a-week living away from home allowance for magistrates amid concerns they were being financially disadvantaged.

Most magistrates are expected to undertake a regional placement, the majority of which are for 12 months or more.

The panel found many magistrates maintained two residences in order to make the arrangement work.

"The current living away from home allowance does not adequately cover out-of-pocket expenses. In some cases, the allowance does not even cover rent," the panel found.

In its submission to the panel the Magistrates Court proposed a raft of other amendments to bring them in line with the state's judges.

They included extra long service entitlements and access to the Judicial Car Scheme.

It also called for the removal of restrictions on the category of VicFleet vehicles a magistrate could access, payment of all E-Tag expenses for magistrates and five days' conference leave per annum for each magistrate, on a cumulative basis in addition to any court-organised personal development days.

The Panel encouraged a review of both the living away from home allowance and car scheme available to magistrates.

Victorian magistrates have long fought to be regarded as equal to judges.

Former Chief Magistrate Peter Lauritsen led a charge for magistrates to be called judges - saying they are the "same in all but name".

He also argued magistrates were not paid enough considering their workload.

Current chief magistrate Lisa Hannan declined to comment.

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shannon.deery@news.com.au

Originally published as $300k-a-year magistrates want more holidays, better cars


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