Judges, magistrates and VCAT officials would be limited to seven-year terms on the bench, under a proposal from Australian Country Party candidate Julian Fidge.
As part of his campaign for the Victorian seat of Ovens Valley, Dr Fidge said removing the ability for judges to stay on the bench indefinitely would address the problem of bullying, as alleged in the Victorian Bar wellbeing survey.
“Lifetime tenure for judicial appointments has engendered lazy, negligent and entitled behaviour by Victorian tribunals and courts and their registries, leading to atrocious outcomes for applicants and the bullying behaviour exposed by this survey,” he said.
“It is not possible for applicants, respondents or lawyers to address incompetence or indifference in the Victorian judiciary, because they are vulnerable to adverse findings from the judicial officer they might like to complain about.
“The only review process available at present is appeal to a higher court, which is extremely expensive and out of reach of most applicants.”
Dr Fidge argued for the appointment of a Judicial Ombudsman to deal with complaints and concerns without cost.
He was previously involved with Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal when it upheld 14 of 59 misconduct allegations made during his time as a Wangaratta councillor in 2013.
Dr Fidge has also appealed the validity of a countback which resulted in Cr Ashlee Fitzpatrick being elected to the council when Ruth Amery died in 2017.
He claims all ballots should have been recounted, which would have led to his election, rather than just the votes which had initially gone to Cr Amery.
More than four months after an application for VCAT to send the case to the Supreme Court, there has still been no reply.
In a letter to VCAT president, Justice Michelle Quigley, Dr Fidge said his candidacy for Ovens Valley made the decision a matter of urgency.
He said he has been advised he has no legal options and the “the culture of slackness” was one example of why the court system needed reform.
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