Judicial pensions: time for reform?

NSW Bar Association
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Bar News, 2012, (Summer), pp. 7 - 11
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In July 2012 the Australian Government Actuary released its latest triennial report on the long term cost of the pension scheme for federal judges. At 30 June 2011, the unfunded liability of the scheme amounted to $782 million - an increase of 38 per cent in nominal terms (27 per cent in real terms) in just three years. This was the fourth substantial rise since the cost of the scheme was first pegged at $267 million in 1999, despite the fact that the number of serving judges included in the estimates has declined steadily from 131 to 102 over that 12 year period. For the first time the Actuary also provided long term cost projections, estimating an accrued liability of $3,342 million by 2054 - 55. This is a very large number, and yet a very conservative one because it rests on the implausible assumption that the courts covered by the scheme - the High Court, the Federal Court and the Family Court - will not increase in size over the next 40-odd years.
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