Watchdog for top judges a step closer

An integrity body for federal judges could be in the works with the government moving to the next stage of consultations.

The Albanese government has given in principle support for the establishment of a federal judicial commission, which would be able to address complaints against judges.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the commission would complement the work of the national anti-corruption commission and uphold integrity and accountability.

The discussion paper released on Tuesday outlines what a commission would cover, the grounds for considering a complaint, avenues to raise issues and what actions it could take as key topics for consideration.

It also posits whether the commission and an investigatory panel should have the power to issue summons and examine witnesses.

The Law Council has called the move a welcome step forward.

"We believe having a means to fairly address complaints about the judiciary is essential to the promotion of the rule of law," president Luke Murphy said.

The council says the commission needs to be underpinned by independence, coherence, accessibility and transparency.

Mr Murphy said it also needed to be at an arm's length from the government and separate from the national anti-corruption commission, which will target politicians and Commonwealth officials.

"The final commission model must be ... adequately resourced to carry out its remit, which should include the fair and impartial handling of allegations of lack of competency, serious misconduct or corruption within the federal judiciary," he said.

Submissions for the discussion paper close on February 21.