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Supreme Court process constitutional

29 January 2003 Media Statement

Supreme Court process constitutional

The Labour-led government was acting constitutionally with regard to the planned Supreme Court of New Zealand, Attorney-General Margaret Wilson said today.

Dismissing claims by ACT Leader Richard Prebble that there should have been a referendum on the issue, she said the best avenue for public debate was the select committee process.

“A referendum just asks a very simplistic question. A select committee gives people the opportunity to contest their views, allows facts to come out and misunderstandings to be cleared up.”

Margaret Wilson said there was nothing rushed about the Supreme Court establishment process.

“Severing ties with the Privy Council was first raised about 20 years ago and previous governments have discussed it. When we first became government in 1999 I put out a public discussion paper, submissions were received and there have been consultation groups. An advisory group was set up and most of the proposals have come out of its report. The government has attempted to ensure a maximum amount of input.”

The Supreme Court announcement had been made before the July election so New Zealanders understood Labour’s position on the issue.

Margaret Wilson said while it was true the Labour-led government would chose the Supreme Court Judges, it would do so from the existing judicial pool which had been largely appointed by National Party Attorney-Generals.

“So, if you are looking for political appointments you can say, well probably the majority will come from the National Party.”


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