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Debate Reveals Selective Dislike of Democracy

Debate Reveals Selective Dislike of Democracy

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks was today amazed by the Government's reaction to the Auckland District Law Society's 85 percent opposition to abolishing our right of appeal to the Privy Council.

"The 85 percent was the result of a survey of all members, followed by a unanimous vote at the AGM. The Government chooses to debate the resolution's authority because not all members responded - how often do they get unanimous resolutions?" Mr Franks said.

"The Government had managed to drum up lukewarm support from some hierarchy in the legal world - which has been used to make the constitutional move seem inevitable. Now it's unravelling. In fact, much of the muted public reaction from lawyers has been for the very reasons why the Privy Council is so valuable - its neutrality. Ambitious careerists in the profession don't want to appear to bag local courts because they'll have to appear in front of those judges in future.

"When lawyers are given a chance to say what they really think without it rebounding, we get an overwhelming vote against the change from the Auckland District Law Society.

"I haven't noticed the Attorney General Margaret Wilson refusing to accept the authority of her union hierarchy mates. They claim to speak on behalf of their thousands of members, but are never asked for their opinion on many of these issues. When an organisation actually does get grass roots feelings she attacks it. Instead, she should be questioning the few endorsements from the industry politicians. She's now heard from those actually working with the law and who value the impartiality and independence of the Privy Council.

"All this underscores why the Supreme Court Bill must be opposed. Such a major constitutional change requires a mandate from New Zealanders. A binding referendum must be held," Mr Franks said.

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