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Another Life For Privy Council?

Another Life For Privy Council?

The Justice and Electoral Select Committee's request for submissions, on whether the Privy Council should go as our final appeal, is a poor substitute for a referendum - but it's much better than nothing, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"This unusual move to extend a time for submissions, and ask specifically whether the right of appeal should go or not, follows a long campaign by Attorney General Margaret Wilson to avoid debate on exactly that question. She has contrived to make the loss of appeal rights appear inevitable, by confining consultation with experts to the question `what should replace the Privy Council?'" Mr Franks said.

"The question that the committee will now consider directly, is whether or not we will lose access to a neutral international referee and be left with judges reflecting the political preferences of whoever is in power from time to time.

"But the committee still faces the problem that many who can judge the pros and cons will fear to speak, for fear of offending judges they'll have to appear before. Bodies like the Auckland District Law Society, however, which voted unanimously against the change, may find representatives bold enough to put their case.

"I commend the Labour members on my committee for putting the proper role of the committee ahead of the wishes of the Attorney General. I hope that, in the end, the committee's decision is equally based on principle, and we do not find that votes are traded by the Greens for some other political victory they may want," Mr Franks said.

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