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Bad Consciences Over Privy Council?

Bad Consciences Over Privy Council?

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today said that Green and United Future pressure, for the appointment of international judges to Attorney General Margaret Wilson's new Supreme Court, is simply a conscience salve for them.

"By pressing for it, they are admitting what we lose with the loss of appeal right to Privy Council - assured political impartiality, and access to top international referees," Mr Franks said.

"The Government needs the votes of the Greens or United Future to sever our links with the Privy Council. Appointing token and temporary international judges to the Supreme Court may win them over, but it will not guarantee continued independence of the Supreme Court.

"Visiting judges will come in as outsiders. They will do what part-timer's generally do - defer to their full-timer hosts out of courtesy. One judge on a court is not going to achieve much if they are against four others, conscious or unconscious prejudice, local hysteria, ideology or other conflicts of interest.

"Why should we relinquish a neutral international court for a PC local court with ring-in judges? Even if we do manage to get international judges on a touch-and-go basis, there is no guarantee the Government will choose them impartially. Ms Wilson can scour the world for judges who share her brand of political correctness. Our Government will not want to pay what top judges will be worth internationally - at the moment we get them free.

"New Zealanders have not had to worry about politically biased appointments until now - unlike Australia, Canada and the US - because the right of appeal to the neutral judges of the Privy Council has made it not worthwhile to stack the courts, for politicians of all stripes. Once the local judges have final say, it becomes worth stacking the court.

"The Greens and United Future are looking at international appointees because they know it's bad for New Zealand to lose use of the Privy Council. Instead of looking at compromise with the Government they should stand up for principle and oppose the whole idea.

"United Future have already sold their independence - exchanging it after the election for the Family Commission. As for the Greens, they simply see the Privy Council as a bargaining chip in their attempts to extend the moratorium on GE," Mr Franks said.

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