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Call for Referendum on Privy Council

Call for Referendum on Privy Council

Wednesday 2 Apr 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today commended NZ First leader Winston Peters for his call for a citizens-initiated referendum on whether our constitution should be changed, saying that ACT has long urged the need for a referendum on any abolition of the right of appeal to the Privy Council.

"The status and composition of a final court of appeal are at the heart of our constitution. Final courts protect against governments abusing executive power. The integrity of the Rule of Law depends on confidence that the courts are competent, and committed, to upholding the law without ideological bias, fear or favour," Mr Franks said.

"I have drafted a suitable amendment to the Supreme Court Bill, currently before the Justice & Electoral Select Committee. It would provide that the new Supreme Court not commence until the people of New Zealand have approved such a dramatic change to their constitution by referendum. That is a vital principle - even if the Supreme Court were not controversial and likely to be passed with only a barely-cobbled together majority.

"There is a real risk that the Greens will trade the Privy Council for concessions qualifying the end of the GE moratorium. For any court to start without clear endorsement by the people will do nothing for respect for New Zealand courts or justice. This is especially important when there are grave suspicions about the politically correct ideology of the Attorney General, who will get to appoint the new judges.

"There is now strong criticism in Australia - including from judges - of the damaging ambitions of some politically activist judges. These judges are setting themselves up to supplant Members of Parliament. Unlike MPs, judges do not have to submit themselves to voters for approval or disapproval.

"ACT will definitely support a referendum on the Supreme Court Bill, but we hope it will come through a requirement in the Bill to hold a referendum, and not impose on the dedication of thousands of volunteers who would otherwise have to gather 250,000 signatures", Mr Franks said.


For more information visit ACT online at or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at

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