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Clark outflanks Wilson on new Court debate

Richard Worth
National Justice Spokesman

4 June 2003

Clark outflanks Wilson on new Court debate

The Prime Minister's call for senior Court of Appeal judges to form the proposed Supreme Court kneecaps the Attorney General's plan for an advisory group to recommend appointments, says National's Justice spokesman Richard Worth.

"Helen Clark's stepped into the debate and turned the advisory committee into a toothless body subject to her overriding directive.

"This is a major constitutional change. The clear convention is for the Attorney General to pass on the names of judicial candidates to the Cabinet and then make a recommendation to the Governor General. These recommendations are always accepted.

"The Prime Minister's comments now cast uncertainty on the fate of a new Court unless the political parties shift their positions. This is because:

* Labour seeks to establish the new Court

* National, New Zealand First and ACT seek the retention of the Privy Council. Any change should be subject to a referendum

* United Future says it may support the legislation subject to overseas judges forming part of the new Court. The Prime Minister is against this.

* The Greens say they will support the Bill if Maori interests are sufficiently met. The majority of Maori submissions to the Select Committee seek to retain the Privy Council.

"Helen Clark's interference is not only undermining the credibility of the Attorney General but it is also seriously damaging the grand plan for a new Court," says Mr Worth.

Ends

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