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Smith welcomes more open court in new bill

Smith welcomes more open court in new bill but concerned it undermines parents' rights

Nelson MP Nick Smith has welcomed provisions in a new Care of Children's Bill that provides for greater openness in proceedings of the Family Court.

"There must be an irony in being threatened with prosecution by the Government's top law enforcement officer for releasing information on the proceedings of the Family Court while the Government introduces legislation that significantly reduces the restrictions on publication," Dr Smith said.

"The Bill is a small tentative step towards a more open Family Court but it needs to go a lot further if the system is to be made more accountable.

"The tragedy of this Bill is that the rights of responsible parents are further undermined. This Bill takes such a politically correct view of families that the rights of natural parents are significantly eroded.

"It is wrong that responsible parents have to fight for the custody of their own children and this Bill does nothing to address this fundamental problem," he said.

Dr Smith said he welcomed the Bill as an opportunity to make much needed reforms in family law but that it would need to be significantly amended to achieve a better outcome for children.

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