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Smith A Threat To Court's Secrecy

Smith A Threat To Court's Secrecy

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today voiced her concern over reports that the Solicitor-General's office will be taking legal action against National MP Nick Smith for his comments on the Family Court.

"It is a very worrying state of affairs when an MP is prosecuted for airing his concerns over a secret court - after being approached by the very people he was elected to help," Dr Newman said.

"If it were not for the shroud of secrecy surrounding the Family Court, Dr Smith would not have had to intervene at all. The Court's lack of openness, as well as the tremendous costs involved, has long frustrated the public. Bereft of options, many people turn to MPs for assistance.

"In other countries where there are concerns with family law - such as Australia - efforts have been made to open the courts to public scrutiny. Name suppression is maintained, and individuals are still protected. Dr Smith has been careful not to identify the family involved in the case he has referred to - yet is still being prosecuted.

"Why will New Zealand not follow Australia's example? Dr Smith is being punished for trying to let a little light into the shadowy Family Court, rather than being seen as a catalyst for change," Dr Newman said.

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