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Accountants’ 2001 odyssey

Accountants’ 2001 odyssey

The documents referred to in a New Zealand Herald article this morning, “Government jumped gun on Law Lords: Treasury”, are more than two years old and out of date, Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson says.

Treasury officials were quite right in 2001 to say that a proposal to establish an alternative to the Privy Council had not been costed at that time, because the detailed proposal for a stand-alone court sitting above the Court of Appeal did not yet exist.

The 2003 budget makes provision for the Supreme Court.

However, Margaret Wilson observed that fiscal implications were not the driving force behind the policy decision to establish a Supreme Court.

“Access to justice, the development of jurisprudence and ensuring New Zealand has adequate court services in the future are why New Zealand needs the Supreme Court. This was true two years ago, and is true today – perhaps more so, as the United Kingdom’s proposed reforms show that their justice system is continuing to evolve and we should not take our ability to free-load on the British justice system for granted.”

In this morning’s paper, a comment was made that a cabinet paper wrongly said accounting firms’ submission on a 2000 discussion document neither opposed nor supported the scheme.

However, the submission on behalf of the “big five” accounting firms clearly stated, “The underlying principle to this submission is that we will support whatever affordable system gives New Zealand the highest quality legal system.” (Their emphasis).

Margaret Wilson said: “Time has moved on. Submissions to the Justice and Electoral select committee have thoroughly canvassed both the costs and benefits of the Supreme Court Bill, and I look forward to the committee’s report.”

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