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United Future flip-flops on Supreme Court

Richard Worth National Justice Spokesman

16 September 2003

United Future flip-flops on Supreme Court

National's Justice spokesman Richard Worth says that if New Zealanders were expecting fair and thorough deliberation on the controversial Supreme Court Bill, they'll be sorely disappointed.

The Justice and Electoral Committee has this afternoon tabled its report on the legislation.

"This Committee has endured days of hearing, with good arguments being put forward.

"But these have been blithely ignored by the Labour and United Future committee members who've decided to send the Bill back without significant change," says Mr Worth.

"It is patently obvious that despite its hollow protestations, United Future will support whatever Margaret Wilson wants. Look how it buckled on the Gambling legislation."

Mr Worth says there are critical points about this Bill which are being overlooked.

* "The Privy Council is a Court of acknowledged excellence. In evidence to the Select Committee, a former New Zealand Chief Justice said:"The Privy Council certainly is an extremely high-class, polished, Rolls Royce service. There's no gainsaying that."

* "The major users of the Privy Council, including Maori and business interests, are opposed to the abolition of rights of appeal to the Court.

* "The argument that our national identity requires us to no longer defer to an overseas jurisdiction is deeply flawed. The reality is that many countries have ceded sovereignty in a number of ways - international agreements are one example. Many countries are looking outside adjudicative bodies for the resolution of disputes - New Zealand is following a contrary course.

* "In any country, it is important that investment interests have confidence in the domestic legal system. There is no doubt that the Privy Council as the final appellate court for investment and business interests provided that confidence.

"National also has serious misgivings about the appointments process for the new Court," says Mr Worth.

"The judges of the new Court have the potential to reshape the legal and social landscape of New Zealand and it is entirely wrong that they should be appointed through a limited political process."


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