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It’s political, not constitutional

7 October 2003 Media Statement

It’s political, not constitutional

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson said United Future’s decision today not to support the Supreme Court Bill during its second reading has nothing to do with constitutional matters and everything to do with the politics.

“Peter Dunne believes it is critical for his party’s long-term survival not to cross the business lobby’s opposition to the Bill. If those politics are his party’s primary focus, rather than dealing with this Bill at a substantive level, then that cannot be helped. The Government must represent wider interests,” Margaret Wilson said.

The Government has already addressed the concerns United Future raised during the select committee process, as far as it was practicable to do so. United Future had four issues to be dealt with if the Government was secure the party’s support for the Bill, and the Government agreed to deal with three and a half of those.

However, delaying the Bill until all political parties agreed to it is not an option.

“The opposition cannot hide their political motivations behind a constitutional smokescreen. Wide cross-party support is not a realistic ideal if there is opposition for opposition sake. United Future’s opposition on this Bill is as tepid as National’s - National introduced a Bill to end appeals to the Privy Council, but opposes the same move by this Government. I am surprised United Future has not supported this major extension to access to justice.”

“Our position has been both clear and firm: New Zealand is a strong and confident nation that must act to ensure the justice system gives the opportunity of two rights of appeal,” Margaret Wilson said.

The Supreme Court Bill began its second reading in Parliament today. Once the Bill is passed, all New Zealanders will for the first time have comprehensive second appeal rights in all areas of law, including criminal, family, commercial, environmental and employment law.


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