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Smith: Choice of judges very sound

Media Statement
For immediate release
Tuesday, 11 November, 2003

Smith: Choice of judges very sound

Despite opposing the bill, United Future had pushed hard both publicly and privately for Court of Appeal judges to form the Supreme Court bench if the legislation was going to go through, United Future's justice spokesman Murray Smith said today.

"Given that the Supreme Court is now a reality, this decision lends the new court as much credibility as possible, and avoids any suggestion of political or subjective appointments," Mr Smith said.

"There's little doubt that without the pressure placed on Labour to take this course, it would have opted for judges from outside the Court of Appeal in order to provide a wider range of experience - a judge with Family Court experience is an obvious example," he said.

"This would have inevitably led to accusations of political bias and affected the credibility of the new bench."

National's criticism over not embracing a wider scope of appointees is two-faced, Mr Smith said, given their earlier suggestions that the Attorney-General would hand pick favourites.

"United Future believes that the judges that have been appointed are all of a high calibre and have been appointed on merit as New Zealand's best and most experienced judicial officers.

"And any perceived need to bring in judges with other areas of experience can be met, over time, once the court has become established and as vacancies arise," Mr Smith said.


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