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Judge Says It's ACT's Decision

Judge Says It's ACT's Decision

Thursday 11 Dec 2003 Richard Prebble Press Releases -- Other

ACT Leader Richard Prebble said today that, while he would have preferred the judge to have thrown out Donna Awatere Huata's application for an injunction, he was nevertheless pleased with significant parts of the court's decision.

"The judge has now ruled that, under the Electoral Integrity Act, it is my decision as party leader - and that of the ACT Caucus - as to whether Mrs Huata should be expelled as an MP," Mr Prebble said.

"The judge has ruled that the Speaker must accept our decision, and the expulsion order by the Speaker is automatic. This has always been my view. Some legal commentators, however, claim that the Speaker - and, perhaps, Parliament itself - has discretion to refuse to accept the ACT Party's decision. So I am pleased that this significant aspect of the Electoral Integrity Act has been ruled in ACT's favour.

"I am also pleased that the judge declined to issue an injunction preventing me, and the ACT caucus, from processing the decision whether to expel Mrs Huata. The judge has ruled that she must still respond to ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley's letter, setting out her reasons - if any - as to why she should not be expelled from Parliament.

"The judge also says that this letter must be received tomorrow and ruled that, as leader, I may consider her letter and determine whether she should be expelled from Parliament. The ACT caucus may also vote, if I ask them to, on whether Mrs Huata shouldn't be expelled from Parliament. I intend to continue with the procedures set up in the Electoral Integrity Act regarding Mrs Huata.

"The court's only restriction on me is that, should the ACT caucus decide to expel Mrs Huata, then the letter to the Speaker triggering the process may not be delivered until after the court has heard the procedural issues raised by her lawyers.

"The judge was at pains to point out that he made no finding on the merits of these procedural issues. I am confident that ACT has followed the spirit, and the letter, of the law, and that when the matter is heard in court we will win. All Mrs Huata has achieved is getting the court to rule that her future is in my hands," Mr Prebble said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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