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No Need For Nick Smith Prosecution

No Need For Nick Smith Prosecution

Monday 23 Feb 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

National MP Dr Nick Smith's High Court hearing today highlights the urgent need for change in the running of our Family Court as recommended in my Private Members Bill, drawn last week for debate by Parliament, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"It is completely outrageous that a Member of Parliament is being prosecuted for airing his concerns over a secret court, after being approached by the very people he was elected to represent," Dr Newman said.

"Under my Family Court (Openness of Proceedings) Amendment Bill, there would be no way such a misuse of justice could occur. The Family Court's shroud of secrecy would be dispelled, and it would be as open to public scrutiny as every other New Zealand court.

"My Bill aims to modernise the New Zealand Family Court along the lines of our Youth Court: the courts are open, but the judge has the discretion to close it - and to restrict the publication of identities - on a case-by-case basis.

"MPs are elected to help their constituents, and the proceedings against Dr Smith fly in the face of that basic democratic principle. Such a tactic seems more suited to a country under the power of an oppressive regime than New Zealand in the year 2004.

"If the Family Court were open, this appalling situation - whereby an MP faces punishment for doing his job - would never have arisen. If passed, my Bill would ensure transparency and openness in a court that currently has neither," Dr Newman 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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