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Petitions, Bills And Electorate Seats

Petitions, Bills And Electorate Seats

Friday 27 Feb 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Speeches -- Other

Extract of Speech to ACT Whangarei Electorate Meeting, 22 Second Avenue, Whangarei, Friday February 27, 2004.

I would like to use this opportunity to report back on three issues of importance to the Whangarei electorate:

ACT's petitions for passing laws and the completion of ALPURT B2;

My Private Members Bill to open up the Family Court;

My candidacy for the Whangarei seat.

Today I attended the opening of the new passing lanes on State Highway 1, south of Whangarei. The ACT Whangarei electorate committee should take credit for the fact that these lanes have been completed years earlier than originally planned because of the effort that we put into our petition to Parliament. It is an excellent example of democracy in action - people power and commonsense overriding bureaucratic procrastinations!

While our last year's petition to Parliament to prioritise the completion of the Northern motorway - now that all of the resource consents are through - was rejected by the Labour Government, Transport Minister Paul Swain has acknowledged that the present situation is a shambles and that something must be done.

However, briefing papers I have obtained under the Official Information Act show that the Minister's plan to turn the new road into a toll road will not solve the problem: a toll road will need new consents (the previous consents took six years to clear through the Environment Court) and, because a majority of motorists will be expected to use the old road and consents to use the temporary link road run out this year, a bottleneck will be created through Orewa.

The only answer is to prioritise the completion of the Northern Motorway - as we called for in our petition - and I will be writing to the new Minister of Transport to ask him to back our proposal.

My Private Member's Bill to open up the Family Court was drawn in the ballot last week giving Parliament a second opportunity to bring open justice into a secret court. When this Bill was debated by Parliament three years ago, Labour and the Greens opposed it going to a Select Committee. I hope that those parties will now recognise the importance of this issue and support the Bill.

If the Family Court was opened along the lines of the Youth Court - where the Judge retains the power to suppress the identifies of those involved and to close the Court on a case-by-case basis - we would expect a number of significant benefits: more parents choosing mediation instead of litigation and a drop in the legal aid bill, a dramatic reduction in false allegations and an improvement in the enforcement of Court Orders. Further, since an open court would enable greater public scrutiny of the Department of Child, Youth and Family's operations, their performance would improve and there would be a widespread reduction in child abuse.

This is a particular concern to Northlanders, because on the two most recent occasions when a Family Court judge has been driven into opening their court to the media, it has been over concerns regarding the performance of CYF's in Whangarei.

Finally, in response to your continual requests, I have decided that I will be campaigning to win the Whangarei seat at the next election. While in previous years I have campaigned for the List vote only, now that MMP is bedded down, I believe that Whangarei voters should be given the choice of who can best represent them in Parliament.

Like the contest for the Whangarei mayoralty in the forthcoming local body elections, where ratepayers will vote for the best person for the job, in 2005 I will give Whangarei voters the choice of voting for me as the best person to represent them - and fight for them - in Wellington.

ENDS


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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