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Family Court needs more accountability

Judith Collins
National Families Spokesperson

16 March 2004

Family Court needs more accountability

National Party Families spokesperson Judith Collins says the Law Commission's recommendations for opening up the Family Court would be little improvement on the current system.

"The current system uses children's 'best interests' to justify secrecy and incompetence when in reality children would be best served by having real accountability in the Family Court.

"The report appears to recommend that there be fewer restrictions on the reporting of family proceedings. However, in practice these recommendations would amount to an inability to report on proceedings other than those relating to property, wills and those too incapacitated to look after themselves.

"The prohibition on identifying a witness or other person connected with the proceedings without leave of the court means there is unlikely to be reporting of CYFS incompetence, counsel for the child, bad behaviour of custodial parents and incompetence parading as cultural sensitivity.

"Under the proposed changes parents will still not be able to talk about the proceedings without leave of the court. Again, this prevents proper accountability.

"While the problems of secrecy and lack of accountability are correctly identified, the report's recommendations would make little impact on the seriousness of those problems," said Ms Collins.

Ends

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