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Public scrutiny essential to justice

Public scrutiny essential to justice

National Party Families and Associate Justice Spokeswoman, Judith Collins, welcomes the acknowledgement by the Principal Family Court Judge that there needs to be increased openness within the family court.

Judge Boshier's comments come in response to increasing criticism of the secretive Family Court system, given particular prominence as a result of MP Nick Smith's conviction last week, and in the wake of a Law Commission Report recommending the Court be opened to allow for increased public scrutiny.

"The Law Commission Report is a good start, but it doesn't go far enough," says Ms Collins.

"The report recommends increased media access to court proceedings but the ban on identifying people associated with cases will severely restrict media coverage and, subsequently, public scrutiny and the accountability of the court, social workers, counsel for children, psychologists and will do little to curb the unacceptable behaviour of some parties.

"In keeping Family Court proceedings secret, we allow individual injustices to go unnoticed and run the risk that the Court will lose sight of the interests and values of the community it serves.

"Opening the Family Court certainly doesn't mean naming children and releasing detailed accounts of testimony but the right of parents and other involved parties to talk publicly about proceedings is an essential part of modern justice," says Ms Collins

"No child should have to wait 3 ½ years to know whether or not he can live with his own parents. Opening the Court would help ensure that such delays are no longer tolerated."

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