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No More Obstacles To Family Court Openness

No More Obstacles To Family Court Openness

Monday 29 Mar 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today reiterated her call for all political parties to throw their support behind her Private Members Bill to open up the New Zealand Family Court.

"While the secrecy shrouding the Family Court may once have served a purpose, it is now hugely damaging to the lives and futures of many New Zealand families," Dr Newman said.

"This has been highlighted by last week's conviction of National MP Dr Nick Smith, whose career is now on the line for simply doing what he was elected to do - representing the concerns of his constituents.

"It is long past time to modernise the Family Court, a fact supported by the judiciary itself. Only last week Principle Family Court Judge Peter Boshier advocated opening the court, while retired Family Court Judge Patrick Mahoney has stated that the judiciary would be satisfied with whatever level of openness that Parliament considered appropriate.

"My Family Court (Openness of Proceedings) Amendment Bill would, not only let the light of public scrutiny into this secret court but, give judges the discretion to conceal individuals' identities and close the court on a case-by-case basis. That would mean judges would retain the ability to close the court in cases they deemed to be too sensitive.

"My Bill to open up the Family Court will be debated within the next couple of months. I am hopeful that all political parties, in their wisdom, will send the Bill to a Select Committee so that the question of whether the Family Court now needs to be more open can be properly addressed by Parliament," Dr Newman said.

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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