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Judicial Matters Bill - a Government gaffe

Judicial Matters Bill - a Government gaffe

National Party Justice spokesman Richard Worth is describing the Select Committee report into the Judicial Matters Bill as a 'wild miss-hit'.

The Bill was reported back to Parliament today and Mr Worth says National will oppose the legislation.

"There are three main reasons for our opposition:

1. The primary focus in the Bill is a more formal structure for the removal of judges. Yet we have never removed a judge and there is an already established pathway for the removal of judges. The closest New Zealand got to the removal of a judge was in 1913 and involved Justice Edwards. He finally resigned in 1921. Legislation should be remedial in nature - it should seek to deal with a 'mischief'. The short point is that there is no current 'mischief' relating to judicial conducts justifying removal from office.

2. The Bill does not deal with the appointment of judges. If there are problems in the legal system they are more about the appointment (and issues of transparency of process) than the removal of judges.

3. We should be very cautious about the appointment of part-time judges. There has been a significant increase in judicial numbers in recent years while issues of further resourcing and improved case management have not been sufficiently addressed.

"Judging is a fulltime business and those who seek and secure appointment accept that reality.

"Imagine a three-day case where the Judge says at the end of the second day to the parties - 'sorry I only work Mondays and Tuesdays'.

"Parliamentary time should not be wasted with Bills which have no remedial purpose," says Mr Worth.

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