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Bill Gives Labour Chance To Redeem Itself

Bill Gives Labour Chance To Redeem Itself

Wednesday 23 Jun 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today offered Labour a rare opportunity to rectify its past mistakes by supporting her Family Court (Openness of Proceedings) Amendment Bill through its first reading in Parliament today.

"When this Private Members Bill was debated in 2001, Labour made the mistake of voting it down at its first reading. Now, it has a chance to learn from that mistake," Dr Newman said.

"This Bill was a catalyst for sweeping changes in our Family Court - some of which are seen in the Care of Children Bill, soon to be reported back to Parliament. But, while the Care of Children Bill's open court provisions take steps toward openness, they don't go far enough.

"Labour has decided that, to address growing suspicion over the Family Court, it will regulate for more openness - this is a gross misjudgement. Regulation will not dispel the suspicion, anger and frustration already surrounding our Family Court. Only openness will do that.

"The Open Court Bill changes the presumption of secrecy to one of openness, but retains the judge's right to be in full control of their court - including ordering name suppression and closing the court on a case-by-case basis.

"It is misguided of Labour to push for changes in these areas, while leaving the secrecy presumption in place. That is why it is imperative that this Bill is referred to the Justice & Electoral Select Committee for proper consideration.

"Today, Labour has an opportunity that not many people get: a chance to rectify the mistakes of the past. In doing so, it will be able to help Parliament to create a better system to help New Zealand families. I am urging the Government to support my Private Members Bill today, and send it to Select Committee," 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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