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Where's the Attorney-General On Judicial Activism?


Where's the Attorney-General On Judicial Activism?

ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today drew attention to Supreme Court Judge Thomas Gault's comments to a British Parliamentary committee about MPs' criticism of "judicial activism".

"I believe Justice Gault's unhappiness over an MP's criticism of a particular case was a reference to my questioning of the Chief Justice's involvement in the seabed and foreshore case. He told the British MPs how pleased he was when newspaper editorials rounded on their Parliamentary critic," Mr Franks said.

"How much more bitter the judges must have felt when they learned about Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen's attack on judicial activism, the day before the committee session in London. He raised some valid and important arguments. This is not to ignore the deep hypocrisy in Dr Cullen's speech, given his votes in favour of a string of acts infested with undefined terms like `principles of the Treaty', `accountability' and `spiritual values' which demand an active intervention of law by judges.

"The pity is that it has been largely left to Parliamentarians, risking the destruction of valuable conventions against MPs' criticism of judges, to blow the whistle on bad law. It should have been the Law Society, academics and practising lawyers - but first of all - the Attorney-General.

"Instead, we have an Attorney-General who has been promoting law that forces judges to be activists, then not defending them from her own Cabinet colleagues - even after she castigated me for less sweeping questioning.

"In Britain, judges have openly debated these matters. I wonder whether it is political correctness that has so longed delayed the same debate here. I'd love to know what Justice Gault thinks of Dr Cullen's speech, given the Deputy Prime Minister's vote against my amendment to the Supreme Court Bill designed to rule out judicial activism," Mr Franks said.

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