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Resourcing is a serious issue for judiciary

Richard Worth MP National Party Justice Spokesman

29 October 2004

Resourcing is a serious issue for judiciary

"It is absolutely critical for the maintenance of an effective legal system that the courts and their officers are properly resourced," says National Party Justice spokesman Richard Worth.

He is responding to today's comments by the Chief Justice, Dame Sian Elias, who believes judicial independence and resourcing is at risk from this Labour Government.

"Judicial independence is a hallmark of the constitutional principle of the separation of powers," says Mr Worth.

"National is worried about the 'activist' nature of some recent decisions. In fact, just this week the chief Maori Land Court Judge over-stepped the mark when he said Treaty settlements needed to be five times the size they are now if they are to address Maori poverty.

"But laying the claims of judicial activism to one side, the Chief Justice has also voiced serious concerns about resourcing, security and retirement.

"Traditionally, the Attorney-General, as the chief law officer, has sought to protect the interests of the judges, but the present Attorney-General clearly feels she has no obligation in that regard.

"As a result, the Chief Justice has been put in the unenviable position of being forced to go public with her views.

"Certainly, on the issue of retirement, I have some sympathy for the stance taken by Sian Elias.

"My personal view is that the retirement age for judges should be increased from 68 to 70. After all, the new Supreme Court has the ability to employ judges up to 75.

"The critical question here should not be the age of the judge, but their ability to do their job well," says Mr Worth.

ENDS

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