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Mallard's attack on judiciary also swipes Wilson

18 November 2004

Mallard's attack on judiciary also swipes Wilson

Green MP Nandor Tanczos says Trevor Mallard's view that the Supreme Court judges were not chosen on merit is an attack on his colleague, Attorney General Margaret Wilson, who made the appointments.

"This outrageous statement from a senior Minister has serious ramifications for the independence of our judiciary," said Nandor, the Green Party's Justice Spokesperson.

"Margaret Wilson promoted the judges from the Court of Appeal to the bench of the Supreme Court. If you are appointing judges on merit, where else are they going to come from? It is revealing that as well as questioning his fellow Cabinet member's judgement, Trevor Mallard is also effectively saying that the Court of Appeal, an experienced and highly regarded bench, is not appointed on merit. "Mr Mallard's statement specifically undermines our most senior judges for political purposes. Such a move can only create an atmosphere where judges, if they have any ambition at all, may tailor their judgements to the political fashions of the day. This is exactly what Chief Justice Sian Elias has warned of.

"The Greens have long believed that New Zealand needs an independent Judicial Appointments Commission to ensure judges are seen to have been objectively appointed.

"One of the public's main concerns when the Supreme Court Bill was being passed last year was that judicial appointments could become politically motivated. The Greens, whose support was needed to pass the legislation, extracted a promise from the Government that a public discussion on a Judicial Appointments Commission would take place. A discussion document was subsequently published and most of the submissions to it supported an independent Judicial Appointments Commission. This is in line with Britain, which is moving towards such a body.

"The Greens say that Mr Mallard's latest attack further strengthens the case for an independent mechanism for appointing judges," said Nandor.

ENDS

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