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Smith defers bill while court decision challenged

Hon Nick Smith
National Party Environment Spokesman
26 July 2006

Smith defers bill while court decision challenged

National’s Environment spokesman, Nick Smith, has deferred consideration by Parliament of his Resource Management (Restricted Coastal Activities) Amendment Bill because of an appeal of the High Court’s refusal to release papers to MPs on the Conservation Minister’s decision to veto the Whangamata Marina.

“It is a constitutional farce that the High Court is blocking MPs from accessing crucial information on Chris Carter’s decision on the Whangamata Marina, particularly when media have been granted access to it.

“MPs need the information to make a reasoned decision on this bill.”

Justice Wild ruled on 27 June 2006 that ‘Members of Parliament as well as political parties into which they are organised do not have a ‘genuine and proper interest’ in access to court files’, specifically in respect of the judicial review of Mr Carter’s decision on the Whangamata Marina.

On 1 June, Justice Wild ruled that the media were ‘a person having a genuine and proper interest.’

“The assertion that MPs are some lower form of life than the media in respect of accessing court papers shows a disturbing attitude towards democracy and the people’s representatives by the courts,” says Dr Smith.

“It is these sorts of silly rulings that lead to people having contempt for the courts.

“It also shows a lack of respect for the proper role of Opposition spokespeople to scrutinise and hold Ministers to account.”

National has challenged the decision of Justice Wild to the Court of Appeal, and a hearing has been set down for Monday 7 August.

“If passed, my bill would both overturn the Minister’s decision on the Whangamata Marina as well as permanently remove the Ministerial veto in such cases,” says Dr Smith.

“Parliament needs to see the full paper trail of the Minister’s dodgy dealings before voting on this bill. I will keep deferring it until the Court of Appeal gives its ruling on the papers.”

ENDS

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