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Legal aid survey won't solve immediate crisis

Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman

27 July 2006

Legal aid survey won’t solve immediate crisis

National Party Associate Justice spokeswoman Kate Wilkinson says Labour’s ‘survey’ on legal aid won’t solve the immediate crisis facing the service.

“Labour has been unable to offer any explanation about why, for instance, battered women in Blenheim are being forced to represent themselves in court because no one’s available to take on their cases.

“Women’s Refuge reports that some of these vulnerable women are simply giving up on efforts to secure protection orders or settle domestic disputes because they cannot face the ordeal of fronting a court case themselves.

“When I raised the issue of access to justice with the Labour Government about a month ago, I was told to wait for the completion of a random survey of households on legal aid. The findings, if we can call them that, are not expected until the end of the year.

“The Minister appears to be in complete denial about the immediate and real-life consequences of his tinkering with the system.”

Ms Wilkinson says most New Zealanders would expect any changes to legal aid to be well researched, well planned and efficiently implemented.

“Labour has failed on all three counts,” she says.


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