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Labour didn't consult or resource court for 'P'

Kate Wilkinson MP
National Party Associate Justice Spokeswoman

18 August 2006

Labour didn’t consult or resource court to tackle ‘P’

National Party Associate Justice spokeswoman Kate Wilkinson says Rick Barker needs to point the finger at his own colleagues for the waiting list blowout at the High Court.

“Mr Barker has blamed the growing back-log on methamphetamine cases. But the reality is Labour never consulted the Department for Courts before the Government agreed to the much needed toughening up of the law.

“Labour didn’t do its homework and didn’t prepare for the consequences. Now the lines are longer and it’s not just ‘P’ cases facing lengthy delays. The Minister’s spin also fails to explain the growing back-log in the District Court.”

Ms Wilkinson says material produced by Tony Ryall in December 2003, shows the Chief Justice ‘expressed her concern to the Minister of Justice’ about the likely impact of ‘P’ on High Court waiting lists.

This week, National revealed there are 230 criminal cases waiting for trial in the High Court, compared with 135 cases four years ago. The median waiting time has also increased for High Court jury trials from 179 days in 2003 to 228 days.

“Three years down the track, the waiting times are indeed longer and Labour’s still using the law change as an excuse.”

Ms Wilkinson says the blowout in waiting lists is another symptom of a failing system. Recently she has brought attention to the crisis in legal aid, where battered women are being forced to represent themselves in serious domestic cases.

“Instead of being proactive, Labour appears to be waiting for a major break-down before it acts. You’d think they might have learned something in seven years,” says Ms Wilkinson.


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