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Dumb and dumber blunder on

7 September 2006

Dumb and dumber blunder on

National's blundering attacks on the New Zealand Court System are misinformed, which is not surprising given they're being led by dumb and dumber, Courts Minister Rick Barker said today.

"In the House today Kate Wilkinson lied when she said there had been no increase in South Island court staff numbers. Just last week I announced six additional staff for the Christchurch District Court, as well as 13 other staff around New Zealand.

"Last week during Question Time Chris Finlayson accused me of being 'wrong' when I stated digital audio technology would be installed in the High Court. It was Chris Finlayson who was wrong and I've since written to him with the facts.

"Kate Wilkinson and Chris Finlayson repeatedly recite questions, obviously written by the National Party Research Unit, about things they know nothing about. Today was simply more of the same.

"Their attacks are ill-informed, exposing at best the laziness of their work, or at worst, their deliberate attempt to mislead with lies.

"It's time the Tories stopped their whinging, recognised their failure from the 1990s and started to acknowledge that it is a Labour-led government that is putting right what the National Party made wrong.

"Massive underinvestment by the National Party in the 1990s meant the courts system the Labour-led Government inherited was a mess. Many court buildings were derelict, IT infrastructure was third world, systems were paper based, staff space was ridiculous and unsafe, and training and support for staff development was non-existent.

"We've taken on the challenge of getting it right and as I've previously stated, 'we've done heaps!'

"In 2004, a baseline review was conducted that recommended an increase in total baseline funding of $156million to Courts. As well as this we have commenced a broad three-year programme of review, a Service Improvement Programme, and large-scale capital investment and deferred maintenance programmes.

"Piece by piece there has been an overhaul of our courts. We've increased court staff numbers, appointed 25 extra judges, introduced digital audio technology to 44 courts, embarked on this country's largest court building programme in recent history, the list goes on and on.

"I am proud of our record in Courts. We're delivering a first class service that will support the needs of our families and communities now and into the future," said Mr Barker.

ENDS

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