Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Alarm bells sound over Family Court reform process


Charles
CHAUVEL
Justice Spokesperson
27 November 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Alarm bells sound over Family Court reform process

Judith Collins' announcement today that the legislation restricting access to the Family Court has raised concerns that it has been timed to avoid proper parliamentary scrutiny, Labour’s Charles Chauvel says.

"I have had many messages of concern today from family lawyers, providers of counselling services, and others with expertise in the way the Family Court works. They are worried that the legislation being introduced today will be read a first time and then referred to a select committee on one of just seven days that are left for Parliament to sit this year.

“If that happens, the concern is that submissions will be called for over the Christmas/New Year period, when many legal and counselling practices are closed, minimising the likelihood of a good number of quality submissions from those with experience of the likely effect of the reforms.

"A major feature of the legislation is its introduction of a new $1000-plus fee to access the new ‘Family Dispute Resolution Service’, which will be the first stop for most family law issues. In most cases, it is currently free to access the Court and the counselling services it provides, with six sessions available to couples to help sort out their problems.

“The proposal radically changes the nature of the Family Court, and has the potential to limit access to it. It also restricts the use of lawyers in the Family Court, including appointments as lawyer for children involved. The radical and controversial nature of these legislative changes is why it is so important for experts practising in the family law area to have the fullest opportunity to make submissions to the select committee.

“Last month, the Family Law Reference Group, set up by former Justice Minister Simon Power, disagreed publicly with Ms Collins' proposed changes, and contradicted her claim that they had been consulted over them, while Chair Anthony Mahon said there were real risks for vulnerable parents and children whom the Minister claims she wants to protect.

"Many will find rich irony, if stakeholders' suspicions prove well-founded, in Judith Collins' statement today on another matter - Law Commission-recommended reform of the court system. In her response to that report she says she is 'focussed on an accessible and people-centred justice system'.

"Her legislation to restrict family court access, on top of her government's existing cuts to legal aid and allowing a backlog of 900 jury trials to build up in the Auckland region, have done more than anything else in recent New Zealand history to restrict people's access to justice.

“Let's hope she doesn't now compound all that by seeking to circumvent proper scrutiny of the Family Court amendment by acting to limit the effective ability of experts in the field to make submissions to the select committee about its provisions", Charles Chauvel said.

labour.org.nz
ENDs

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

PARLIAMENT TODAY:

Royals: The Prince Of Wales And Duchess Of Cornwall To Visit

Prime Minister John Key welcomes today’s announcement that the Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit New Zealand in November. This will be the second joint visit for Their Royal Highnesses to New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

Tracey Martin Replaced: Ron Mark Is New New Zealand First Deputy Leader

Clayton Mitchell was the successful candidate for the Associate Whip position. Winston Peters was re-elected as Leader by the Caucus. Ron Mark was elected as the Deputy Leader with effect from 10am, Friday, 3rd July. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild Rebrand: "Regenerate Christchurch" To Replace CERA

The regeneration of Christchurch will be the city’s focus for the next five years as local leadership progressively takes control of the rebuild, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says. More>>

ALSO:

Nauru: Scholars Urge Minister To Act On Deteriorating Democracy

“Since the 2013 election in Nauru, there has been a series of disturbing developments on the islands that indicate a severe deterioration in the state of its parliamentary democracy and in the rule of law,” say the scholars. More>>

ALSO:

Foreign Affairs: NZ Begins Presidency Of UN Security Council

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the start of New Zealand’s month-long Presidency of the United Nations Security Council in New York. More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cash For Charter Schools, Mould For State Schools

“Recently released financial statements show the Whangarei charter school He Puna Marama received $3.9 million in government funding to the end of last year. Yet their audited accounts show they only spent $1.4 million on education, leaving almost $2.5 million over two years unaccounted for." More>>

ALSO:

Kiwirail Plans Shift From Electric: National Urged Not To Take Backwards Step

The National Government shouldn’t drag New Zealand backwards by replacing its climate friendly electric trains with carbon-polluting diesel trains, the Green Party said today. More>>

ALSO:

Capital Connection:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news