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:

Flyover Over: NZTA Not Appealing Flyover Decision

The NZ Transport Agency has decided not to appeal the High Court’s Basin Bridge decision, and says the High Court’s findings provide valuable clarity to help guide the development of future infrastructure projects throughout the country. More>>

ALSO:

Developing Crown Land: Government, Auckland Iwi Reach Agreement

The government has reached agreement with Ngati Whatua and other Auckland iwi over developing 500 hectares of excess land in Auckland for private housing which had been under High Court challenge. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Maurice Williamson

Maurice Williamson seems to have been granted an annual licence to embarrass the National Party, and its that time of year again. Also as per usual, Williamson’s recent exercise in sexism and homophobia has passed by with barely a murmur from his leader. More>>

ALSO:

Green Climate Plan: Shaw Launches 40% Emission Cut Target

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has announced an emissions target initiative for 40% reduction by 2030. He said agriculture has to long been used as a reason for inaction, a roadblock to action... He proposed a tax of 8 cents per kilo of milk. More>>

ALSO:


Images & Video: Four Alternative Flags For Referendum

Flag Consideration Panel chair, Professor John Burrows, said the Panel’s decision had been guided first and foremost by the results of its engagement programme across a range of communities where thousands of Kiwis shared what was special about New Zealand, as well as the Panel’s own selection criteria. More>>

ALSO:

Transport Report: LGNZ Calls For Proactive Approach To Mobilise Regions

LGNZ has today released Mobilising the Regions, its major transport study, which highlights the economic and social impact of strategic transport decisions nationally and in the regions, and the direct link between regional development, national prosperity, social well-being and cohesiveness. More>>

ALSO:

Transport: New Rules Bring Double-Deckers To Our Cities

New rules that allow buses, including double-deckers, to carry more people will ramp up the public transport offering in our cities, Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss say. More>>

ALSO:

Cycling:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news