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

Gordon Campbell:
On Andrew Little’s Debut, Mockingjay, And Drunk Texting

John Key’s credibility has taken a hammering this week – at least among the 50% of the electorate who have always had doubts about him on that score.

The other substantial story of the week has been about Andrew Little’s debut as Labour leader, which has received top marks, especially among the 25% of the electorate still voting Labour. According to some reports, the Labour caucus has been ‘in seventh heaven’ about Little’s success this week in taking it to the government in the House. More>>

ALSO:

 
 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On Government Arrogance

Right now, National is ramming anti-terrorism measures through Parliament. This legislation will grant the SIS the power to carry out 48 hour bouts of surveillance on anyone without a warrant, and will bestow on government the power to unilaterally revoke anyone’s passports and thus deny them the freedom to travel. More>>

ALSO:

Glenn Inquiry: Report Offers Solutions To Family Violence

The People’s Blueprint unveiled today by Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence outlines a new, more cohesive and effective system for reducing New Zealand’s alarmingly high family violence rates. More>>

ALSO:

Environment Commissioner: Changing Climate And Rising Seas - Understanding The Science

A rising sea will be with us for a long time to come – one way or another we will have to adapt. But how high and how fast the water rises will be influenced by the speed at which the world – including New Zealand – reduces greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. More>>

ALSO:

Key Texts With Whale Oil Released: PM Can’t Be Trusted Over Dirty Politics Defence - Greens

John Key’s answers to questions about dirty politics can’t be trusted, after he was forced to admit that he had misled journalists and Parliament about contact with attack blogger Cameron Slater, said the Green Party today.. More>>

ALSO:

Temporary Release Crackdown Continues: Corrections Review Of Phillip Smith Case

“The review by Corrections’ Chief Custodial Officer reveals that the plan for Smith’s series of temporary releases was overly ambitious and misinformed. He’s a highly manipulative and deceptive person who although technically eligible, should not have been considered for temporary release." More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news