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:

PM's Presser: ‘Precarious’ Solid Energy In Banks’ Hands

Liquidation of state-owned coal company Solid Energy “cannot be ruled out” but is “not the number one preferred option of the government,” says Prime Minister John Key, who confirmed the beleaguered company was discussed today at Cabinet as its banking syndicate grapples with its commercially dire prospects. More>>

ALSO:

Missed Opportunities: Amnesty International Report Card On NZ's UN Role

As New Zealand steps down from its month as President of the Council, Amnesty International has taken the opportunity to review New Zealand’s role on the Council so far and assess their performance and contribution to protecting human rights worldwide. More>>

ALSO:

Prince Charles Get More Jobs: PM Announces Honorary Military Appointments

PM John Key has announced that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of HRH The Prince of Wales to three honorary positions: Admiral of the Fleet of the Royal New Zealand Navy; Field Marshal, New Zealand Army; Marshal of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. More>>

ALSO:

No TPP Deal: Gordon Campbell On Why We Should Still Oppose Investor-State Dispute Measures

Even in this dark hour for the TPP, the secrecy farce continues... What is left to hide? Every single negotiator went into those talks in Maui knowing exactly where everyone else stood. More>>

REACTION:

Salvation Army On Homelessness: Hard Times In West Auckland

The report details an uncomfortable story of people whose only option is to live an unhealthy, dangerous and damaging street life... The social housing needed by these people is not currently available in sufficient quantity. More social housing is required in the West. More>>

ALSO:

Message For PM: NZ Supports Te Reo Māori – You Should Too

As Māori Language Week celebrations and commemoration of 40 years draws to an end, the Māori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, is once again hugely encouraged by the widespread support for Māori language from throughout the country ... More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news