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Attorney-General disappointed in Law Society comments

Hon Christopher Finlayson

Attorney-General

31 January 2014 Media Statement        

Attorney-General disappointed in Law Society comments

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson expressed his disappointment in the Law Society’s continued and wilful misrepresentation of New Zealand’s human rights record.

“The Law Society has an important role to play in contributing to the creation of quality legislation,” Mr Finlayson said. “But it diminishes its standing by continually crying wolf over non-existent human rights issues that really just reflect the personal taste of some of its members.”

“First and foremost the Law Society’s particular preference regarding administrative procedure in Parliament – that is, its dislike of urgency – is not a human rights issue.

“But even beyond that obvious point, the Law Society’s comments show a wilful ignorance of the facts about the use of urgency.

“If the Law Society had referred to facts, they would know that this Parliament’s use of urgency is the lowest in years. Changes to standing orders at the end of the previous parliamentary term in 2011 allow for extended sitting hours by agreement of the Business Committee. This has reduced the use of urgency.

“Since then extended sitting hours have been used to great effect this term to consider non-controversial legislation and ensure the smooth running of the House.

“The Law Society makes no reference to the work that all parties in Parliament have done to reduce the use of urgency.

“Similarly, the Law Society knows that the presentation of a report by the Attorney-General under section 7 of the Bill of Rights Act does not prevent the passage of any particular piece of legislation. If that had been intended by Parliament, it would have been stated in the law.

“Some of the Society’s members may want an entrenched bill of rights allowing the courts to strike down laws made by a democratically elected Parliament. However, that is not the law of New Zealand under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.”

“It is bizarre for the Law Society to accuse the government of undermining the rule of law on the grounds that it observes the law as it is, not as the Law Society would want it to be,” Mr Finlayson said.

ENDS

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