Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Recourse to Independent Courts Most Valued Right

Howard’s End by Maree Howard

The most valuable human right in New Zealand access to the independent courts

Access to the independent courts is one of the most valued and valuable human rights in New Zealand. But this was ousted earlier this week when the Government signed-off on a new code of ACC claimants rights which denies people access to the courts over ACC decisions under the code and leaves them to the winds of chance of a wholly-owned company owned by ACC itself. Maree Howard writes.

For hundreds of years access to the independent courts has been one of the essential pillars of a credible democracy. It is the foundation of the fundamental element of basic human rights - the right to place the decision of a Government, or its its organisations, under proper independent scrutiny.

If the ramparts of justice are manned by anyone, they are manned by lawyers and judges. Those ramparts in New Zealand have fallen almost without a struggle.

Earlier this year our so-called democratic Parliament passed new ACC legislation which provided for a Code Claimants Rights and most people applauded.

But the devil, as always, is in the detail.

Who would ever have contemplated that Parliament would have passed legislation where an ACC decision made under this code could never be scrutinised by an independent judge in our courts.

Rather, the decision is to be left to the scrutiny of a reviewer appointed by a wholly-owned company of ACC, whose Chairman was reported in the Sunday Star-Times just last week saying that the review process is not as neutral as it could be.

The company is Dispute Resolution Services Limited where, it was also reported in the Star-Times, at least 50% - 60% of reviewers are ex-ACC people.

Reviews have already been described as a sham with conflicts of interest and bias. Lawyers describe it as a lottery and, it now seems, simply don't think it worthwhile or cost-effective to continue turning up.

So what chance is there for people who are now unable to have ACC decisions made under the new code examined by a court?

What on earth were our politicians thinking when they passed this totalitarian and oppressive piece of legislation? - a piece of legislation, in my view, which can never belong in any country which deems to call itself a democracy.

It was very easy, in fact - the safeguards didn't work - with the result that the politicians blindly and un-thinkingly passed the legislation.

When the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act was passed in 1990 there was a decision by the Parliament of the day not to enact it as supreme law - by the way, we don't have a written constitution which protects people and guarantee's human rights either.

So, in the Bill of Rights Act there was provision put in for the Attorney-General to give notice to the Parliament when proposed legislation was likely to infringe the Bill of Rights. That was what is called a section 7 notification.

The Court of Appeal has held that this provision means that Parliament must know what is occurring and give proper consideration to proposed legislation in that light.

Did that happen with this particular section of the new ACC legislation which denies people access to the independent courts? - Nah!

The politicians, therefore, have not proceeded according to mandatory law governing the procedure for enacting new legislation. The courts, I believe, will be most upset - more particularly, when they find out that they've been side-lined, or ousted.

This sounds exactly like Zimbabwe where their judges firstly had their jurisidiction removed, and finally, they themselves were removed and replaced with the more compliant.

Most people probably couldn't care less about injured ACC claimants but, in doing so, they forget the old saying - "there but for the grace of God go I.'

OK, that might be your view. But you sure as hell should be deeply concerned about what our politicians are up to.

As they say, God Defend New Zealanders - because it sure seems our politicians won't.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: Trump Plays Both Sides Against The Middle

Is he a hawk? Is he a peacenik? The President keeps us guessing . By Reese Erlich President Donald Trump has convinced Republican isolationists and hawks that he supports their views. That’s a neat trick, since the two groups hold opposing positions. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Waiting For The Old Bailey: Julian Assange And Britain’s Judicial Establishment

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Sorry Plight Of The International Education Sector

Tourism and international education have been two of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. They’re both key export industries. Yet the government response to them has been strikingly different. There has been nothing beyond a few words of ministerial condolence and a $51.6 million package (details below) to get the sector through the pandemic...

Binoy Kampmark: Google’s Open Letter: Fighting Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Tech giants tend to cast thin veils over threats regarding government regulations. They are also particularly concerned by those more public spirited ones, the sort supposedly made for the broader interest. Google has given us an example of this ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Trump’s Current Chances Of Re-Election

By now it seems clear that National have no fresh ideas to offer for how New Zealand could avoid the Covid-19 economic crisis. As in the past, National has set an arbitrary 30% ratio of government debt to GDP that it aims to achieve “in a decade or so,” ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>