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ACT To Fight To Keep Privy Council Appeals

ACT To Fight For Retention Of Privy Council Appeals

ACT Party members have confirmed that the party's MPs should fight any moves by the Government to drop New Zealand's ties with the Privy Council, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"Attorney-General Margaret Wilson is clearly digging in on her plans to dump the Privy Council. Her angry response to queries from the Justice Select Committee shows her rigidity on this. She is likely to try to push the Government into deciding next month.

"ACT thinks this is a serious issue involving the credibility of our justice system both within New Zealand and internationally.

"I have consulted widely with ACT members and interested parties both in person and through the ACT website. Virtually all the people I have contacted are opposed to us cutting off our access to Privy Council standards of judging and independence.

"Margaret Wilson has claimed it would be a sign of this country's 'maturity' to abolish right of appeal to the Privy Council ' and yet most people canvassed on this issue strongly disagree with that statement. If national sovereignty were the issue she would not be signing up to allow UN committees to tell New Zealanders what to do.

"ACT members also believe that minorities and foreigners dealing with this country both value the quality and independence reassurance that flows from us having the Privy Council as our top court.

"They are also very concerned that abolition of the Privy Council links would be followed by political stacking of our judiciary with politically correct activists who would change our constitution and law to make rules that people would never vote for.

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"We should judge courts on the quality of their judgements and their impartiality. The arguments for the Privy Council are like the arguments for having international sports referees as umpires. They do not end all arguments about bias, or lack of local knowledge, but they do make it easier to see that justice is impartial.

"It has not been worth trying to politically stack the New Zealand courts when the independent Privy Council is at the top ' but that could change very quickly if we abolish our links with the council," Mr Franks said.

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