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Petition to Open Family Court Launched Today

Petition to Open Family Court Launched Today

Monday 14 Oct 2002 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

Campaigner for family law reform and ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman tonight launched a petition to Parliament calling for the Family Court to be opened for scrutiny.

"I gained huge support to open up the Family Court when my Private Member's Bill was in front of the last parliament. The feedback I received from families torn apart by the Family Court was extremely disturbing. Allegations of injustice and bias against fathers was rife. I realised that these unfair outcomes were only possible because of the shroud of secrecy that envelopes the Family Court and the threat of criminal conviction against anyone who wants to publish the truth.

"Labour voted down my bill, promising reform of the Family Court. They failed to act and proved their promises were just hollow words.

"Tonight I am launching a petition to Parliament to call for support for modelling New Zealand's Family Court on the Australian Family Court. That would consist of changing the presumption from being closed to being open (just like our Select Committees at parliament) while ensuring the judge retains the power to close the court and restrict publication of the identity of those involved, on a case-by-case basis.

"I will present the petition to Parliament just before Christmas and I am hopeful that I will gain the support of the Select Committee to instigate an inquiry into opening up the Family Court", Dr Newman said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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