Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


New Zealand Supreme Court has majority support

16 September 2003 Media Statement

New Zealand Supreme Court has majority support

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson says the Justice and Electoral select committee’s report on the Supreme Court Bill marks the historic day when New Zealand has taken political responsibility for its final appellate court.

“It affirms the building of a strong and confident nation that believes in access to justice and believes the justice system should offer everyone two levels of appeal.”

The Supreme Court Bill has gained majority support in Parliament after the hearing of submissions and deliberations by the Justice and Electoral select committee.

The Green Party gives unqualified support to the establishment of the Supreme Court in New Zealand and ending appeals to the Privy Council in London.

The Government is in discussions with United Future New Zealand to secure their support.

Margaret Wilson says the Bill has emerged from the select committee process largely unchanged, but there are differing political views on many aspects of the Bill.

“The select committee’s report reflects careful and multi-faceted consideration of complex issues. It is a study of democracy under MMP, where the different political viewpoints have come into play at various levels.”

She challenges the National Party to allow the abolitionists within its own ranks to support the Bill. “Ending Privy Council appeals used to be National’s policy before the party became reactive and purely political.”

A key change to the Bill is the addition of a purpose clause outlining the reasons for establishing the Supreme Court that makes it clear the founding legislation protects the constitutional status quo.

The addition of the purpose clause was initially driven by the Green Party’s desire for the legislation to explicitly acknowledge the Treaty of Waitangi. There was however a majority view that the Bill should not change the legal status of the Treaty, even inadvertently. There was also a desire to ensure that the principles of parliamentary sovereignty and the rule of law were not undermined.
“The purpose clause addresses those concerns,” Margaret Wilson says.

The committee also recommends allowing a sixth judge to be appointed if the court’s workload requires it, that written reasons be provided if a leave application is refused, that technical advisors can be appointed in any case, the removal of “matters of tikanga” from the leave criteria, and a revision of the transitional arrangements.

The Government accepts those recommendations.

The select committee rejected calls for a referendum, a requirement for overseas judges or an alternative process for appointing Supreme Court judges.

Margaret Wilson says the Government hopes to pass the Bill by Christmas. The date the Court begins to sit depends on the time needed for a smooth administrative transition, but a probable date is 1 July next year.

The Court will be housed in temporary premises while the High Court heritage building in Wellington’s Ballance St is refurbished to provide permanent accommodation.

Margaret Wilson says all judges are chosen on merit. The appointments process will begin after the Bill is passed. A panel comprising the Chief Justice, Solicitor-General and a lay representative, Sir Paul Reeves, will make recommendations to the Attorney-General, who in turn makes recommendations to the Governor-General.

In the interests of promoting certainty without predetermining the selection process, Margaret Wilson says she expects Supreme Court judges to be appointed from the Court of Appeal. “If the panel recommends differently, I would want to know why.”

The majority support for the Bill is a vote of confidence in the New Zealand judiciary and the nation’s ability to produce legal talent on par to any in the world.

“The process for appointing judges is long-established, and our judiciary is respected throughout the world for its absolute integrity, impartiality and ability.”

“There are powerful conventions protecting judicial appointments from political interference. Successive Attorney-Generals have always respected those conventions and I will continue that tradition. If I did not, the integrity of the Supreme Court would be undermined to the extent that there would be no purpose in its establishment in the first place.”

Margaret Wilson says another development arising from the select committee’s deliberations is the interest in establishing an independent body to appoint judges in the future. “The Government is now considering the best way to explore that possibility. Policy work and public discussion will be required.”

Such work is timely as Westminster democracies – including Australian states and most recently the United Kingdom – are re-examining the tradition of judicial appointments by the Executive.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Yesterday’s Big Parliamentary Air Kiss To China

In order to obtain support from the two major parties, Act Party deputy leader Brooke Van Velden twice had to soften the language of her parliamentary motion yesterday condemning China’s persecution of the Uighurs. The key word “genocide” was deleted. Evidently, the kind of resolution passed by a conservative government in the UK proved to be far too tough for a centre-left Labour government and a centre-right National opposition to countenance. Yesterday, the two major parties were united in their fear of retribution from China... More>>


Government: Fair Pay Agreements To Improve Pay And Conditions For Essential Workers

The Government is delivering on its pre-election commitment to implement Fair Pay Agreements which will improve wages and conditions, as well as help support our economic recovery, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today. More>>


Public Services: Government Sets Pay And Workforce Expectations For The Public Sector

The Government’s Workforce Policy Statement issued today sets out its expectations for pay and employment relations in the Public Sector, the Minister of Finance and Minister for the Public Service say. “New Zealand has had an exceptionally successful ... More>>


Government: Budget 2021 Reprioritises Nearly $1 Billion

Hon Grant Robertson Deputy Prime Minister Minister of Finance The Government’s strong pandemic response and the better than expected economic recovery means not all the money allocated in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund has been spent, ... More>>


PM: Statement On The Speaker And Annual Review Debate

“The serious issue of alleged sexual assault and harassment at Parliament was poorly managed and inappropriately politicised last night. The tone of the debate did not reflect well on Parliament as a whole,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. ... More>>

Parliament: Mallard Fails To Give Taxpayers A Straight Answer

Trevor Mallard has confirmed he is unfit to be Parliament’s Speaker by failing to answer several important questions relating to the false rape accusation saga that cost taxpayers more than $330,000, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says. ... More>>

Local Government: Independent Review To Explore Future

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says an independent review of local government will explore how councils can maintain and improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders in the communities they serve long into the future. More>>


PM Ardern And PM Morrison: Commencement Of Two-Way Quarantine-Free Travel Between Australia And New Zealand

Joint Statement by Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern Commencement of two-way quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand Today, Australia and New Zealand have fulfilled their commitment to establish two-way quarantine free ... More>>




InfoPages News Channels