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Invertebrate Committee on Privy Council

Invertebrate Committee on Privy Council

Tuesday 16 Sep 2003 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

The Select Committee report on the Supreme Court Bill shows how powerful Attorney-General Margaret Wilson is, despite claims that her PC agenda is a minority taste in the Labour Cabinet, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said today.

"The hearings kicked off with a retired judicial lion telling us we had to change because the right of appeal was a humiliating remnant of colonialism. No one made the case for abolition any more penetrating than that. Selective nationalism was the only argument for slaughtering our gift horse of free access to the world's best neutral international referees," Mr Franks said.

The Committee's conclusions bear little relation to the compelling evidence.

· Far from saving money, the new Court will cost New Zealanders around $27 million more, counting the costs of additional litigation.

· The Committee didn't even consider how that amount might be better spent to help people crippled by litigation against them funded through legal aid.

· The Bill has nothing to restrain judicial activism, to stop unelected judges deciding to make the law instead of applying it, like the seabed and foreshore decision.

· There's nothing in the Bill to ensure that appointments to the Supreme Court are apolitical. It is defenceless against being stacked with politically correct cronies to help the Attorney General "develop an indigenous law" for New Zealand.

· There is nothing in the Bill to allow the people to decide on the most dramatic change in our constitution since MMP, sacking an entire top court, presently appointed out of reach of local politicians, and replacing it with a new politically selected team.

"ACT will now push the petition for a referendum with renewed energy. Until the change has referendum approval, Labour has set a bad precedent. A new government will have to replace judges who want to make law that Parliament would never pass.

"In this Committee, not only the Greens and United Future were spineless. Labour members supported the party line. Even the recommended change to increase the number of judges to six was deliberately fudged. It says five or six. Ms Wilson can stick to five, with all judges sitting on all cases, and use handpicked temporary judges to fill any gaps, instead of appointing an extra judge.

"These spineless MPs have done Parliament no credit," Mr Franks 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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