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United Future to oppose Supreme Court Bill

Media statement

For immediate release

Tuesday, 7 October 2003

United Future to oppose Supreme Court Bill

The United Future caucus has decided it cannot support the passage of the Supreme Court at this time, even though the Government has the numbers to pass the legislation, on the back of the Greens’ support.

United Future leader, Peter Dunne, said following today’s caucus meeting, “Our concern all along has been that a major constitutional change of this type should only occur with significant public support.

“That is why we sought successfully to broaden the select committee process when hearing submissions on the Bill.

“We have also made specific proposals to the Government regarding drawing the Supreme Court judges from the existing Court of Appeal; establishing a new independent procedure for the future appointment of all judges; considering the wider constitutional context in which changes like the establishment of the Supreme Court are being made; and delaying its implementation for up to a year.

“United Future is not convinced of the level of public support for or information about the proposed change.

“We believe strongly that significant changes to our institutions should be made only with full public and political concurrence, and this is not yet clear in the case of the Supreme Court Bill.

“Nor is it clear that sufficient effort has been made to gauge the level of public support for the proposal.”

Mr Dunne said, “We note that the Government has accepted many of our proposals in some shape or form.

“But United Future remains concerned at the level of opposition, in the business community in particular, to the establishment of a locally based Supreme Court.

“Because we are a pro-business party, we have listened closely to those concerns.

“For these reasons, we have resolved not to support this legislation at this time, and will be voting against it accordingly in Parliament this week.

“At the same time, we believe there are important issues regarding New Zealand’s future constitutional position that our country ought to be starting to consider and debate, and we will be initiating that process over the coming months,” said Mr Dunne.

ends

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