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Misinformation ruling Supreme Court debate

13 October, 2003

Misinformation ruling Supreme Court debate

The Green Party today accused right wing political parties of attempting to sacrifice access to justice, as well as accuracy, in their campaign to retain appeals to the Privy Council.

Nandor Tanczos, the Green Justice spokesperson, said that New Zealand does not currently have a fully functioning final court of appeal, because access to the Privy Council is so restricted, while the Court of Appeal is too overworked to play that role.

"The right wing parties are all prepared to put the interests of the rich above the interests of ordinary New Zealanders. At least they are consistent about that.

"The Right needs to justify its stance of wanting to deny New Zealand an accessible and fully functioning final court of appeal in order to maintain privileged justice for the ultra-wealthy.

"What they aren't telling the country is that, with the setting up of the UK Supreme Court, the Privy Council is on the way out anyway."

Nandor said that the case to hold a referendum on the issue was not compelling, and that historical precedents refuted the arguments put forward by the leaders of National, Act and New Zealand First.

"Is this a major constitutional change? I would say not. The bill does not remove a right of appeal, but simply replaces the forum. That is much less significant than the proposal by National in 1996 to remove but not replace the Privy Council.

"In fact major constitutional changes in this country have not generally been decided by referenda. The adoption of the Statute of Westminster, the abolition of the legislative council, the Bill of Rights Act and the establishment of the Court of Appeal were all enacted without public referenda. Maybe they should have been, but this bill is much less significant than those.

"No other country, including Australia and Canada has used a referendum to end appeals to the Privy Council.

"The Green Party believes that New Zealanders are well able to understand the issues involved, just as they understand petty political games. The desperate attempt to relaunch the campaign for a referendum just shows that the public is not interested in such games."


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