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Supreme Court to be delivered with injustice

Media Statement For immediate release
Tuesday, 14 October, 2003

Smith: Supreme Court to be delivered with injustice

The Government has shown itself to be "arrogant and ideologically driven" in pushing the Supreme Court Bill through its final stage, United Future justice spokesman Murray Smith said today.

And when you combine that with its incompetence in selling even the bill's good points, "you would have to give them a 'D minus' for marketing", he said in Parliament.

The Government's "stuff the public, we're going ahead with it" attitude was in large measure responsible for the unsatisfactory progress of the bill, even when it coincided in its latter stages with "the clear demise of the Privy Council", he said.

"More public education, more patience from the Government and a lot more flexibility on its part on the structure of any Supreme Court could have had the backing of the general public and sector groups."

Unfortunately Labour could neither open their minds or swallow their pride, and instead put before Parliament and the people a virtual fait accompli, Mr Smith said.

"The Government has imposed a huge judicial change upon the people of this country with an active disregard for New Zealanders' views," he said later.

"It has been an unprincipled display of the kind of politics that New Zealanders sought to do away with forever when they got rid of first-past-the-post electoral tyranny," Mr Smith said.

United Future's approach to the legislation had been open, with a view to correcting weaknesses in the Bill and looking at ways to bring the public and various sector groups on board, he said.

"We took a close interest in the issue, broadened the select committee inquiry, listened to the public, tried to mediate between the Government and key submitter groups to see if changes could be brought about to the proposal (and indirect ones like the judicial appointments process) that would satisfy the key objections.

"When we came to the conclusion that that couldn't be done, we sided with the bulk of the public on the basis that the issue was too important in a constitutional sense to go ahead without public endorsement," he said.

"I would have to say that it is indeed a cause for regret among those who value democracy that this Government has so abused its powers, and it's a bitter irony that it has done so supposedly in the name of justice."

ENDS

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