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New Political Party Addresses Thorn In Labour’s Side

A new political party, the Tea Party, launches on 20 June. One of their key policies is the focus on the traditional family, embracing gender differences, irrespective of whether the partners are together or not.

Over half of New Zealand families end in divorce and each year at least 60,000 applications are heard in the NZ Family Court. It is an issue that has been a thorn in the side of successive governments, including Labour following a damning review last year led by New Zealand Centre for Human Rights Law, Policy and Practice director Rosslyn Noonan who described the system as ‘not fit for purpose’. It recommended 70 changes that would cost the government between $18 and $60 million dollars. Lengthydelays (on average307.9 days to resolve disputes) and children not having a voice in court where two issues of concern in the review(1)

Tea Party Co-leader Susanna Kruger is a self-employed Legal & Business Consultant assisting self-litigants through Family Court proceedings. “We must do better in resolving custody disputes and dealing with child protection, areas that the current government is failing miserably at. These are some of our most vulnerable children and marginalised sectors of our society” says Kruger.

Kruger, a South African now domiciled in Auckland's North Shore, has witnessed many families torn apart in the Family Court resulting in people losing their freedom, children, property and sometimes even their life, as was evidenced by Sid Hanzlik torching himself on the steps of parliament three years ago when Labour came into power. (3)

“The violent character of family law encourages lawyers to rely on violent communications and tactics, encouraging false evidence and unfair claims to get the best outcome for their client, and they are financially rewarded the longer it continues. This is not in the best interests of the child nor the family” says Kruger who is also the author of Family Law and I: A Mother's Perspective.

Similarly, Dame Margaret Bazley in her 2009 review of the legal aid blowout (family court users at the time being one of the highest users of legal aid) cited that legal aid lawyers were 'gaming the system' - exacerbating conflict, asking for top up payments on legal aid and operating in their own best interests instead of their clients. The Manukau Court was the worst, with 80% of legal aid lawyers doing such”. (3)

Tracy Martin, Minister of Children, blames the “systemic failures” in dealing with children of divorce on “social workers using a Section 78 without notice too often”, “under-resourcing” of services, “incompetence” of staff and lack of “trust”; but, prides herself in having the “backing” of the NZ First Caucus and Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters. (2)

All past and current family court users, interested parties and those providing services to broken families are invited to the launch of Tea Party: 20 June 2020, 2.30pm, Intangible Cultural Heritage Centre, Level 1, ASB Building, 381 Great South Road, Ellerslie.

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