MP Way back in opposition
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MP doubts court changes
Thursday, 18 March 2004
CLEVEDON MP Judith Collins doubts proposed changes to the New Zealand courts system will help to bring greater transparency to the Family Court.
The National party’s families spokesperson said the Law Commission’s recommendation to open up the Family Court, including allowing the media to cover some aspects of court proceedings, will be no improvement on the current system.
“The current system uses children’s ‘best interests’ to justify secrecy and incompetence when in reality children would be best served by having real accountability in the Family Court,” said Ms Collins.
“The report appears to recommend that there be fewer restrictions on the reporting of family proceedings. However, in practice these recommendations would amount to an inability to report on proceedings other than those relating to property, wills and those too incapacitated to look after themselves.”
She said not allowing witnesses or others connected with proceedings to be identified with leave of the court means there is unlikely to be reporting of government department incompetence, counsel for the child, bad behaviour of custodial parents and incompetence parading as cultural sensitivity.
“Under the proposed changes parents will still not be able to talk about the proceedings without leave of the court. Again, this prevents proper accountability,” Ms Collins said.
“While the problems of secrecy and lack of accountability are correctly identified, the report’s recommendations would make little impact on the seriousness of those problems,” said Ms Collins.