At 5.14 pm today Parliament (subject to Royal Assent) passed legislation by 63 votes to 53 setting replacing the Privy Council with a new Supreme Court to be appointed by the Attorney General.
This came on the very day that a NZ Herald poll revealed that not only did New Zealanders oppose the change by 48% to 36%, but more importantly a staggering 80% agree that a referendum should be held on the issue.
Labour has tried to portray this as merely the last stage of a twenty-year debate, but this is highly misleading. The issue of our final court is more than a bi polar decision between the status quo and a Margaret Wilson appointed Supreme Court. I personally do think we should end appeals to the Privy Council but I absolutely reject Labour’s Supreme Court as an improvement.
Helen Clark is trying to say this is not a major constitutional change, but it clearly is, and she has even said so in the past. It is not merely an issue of where our highest court is located but going to a system where one Minister (with an appalling track record in appointments) will appoint the entire highest Court for what may be 20 years or more.
Pushing a major constitutional change through Parliament on such a slender majority, just weeks after they did the same to retrospectively amend the Electoral Act to re-elect one or more Labour MPs without an election, speaks volumes about the arrogance of this Government.