Supreme Court Bill passed

October 14th, 2003 at 5:10 pm by David Farrar

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.

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5 Responses to “Supreme Court Bill passed”

  1. gpt () says:

    This is a disgrace. Quite apart from the fact that it is complete madness to end appeals to the greatest common law court in the world as some sort of proof that we are “a big country now” the decision has been rail-roaded through. It is a huge constitutional move, certainly the biggest since MMP and it has been flicked through on a bare majority.

    Anyway, I’m off to chop my tackle off, dye my skin and lose a leg in order to fulfill Margaret Wilson’s criteria for the bench of the Supreme Court.

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  2. Kimble () says:

    Why is so much made of these polls? So 80% of people want to have a say in whether or not we removed the option of the Privy council. So what? Am I to believe that those in the 80% have full knowledge of all the pros and cons of such a decision? Polls dont mean shit, because the people responding dont have the information and are ultimatly saying that they want more control over their lives. Take another poll, 75% of all couch potatoes reckon we should have a say in the selection of the All Blacks. Doesnt mean it should happen. We dont make the decisions in this country, except for one (or two) at election time. What is it with this country? We seem to tout ignorance as a virtue. The anti-GE marches are another example, people with no information/intelligence demanding to control the way we all live our lives. At least the government has a mandate.

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  3. David Farrar () says:

    I think most people can tell the difference between a major constitutional change, and a sports team.

    And with a referenda you have several weeks or months of debate and information provision so people can make an informed choice.

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  4. Kimble () says:

    Granted that might be what you and others like you would do. But would the majority? Don’t foget the majority rules in a democracy. I contend it would be more likely that only a minority would vote based on an evaluation of all the relevant data. Whilst the majority would base their decision only on the data that supports the uneducated position they already have. Alot of people read movie reviews AFTER seeing the movie. They want to have their own opinions justified. Only a relatively small number of people will make up their minds on an issue after a debate. They will hear only what they want to hear. The whole GM paranoia (why do I always end up using this example when describing basic human stupidity?) is a perfect example for this point. The people marching on Saturday would not change their opinions even after a year of debate. And these are the people most likely to vote in a referendum!

    Personally, I am also quite worried that a change in the (unwritten) constitution of NZ can be changed so (relatively) easily.

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  5. Berend de Boer () says:

    Any bets on who wants to become the first president of NZ? I mean, you need to have options if you don’t get the top UN job.

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