Charles Chauvel e-mailed his Labour colleagues today:
If you are home in time this evening to watch it, you might like to tune in to Court Report on TVNZ7 (Freeview and Sky77) at 9.30pm.
I’ll be on the panel to discuss, in the words of the show’s publicity blurb, ‘the storm brewing between the judiciary and the Government’. This is an issue that is likely to become more significant as time passes.
The show also features commentary from electoral law specialist Hayden Wilson on the Banks scandal.
Linda Clark is the host.
If you miss it on TV tonight, it will also available online at www.tvnz.co.nz/the-court-report
Nice of Charles to try and increase the viewer ratings for TVNZ7.
One of the Labour MPs offices forwarded it onto lawyer Deborah Manning, but also accidentally forwarded it to all DIA Ministerial addresses, including the Attorney-General.
It is a Labour special tonight, as Hayden is also a fairly well known Labour activist. Not that this means his views are not worth listening to – they are.
The issue that Charles is discussing is a rumour that the number of Judges will be reduced by 20 or so as a cost cutting measure. Now you can not make Judges of the High Court (higher court judges are also High Court judges) redundant under S23 of the Constitution Act 1986:
A Judge of the High Court shall not be removed from office except by the Sovereign or the Governor-General, acting upon an address of the House of Representatives, which address may be moved only on the grounds of that Judge’s misbehaviour or of that Judge’s incapacity to discharge the functions of that Judge’s office.
No wriggle room there.
District Court Judges come under the District Court Act 1947, where s7 says:
The Governor-General may, if he thinks fit, remove a Judge for inability or misbehaviour.
Every Judge shall retire from office on attaining the age of 70 years.
Not quite the same level of protection as High Court Judges. The principle is an important one – Judges should not have to worry about job security in case they offend a Government of the day.
Now I have no idea if the Government is looking to reduce the number of Judges (but the number of cases going to court is falling), but if they are I’d be very very surprised if it was done by anything other than natural attrition.