Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee should recognise the rule of law even when he doesn't like the results.
This is the view of Stephen Mills QC, president of the New Zealand Bar Association, in response to criticism of High Court Justice Graeme Panckhurst by Mr Brownlee in Parliament.
Mr Brownlee was referring to a High Court case brought by the 68-strong Quake Outcasts challenging Crown payouts that offer half of government valuation.
He has used the case as a reason to delay zoning decisions on many other hillside homes.
In response to a question, Mr Brownlee said he found it extraordinary that “someone can sit on the bench of a court in this country and inflict such injustice on so many people.”
Mr Mills QC says Mr Brownlee’s comments are dangerous.
“It is the role of judges to make their decisions according to law. For a senior government politician to publicly criticise a judge for fulfilling his constitutional role, and to imply that he ought not to be a judge because he has made a decision that the minister dislikes, is dangerous. The rule of law needs to be recognised and supported by politicians, even when they do not like the results,” Mr Mills says.