Collins rejects Simon Power reforms

Justice Minister Judith Collins is starting to overturn some of the policy reforms made by her predecessor, Simon Power.

Speaking on TV3’s The Nation programme at the weekend, Miss Collins said she was not in favour of proceeding with an inquisitorial trial system for sex offences and cases involving children.

Mr Power told The Nation last year he had hoped to have that introduced before he left Parliament.

But Miss Collins said she believed you couldn’t take a common law system like our adversarial system, and then take on and put on parts of a civil system or an inquisitorial system.

“You either have one or the other, otherwise great injustices will occur.”

And she said she was not convinced the current investigation into minimum pricing for alcohol move to introducing it.

Mr Power had ordered that study.

Alcohol is our legal drug, our legal social drug,” she said. “We use it all the way through society.

“But it's important to understand that actually the vast majority of New Zealanders are quite happy to have a glass of wine.”

And she also rejected two proposals from victims’ rights advocates that defendants be compelled to give evidence and that juries such as in the recent Scott Guy murder case not have evidence suppressed.

“If, for instance, the jury had known about the appalling attacks on those little calves, I doubt whether any jury would say well actually I can now look at that man and give him a fair hearing,” she said.

“I think that would be very hard, and I think the judge made the right decision.

“ It's very hard on people, but we have to have a system that actually says it is better for a guilty person – of course, I'm not speaking about him [MacDonald], in particular – a guilty person to go free than for an innocent person to be wrongly convicted and imprisoned.”

But she was in favour of having a review of TV coverage of courts.

“I'm not comfortable with the sensationalisation of a few moments,” she said.

“You know we saw, for instance, in that case where cameras were absolutely trained not only on the accused, but also on his wife – on the widow of Scott Guy – that it was sensationalised to the extent that it was almost like reality television.

“And I don’t think that does justice any good.”

However she was coy when asked about her own political ambitions.

“I didn’t come in here [Parliament] to eat my lunch,” she said.

Watch the full interview here.

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