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Family Court senior registrars shelved

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

by Maggie Tait of NZPA

Wellington, June 17 NZPA - A Labour government proposal for senior registrars to preside over Family Courts to take the pressure off judges has been dumped because it is too expensive, MPs were told today.

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern asked Courts Minister Georgina te Heuheu, when she appeared before Parliament's justice select committee today, what had happened to a successful pilot on non-judge led mediation and the appointment of the senior registrars.

She questioned why, given legislation was passed to enable the measures, they had not been introduced after nearly two years.

Ms te Heuheu said the previous government may have passed the legislation but no provision was made to pay for it.

General manager higher courts Andrew Hampton said the original proposal was developed with little input from officials and now costings had been done.

"They (senior registrars) will cost $170,000 each, much more expensive than normal ministry staff. It would not be affordable to implement it."

He said there had also been, in the intervening two years, other initiatives dealing with the same problem such as one targeted at early intervention.

The ministry would report back to the Government next April once that programme had had a chance to run to consider whether the special registrars were really needed.

He pointed out the legislation enabled the measures but did not require implementation.

Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier previously said the senior Family Court registrars would result in greater efficiency as some of judges' "overwhelming" work could be transferred to them.

He welcomed their involvement in leading mediation too and said it would be most useful in areas of the country where judges only visited.

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