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Tuesday, January 19

PM John Key on Supreme Court Building Inaguration

Supreme Court Building Opening Address

By PM John Key

 

Your Royal Highness, Chief Justice, ladies and gentlemen.

Rau rangatira ma

Te Atiawa iwi

Tena koutou katoa.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Prince William to New Zealand. He is here today, representing Her Majesty The Queen, as the Queen of New Zealand, at the opening of the new Supreme Court building.

We are delighted that Prince William is back in New Zealand on an official visit. The training demands of the Royal Air Force mean that this visit must be short. We hope, though, that Prince William will feel warmly welcomed. His visit this time coincides with our summer holiday, when New Zealanders are enjoying the beach, the bush and the barbecue. I'm very pleased that as well as today's formal events, Prince William's programme includes some of those activities. Like many New Zealanders, he is getting out sailing in Auckland harbour, and will be walking in the bush this afternoon at Kapiti Island.

He is also a great rugby enthusiast and is patron of the Welsh Rugby Union. I can attest to the fact that yesterday he showed particular interest in the progress at Eden Park. I regret to advise Your Royal Highness that I confidently expect that the All Blacks will trounce Wales - and England for that matter - when New Zealand hosts the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

It is great that you can share in these outdoor activities. As you know, sport and the great outdoors are much loved by a country that values time to play and relax.

But we are also a nation that works - works hard, and works well. One of the key reasons that this country works so well is that we have a reliable and effective judicial branch of government. The opening today of the Supreme Court building is enormously important for the senior members of the Judiciary, who finally have a permanent home.

Today's ceremony to mark the opening of the Supreme Court building is significant also for the whole country. It represents more than just the opening of a building, and there is much to celebrate.

This building, like the Beehive and Parliament Buildings, are very important to New Zealand's sense of national identity and our international reputation. What happens in these buildings both represents and affects New Zealanders. In my view, the buildings themselves can and do symbolise the core values of this country - values such as fairness, justice, democracy, and an absolute rejection of corruption.

These values of honesty and integrity are hallmarks of New Zealand. In 2009, New Zealand was rated first on the Transparency International's ‘Corruption Perception Index'. Out of 180 countries, New Zealand was rated as having the lowest perceived public sector corruption. As a nation, that ranking is something of which we can be very proud.

The strength and integrity of the three branches of government also means that there is a healthy relationship between them. The buildings of our three institutions are only a few minutes' walk from one another, and I regularly see the Chief Justice and the Speaker of the House of Representatives both formally and informally.

That does not mean, however, that the institutional roles are blurred. I am well aware that it is the role of the Supreme Court, as the highest appellate court in the country, to play an important role in ensuring that the other two branches of government act in accordance with the laws of New Zealand.

It is true that occasionally there may be disagreement about where the respective boundaries lie. This is healthy and provides a tangible illustration of the separation of powers in operation as the executive, legislature, and judiciary go about their business.

There will always be robust debate. What is important is that those in office in each branch of government respect the roles of the others. I am certain that in this country that is the case. I know that I speak for the Attorney-General and my Cabinet colleagues when I say that New Zealand is very well served by the calibre of its Judges, the most senior of whom sit in the Supreme Court.

The ceremony today marks the opening of the building which will be the home of the New Zealand Supreme Court.

In time, the new addition to the "government end" of Wellington will become a familiar feature of the cityscape. I am told that the building incorporates technology that will ensure that it is future-proofed for a long life, including the capacity for video-conferencing and live-streaming.

This kind of technology will ensure that the proceedings of the Court are open and accessible to all New Zealanders, for whose benefit the justice system is administered. We look forward to justice being served here for many years to come.

Kia ora huiui tatou katoa.

It is my pleasure now to ask Prince William to speak and open the new Supreme Court building.