Courts Minister Chester Borrows has announced four of New Zealand’s 63 district courts will go, with a further nine courts destined to be used only for hearings.
The Minister says the changes are part of an effort to modernise court services and improve administration, and will involve cutting some 200 jobs.
PSA (Public Service Association) National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says court staff were not expecting the cuts to be quite so drastic.
“They’ve reacted with shock and dismay,” he says. “Certainly there was an expectation that there were changes coming, and that has been conveyed for some time, but I don’t think people really expected the scale of that change and the scope of it.”
Mr Wagstaff says that while an upgrade to the court system is necessary, electronic systems cannot fully replace human interaction.
“There should be technological improvements across the public service, including in courts, however that doesn’t mean that all the things that could be done face to face can be done electronically.”
He says the new system will prove problematic for those who have limited or no access to the internet.
Watch the video for Firstline’s full interview with Richard Wagstaff