"Curiouser and curiouser!" cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English) ... . That little phrase might make an apt replacement for our Supreme Court's current moto, "Tuitui tangata, tuitui korowai".

Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think--" (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "-- but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this New Zealand or Australia?" (and she tried to curtsey as she spoke--fancy curtseying as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."

We all know what odd adventures Alice went on to have when her fall ended in Wonderland. (If you don't, shame on you - go and read this basic text of civilization at once.) But had she instead fallen all the way to these regions, as she feared, would things have seemed any the less strange to her?

The major issue confronting the country she found herself in would appear to be whether an ex-sportsman's claim about how a team chooses who gets to wear its jersey means that he can't go to cocktail functions and shake hands with businessmen. Seriously - that's what Andy Haden's much vaunted "Rugby World Cup Ambassador" role amounts to.

The fact this issue has consumed the best part of a week's news coverage and warranted thundering editorials like this are less a reflection of the place Rugby holds in the nation's heart, and more this nation's apparent desire to emulate Tweedledum and Tweedledee. ("`And all about a rattle!' said Alice, still hoping to make them a little ashamed of fighting for such a trifle.")

What is more, I'm pretty sure Pita Sharples' particular gem on the issue is a direct quote from Lewis Carrol: "Look, I am the Government and it's really hard to talk about my Government, but he should have been asked to step down on this occasion."

Alice's Adventures in Antipathyland also would show her a Prime Minister deflecting questions about cuts to early childhood education funding with some fairly detailed information about his chosen means of contraception. Sure, it was an honest answer to a hypothetical question about his future kids ... but really? Aren't there some limits to how much we need (or should want) to know about our nation's political leader - and some restrictions on the use of the personal to deal with the political that should be respected?

Or perhaps it's just too much to wish that our politicians would occasionally channel Old Father William:

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

But oddest of all would be the sight of a judge on Antipathyland's highest court asking another judge to review a decision that two other judges (and a third person) must decide whether to recommend that the first judge should be removed for not removing himself from a case.

Yes, it has a logic to it - the same sort of slightly askew logic that underpins most of Wonderland's events. And it even can be justified on grounds of high principle; the rule of law, the rights of the accused, the importance of natural justice. All things we law lecturers tell our students to hold dear to their hearts.

But here's the potential problem: how long is this complex saga going to be the only one that the public hear told about their top court? Or, to put it another way, the longer this story lasts, the more appealing the Queen of Heart's demand for "Sentence first--verdict afterwards" may start to look.

Comments (1)

by Justin Maloney on June 01, 2010
Justin Maloney

"And it even can be justified on grounds of ... things we law lecturers tell our students to hold dear to their hearts."

True, yet another 'thing' from a law lecturer of mine keeps ringing in my head:

"Preservation of the integrity and reputation of the profession is the responsibility of every lawyer."

Judges may not exactly be lawyers but if anything I would expect them to want the public to hold them to a higher standard. Being perceived to argue over technicalities in the law as opposed to letting 'justice' be seen to be done isn't doing a lot for integrity of the nations courts.

Although, Alice was talking about a Judge when she said that all ways are "...your ways, your Majesty."

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