Chapter 2
The core role of the Central Authority

Independence from politics

2.2An important part of the Central Authority’s role is that it should be, and should be seen to be, independent from day-to-day politics. New Zealand has a very long and successful tradition of separating out law enforcement decisions from political decisions. The choice of the Attorney-General as the Central Authority is not intended to blur this important distinction. There is a well-established understanding that although the Attorney is almost always a member of Cabinet, he or she makes law enforcement decisions as a law officer of the Crown rather than as a Cabinet Minister. He or she will rarely be involved in the actual decision-making process as this will often be delegated to the Solicitor-General.17 At times, however, both mutual assistance and extradition requests will inevitably involve considerations of international relations and obligations that are best dealt with by a Minister. We expect that any Attorney will address the protections we have set out in both our Extradition Bill and our Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and for Recovery of Criminal Proceeds Bill (Mutual Assistance Bill) as legal matters. Moreover, mutual assistance requests may also involve weighing up other law enforcement priorities.
17For a detailed discussion of the relationship between the Law Officers, see John McGrath “Principles for Sharing Law Officer Power: The Role of the New Zealand Solicitor-General”(1998) 18 NZULR 197.