The republic can wait

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, May 2nd, 2009 - 26 comments
Categories: articles, national/act government, republic - Tags: ,

No Right Turn highlights Thursday’s Herald editorial calling for our political leaders to step up and take some leadership in the republic debate.

The Herald argues:

If republican sentiment is to blossom, it needs to be galvanised from above. Such a process, done well, would lead to a seeping into the national consciousness of the idea that not only is a republic inevitable but that it should be established sooner, rather than later.

Super City governance for Auckland has trodden this path. Convince New Zealanders to adopt a republican state of mind and a republican state will surely follow.

No Right Turn rightly points out that proper change comes from below, but I’ve gotta say, having seen the grossly undemocratic way in which National and ACT are handling the Super City I’d rather they kept their grubby wee hands right away from our republic.

The move to a republic could be a chance for us to extend our democracy and have a proper national debate about the future of our constitutional structures. The last thing we need is John Key and Rodney Hide forcing us into an undemocratic structure that simply entrenches the wealthy and powerful interests they represent.

The republic can wait. It’s far too important to entrust to a bunch of people who have such an obvious contempt for democracy.

26 comments on “The republic can wait”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The only thing the right are concerned about with democracy is that it dis-empowers them. This is truly seen on their actions about the SuperCity where democracy has been essentially ignored in how the new city was set up and almost non-existent in its actual running.

    If they are allowed to set our nation up as a republic it would almost certainly be on the USA lines which is far closer to an aristocracy than a democracy.

  2. Concerned of Tawa 2


    The abolition of the right of appeal to the Privy Council was the biggest consititutional change NZ has seen in years, and was done by Labour in a totally undemocratic manner.

    The EFA was nearly as bad.

    I hope National and Labour aren’t allowed near a republic.

    • r0b 2.1

      Dropping the privy council was one of Labour’s publicly announced policies before the election, so not sure that it can be called “undemocratic”.

      And the EFA, while flawed in some ways, went through a while lot more public consultation over a lot longer time scale than Key and Hide’s Supercity bulldozer.

      • Graeme 2.1.1

        The public consultation on the EFB was a select committee submission process. That was it. It was drafted it secret, and even OIA requests for government documents on the process were rejected.

        The supercity followed from a public submission process and a Royal Commission. There has already been a parliamentary debate on the release of the Government’s response to the Royal Commission report. There are public meetings, hui, discussions with the mayors etc. Then there will be full select committee process.

        • r0b

          The EFB underwent significant changes in response to public input. In the case of the Supercity the Royal Commission (set up by Labour) consulted the public, but then Key and Hide threw it all away to impose their own agenda – the every opposite of consultation don’t you think? As to the “consultation” process to come, they have not left enough time for it, and on behaviour to date the whole thing will be a sham.

  3. Bill 3

    “The last thing we need is John Key and Rodney Hide forcing us into an undemocratic structure that simply entrenches the wealthy and powerful interests they represent.”

    But that’s what all Social Democratic/Western/ Parliamentary (call them what you will) forms of democracy do Tane; entrench the wealthy and powerful interests they represent. ie capitalist interests.

    Further. All forms of governance, embedded within whichever cultural tradition, entrench ( as far as I’m aware) the interests of that culture’s elites.

    Fully participatory democratic governance (ie completely decentralised, localised and immediate) where people have input to decisions to the extent that decisions will impact on them ….ah, but in that context there can be no republic and no governance of NZ as both concepts become meaningless.

    Debating governance of the geo-political entity called NZ leaves us scrabbling in the darkness and a million light years away from where we need to be if we are at all serious about developing substantive democratic structures.

    Just saying like.

  4. outofbrd 4

    What bill said

  5. Ari 5

    This is why constitutional reform shouldn’t be in the hands of politicians in the first place. As long as it’s not in the government’s hands and nobody loads the organisation that will figure it out with their mates, I really don’t care whose watch it happens under.

  6. Tane 6

    Just to clarify, I’m not suggesting the last Labour government would have done a stellar job at engaging with the people either. They tended to be a bit afraid of them.

  7. SPC 7

    All a democracy needs to mount a successful revolution is legislation declaring that it is self evident that it is the people of New Zealand who are truly sovereign in our nation state and thus declare the Governor General to be representative of their Crown (thus the “Crown” continues in our law).

    There is no need to confuse with any constitutional development. The people accepting the Crown burden in relation to the Treaty committment (its their tax money being used in settlements). Whether any constitution would be a good idea in a country with an evolving parliamantary tradition (and long time practice in law without one) is dubious anyway.

    This legislation to come into effect on the day Elizabeth 11 dies (waiting till she dies effectively allows Charles to become our King on her death because it would be difficult to organise public referendum acceptance of any change at short notice).

    Tolerance for the continuance of an elitist supremacist monarchy (the people of the UK the Crown subjects) claiming to be anointed God’s representative is like worshipping on the altar of the ECA on May 1 – have you people no left wing peoples pride.

  8. John Key’s decision not to pursue the republic debate emphasises that the initiative for change must come from New Zealanders. That’s what the Republican Movement is here for.

  9. gobsmacked 9

    I suggest a simple referendum question:

    “Should New Zealand’s head of state be a New Zealander?”

    That is the central issue. Many New Zealanders do not know who our head of state is. Many in the media don’t seem to know. You often see reports such as “Prime Minister Clark/Key meets other heads of state at APEC”, etc.

    Once there is a majority for the principle, then the details of preferred options can be discussed, and eventually, voted on. It will not be possible to hide from the issue any more. But the best way to delay a republic is to get bogged down in deciding what running shoes to wear, before we can walk.

    Note: my suggested referendum question does not use the words “republic” or “president”. They distract from the central issue, which needs to be expressed in simple terms that the public can easily relate to, not sound like a dry academic seminar for constitutional lawyers.

    Simple question, simple issue … simple majority.

    (if the vote is “No”, so be it. I doubt it would be, but that’s up to the people).

    • SPC 9.1

      My only problem with that is – why do we need a head of state? It is the people who are sovereign. The people merely need a representative.

      Do we wish to continue with a foreign head of state – yes or no?

      • Ari 9.1.1

        SPC- seems rather silly to state the question so that the status quo is “yes”.

        • SPC

          No, not really – if people want change, they vote no to continuing with the status quo. As the advert says we are good at saying no.

          And it is the question which minimises support for the status quo.

          Proposing a specific alternative would be to maximise support for the status quo.

          The best way to reduce disquiet about a move to a republic would be to continue with the current parliamentary and Governor General arrangements and just remove the foreign Crown.

          This would leave other developments for a republic to consider at leisure.

    • blacksand 9.2

      in Australia, Cecil G Murgatroyd came up with a perfect solution:

      Queen Elizabeth could make her daughter, Princess Anne, the Queen of Australia. With Anne naturalised as a business migrant, we’d have an Australian Head of State with minimal constitutional change.
      This Australian dynasty could make money selling genuine Royal Titles to gullible millionaires and solve all our economic problems. </blockquote

  10. gobsmacked 10

    Sounds OK in theory, but is there a country without a head of state? Even if it’s the same as the head of government?

    • SPC 10.1

      If the people are regarded as sovereign, they merely need a representative to act on behalf of their sovereignty. This person is our servant/subject and it is that persons duty to protect the rights and liberties of the people while acting as the public’s servant. I have no problem with the title Governor General continuing for someone in that role.

      I know its turning tradition on its head – but democracy is supposed to be about empowering the people in this way.

  11. Jenny 11

    The Treaty of Waitangi was between Maori and the Crown.

    Ipso facto no Crown no Treaty.

    • SPC 11.1

      Monarchists – they bring in an imperial army to steal the land of Maori, then they cite the Treaty to preserve and entrench their allegiance to a foreign Crown.

      The thing is Jenny – if we say the British Crown of 1840 is now the Crown of New Zealand (the Crown is who/what we say it is), why should this Crown not be defined as have become the inheritance of the people of this land. And if we the Crown determine to call our representative our servant the Governor General rather than a head of state, that is our choice.

      If the people rise up they become the masters of their own dominion and have none lording it over them. Why should we be mere colonials accepting the legacy of establishment handed down to us?

      • Rich 11.1.1

        The “Crown” is just a term for the NZ government acting as a legal entity. Because treaties bind successor states and governments unless explicitly abrogated, the Treaty passed from the British imperial government of 1840 to the NZ government as NZ became an independent state. It was *never* a personal treaty between the Windsors and Maori (NZ wasn’t a personal colony like the Belgian Congo).

  12. Ari 12

    Unless you codify the treaty into the new constitution or something 😉

  13. Yes Jenny, quite.
    Further: The highly conservative maori party will not allow such a debate, this is their license to exist. Te Tiriti o te Waitangi : the phukking Millstone Around Our Necks.
    I miss Helens ‘move on’.
    And there will be no debate with this government. SIR? LADY? Titular farking honours back ’cause that nice smiling man said ‘we’ wanted them back.
    ‘Pin the policy on the Jonkey’ is already working on his royal snivel for his chance to have the royal swipe at his neck with the royal over sized letter opener.

  14. Jenny – No that’s wrong. The Treaty itself has transferred from the British Crown to the New Zealand Crown in 1947, when New Zealand adopted the statute of Westminster. If we become a republic then those responsibilities transfer to the new head of State. In any case, as Moana Jackson argues, the real party to the Treaty is Kawantanga, or the Government.

    gobsmacked – Switzerland has no head of State in the way we know it.

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