Are you a Nat and a Republican?

July 30th, 2009 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

The Republican Movement has members from pretty much every political party – from ACT to the Greens. Some of those supporters have set up an informal network within their respective parties to discuss republican and associated constitutional issues.

I’d be keen to get such an informal group going within . I’m on the Executive of the Republican Movement, and the Chair, , is also a Nat.

If you are going to be at the annual conference this weekend, and think that in the future New Zealand should move from the status quo to having a New Zealander as Head of State, make yourself known to Lewis or myself. I suggest we try and grab a bite together at Saturday lunchtime? Delegates, observers and MPs all welcome.

If you won’t be at conference but would like to be added to some sort of mailing list for “National Republicans” then drop me an e-mail.

I find the issue fascinating, because it is not just about do we want Prince Charles to be King of New Zealand one day. It is about would you appoint or elect a Head of State. What powers, if any, do they have. Do you also move to a written constitution? Do you entrench the Bill of Rights and allow laws to be judically reviewed against them? What limits should there be, if any, on parliamentary supremacy. Do we want to continue with the Pr

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29 Responses to “Are you a Nat and a Republican?”

  1. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    My fear to ‘appoint’ a head of state is this
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2009/04/other_board_appointments.html

    (they would have to be elected)

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  2. dime (10,215 comments) says:

    I love the idea of a written constitution.

    How do they do it though? What votes would be needed to pass the thing in parliment? 80%?

    What if its a Helen Clarke type government in power when the thing is written. *shudder*

    How would it deal with the Treaty?

    Im guessing a few have been written over the years? were they any good?

    Also, i like the commonwealth games too much :(

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  3. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    @dime

    It is a common misconception that if NZ became a republic, we would leave the commonwealth.

    The queen is head of state in just 16 of the 53 commonwealth nations, and is only head of the commonwealth of nations itself as an appointee.

    In fact, NZ’s place in the commonwealth gives us strength in becoming a republic, in allowing us a tie to our history and traditions, while keeping us free to plot our own course as a truely independent state.

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  4. Ross Nixon (517 comments) says:

    Long live our gracious Queen!
    But Charles can toddle off and hug a tree or whatever – we don’t need a King like him.

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  5. bharmer (687 comments) says:

    I am not a Nat nor ever likely to be, though I have moved a long way in that direction since the accession of Messrs Goff and Key to their current positions. I am however, converted to republicanism, so go for it DPF.
    Like Patrick, I hope that the HoS would be elected rather than appointed (as the present GGs are).

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  6. NX (443 comments) says:

    I’m a Nat & support the current constitutional arrangement. I’ve no problem with Anand Satyanand or QEII.

    The fact that Great Britain & New Zealand are the oldest & most stable democracies in the world doesn’t happen by accident.

    The biggest threat to NZ democracy in recent history didn’t come from the Head of State or the GG, but the former PM Clark with her EFB.

    Now arguing for entrenchment of electoral law & creating more constitutional safe guards is something I can agree with.

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  7. Grant Michael McKenna (1,110 comments) says:

    I come from a republic in which the convention was that parliament was sovereign. It didn’t work in South Africa. I want to know what will take the place of the current system before I will support it; an elected president would owe their selection to a political faction, and this would publicly divide them from many of us and would make any claim to represent “the people” less convincing.
    Besides, I like the idea of vesting the selection of the Governor-General in the Māori Council as a tribute to Māori possession of tino rangatiratanga, if only to piss off Labour.

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  8. ephemera (557 comments) says:

    NX, I fear you are conflating electoral reform with constitutional reform.

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  9. Straight Shooter (135 comments) says:

    I reckon before you go about arguing whether New Zealand should be a republic you should ask the Maori first. They signed over sovereignty in exchange for property and human rights. A referendum should require a two thirds majority from them before it should be considered by the rest of the general roll.

    There has been a republican movement since representative government started in the 1850s and they have not been the pin-up boys of property or human rights. Maori look to the Crown for recognition and protection. In a republic would Maori be given the same protection or simply be treated like a minority?

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  10. dime (10,215 comments) says:

    ephemera – thanks for the info!

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  11. bearhunter (822 comments) says:

    NX – NZ the oldest stable democracy in the world alongside Britain? Not the US then? Australia? I’m pretty sure both of those came before NZ.

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  12. NX (443 comments) says:

    Bearhunter wrote:

    NX – NZ the oldest stable democracy in the world alongside Britain? Not the US then? Australia? I’m pretty sure both of those came before NZ.

    New Zealand was the first country in the world to give woman the right to vote, so in that regard we actually have the oldest democracy in the world.

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  13. grumpyoldhori (2,205 comments) says:

    bearhunter the USA a democracy, I will think you will find it is a Republic.
    No one man one vote setup in the states, each state gets two senators regardless of population, even mooseville in the far north.

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  14. bearhunter (822 comments) says:

    NX, if you’re basing democracy on women’s suffrage, then why mention Britain, which didn’t extend that right until after even the likes of Russia, Burma and Albania? And Finland was the first place to allow them both to vote and stand for election, so is that the world’s first proper democracy?

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  15. Jack5 (5,281 comments) says:

    I think we have a good setup now — a de facto republic, without the extra layer of bureaucracy that a formal republic would require, with a head of state who is strictly ceremonial and very cheap to run, and without another puffed up Wellingtonian poncing around the country with a retinue of presidential hangers on.

    One of the few political strengths this little country has is its thin layer of Government in the sense that there is no upper house, and no secondary layer of federal states, possibly with both upper and lower houses, and with no over-arching executive president atop all of this, again with more bureaucrats.

    Then we have the Treaty of Waitangi to consider.

    As a South Islander the only referendum I might favour on changing to a republic is one that includes the binding choice for South Islanders to vote for the South Island to become a state of Australia. If we are going to be dragooned into a republic I would rather it was into a truly economically viable one.

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  16. NX (443 comments) says:

    each state gets two senators regardless of population

    True. But what you’ve convenenantly neglected to mention are congressmen. The number congressmen for each state is relative to population size.

    What I don’t get is their electoral college system where their are super delegates, and how the votes are grouped.
    And their primaries are more complex still with committee stages etc.

    But there’s no doubt the USA is a democracy… they even vote on their town sheriffs, & their majors have executive powers.

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  17. NX (443 comments) says:

    Bearhunter wrote:

    NX, if you’re basing democracy on women’s suffrage, then why mention Britain, which didn’t extend that right until after even the likes of Russia, Burma and Albania? And Finland was the first place to allow them both to vote and stand for election, so is that the world’s first proper democracy?

    You are right that there are many measures by which to judge a democracy.

    But for all intends and purposes Britain is often regarded as the world’s oldest ‘stable’ democracy. New Zealand, Australia, Canada et.al adopted Britain’s Westminister style of government.

    My point being that Britain’s constitutional system lends itself to a stable democracy. And by implication, that’s us too.

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  18. MyNameIsJack (2,414 comments) says:

    I am a republican, with a small r.

    One question I always have – why the fixation on the HoS? Why is a HoS needed? it is simply a hangover to the early republican models where the president replaced the king.

    Surely it is possible to have a republican democracy without a HoS.

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  19. Manolo (14,173 comments) says:

    I am a Republican. On the other hand, my spine/backbone/vertebral column is healthy so I cannot call myself a National Party supporter.

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  20. NX (443 comments) says:

    why the fixation on the HoS? Why is a HoS needed?

    Agreed, but you need someone to cut ribbons and open buildings.

    Plus, if you don’t like the PM (which is more than likely the case for you at the mo) then there’s someone else to project your National pride onto… unless you don’t like Anand Satyanand for whatever reason.

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  21. MyNameIsJack (2,414 comments) says:

    NX, why would I, or anyone want to project national pride on to anyone or anything? What do you mean?

    Ribbon cutting could be done by anyone. How much skill does it take? Maybe we could have a lottery for it. In fact, if we MUST have a HoS, why not make that a lottery? If it was properly run the lottery could raise enough money to pay the running costs for the HoS.

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  22. dutchie down south (25 comments) says:

    Whale Oil is obvious a royalist and will follow his prince everywhere the monarchy goes …. http://failblog.org/2009/07/28/wales-fail/#comments

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  23. thehawkreturns (124 comments) says:

    Do not expect my support for a republican movement UNLESS you spell out PRECISELY
    the

    1 method of election of the HOS
    2 candidate pool for HOS
    3 term of HOS and maximum number of terms (if any)
    4 powers of HOS (particularly to reject laws passed by the House AND the ability to dismiss the Government)
    5 power to dismiss HOS
    6 cost (compared to UK Royalty you won’t volunteer any method cheaper)

    Anything less is treating your audience like idiots. Most Republicans havn’t got this far so draw your own conclusions…

    If DPF and his ilk have a chance they will rush this change through and completely cock it up and render the country
    a tremendous and very expensive disservice.

    Finally, a “Written Constitution” is totally stupid. Common law is much more flexible and adapts through the ages. Witness the impossibility of America giving up the “Right to bear arms”. The main support for a written constitution comes from the legal profession. It will line their pockets with gold. As it does in every country that has one.

    A lot of folks need to reflect on the wonderful place NZ is and before changing it think of the worst possible outcomes from the changes.

    My view remains that the best thing we can do is lengthen the parliamentary term to 5 years.

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  24. NX (443 comments) says:

    MyNameIsJack – have you never been to a ribbon cutting ceremony?

    They normally try and get someone important, or a public figure. The act itself isn’t very hard. Unless the scissors are blunt, or if the ribbon is expectionally thick.

    why would I, or anyone want to project national pride on to anyone or anything?

    Some people feel national pride when the All Blacks win a game. Or coming across New Zealand butter while overseas. I felt proud when John Key addressed the APEC meeting in Peru. But that’s me.

    You’d be a remarkably glum person if you don’t have national pride in anything. But the fact you’re on this blog suggests otherwise.

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  25. NX (443 comments) says:

    thehawkreturns:

    My view remains that the best thing we can do is lengthen the parliamentary term to 5 years.

    Nah, with only one house of parliament i.e. no Lords or a senate – it would simply give the governing party too much power.

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  26. Repton (769 comments) says:

    NX – NZ the oldest stable democracy in the world alongside Britain? Not the US then? Australia? I’m pretty sure both of those came before NZ.

    The US gets a reset because of their civil war in the 1860s — not exactly a good marker for “stability”.

    The United Kingdom in its current form didn’t exist until 1922, with the departure of most of Ireland.

    Australia, as a single nation, didn’t exist until 1901 (prior to that it was a collection of self-governing colonies).

    Canada was established in 1867.

    New Zealand’s first general election was in 1853, and first parliament formed in 1854.

    I’m pretty sure that means we win :-)

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  27. Matt (213 comments) says:

    The job of the head of state is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority (or the people from the tyranny of politicians). IMO the Queen hasn’t been doing her job brilliantly (she approved the EFA after all), but a monarchy is in principle better than an elected or appointed head of state as then allegiance is owed to a political party. I could personally accept a republic only on the condition that the head of state was somehow selected in a way which maintains their political neutrality.

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  28. deanknight (227 comments) says:

    thehawkreturns:

    There are plenty of options, but as a starting point for discussion:

    1 method of election of the HOS

    Indirect election by super-majority in Parliament (75% majority of MPs and 50% of parties)

    2 candidate pool for HOS

    As for one, nominations produced through parliamentary process (eg, perhaps, continuing the tradition of retired judges, senior civil servants, or people with similar standing)

    3 term of HOS and maximum number of terms (if any)

    5 years, multi-terms permitted but only through parliamentary resolution procedure in 1 above.

    4 powers of HOS (particularly to reject laws passed by the House AND the ability to dismiss the Government)

    Same powers at HOS presently, namely, prerogative powers exercised on advice of govt; reserve power to appoint / dismiss govt or call govt (const convention of confidence of House being overaching loadstar to continue); reserve power to act contrary to advice / refuse Royal Assent continues (const convention that unlikely to be exercised to continue); personal prerogative to advise and warn govt continues.

    5 power to dismiss HOS

    HOS only able to be dismissed by resolution of House with super-majority as per one.

    6 cost (compared to UK Royalty you won’t volunteer any method cheaper)

    About $3.8m pa, being GOS salary of $3.6M (support services to the HOS and maintenance of the two Government Houses) and HOS salary (around $200k). That is, exactly the same as the cost of the GG nowadays, less the cost of a few Wgtn-London telegrams.

    7. Misc
    No need for written constn.

    Thoughts?

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  29. Michael E (251 comments) says:

    Thogh known as a royalist, the one good thing the NZ Republicans debate is our constitutional arrangements for all matters, not just the HoS. If you’re interested in that sort of thing you should read their site.

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