You don’t get a choice with monarchy

January 19th, 2010 at 10:03 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As Prince William prepares to leave New Zealand, a poll of the Herald reader panel shows the 27-year-old in a neck-and-neck race with his father as the popular choice to succeed the Queen.

The survey – taken before the Prince’s three-day tour – found 33.3 per cent wanted Prince Charles to be the next monarch, with 30.2 per cent favouring William. But 29.4 per cent of respondents preferred a republic in the event Queen Elizabeth II died or abdicated.

The poll is a silly one, as the public don’t get any choice in who the next Monarch will be. There is no choice. There is no decision based on merit or suitability. It is based purely on the line of succession.

The Queen has made it clear she will never abdicate, and Charles has made it clear he will become King. So if NZ stays a monarchy, when might we expect Charles and William to become King?

  • Queen Elizabeth II is aged 83. She is in excellent health. Her mother got to age 101, despite a rumoured high daily intake of alcohol. So we can assume QEII will make at least 100, so likely to reign until 2026.
  • In 2026, Charles may become King at the age of 78. Now his father is currently aged 88 and also looks likely to reach 100, so no reason that Charles wouldn’t also – especially as they get the finest healthcare in the world. So Charles may reign until 2048.
  • In 2048 Prince William would finally become King. Not as the charming young man who toured today, but as a 64 year old

This is one of the problems with a monarchy. They reign until they die.

The Dom Post editorial today says:

Green list MP Keith Locke has finally had his Head of State Referenda Bill, which he has waited seven years to have pulled from the members’ ballot, selected for debate by Parliament. It is to be hoped MPs will allow it to reach a select committee, so that those who feel strongly about retaining links with the British monarchy or electing a president as head of state can have their say.

Mr Locke believes strong arguments exist for change, “not least that we are now a confident, independent nation in the South Pacific. Having a head of state in Britain does not match who we are in the 21st century”. Monarchists disagree. They feel respect for Prince William’s granny, a woman who has dedicated her entire life to duty, unlike some of her offspring, and great affection for Charles’ and Diana’s elder son.

Though Parliament last considered our constitutional arrangements via a select committee inquiry only in 2005, it can do no harm to discuss it again.

The select inquiry was very wide ranging. Locke’s bill would allow New Zealanders to submit on what they think the procedure should be to make a decision on monarchy vs . For ultimately it is a decision for the people, not for politicians. The job of the politicians is to agree on a process to let the people decide.

UPDATE: Hopefully both monarchists and republicans can enjoy Cactus Kate’s letter home to the Queen from Prince William. Very funny.

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52 Responses to “You don’t get a choice with monarchy”

  1. Nigel Kearney (904 comments) says:

    Oh dear. Assuming everyone lives to be 100.

    I actually have a lot of sympathy for the republican movement but somehow it seems to cause its supporters to become slightly deranged so I’m staying well clear of it.

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  2. david (2,548 comments) says:

    We know that one of her titles is Queen of New Zealand.
    Is there any reason why William (for example) couldn’t become King of New Zealand when Charlie becomes King of England (or UK for the pedantic)?

    By the same token if that was possible we might have Queen Helen of NZ …… shudder …. God forbid. Forget I asked.

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  3. david (2,548 comments) says:

    “The job of the politicians is to agree on a process to let the people decide.”

    But David, without an agenda, politicians won’t get off their taxpayer funded backsides and do anything. So the argument is a bit of chicken and egg really!

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  4. Repton (769 comments) says:

    Is there any reason why William (for example) couldn’t become King of New Zealand

    Well, we’d have to change the law..

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  5. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    All NZ really needs is a law banning the slime from reporting every antic of this seriously rich Pom (German? Greek?) family on the front page of every fucking newspaper/website, every fucking day/minute and one banning NZ politicians from spending taxpayer money on the bastards.

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  6. dime (9,607 comments) says:

    The small pacific island republic of new zealand?! urgh

    it will change eventually, these fuckers will bang on and on about it, until those that are happy with the status quo lose the will to care.

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  7. redqueen (510 comments) says:

    Again we rekindle the desire for republicanism without any specified advantage. The poll is silly, and pointless, but no more so that using this as a method for advancing republic. When someone actually does a cost-benefit analysis of republic and monarchy, and one not based on assumptions of the age of monarchs, it may be a worthy discussion. Until then, we seem to want to make a fuss about monarchy rather than show what we’re suppose to gain under a republic and what its costs will be, including constitutional and democratic risks, compared with the status quo. Debates are well and good, but this again seems a moot point with no new light being shone.

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  8. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    We should base it on a cost benefit analysis? North Korea might be cheaper. Or maybe we should go all capitalist and put it out to tender.

    “South Pacific island nation seeks cost effective figurehead. Funny accents are acceptable, we are used to that sort of thing.”

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  9. DRHILL (121 comments) says:

    So Keith “Human Sheild” Locke wants us to forget our heritage, our past???

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  10. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    As long as Locke is for it we’re safe from it. Talk about pissing money away.

    DRHILL heritage is sacred when its Maori, the rest of us white mofos can cram it.

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  11. redqueen (510 comments) says:

    Pete

    Very droll, you seem to have grasped razor sharp wit with both hands. The point of a cost-benefit analysis, as compared to making inane comments like ‘North Korea would be cheaper’, is to see what we could be giving up (the costs) versus what we’d be gaining (the benefits). North Korea, on a cost-benefit basis, isn’t very good. You have an expensive leadership compared with the benefits it brings to the country. That is the whole point, which you appear to have completely missed. To make such a comment about North Korea is, really, amazingly uneducated and I hope isn’t a symptom of republicanism, otherwise any future debate will be rather laughable.

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  12. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    So how much does it cost for us to continue being part of the Monarchy?

    And how much will it cost for us to change to having a President?

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  13. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    The point I was attempting to make was that deciding who is our head of state should involve more than cost/benefit. A lot of things could be cheaper – for example sacking the queen and parliament and installing a dictator (and there could be benefits if it was the right sort of person).

    Being the right sort of independent democracy should surely be more important than a few bucks.

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  14. fatman43us (166 comments) says:

    The choices we might get to fill in as President – failed Judge, broken down pollie, ex-trade union rep, failed school teacher are too much. Stay with what you have.

    Now if you guys wanted a proper written constitution, and wanted to pass it so that it was supported by say 75% of the PEOPLE, you could then be on to something. But our propensity to grasp staws for spurious reasons is breathtaking at times.

    Then there is the debacle of the New Zealand Supreme Court, and what a weaseling pack of wallies they have turned out to be.

    The protents for a Republic are not goo!

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  15. RRM (9,606 comments) says:

    Ed the 6th had to abdicate after shagging a dirty yank commoner. So anything could happen. That’s why the women’s mags are so interested in all that they do.

    Dare I say that our head of state (the English throne) is today more about The English Throne than about whatever “individual” currently occupies it? I can’t seriously imagine any of Elizabeth the 2nd, Charles the 13th or William the whateverth effecting a power-grab to suddenly become our evil overlords.

    Hence I still can’t get excited about republicanism. The King/Queen is a nice historical ornament, like the steeple on Christchurch cathedral. And no-one is saying we need demolish that just because the country’s a democracy and has separation of the church from the State.

    And what Bevan said at 11:04am.

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  16. redqueen (510 comments) says:

    Maybe this is an economics-accountancy methodology, versus a political methodology, thing but a cost-benefit analysis isn’t just a dollar denominated measurement. As I noted, showing the potential constitutional and democratic risks to a republic would be an important feature of such an analysis. That holding elections costs money would be a part of it, but showing whether that cost is actually offset by better government functions and a more stable constitutional settlement isn’t rocket science (whether or not politicians like to make out that it is). Similarly, showing the implications of the way a republic would work (such as the implications to using a rigid or flexible system of ‘checks and balances’) would, again, be something which would show potential costs and benefits. That was the point and remains the point. To say, again, that sacking the Queen and Parliament would be ‘cheaper’, again, shows a lack of looking at the flip side, which is the point of a cost-BENEFIT analysis.

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  17. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    I don’t think it will come down to anything that elaborate. The incumbent seems to keep out of trouble but someone following her is bound to make a charlie of themselves sooner or later, it’s in the bloodline. More monarchists here will have died off and it will become an obvious choice to rule ourselves. Eventually.

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  18. redqueen (510 comments) says:

    Ahh, the ‘change for the sake of change’ argument…what an enlightened and educated view…

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  19. Fletch (6,107 comments) says:

    David, the whole point of Monarchy is ‘not having a choice’ – in that way the Monarch is elected by no one and so is indebted to no one.

    A Head of State who does not owe his or her position to either patronage or a vote can more properly represent all the people.

    Consider that a President who has been elected, often by a minority of a minority of the electorate, cannot adequately speak for the people who did not vote for him or her.

    It is even worse if the President has been appointed, because then he owes his position to a small clique.

    So, the accident of birth is the best means of appointing a Head of State. Someone who has no party political axe to grind, or special favours to repay to a vested interest.

    Someone whose allegiance is to the people. Not just allegiance to the people who voted for him or his political party, but allegiance to all the people of the country equally.

    Far from being “incompatible” with democracy, a Monarchy can thereby enhance the government of the land.

    - From Alistair McConnachie leading the opposition at St. Andrews University Debating Society against the motion “This House Would Abolish the Monarchy”.

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  20. Lance (2,540 comments) says:

    This is up there with the complete plonkers protesting at William demanding a republic… like he gets to decide it or something. Fuckwits.. it’s a New Zealand decision for New Zealand voters.

    Come to think of it, anyone that thick shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

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  21. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    Ahh, the ‘change for the sake of change’ argument…what an enlightened and educated view…

    Not at all. I just think we are old enough to be look after ourselves without needing mother hanging around.
    Call it an independent kiwi spirit.

    Fletch, monarchs have a bit of history of pleasing themselves, stuff the people. They used to answer to no one. Now they seem a bit sensitive to PR.

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  22. andrei (2,529 comments) says:

    You don’t really get a choice with MMP either – the parties decide whose bums polish the seats in the debating chamber and there is sweet FA the average joe can do to get rid of them provided they have sucked up to the right people in the Heirachy.

    And when it comes to the real ruling class, the upper echelons of the Public Service – well we have no say whatsoever.

    C’est la vie

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  23. redqueen (510 comments) says:

    Pete, again, providing a rother odd response. What does ‘old enough’ mean? I’ve always thought of maturity as learning to think, not to merely speak. ‘Mother’ isn’t ‘hanging around’. That doesn’t actually mean anything. It isn’t like Britain is providing us with a colonial governor to make sure we don’t screw up (although that’s not such a bad…). Then adding ‘call it an independent kiwi spirit’ is, again, adding nothing. The independent spirit here is the ‘she’ll be right’ mentality, the ‘why make a change if you don’t have to?’. We change laws and people go, ‘That’s daft’ and ignore them. That’s the Kiwi spirit. Not the desire for ‘change for the sake of change’. That’s the Labour spirit. Rather different, even after ten years of doublethink and thought crime.

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  24. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    One of the only real advantages of keeping the monarchy was access to the Privy Council, so yesterday’s opening of the Supreme Court by the monarch’s grandson was a bit like his dad presiding at the handing back of Hong Kong.

    What other benefits are there – access to the Queen’s Christmas speech?

    I quite like the zaniness of having a head of State who couldn’t live further away from New Zealand if she tried – such eccentricity is part of our British heritage, like the crazy English language, pounds, shillings and pence and cricket.

    We should change our flag to something more ‘us’. But a republic? It makes sense, but logic comes a distant second to sentiment in these matters.

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  25. PaulL (5,969 comments) says:

    My problem is that the current head of state does absolutely nothing that is useful. Given that they do nothing useful, I don’t see why I’d want to pay more to have one.

    My underlying question on republicanism is whether we are intending to have a new head of state that does exactly what the old one does, or whether we’d like to change our arrangements. If they are just going to figure head, open a few schools, make some pretty speeches, then I really don’t care whether it is some foreigner or some local “celebrity.” The key criteria should be whether they’re good looking I guess – Charles isn’t, William is in a goofy kind of way.

    If we’re going to talk about changing our arrangements, then I’m much more interested in having a proper local head of state. I’d love to see some separation of powers – maybe an upper house that elects a president, a constitution, and the ability for the upper house to reject anything that fails to align with that consitution?

    Of course, the days when a couple of the ‘great and good’ could get together, hammer out a frankly brilliant document, and have everyone accept it (a la the USA) are long gone. We’d get some rambling crap document that tried to enshrine all sorts of rights that aren’t rights at all, and included nebulous principles that nothing could ever be in line with.

    A constitution that I wrote would enshrine:
    – free speech
    – democracy
    – property rights
    – equality before the law and freedom from discrimination by the government (but not necessarily from private individuals)
    – separation of church and state

    I’d also have a go at including some government mechanics
    – requirement for disclosure of financial state prior to election
    – requirement for accurate forecasts of government debt based on current policy settings
    – requirement for all governments to state their objectives and have an independent commission evaluate their policies against those each year so as to stop them lying to us quite so much (e.g. National say they want us to achieve parity with Australia – so each year this commission should explain whether any policies have been put in place that would achieve this. The govt of course has right of reply)
    – requirement for regulatory impact statement, and cost benefit analysis

    If we were to do this, then I’d love to see a president or other structure that needed to vet all legislation, and could veto it if it failed to meet any of these standards. And, like Australia, a provision for a double dissolution election if things become deadlocked.

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  26. Fletch (6,107 comments) says:

    As the Treaty of Waitangi was an agreement between the Maori and the Crown, where does that leave it if we become a republic? It would be a right mess and we’ll all have to start from scratch.

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  27. OTGO (521 comments) says:

    Fletch at 12.10. Starting from scratch. Now that would be interesting. With the benefit of hindsight would we sign a treaty with the natives? Or would genocide be more cost effective? Just thinking out loud…

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  28. PaulL (5,969 comments) says:

    Genocide or assimilation? You know, interbreed with them until there are no pure-blood Maori left.

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  29. Inventory2 (10,161 comments) says:

    What amuses me is the antics of two MP’s who have sworn (or affirmed) alliegance to Her Majesty the Queen upon taking office. They then behave in a manner completely opposite to that which they have promised. Is treason still punishable by death? Then again, they are polticians, so I guess that promise-breaking comes naturally …

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  30. Repton (769 comments) says:

    – property rights

    Hope you’re OK with intellectual property rights being in there too, because you know that Big Media would do some heavy lobbying if we decided to write a constitution..

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  31. Nigel Kearney (904 comments) says:

    Actually the head of state does do something useful – in the event that there is no clear majority in Parliament the HOS might have to make a real decision about forming or dissolving a government. All the more reason to have someone with no NZ party political ties, which is unlikely to be the case with an elected President.

    [DPF: You make a wrong assumption. The GG would make such decisions, and the GG is appointed by the Prime Minister at his or her whim, and can be sacked at his or her whim. A HOS appointed by 75% of Parliament would be almost guaranteed to be politically neutral - as opposed to those appointed by the PM, such as Holyoake and Reeves.]

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  32. PaulL (5,969 comments) says:

    Nope, not OK with intellectual property rights being in there. I don’t see ideas as something that should have entrenched protection, although I can live with our current copyright regime.

    And this is the exact problem with trying to do a constitution today – too many people will want to push it out further, to get more than they have today. E.g. with intellectual property, as you suggest. Other groups will want to introduce new “rights” – the right to not be offended, the right to a job, the right to a benefit if I don’t feel like working, the right to health care, god knows what else.

    It’s kind of like the ETS – a good idea in concept, but there is no chance of getting an implementation that doesn’t have massive pork barrels hidden in it.

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  33. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    Nigel:
    - it would be up to the electors as to whether a president had political ties or not.
    - would someone like King Charles be up to sorting out a political mess here?
    - there are quite a few republics that manage without a crown

    Paul – I agree, deciding to become a republic would be a doddle compared to deciding on a constitution.

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  34. OllieGI (36 comments) says:

    If it’s not broke why fix it is a very relevent arguement as making these changes will involve huge costs – though I wouldn’t know the figures. Is the current system so broken in such a way that the cost is worth fixing it? – in a reccession?

    From my perspective I get a “feel good” factor from being part of the Monarchy, and illl admit it’s probably the same as those arguing for a republic. But my feel good doesn’t involve radical change.

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  35. OllieGI (36 comments) says:

    As on a ground level.. it won’t make ANY difference to the average Kiwi?

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  36. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    Neither this nor the flag nor any of the other side shows are in any way “A” issues for turning this country around from it’s spiral downward.

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  37. Murray (8,838 comments) says:

    We didn’t get much bloody “choice” with our democracy either. Helen Clark or Helen Clark lite with a smile rather than a sneer. Whopdie poop.

    At least with a monarch we get someone who has been groomed for it their entire life and can’t actually do bugger all anyway. HMTQ gut her teeth with Winston Churchill and has lasted through every PM since. You see any politicians with that level of experience?

    [DPF: But HMTQ does not advise the NZ PM. The NZ GG does that - appointed by the NZ PM]

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  38. lastmanstanding (1,233 comments) says:

    Good Grief As regards NZs ability to govern itself look at the Supreme Court Conflicted involved in scandal concerning its own members In a building that cost $81 million 25% over budget and will sit a mere 22 days a year.

    judges with a very narrow background and experience by comparison with the members of the Judical Committee of the Privy council that cost NZ taxpayers nothing unless the Crown was a party to the action.

    NZ lacks the maturity to its own Head of State.

    Think of having President Clark ruling for the last decade with scandal and corruption being buried if it involved her cronies.

    Because that is the reality of having an NZ as Head of State.

    Only when we can achieve even a medium level of good governance standards can we start to think about it.

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  39. martin english (40 comments) says:

    Paul @ 12:05 PM
    There was (and still is according some) plenty wrong with the original US constitution. I would add something about making it possible to change the constitution to your list.

    Inventory2 @ 1:00 pm
    You raise an interesting point, which goes to the core of whether New Zealand (or indeed, any of the commonwealth countries) should retain the same monarch as that of a foreign state.
    You raise the issues of the two MPs who swore / affirmed allegiance to the foreign queen. What (if anything) did this monarch do to protect NZ trade to the UK in the 60′s and 70′s ? What (if anything) has this monarch done to represent New Zealand’s interests over those of the UK ?
    I believe William is a supporter of the English rugby union team. Could he be tried for treason ?

    Neither the current monarch nor her offspring reside in New Zealand.
    Neither the current monarch nor her offspring are New Zealand citizens.
    They are, in fact, bound by UK law, not New Zealand law. Even if they did marry into royal family, this law would prevent many New Zealanders from becoming part of the monarchy, due to archaic exclusions based on gender religion etc.
    That is what it comes down to.

    I don’t care whether you replace the current system with a republic or a New Zealand based monarchy or something in between. Under the current system, a New Zealander can not become the monarch. And that is wrong.

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  40. Chthoniid (2,029 comments) says:

    I quite like the zaniness of having a head of State who couldn’t live further away from New Zealand if she tried

    Quite, I’ve met a few people from other countries who are positively envious that our Head of State lives 20,000km away.

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  41. GPT1 (2,101 comments) says:

    Great we get to choose our Head of State. Recycling Spud or Aunty Helen would give me such joy and inspire a hitherto unfound sense of patriotism. It’s free and it’s cool. Leave the monarchy alone.

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  42. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    As on a ground level.. it won’t make ANY difference to the average Kiwi?

    Until your taxes go up to pay the cost of it.

    Presidents Salary.
    Staff Salary.
    Accomodation.
    Travel.

    When it comes to government you can be assured one thing – it will not be done cost effectively. What the republicans seem to be very afraid of is discussing how much it will cost the country. Are we talking Millions or Billions each year? How many staff will the President need, what will his/her powers be in relation to the Prime Minister? Are they talking about a French style arrangement?

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  43. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    It should be able to keep it within the Governor General budget. A bit cost for elections, but overseas travel won’t be required (I presume the GG goes to see the boss sometimes).

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  44. OllieGI (36 comments) says:

    Good point Bevan, there would be an increased annual cost for the presidents departement, not to mention a huge inital cost. One of the good things that HC did well was to fight for NZers to maintain our ease of working in the UK.. suly then we would have no bases for maintaining this?

    Not being relevent is hardly a a good enough reason against having the monarchy to justify the expense.

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  45. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    “Until your taxes go up to pay the cost of it.

    Presidents Salary.
    Staff Salary.
    Accomodation.
    Travel.”

    Nickle and dime. Health, education, and above all welfare is where your tax dollar is really spent.

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  46. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    The New Zealand Government pays for all the costs associated with the Governor-General. In the 2009 Budget, the total cost of supporting the Governor-General was $3.6 million on support services and maintenance of residences, a total of $15.150 million on Government House capital investment, principally the conservation of Government House, Wellington and a total of just over $1.2 million for payments for the salary, the personal allowance and travel expenses of the Governor-General, a total of $19.95 million.

    That should do for Pres.

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  47. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Why Republicanism and what Republicanism?
    American? French? Irish?

    What is wrong with a Parliamentary Democracy.
    Republicanism with MMP is a truly dangerous and risky adventure.

    Why not just appoint our own ceremonial Head of State?
    No need to change all the law books. Huge cost savings. Even rotate between Maori and Pakeha to Honour the Treaty!
    That would ensure it remained a ceremonial position.

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  48. Pete George (23,167 comments) says:

    Sounds like a good idea Owen, I guess we could arrange things any way we like. It’s not as if the GG is actually required for anything essential. There must be simpler ways of having checks and balances than having another political layer. If we need anything extra.

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  49. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    Could someone please explain to me why a country actually needs a president when we’ve got a prime minister?

    Could we not just appoint a Fete-Opener-General for the ceremonial duties, and a Parliament-Dissolver-General (who’d presumably double as the Chief Justice) for that once-in-a-millennium constitutional crisis?

    Do other countries – other than dictatorships – manage without a head of state? I’m all ears. (No reference to our next monarch intended.)

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  50. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    Why I ask the above question is that if ever a head of state had grounds to sack a government it would have been Clark’s for her EFA corruption. Yet her own politically-appointed G-G predictably did nothing.

    So why waste our money on one?

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  51. kowtow (7,873 comments) says:

    You don’t get a choice with a monarchy………..you don’t get a choice with a citizens initiated referendum either.
    We didn’t get a choice with abolishing the appeal to the Privy Council ,something that should have gone to the people.

    What about an upper house ?
    What about legislation passed under urgency?
    What about absent voting in the house?

    Lots of real constitutional issues there. Doesn’t matter,deflect it all to the monarchy red herring.

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  52. heathcote (101 comments) says:

    What about Chris Carter for head of state? ‘His Majesty the Queen’ has quite a nice ring to it. Plus with his penchant for travel he’d barely be here as much as the current queen.

    Win win all round.

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