Give Kiwis a say

January 5th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Lewis Holden has an oped in the NZ Herald:

Some time this month the Prime Minister will announce who New Zealand’s next will be. While they represent the Queen in London, constitutionally the is the highest office a New Zealander can aspire to.

The appointment is entirely the choice of the Prime Minister of the day. The Queen merely rubber-stamps the appointment.

That’s one reasons I support a move to a republic. I don’t think the PM of the Day should solely determine who the effective Head of State for NZ is.

… no New Zealander can aspire to being our head of state – that position is reserved for a family in the United Kingdom. However, we recognise that we have to start somewhere. The Governor-General’s office is an obvious candidate for reform.

The Republican Movement believes nominations for the job ought to be made by the general public, instead of the Prime Minister’s office sounding potential nominees.

The public’s nominee should be subject to approval of three-quarters of MPs and a majority of party leaders in the House of Representatives. It should not be up to the Prime Minister to appoint the officer able to dismiss his or her government from office.

As Lewis says, this would be a good intermediate step – introducing some transparency and democracy around the appointment of the effective Head of State.

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37 Responses to “Give Kiwis a say”

  1. kowtow (8,938 comments) says:

    I doubt he decides on his own, he presumably does it in cabinet. Like just about every important decision in NZ. Then the govt majority in parliament ensures the decision is safe. Hardly an argument for a republic.

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  2. emmess (1,398 comments) says:

    No, I disagree it would open up a huge can of worms.
    After a few cycles, the two main candidates would be split on a left/right divide and then there would be justifiable calls for elections because on side would feel cheated.

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  3. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    Imagine a public vote – Susan Devoy? Richie McCaw? Robyn Malcolm? Helen Clark? Jim Bolger?
    If it aint broke, don’t fix it.
    The GG is a nonentity – witness the latest puffed up piece of pomposity – with a fat sinecure. Best we don’t have to think of it at all and pretend we are grown up enough to say our PM is our head of state and, if we don’t like him/her, we get a vote every three years, a pretty good sanction.
    And why are so many of our GGs obese? Is it all the rich food they guzzle at our expense?

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  4. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    Tinkering with something that works (and, quite frankly, works effectively) is just another instance of ‘nanny statism’.

    Leave it be and focus on matters of real importance – there are a few (beaten) children they could try canvassing as to what is more important. Mind you, nanny staters don’t like to let trifling things like objective priorities get in the way of their social engineering…

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  5. Manolo (14,169 comments) says:

    I would choose that bastion of political integrity, a man of great character and impeccable credentials, who has been loyal to this country, and sacrificed himself by putting duty first. No one else but the ineffable “potato head”, aka the (illiterate) Irish farmer Jim Bolger.

    Who wouldn’t be proud by having him as first NZ head of state? What a bloody (dis)honour.

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  6. Tom B (55 comments) says:

    Can some one explain what we need a head of state for? If the role has been, for the last however many decades, entirely ceremonial, why do we need to replace it when we become a republic?

    Can the PM (or PM equivalent) not be the top dog? I can’t see the benefit of us having both a PM and a President.

    I know that there are some constitutional issues but if we are going to go through the pain and expense of ditching the monarchy then it seems like a good time to get rid of the ceremonial HOS.

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  7. MikeMan (173 comments) says:

    I say Paul Henry for GG :)

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  8. E. Campbell (91 comments) says:

    A sound piece in the Herald from the head of the RM. Greater clarity as to the choice of GG would be a good thing.

    The problem around the current system is that it’s not that the PM generally makes a consensus decision around the cabinet table, it’s that a PM if they so chose wouldn’t *have* to do that. Investing the appointment and dismissal powers of the GG in the sole office of the PM is not healthy. Opening it to a super-majority in the House would be a good step forward.

    As for the time worn issue about Clark, Bolger et al becoming head of state, there’s nothing to stop this under the current system! After-all, we’ve had a former Tory PM appointed as GG as well as a former mayor and wife of a Labour Deputy PM. If one wishes to avoid this under a new model, whether it’s a Republic or reform of the selection of GG process, former politicians can simply be legislated out of the equation.

    Finally, the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ argument is nonsense. Reform isn’t needed because the system isn’t broken, it’s because the structure as it is wouldn’t stand up to the heat in the event of a crisis and would inevitability become broken.

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  9. malcolm (1,952 comments) says:

    I say let’s have no GG.

    When visiting Newtown Kindergarten one of the parents jokingly asked if he might get some of the pines trimmed around the house so the kindie would get the sun earlier, he replied: “You’re obviously under the misapprehension that I have some real powers”. Or words to that effect.

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  10. Manolo (14,169 comments) says:

    Noticing that my promotion of Jim Bolger is getting no traction at all, I would suggest abolishing the position.
    Why do we need a GG for? Waste of space and money.

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  11. jaba (2,146 comments) says:

    Cullen clap clap clap Cullen clap clap clap Cullen clap clap clap .. that would be sooooo funny. He rates himself as Pommy immigrant from a poor background made good by spending his whole working life getting paid by the taxpayers of his adopted country who hates rich pricks even though he is a multi millionaire himself.
    I would prefer him to head Kiwi rail but GG would also be a laugh.
    I’m watching the History Channel about German WW1 airplanes and they are talking about Fockers which reminded me about Micky C

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  12. s.russell (1,649 comments) says:

    He wants the public to nominate the GG?
    Fine. We can already do that. I nominate Hone Harawira.
    What’s that? The Govt does not like this idea? Oh. (That’s a relief)

    So what does this mean – the public nominates the GG. Does this mean a vote?
    In that case there is effectively an election for the job (the Govt could hardly overrule the people)
    And who would get the job?
    A politician. By definition. The kindly and harmless sorts who usually get the job now would never even seek the job.
    We’d get Winston. Or Helen. Or Jimbo.

    I’d accept the Govt nomination requiring a 75% approval by Parliament. That would further ensure non-controversial appointments. But not a public vote.

    As for public nominations, that can be done easily, via KiwiBlog.

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  13. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    I nominate David Farrar

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  14. ben (2,279 comments) says:

    What is the problem this proposal is supposed to be solving?

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  15. gazzmaniac (2,306 comments) says:

    My problem with the current system is that it is all very matey – it’s the same ruling elite who are heading up the country’s big businesses, SOEs, parliament and the courts. The people who become the GG would never pass muster with voters – they’re out of touch. A public say on who the GG is would remove the possibility of people like Dr Cullen from ever becoming GG – voters will see his name on the paper and think “hmmm… we already voted to get rid of the smarmy fuck, what makes him think we want him again?” Ditto I think for a Labour minister’s wife, a former National PM and an Indian judge who doesn’t look like a New Zealander.
    If the office of the GG really is the Queen’s representative, let the Queen choose who it is – maybe she should send out some minor royal. If it’s parliament’s representative then call it that and stop lying about it. We all know it’s really a job for the boys and no “ordinary” kiwi can hope to get it. It’s certainly not the people’s representative.

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  16. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    We don’t need a GG at all!!!!!

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  17. Pete George (23,798 comments) says:

    I bet there would be a different refrain to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” if the GG sometime decided there as a need to dismiss a government.

    It seems a pointless position, just ditch it.

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  18. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    I reckon Jonkey proposed Jenny and then got shot down. :)

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  19. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    Hell lets face it she could easily fit the “Ship of State” criteria. :)

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  20. Nichlemn (60 comments) says:

    If a Parliamentary vote for GG is whipped, then the selection of GG effectively becomes the choice of the Prime Minister plus the Leader of the Opposition, which is hardly an improvement. It would need to be a free vote.

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  21. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    @E.Campbell,

    The “if it ain’t broke…” argument is perfectly rational. We have now some 170 years history for this mythical “crisis” you mention (as relates to GG performance due to the natre of selection) to come to pass. It has not and here is not a shred of evidence to suggest it would.

    How about a clear, rational and feasible example of such crisis?

    (incidentally perhaps you could also list the cronyism evidenced to date viz a vis PM/cabinet selections. While GG’s may have been appointed from a general ‘like minded’ perspective, where is the evidence to point to an historical appointment who would have failed to undertake the proper constitutional action because of affiliation to the govt(party) which appointed them?)

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  22. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    Spot on bhudson.

    It’s just a fringe mob (including DPF) trying to foment :) change for the sake of change.

    I think Anand looks more like us than the rather strange looking Paul Henry does.

    Maybe it’s the specs. :)

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  23. MT_Tinman (3,317 comments) says:

    Damned if I can figure out what benefit having a designated Head of State has.

    It appears we must have one.

    So be it!

    The thought, however, that “the People”, the same “people” who gave NZ nine years of ‘elen Clark, should chose that Head of State is simply terrifying.

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  24. Manolo (14,169 comments) says:

    The Republican movement (with the indefatigable support of our host) is on a hiding to nothing.
    Ther are far more important problems to solve, rather than waste our time on this trivial issue.

    Put your bias aside DPF and push your Labour-lite mates to really work on and reform the NZ economy. First things first!

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  25. Johnboy (17,051 comments) says:

    I hope you are not suggesting that we should put aside the vital discussion over the G.G. ship and get back to the mundane nonsense of why we are borrowing 350M a week under the wise stewardship of Jonkey/Blinglish to prop up failed Clarkian policy Manolo. That’s now called heresy here. :)

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  26. Manolo (14,169 comments) says:

    I hope you are not suggesting that we should put aside the vital discussion over the G.G. ship..

    Hell no, that thought never crossed my mind.
    For DPF and other staunch republicans the GG issue takes precedence over all “trivial” matters (a distraction technique, a spin, very useful these days).

    As far as borrowing 350 million a week is concerned, what is a few dollars between friends? We all know the courageous and trustworthy Labour-lite leaders are on track to save NZ by reducing taxes, reforming the welfare state, selling monopolistic SOE, opening ACC to competition, reducing expenditure (and by completing the marvelous cycleway).

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  27. Stuart Mackey (336 comments) says:

    Pete George (8,577) Says:
    January 5th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
    I bet there would be a different refrain to “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” if the GG sometime decided there as a need to dismiss a government.
    ********************

    If the GG has dismissed the government it will be because the government is doing something rather naughty, like trying to make laws without consent of parliament. The potential is there, as witnessed by the Canterbury earthquake law, with our system of government.

    ********************
    It seems a pointless position, just ditch it.
    ********
    You clearly dont understand the position of GG at all do you?

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  28. burt (7,425 comments) says:

    DPF

    I think you are just pushing this because you are scared Key will appoint Cullen to the job.

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  29. burt (7,425 comments) says:

    Stuart Mackey

    The GG signed off the royal ascent of the retrospective validations burying 14 years of alleged illegal practice and killing off a standing court case against Clark. If using parliament to kill a standing court case against the PM isn’t enough to make the GG refuse to sign and disband the govt then I wouldn’t keep your fingers crossed that it will ever happen in little ol NZ where parliament do whatever parliament want in the best interest of the MPs.

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  30. Put it away (2,872 comments) says:

    Still clearing the path for El Presidente Helen the First, eh DPF? Can’t see the logic really…

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  31. 2boyz (273 comments) says:

    I can’t help but feel that I will be disappointed who ever is selected, the old boys network will have well and truly be used for selection and as always John Q Kiwi will be footing the bill for a career politician that has been sucking on the public tit for all there working life (if you can call it that).

    I’d like to see a bit of imagination involved, hopefully that would mean someone the Kiwi public actually knew and liked.

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  32. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    A lot of people are asking what the benefits are of a Governor General/Head of State.

    Well, there’s the a salary of over $190,000 (currently untaxed), plus a cool Jaguar and an awesome house to live in.

    Oh you meant what are the benefits for the NZ taxpayer?

    Then… well, nothing.

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  33. Stuart Mackey (336 comments) says:

    burt (4,894) Says:
    January 5th, 2011 at 8:38 pm
    Stuart Mackey
    *************************

    Neither of your examples touch on fundamental constitutional matters, and while both are distasteful, they were not unconstitutional.

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  34. Stuart Mackey (336 comments) says:

    2boyz (100) Says:
    January 5th, 2011 at 10:25 pm
    I can’t help but feel that I will be disappointed who ever is selected, the old boys network will have well and truly be used for selection and as always John Q Kiwi will be footing the bill for a career politician that has been sucking on the public tit for all there working life (if you can call it that).

    snip
    *****************************************

    An excellent reason for not giving these people even more power.

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  35. Paulus (2,707 comments) says:

    Winston – yea! yea! yea!. Go Winston, with vuvelas. But take from the salary the money the NZ Party stole from the taxpayers first.

    Helen would not lower herself to such a position as NZ GG. She wants to be I/C the most corrupt organisation in the world the UN, and she is well suited.

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  36. grumpy (270 comments) says:

    Can we have one who looks like a Kiwi and doesn’t sound like a dork?

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  37. deej (4 comments) says:

    Sometimes I think the reason that most people want the notion of republic is so that the flag will need to be changed.
    And I suspect the only reason for that is because they think they have the best design.

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