The Constitutional Advisory Panel

August 4th, 2011 at 1:18 pm by David Farrar

Bill English and Pita Sharples have announced the membership of the Constitutional Advisory Panel:

The Panel will be co-chaired by Emeritus Professor John Burrows and Sir Tipene O’Regan, of Ngāi Tahu.  The other members are:

  • Peter Chin
  • Deborah Coddington
  • Hon Dr
  • Hon John Luxton
  • Bernice Mene
  • Dr Leonie Pihama
  • Hinurewa Poutu
  • Professor Linda Smith
  • Peter Tennent
  • Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker

This will surprise some people but I think including Dr Cullen is a brilliant move. Not because I necessarily will agree with his views. But panels like these has a habit of producing worthy but useless reports which try to lay down principles for the perfect constitution, and they become door stops.

Dr Cullen’s presence (and others) should help ensure that the panel will actually come up with some proposed reforms which are actually achievable, if the public support them.

I hated Cullen’s appointment to NZ Post – partly because of the timing, but partly because National had fought several elections railing against his economic management, so giving him the chair of our biggest SEO was a slap in the face for many National supporters.

But a role like this one, I think is much more appropriate, and Dr Cullen will I think play a very useful role in it. The issues they are looking at include:

the size of Parliament, the length of the electoral term, Māori representation, the role of the Treaty of Waitangi and whether New Zealand needs a written constitution.

Also pleased to see Deborah Coddington and John Luxton there. Again, a panel with nothing but academics would be less likely to succeed.

But academics are not bad per se, and Professor Burrows as a co-chair is also an inspired choice. He is widely respected, and has done some excellent work at the Law Commission. He has a lot of experience at taking complex issues, and turning them into specific proposed law changes.

Likewise Sir Tipene has a good track record of making things happen, and a necessary degree of pragmatism.

Peter Chin seems a solid choice and a former Mayor will have some good perspectives, as will Peter Tennent.

I don’t really know much about Bernice Mene (except that she was a great netballer) or Dr Pihama, Ms Poutu or Professor Smith. Dr Walker is more well known, and his inclusion is no surprise.

As a constitutional geek, I’m really pleased to see some important issues will be debated and discussed. I doubt I will like everything they recommend, or even most of it. But I definitely plan to be involved in the process, and will next year cover the issuees extensively on Kiwiblog.

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39 Responses to “The Constitutional Advisory Panel”

  1. dime (10,095 comments) says:

    There is nothing honorable about cullen. just a mean little bastard.

    some politicians are so toxic, they should be put out to pasture forever. theres not many, but he is one.

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  2. Manolo (14,029 comments) says:

    The words Cullen and honoruble do not belong in the same sentence. National’s pandering to Labour lite is sickening.

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  3. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I didn’t make the cut :-(

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  4. RRM (10,001 comments) says:

    Your Nactional government continues to run the country at a deficit the equivalent of a train set a fortnight lads.

    As long as these circumstances exist I think any and all sour grapes about Dr Cullen (who actually had us paying down Govt debt) on here are pretty much null and void…

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  5. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    Well there’s a panel that screams balance. I’ll bet good money no constitutional reform that constrains the ability of government to pander to a certain interest group will be proposed. Which is to say no constitutional reform that constrains the ability of government to pander to anyone or anything will be proposed. The only question is how many constitutional references to the treaty will be suggested. Stirring stuff.

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  6. insider (1,028 comments) says:

    I think Walker and Coddington are on there to make it so divisive that it can’t reach any form of agreement, or that the agreement reached is so watered down to be essentially meaningless. Mene is probably being groomed as a future MP. Burrows was an excellent law lecturer and really nice guy. I do worry that O’Regan and Walker are getting on a bit for this kind of thing.

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  7. Lee01 (2,171 comments) says:

    “Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker”

    Thats a worry. Walker is a far left racist nutter.

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  8. kowtow (8,730 comments) says:

    Peter Chins’ legacy to Dunedin is white elephants and a mountain of debt .Hardly solid.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/171939/time-sell-baubles-we-cant-afford-keep#comment-22614

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  9. F E Smith (3,307 comments) says:

    “Emeritus Professor John Burrows”

    What they mean to say is “Emeritus Professor John Burrows QC”. The man is a legend. Plus, he wrote the book (quite literally) on statutory interpretation in NZ.

    Why the hell is Bernice Mene there?

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  10. hj (7,060 comments) says:

    Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End (Revised Edition), by
    Ranginui Walker.

    “Throughout Walker’s historical narrative, the existence of the conflicting political ideologies, contradictory class interests and the inequalities of wealth and political power that are entrenched within and across iwi, hapu and urban Maori communities have been conveniently disregarded in favour of an approach that emphasises the primacy of cultural conflict between Maori and Pakeha. Maori communities have, therefore, been typically portrayed as
    cultural communities united in their resistance to hostile ‘Pakeha’ values or ‘Pakeha society’ (Greenland, 1991).
    There is also an implicit tendency throughout the book to assume the existence of a unitary, homogeneous Pakeha society that confronts Maori and in doing so is fundamentally hostile to what is rather loosely framed ‘Maori interests’. For Walker, the organisational policies and practices of the state operate in the interests of Pakeha in the struggle against Maori for control over social, economic and cultural resources because, ‘Pakeha values and assumptions underlie all procedures and practices’ (Nairn & Nairn, 1981, p. 117).
    The insistence that Maori are a culture, united in their resistance against Pakeha, ignores the critical divisions that have arisen within and between iwi, hapu and urban Maori communities over the allocation and distribution of the benefits of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, a process that has resulted in a substantial shift in resources and compensation to those sections of Maori society already wealthy and powerful.”

    etc

    http://www.pjreview.info/issues/docs/11_1/pjr11105review_strugg_p211-217.pdf
    DR EVAN TE AHU POATA-SMITH is a lecturer in the School of Sociology and Anthropology,
    University of Canterbury

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  11. marcw (254 comments) says:

    Hmm.. so 12 members on this board, and 5 of them are Maori. Any guesses as to the outcome, especially as 2 of these Maori aren’t really known for their race related evenhandedness – in fact, more for their radical divisiveness.

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  12. backster (2,184 comments) says:

    Do the members of this panel have the same level of expertise in regard to constitutional affairs as Jenny Shipley and some old retired Judge have in the reconstruction of major cities following devastating earthquakes, and are they to be paid accordingly. Or are they just another group of troughers lining up to lick the gravy plate clean.

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  13. s.russell (1,646 comments) says:

    Constitutional issues are hopefully above political ones. One can be left or right but still have sensible views on constitutional arrangements. (Or or course subscribe to sensible politics but have loopy ideas on constitutional matters). It is right that there should be a mix of political views on this panel. It may possibly make it harder for them to reach agreement, but if they do, it will make it easier for a Government to implement its proposals, assuming the Govt likes them.

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  14. Elaycee (4,403 comments) says:

    Jeez – this selection doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?

    A sprinkling of radicals and even a ‘nobody’ on the panel.

    WTF?

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  15. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Twelve more empty wagons coupled onto the gravy train to nowhere.

    Cullen is a good choice, he likes playing with expensive train sets.

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  16. TTTC (11 comments) says:

    Bernice Mene?

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  17. mikenmild (11,651 comments) says:

    It’s a good panel. They is a spread of views there, and that is a good thing. As I see it, their job is to facilitate a debate – they’re not expected to sit down and write us a constitution.

    Whether this process actually leads anywhere is another question

    Will they be on ‘Jenny Shipley rates’?

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  18. cubit (357 comments) says:

    A two year gravy train with troughs lining every wall of every carriage.

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  19. leftyliberal (651 comments) says:

    DPF: “I hated Cullen’s appointment to NZ Post – partly because of the timing, but partly because National had fought several elections railing against his economic management, so giving him the chair of our biggest SEO was a slap in the face for many National supporters.”

    It’s ok – based on what stunning changes they made when they finally got in, they were just railing against it because that’s what opposition “is supposed to do”.

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  20. David Garrett (7,523 comments) says:

    The great Professor John Burrows QC is diminished by having minnows like Bernice Mene and Sir Tipene on the panel…and Coddington?? Her qualifications are what exactly? Aside from telling everyone on every possible opportunity how she is on first name terms with senior members of the judiciary…

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  21. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    I’m most surprised to see that Richie McCaw and Graham Henry are missing from the panel.

    After the world cup perhaps…..? :)

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  22. mikenmild (11,651 comments) says:

    The worst thing would be to have a panel of constitutional experts. This panel has a range of personalities and views and could be successful in stimulating and framing a national conversation. I still don’t think there is much public appetite for significant constitutional change though.

    Johnboy – and Sonny Bill for the Muslim perspective?

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  23. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    It’s all academic mm.

    There is no one to represent the comrades of the unions, the student voice, the strugglers and battlers or the mum and dad investors!

    Doomed to failure. :)

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  24. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    If we have to have a net baller I vote for Giva Mentor, she’s particuarly hot and although a pom she has been here enough to add as much to the debate as Mene or the intellectual giant Coddington.

    David Garret — she is on first name terms with senior members of the judiciary…

    David -Is this code for “nudge nudge infantile giggling” because she is bugger all use for anything else.

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  25. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    Don’t be so churlish Paul. Her Horsey’s luv her don’t you know! :)

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  26. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Peter Tennent looks promising… Is this just another bunch of membership troughers…. I would like to know how much we are paying these mainly old relics.. and for how long.. They will all no-doubt advise that the Treaty of Waitangi be included in the new constitution. When a new constitution should exclude the treaty and start with a clean slate for all New Zealanders.

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  27. Nookin (3,455 comments) says:

    Penny is a constitutional wizz. She even tells us so. Why isn’t she there as an attendee? All these codes, registers and conventions to write? GE seems a bit cut that he didn’t make the grade. Maybe he johnboy and Penny could form the B team with Whale, Duck and Andrew Williams?

    Agree with FE about John Burrows QC.

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  28. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Agree with FE about John Burrows QC.

    Are we sure that FE isn’t John Burrows?

    =)

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  29. Nookin (3,455 comments) says:

    Not sure if JB does the same volume of legal aid stuff as FE. And I’m not sure what criminal stuff JB does. But then, he may be a closet public defender! I thought FE was Merv Glue.

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  30. Johnboy (16,994 comments) says:

    “Are we sure that FE isn’t John Burrows?”

    No he is far too intelligent to disguise himself as a moron and comment on KB. :)

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  31. hj (7,060 comments) says:

    “Today’s news from Hone Harawira, to set up a Maori Parliament, might well be one of the ideas considered within the wide ranging review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements suggested Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party.

    “In the NZ Herald article, Mr Harawira hoped that a parliament of Maori MPs would not be dismissed as “Hone’s Parliament” said Mrs Turia ”
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1106/S00249/hones-parliament-could-be-part-of-constitutional-review.htm

    #4 Green Party:
    “Catherine Delahunty, Green MP new Zealand
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:23 AM
    We are in fact having that conversation on this blog and I would like to add that demograpically speaking the Pakeha majority is a temporary phenomena. A Maori, Pacific and Asian population will be the majority and Pakeha will be the minority culture eventually. So before we start panicking and putting up walls we have to start talking. There is room for different models within this nation. If anyone watches “Native Affairs” on Maori Television you might have heard Professor David Williams explaining the examples such as the Scottish Parliament in UK, the Sami Parliament in Sweden and the work peoples such as Tuhoe are doing here on their mana motuhake (which is sometimes interpreted as unity and self determination) but we have to be wary of trying to describe tangata whenua structural models according to Pakeha political definitions. The conversation is well underway but to make it work we will have to look in our own mirror and recognise the good things about our current democracy as well as the way in which it has not benefited indigenous rights. As a Green I am very comfortable with an open dialogue under Te Tiriti which recognises that participatory decision making and consensus *as well as a place for voting* improves social harmony and quality decision making. You only have to be in Parliament to see that robust debate is actually abuse and that the power of numbers dominate in unhelpful ways. Whether it is a redundant monarch or an elected President is not relevant to the real constitutional changes we need to make and we this needs a careful national process, not a series of referenda assisted by talk back radio.…. only the right and left wing-indigenous people should have a say. The rest of you should be sent to a “te treedy” workshop!

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  32. BlairM (2,363 comments) says:

    You’d be hard-pressed to find a politician who has treated New Zealand’s constitution with more contempt than Michael Cullen. The man should be in prison for treason, not on a constitutional committee! Forgive the invocation of Godwins Law, but it’s like asking Rudolph Hess to help plan a new constitution for Germany after the War!

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  33. Daigotsu (465 comments) says:

    I feel sick.

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  34. BlairM (2,363 comments) says:

    …it’s like having North Korea on the UN Human Right Committee!

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  35. KiwiGreg (3,259 comments) says:

    So a bunch of academics and politicians and anyoen left over seems to have got on by virtue of race and/or gender. Cool I feel super represented already.

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  36. mikenmild (11,651 comments) says:

    It’s a reasonably balanced panel – you have a retired Cabinet minister from each major party to keep things evens, a few people that know what they’re talking about and one or two others.

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  37. Sharkhunter1 (1 comment) says:

    It has become very clear, the Fascist are on the march again.Mr. John Key was quoted on NZTV (NZ has no written Constitution)Funny that the unlawful Government of NZ, derives its power from the 1986 Constitutional Act.( Act of treason)This act has made the NZ Government SOVEREIGN of our nation with out our AUTHORITY.(Dictatorship)The power in any true democracy can only come from the Citizens and within a written CONSTITTUTION only we the people can be Sovereign of our nation.The above named know this and the lot of them should be charged with treason.Please take time to read Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins http://www.barefootsworld.net.This book will give you a good reference to what is happening in America and NZ today.Go the mighty Warriors and the All Blacks for this weekends games.

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  38. KevinH (1,236 comments) says:

    The panel as selected is eclectic, some experienced, others not, thereby the recommendations will be more entertaining than authoritive. It’s a joke.

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  39. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    As a constitutional geek,

    This is a bit of a worry, David.

    From Wiki:

    The word geek is a slang term, with different meanings ranging from “a computer expert or enthusiast” to “a carnival performer who performs sensationally morbid or disgusting acts”, with a general pejorative meaning of “a peculiar or otherwise dislikable person, esp[ecially] one who is perceived to be overly intellectual”.

    A constitution is not a computer, so the first doesn’t apply.

    Neither, I suspect, would you demean yourself so much as to call yourself an (shudder) “intellectual”!

    And I would never term you dislikeable! Simpleton, sure, but a loveable simpleton, like we have loveable rogues :-)

    Hmmm…what’s left?

    Oh dear.

    Is that a gathering demerits storm I sense?

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