The Constitutional Advisory Panel

September 13th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Constitutional Advisory Panel has published a discussion booklet. Some of the issues they are looking at are:

  1. Should the size of Parliament be changed?
  2. Should the term of Parliament be increased?
  3. Should the election be a fixed or semi-fixed date?
  4. How many electorates should we have?
  5. Should the South Island requirement of 16 electorates remain?
  6. Should the population tolerance for electorates remain 5% or increase to 10%?
  7. Should we have electoral integrity or anti-party-hopping legislation?
  8. Should the Maori seats be retained?
  9. Should the Maori seats be entrenched?
  10. Whether there are alternative or complementary ways to ensure Maori are represented in Parliament, to the Maori seats?
  11. Should there be guaranteed Maori representation on local authorities?
  12. Are there are more effective ways of ensuring Māori views are represented in local authority decision-making?
  13. Should the Treaty of Waitangi be supreme law so laws can not be inconsistent with it?
  14. Should the Bill of Rights Act be supreme law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it?
  15. Should the Bill of Rights Act be superior law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it, unless Parliament explicitly resolves otherwise (a notwithstanding clause)
  16. Should the Bill of Rights Act be broadened to include additional rights, such as property rights, social rights, cultural rights or environmental rights?
  17. Should the Bill of Rights Act be entrenched?
  18. Should we have a , with the judiciary able to strike down laws inconsistent with it?
  19. Should we reintroduce a second legislative chamber or upper house?
  20. Should we become a republic?

My views are:

  1. The size of Parliament should be increased to 160.
  2. The term of Parliament should be increased to four years.
  3. The election should be a semi-fixed date of last Saturday in November unless no Government can govern with confidence.
  4. The number of electorates should be 100, with 60 list MPs or alternatively be a ratio of 5:3
  5. The South Island should have 25 electorates.
  6. The population tolerance for electorates should be 10%.
  7. We should not have electoral integrity or anti-party-hopping legislation.
  8. The Maori seats should not be retained, but realise change should only occur with Maori agreement.
  9. The Maori seats should not be entrenched.
  10. The alternative to Maori seats should be a lower threshold for parties representing Maori interests, as recommended by the Royal Commission.
  11. There should no guaranteed Maori representation on local authorities.
  12. All local authorities should have non-voting representatives of local Iwi on them, who have the same support and access as Councillors. However voting rests with elected Councillors only.
  13. The Treaty of Waitangi should not be supreme law unless there is a mechanism to amend it.
  14. The Bill of Rights Act should not be supreme law.
  15. The Bill of Rights Act should be superior law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it, unless Parliament explicitly resolves otherwise (a notwithstanding clause).
  16. The Bill of Rights Act should be broadened to include property rights.
  17. The Bill of Rights Act should be entrenched.
  18. We should have a written constitution, with the judiciary able to strike down laws inconsistent with it.
  19. We should not reintroduce reintroduce a second legislative chamber or upper house.
  20. We should become a republic.
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54 Responses to “The Constitutional Advisory Panel”

  1. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    Why do you think the size of parliament needs to be increased to 160?

    [DPF: Because it is the cube root of the population. Also it means a greater talent pool for Cabinet, and reduces the power of the Executive]

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  2. lastmanstanding (1,297 comments) says:

    DPF at 160 thats 1 MP for 27K. If the UK had that formula they would ahve a House of Commons of 2222 instead of the 600 they have at present.
    Its not the quantity its the quality that matters.
    IMHO we only need 70 MPs but they need to be of a much higher standard than at present.

    By that I mean they need a much higher standard of morals and ethics.

    With very few exceptions the current lot dont meet my standards of morals and ethics.

    [DPF: It is silly to compare high population countries with small ones. China will always have fewer MPs per capita than any other country for example. Amongst countries of our size, we have relatively few MPs as we have no second chamber.]

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  3. Redbaiter (8,953 comments) says:

    Oh god……………..

    Here’s what I want.

    Progressives to get out of my face.

    …and the last thing I need is for them to produce a constitution..!!

    Good grief, can you imagine???

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  4. Manolo (13,783 comments) says:

    Why on earth would we need 160 MPs? Jobs for some party mates, maybe?

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  5. Pete George (23,578 comments) says:

    I agree with most of DPF’s views, but share a query on 160 MPs (althought the more MPs there are the more chance of getting some very competent ones amongst them), and…

    10. The alternative to Maori seats should be a lower threshold for parties representing Maori interests, as recommended by the Royal Commission.

    I don’t think “parties representing Maori interests” should have special treatment, the threshold should be lowered and be the same for all parties.

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  6. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    I agree with you with two exceptions those being points 1 & 18 and point 1 will have a bearing on on point 5. That said I think it is great that this is being discussed.

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  7. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    I don’t think “parties representing Maori interests” should have special treatment, the threshold should be lowered and be the same for all parties.

    I don’t see how you can possibly define “representing Maori interests”. All but the one-man-band parties have Maori MPs, and the Nats, who don’t stand in the Maori seats, have done more to funnel taxpayer cash to the Maori aristocracy than any other party.

    The threshold for getting seats in Parliament should be lowered across the board and at the same time the number of natural person members to qualify as a political party needs to be raised significantly.

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  8. loonybonkersmad (27 comments) says:

    DPF … would you trust a republic that doesn’t have an upper house? How many republic’s have just the one house?

    [DPF: A republic or monarchy are both equally trustworthy, and not impacted by whether we have a 2nd chamber. A republic allows us to have greater constructional provision though, so the head of govt can not sack the effective head of state as they currently can]

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  9. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    Couln’t open it but 1/20 on South Island.6/20 on Maori,grossly disproportionate.

    No mention of binding referenda?

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  10. Urban Redneck (234 comments) says:

    I note with interest and disgust that almost every discussion point listed above is all about inflating the size and influence of the central government. Allowing a cabal of racial separatists and sycophantic left wing progressives to draft a constitution would be an absolute catastrophe.

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  11. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Interesting David, I take it when we become a republic all NZ knighthood holders will lose their awards ?

    [DPF: Not at all. You can have titular honours and be a republic. That is in fact the model I want]

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  12. Chuck Bird (4,892 comments) says:

    “No mention of binding referenda?”

    Of course not the peasants cannot understand issues like homosexual marriage and adoption, euthanasia, disciplining their children and the alcohol purchase age.

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  13. Gerrit (107 comments) says:

    21- No member may be a representative of the parliament for more than 3 terms.

    Too many entrenched list party members doing SFA.

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  14. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    The sole purpose of this review is to find a way of sneeking in a racist constitution. Everything else is a smoke screen.

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  15. Griff (7,741 comments) says:

    No complaints with DPFs points except the need to increase the number of tit suckers
    The review will be more along the lines of give the moari power over parliament with te treaty entrenched complete with principles and a call for a moari upper house. This is obvious from the moari loading on the panel and the direction of its releases and the budget it has 2.1 mil for consulting all
    and 2 mil for consulting just maori

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  16. OTGO (551 comments) says:

    We don’t need more MP’s we need MP’s with more intellectual horsepower. So I’m thinking about 90 in total and pay them more to attract a better quality. There are some MP’s who just don’t seem to contribute anything to parliament. I admit I am thinking of the Labour/Green/Mana/Maori MP’s but nonetheless it shouldn’t be too much to ask for a meaningful contribution from all of these people.

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  17. The Peanut Monster (19 comments) says:

    Having a Supreme Court that can strike down legislation is – theoretically – a good idea. But I’m not sure we really need it. It has to be balanced by a thorough system for selecting judges – who can now, essentially legislate. They will be come politicised, and the last thing we need is hearings a la the US, where we start pouring a whole lot of morality into the judicial bowl and mixing it all around.

    Written constitutions are likewise overrated. Are rights being trampled on left right and center? Is unacceptable legislation being throun all about? Lets step back for a minute, out of our little Southern Pacific shells and look at the whole world. We are no. 1 in the Transparency International rankings and the global peace index. We might think things are chaotic and uncontrolled, but if you compare our constitutional structure to 99% of the rest of the world, it works damn well.

    If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

    Ok, maybe give them four years :p that gives us two good years at least, ha.

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  18. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    Interesting David, I take it when we become a republic all NZ knighthood holders will lose their awards ?

    …and the wonky-thinking of the day award goes to…GOH. Come on down!

    Yes, NZ knighthood holders will lose their awards, English-derived place names will disappear and we’ll all start driving on the right hand side of the road.

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  19. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    Should the size of Parliament be changed? – Yes, 65 Seats, 35 list. 100 total. no overhangs
    Should the term of Parliament be increased? No, three years is fine.
    Should the election be a fixed or semi-fixed date? Fixed, unless there is a need. At the discretion of the head of state.
    How many electorates should we have? 65
    Should the South Island requirement of 16 electorates remain? No, they should be allocated at the same rate as others
    Should the population tolerance for electorates remain 5% or increase to 10%? Not important really.
    Should we have electoral integrity or anti-party-hopping legislation? For list mps, yes. If you win a seat, no.
    Should the Maori seats be retained? No, we have mmp.
    Should the Maori seats be entrenched? No, I don’t like entrenching
    Whether there are alternative or complementary ways to ensure Maori are represented in Parliament, to the Maori seats? – It’s called MMP, I don’t accept the existence of the implied problem.
    Should there be guaranteed Maori representation on local authorities? No, that’s insulting to everyone.
    Are there are more effective ways of ensuring Māori views are represented in local authority decision-making? Again, I don’t accept there is a problem that needs to be fixed.
    Should the Treaty of Waitangi be supreme law so laws can not be inconsistent with it? Not without the consent of the population in a binding referendum, with threshold requirements.
    Should the Bill of Rights Act be supreme law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it?, No.
    Should the Bill of Rights Act be superior law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it, unless Parliament explicitly resolves otherwise (a notwithstanding clause) Yes, ok with this.
    Should the Bill of Rights Act be broadened to include additional rights, such as property rights, social rights, cultural rights or environmental rights? No.
    Should the Bill of Rights Act be entrenched? No, I oppose anything that binds future generations from making their own choices.
    Should we have a written constitution, with the judiciary able to strike down laws inconsistent with it? Yes.
    Should we reintroduce a second legislative chamber or upper house? No need.
    Should we become a republic? Of course.

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  20. eszett (2,414 comments) says:

    lastmanstanding (798) Says:
    September 13th, 2012 at 11:09 am

    DPF at 160 thats 1 MP for 27K. If the UK had that formula they would ahve a House of Commons of 2222 instead of the 600 they have at present.

    Counting in the House of Lords and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland parliaments, you are at around 1700 and not just 600, so you are not that far off.

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  21. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Alan Johnstone I take it if the treaty is declared null and void that all land titles will be the same ?
    In other words we are back to 1840 when it comes to laws, land titles etc.
    Got my eye on a few hundred acres in what was Remuera

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  22. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    James Stephenson come on, having a republic with people titled sir is irrational.

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  23. Fost (102 comments) says:

    I have similar views in most cases, however the differences:

    1. Not sure if 160 is needed – but see some increase in size as necessary due to MMP – maybe 140

    8. Prefer not to have any – maybe when/if change is made, but rather than have to get agreement – have an automatic trigger of their abolition if there is less than 25% or 20% (or some other low number) of the those who identify themselves as Maori in the last census are on the Maori Roll – i.e. if a vast majority of those that see themselves as Maori do not see the need for being on the Maori Roll then that’s it – getting ‘agreement’ will only pander to the most vocal/political of the Maori and they will drown out those that are not bothered. If Maori as a whole group want the seats, they have to make the effort to get on the Maori Roll.

    10. No – can’t see how this would work if Maori Seats are abolished – how do you define a party as ‘representing’ Maori interests? Everyone should have the same threshold.

    12. Current Local Government Act requires consultation with Iwi/Maori – no additional access/representation is necessary.

    19. See the value of an Upper House in other governments but this is a very vague concept – would need to be much more detail on what authority and duties it would have and how it is elected/selected before I’d decide to specifically support it or not.

    20. Prefer not to become a republic. Can’t see the problem with being a constitutional monarchy with a specific written constitution for NZ with reference to the UK Monarchy

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  24. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    It wasnt very many years ago that MP salaries were the same as teachers.

    and it was early last century when MPs got NO salary – its was called “Public Service”. Only those with money (and thus had some clues) could afford to be an MP.

    Parliament also only sat for about 6 weeks – no time to fool around with silly new laws that were feel-good things.

    I think these are a couple of desirable parameters that we could well return to.

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  25. Redbaiter (8,953 comments) says:

    “Counting in the House of Lords and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland parliaments, you are at around 1700 and not just 600, so you are not that far off.”

    And the idiots have sent the UK broke.

    So much for the benefit of having more MPs.

    Bring back the provinces. Cut wellington to the bone and give the power to state / provincial governments.

    One central govt is a major mistake.

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  26. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    James Stephenson come on, having a republic with people titled sir is irrational.

    Why, just because the head of state becomes elected rather than hereditary, should a title awarded on merit be done away with? It doesn’t matter what the roots of that title are.

    If we’re going to be a republic (and I’m in favour of that for the UK too) we should have a directly elected head of state, not a politicians’ stitch-up.

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  27. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    1.Should the size of Parliament be changed? Yes 100 65/35
    2.Should the term of Parliament be increased? Yes 4 years if National, 1 year if Labour
    3.Should the election be a fixed or semi-fixed date? Yes semi fixed
    4.How many electorates should we have?65
    5.Should the South Island requirement of 16 electorates remain?No
    6.Should the population tolerance for electorates remain 5% or increase to 10%?10%
    7.Should we have electoral integrity or anti-party-hopping legislation?yes for list seats only
    8.Should the Maori seats be retained?No
    9.Should the Maori seats be entrenched?No
    10.Whether there are alternative or complementary ways to ensure Maori are represented in Parliament, to the Maori seats?no
    11.Should there be guaranteed Maori representation on local authorities?No
    12.Are there are more effective ways of ensuring Māori views are represented in local authority decision-making?Yes they can vote with the rest of us
    13.Should the Treaty of Waitangi be supreme law so laws can not be inconsistent with it?No
    14.Should the Bill of Rights Act be supreme law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it?No
    15.Should the Bill of Rights Act be superior law so other laws can not be inconsistent with it, unless Parliament explicitly resolves otherwise (a notwithstanding clause)No
    16.Should the Bill of Rights Act be broadened to include additional rights, such as property rights, social rights, cultural rights or environmental rights?No
    17.Should the Bill of Rights Act be entrenched?No
    18.Should we have a written constitution, with the judiciary able to strike down laws inconsistent with it?Yes but good luck trying to agree on it.
    19.Should we reintroduce a second legislative chamber or upper house?Yes becuase of 20.
    20.Should we become a republic?Yes

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  28. The Peanut Monster (19 comments) says:

    There seems to be some consensus at least that a written constitution is desirable, but that the Bill of Rights Act should not be supreme law. I’d be interested to know what people think the Consitution would say. I assume that it would include some rights, but differing in nature to the Bill of Rights? Or are we just talking about consitutional structure?

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  29. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    James Stephenson I must have missed something, when did Knighthoods being awarded on merit start ? how many of those awarded on so called merit would pass the Sir Ed test ?

    Want a republic with a president being picked by parliament from among their group of hacks fine, but, at least be honest and sell knighthoods.
    Peter Snell got a knighthood for what ?

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  30. Pete George (23,578 comments) says:

    Redbait can talk sense…

    Bring back the provinces. Cut wellington to the bone and give the power to state / provincial governments.

    One central govt is a major mistake.

    I probably wouldn’t go that far but more power should be given back to the regions, giving local input and local solutions to local problems and preferences.

    Something like this is being done with DHBs like the Southern District Health Board. It could be taken further and to a wider range of things.

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  31. AG (1,827 comments) says:

    Couple of slightly confusing points:

    “16: The Bill of Rights Act should be broadened to include property rights.
    17: The Bill of Rights Act should be entrenched.”

    I assume by this you would only support the BORA being broadened to include property rights if a super-majority agreed to such … 75%, same as Electoral Act changes?

    “18: We should have a written constitution, with the judiciary able to strike down laws inconsistent with it.”

    What would be in this … or does it coat-tail on your previous support for a superior (but not supreme) law version of the BORA?

    [DPF: While BORA is not entrenched, a bare majority is fine to amend it. If it is entrenched then further changes need 75%. Also to entrench needs 75% and I expect that would only happen if 75% agree with those rights listed.

    My position is BORA is superior but not supreme law. Supreme law is stuff such as term of Parliament]

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  32. DJP6-25 (1,387 comments) says:

    #21 Term limits for all elected positions. Say five terms. If you can’t do anything in five terms, you won’t in ten either. The same for the ‘public service’. Why? To change the mentality of the incumbents and public servants. If they know they’ll have to go back and work in the real world, they’ll perhaps be less statist.

    Also embed the Bill of Rights.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  33. Alan Wilkinson (1,878 comments) says:

    Agree with others above. It is idiocy to have a different threshold applying to some hopelessly vague definition of Maori interests. Just make it 3% for everyone.

    There should be a written constitution solely to protect the individual and his/her property from the majority. It should also provide for binding citizens initiated referenda subservient to said protections for individuals.

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  34. Mr_Blobby (174 comments) says:

    What a load of old crap. The constitutional advisory panel, is loaded with Maori to advance the interests of maori it can hardly be considered representative of all New Zealanders.
    They will come up with some nonsense that will be unacceptable to the Majority. The problem they will have is that they won’t be able to have a referendum on it, because the Majority can’t be trusted to come up with the right answer. So the answer will be for it to just come into being by act of Parliament. Much like when we woke up one day and that made up bullshit te reo was suddenly an official language.

    Parliament should be limited to 100 seats. We need less big Government in our daily lives.

    Agree with Alan Johnstone except for the republic part.

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  35. Maaik (33 comments) says:

    Although it pains me to have more politicians, money spent on extra MPs is not that much, even if we add the staff, overheads etc. If it results in more cream rising to cabinet, it may be worth it.

    What I really would like is some integrity in elected politicians – they campaign on issues that get them elected, but are free to vote opposite to their campaign promises when it becomes expedient. We need some automatic recall if an MP reneges on his pre-election promise card.

    Apart from that, any moves to abolish Apartheid in New Zealand gets my vote – you can dress it up as nicely as you wish, but reserving privilege based on race is just plain old Apartheid.

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  36. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    I’ve been saying for years we need both a written constitution, and an elected Senate. I would add to that elected Supreme Court justices.

    The New Zealand system currently is an elected dictatorship – no Prime Minister in any seriously regarded democracy on earth has as much power as the NZ PM. A constitution would constrain that, and an elected Senate would constrain it even further.

    I am also in favour of more MPs, which would yet further weaken Prime Ministerial power. However, I think they should be paid less, as they are here in Texas, where 150 Members of the House are paid $7200 a year to govern 25 million people. You could even go the way of New Hampshire, which has over 400 Representatives. MPs could be paid nothing except the right to claim flights to and from their constituencies, and reasonable expenses.

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  37. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    The constitution should also declare who owns water and wind.

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  38. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    The constitution should also declare who owns water and wind.

    It could do that with a clause which says “English Common Law shall form the basis of this Constitution, except where this Constitution explicitly contradicts it.”

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  39. wat dabney (3,769 comments) says:

    The first problem is that, rather than restricting government, any constitution written today would simply serve to authorise the state control of every aspect of our lives. Witness the EU constitution.

    The second problem is that even a good constitution – like the US one that enumerates a small and specific number of state powers – is worthless since that same state gets to pack the Supreme Court with activist judges.

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  40. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Do people seriously think that any current republic is an example of good government or are they just kidding?

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  41. hj (7,026 comments) says:

    grumpyoldhori (2,252) Says:
    September 13th, 2012 at 1:06 pm
    Alan Johnstone I take it if the treaty is declared null and void that all land titles will be the same ?
    In other words we are back to 1840 when it comes to laws, land titles etc.
    Got my eye on a few hundred acres in what was Remuera
    ……………………………

    That’s your problem: Under the treaty “we own everything”. Under aboriginal title “we own everything”.
    So that makes another option likely…… kick your fat useless arses.

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  42. Steve (North Shore) (4,563 comments) says:

    First thing is chuck Te Tiriti in the shitter where it belongs. This ancient document is just being used as a tool to brownmail koha from all taxpayers.
    When it is gone then we can have fair Government for all New Zealanders

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  43. hj (7,026 comments) says:

    North American Indians have a blood quantum approach. Some require > 50%. That would probably exclude Margaret Mutu and Tariana Turia.

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  44. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Only got as far as your point number 1 DF.

    Fuck off !!.. We have more than enough troughers as it is.. I take it you are trying to wind up the populace..

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  45. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Oh !!..

    I will not take offence to any of your ramblings on this subject..

    I see that you are in your cups..

    Ref. 19.We should not reintroduce reintroduce a second legislative chamber or upper house.

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  46. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    2 hours and no response from DPF.

    Must have started drinking early :-))

    Par for the course I hear these days :-))

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  47. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Wanting to increase the number of seats is code for “let me into the trough”

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  48. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    A Potiical poller I think.. you may be right…. more politicians .. more polls.. You may think..

    But who am I to suggest that…

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  49. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Sir Humphrey is working overtime..

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  50. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    The only use of this paranoid ” bill of rights” legislation has been is lining lawyers pockets getting juvenile offenders off.

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  51. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    A clear.
    Stated .
    Signed .
    Bill of rights.

    IS What is needed !!..

    All for One… and one for All..

    Come on.. I know that there is always one who will disagree..

    Untill he needs help..

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  52. adam2314 (377 comments) says:

    Is it you DPF ??..

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  53. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    …and reduces the power of the Executive

    Only a 2nd house can curb executive power reasonably effectively & even that may not be enough if there is a will amongst a powerful executive cabal to force through their agenda, they can pretty much do as they please.

    As for an increase in numbers of mp’s (deliberately lower case), your proposal to go to 160 of the turds would be about in line with countries of a similar size…Ireland for one. But who really wants more of the lying pig swillers, I doubt there is an optimum parliamentary size, inefficiency generally increases in relation to size increase in most things…pretty sure it would be the same here. Well, not sure, certain!

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  54. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    Although it pains me to have more politicians, money spent on extra MPs is not that much, even if we add the staff, overheads etc. If it results in more cream rising to cabinet, it may be worth it.

    It’s fat free milk actually, the cream are making dollars…mostly overseas.

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