Even Prince Charles says NZ should be a republic

November 15th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Laidlaw writes in the NZ Herald:

There has never been much clarity as to Charles’ attitude towards countries like New Zealand – older Commonwealth dominions which are still ostensibly loyal to the Crown – but which are increasingly seeking their own identities out from under the old British cultural blanket.

An opportunity arose to talk to him about this when he visited New Zealand early in 1997.

A dinner had been arranged in Christchurch for him to meet a variety of outdoor-oriented people, mainly Canterbury farming grandees and captains of local agro-industries. I was included as a conservationist.

The conversation was not scintillating. Not even the best of Canterbury’s new pinot noir could liven it up, although I noticed the Prince of Wales was downing more than his fair share.

Pretty soon I was able to engage Charles in what amounted to a private conversation and I steered the subject round to constitutional matters.

Because he seemed to be particularly open and affable I asked him what his reaction would be if, as King, he was told that New Zealand wished to remove him as Head of State and become a republic. One eyebrow shot up. Had I gone too far?

“I take it you assume that will inevitably happen,” he replied, with just the hint of a wry smile.

“I do, and I support it,” I said.

“Well, to be frank, I think it would come as a great relief to all of us,” said Charles. “It would remove the awful ambiguity we have at the moment. It seems to me that it would be a lot easier for everybody if you all had your own completely independent head of state.

“I certainly never want to be dragged into any constitutional disputes in New Zealand or anywhere else. I simply can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be faced with having to dismiss a New Zealand Prime Minister.”

Prince Charles is right. It would be easier for everyone for New Zealand to have our own independent Head of State.

 

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54 Responses to “Even Prince Charles says NZ should be a republic”

  1. RRM (9,600 comments) says:

    HRH:
    I simply can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be faced with having to dismiss a New Zealand Prime Minister.

    I am sure one of the lettuces could be persuaded to do it, if you asked it nicely enough ;-)

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  2. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    Prince Charles makes a compelling argument.

    When we become an independent republic there’s nothing to stop the Windsors visiting here occasionally, many people do like to ogle at royalty.

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  3. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    Sort of on topic , my response last night to a Facebook conversation on the issue.

    ” In many ways you can’t given his first wifes demise blame HRH Elizabeth II for hanging on.
    That said if she due to age can’t complete her role of Head of State NZ and he is deputising, well maybe it is time for an abdication.
    The problem then is NZ, Australia and Canada might well take the republic road.
    My gut feeling is regardless of Elizabeth II status nothing will change until her death.
    So the smart move from the Palace would be abdication soon by the Queen on grounds of age. Followed by Charles III who himself abdicates in favour of the “dream team ” on his mothers death.
    Think about it abdication, corronation, abdication and the another corronation, pomp ceremony trips to London for the politicians.
    Hell managed properly by the Palace ( royal offspring doing stints as house master at say Whanganui College or St.Hilda’s ) we NZ ( and the Aussies and Canadians ) might be a further 60 years from independence. “

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  4. loonybonkersmad (27 comments) says:

    Yes, it’s time.

    While we’re at it can we also change the name of the country? None of this ‘New’ rubbish; obviously the country is not new and needs a ‘new’ moniker. Zealandia springs to mind, or maybe Zeagasmic or we could find a corporate sponsor which will help pay off our national debt … “New Zealand, brought to you by Viagra, standing tall in the South Pacific”.

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  5. Ed Snack (1,773 comments) says:

    Well, old idiot big-ears can say what he likes, most NZ’ers still like a low cost figurehead instead of some dumb-fuck recycled politician which is what we’d get no matter how you claim otherwise. So let’s jump a generation and get someone more presentable.

    It’s like the supreme court, a great idea but it founders on the tiny talent pool and the political correctness that demanded jobs for the political insiders, so we get piss-poor justice at a high price. There’s a lot to be said for pragmatism.

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  6. campit (467 comments) says:

    How likely is it, though, that a Prime Minister would ever have to be dismissed by a King or Queen? It didn’t happen in Fiji – they were excluded from the Commonwealth instead. Has there ever been a constitutional intervention in New Zealand’s history?

    How expensive would it be to set up and run our own head of state? Wouldn’t it add another costly layer of bureaucracy to Government? Would the election of a head state mean more political divisiveness than we currently have?

    I’m neutral on the whole thing, but we need to be careful about what we wish for, because we just might get it.

    [DPF: The Whitlam sacking in Australia is an example of the Palace potentially being involved. The Queen would have to decide whether to sack the GG if Whitlam asked her to, before Kerr sacked him.

    If one just renamed the GG, the Head of State, and had Parliament appoint him or her by 75% vote there would be absolutely no extra cost, and in fact we'd save money.]

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  7. ChardonnayGuy (1,169 comments) says:

    He’s certainly no social conservative ideological purist- divorced, green and a committed multiculturalist who has discussed disestablishing the Anglican Church and representing all the current faiths of the contemporary United Kingdom…although I’m still a gradualist republican on these matters. It’s probably no good moving on the issue until the current queen passes away.

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  8. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    “It’s probably no good moving on the issue until the current queen passes away.”

    Dying can be sudden, setting up a new constitution will take a lot of preparation and time.

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  9. Longknives (4,624 comments) says:

    “When we become an independent republic there’s nothing to stop the Windsors visiting here”

    Somehow I don’t think “White Motherfuckers” are going to be overly welcome in the shiny new ‘Republic of Aoteroa’.
    Considering that characters like Margaret Mutu are involved in the constitutional review….

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  10. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    “the constitutional review….”

    It’s reviewing constitutional issues, it’s not setting up a new constitution.

    Any actual changes to our constitution should be discussed by all of us and agreed by a significant majority of us.

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  11. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    Well HRH is also in a minority on this it would seem – 19% of people think we should become a republic. 74% wish to retain the status quo.

    God save the Queen!

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  12. davidp (3,550 comments) says:

    Campit>How expensive would it be to set up and run our own head of state? Wouldn’t it add another costly layer of bureaucracy to Government?

    We already pay all the expenses of the Governor General. No reason that those should increase if the title changed from GG to “President”, apart from the cost of printing new stationary and changing a few signs of Government House. On the other hand, we wouldn’t need to pay the cost of royal tours, including Camilla’s hairdresser. And we might be able to save the cost of having the PM fly to London on a regular basis for royal weddings and funerals.

    So, overall I think it would be cheaper.

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  13. Reid (16,062 comments) says:

    I’m still waiting for Republicans to explain what’s wrong with the current system. The only argument they seem to have against it is based on emotional jingoism and I’m afraid you simply don’t determine your constitutional framework based on emotion. That doesn’t and shouldn’t come into it.

    Simply put, the system works well, right now, and it’s free, because UK pays for it, lucky them. So it’s not broken. Is it. Apart from the emotional cry-baby argument that we’d be standing on our two feet in the world and aren’t we gweat big special big boys now, like the little engine that could, and other such sentimental rubbish.

    But hey, if you want to throw all of that away, and make us pay for it ourselves, and do things like incorporate Te Tiriti as a founding document, simply because in your minds tummies that would make us extra special as a country, it’d be good if at least one of you could explain the logic, because I don’t get it.

    I see this as a mistake in the same category as getting rid of the Privy Council was a mistake. But much much more serious. They’re not broken, and they work brilliantly. Why change?

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  14. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    I’m neutral on the whole thing, but we need to be careful about what we wish for, because we just might get it.

    100% right. Imagine a President Bolger or Clark or Palmer or Shipley. Pffttt.
    God save the Queen!

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  15. ChardonnayGuy (1,169 comments) says:

    Why shouldn’t we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms like Canada, though?

    And B, while I have considerable respect for the current monarch’s record of public service and civic responsibility, she isn’t likely to be immortal. She’s already eighty six. That’s older than Victoria, who passed away at eighty two. In four years, she’ll be ninety. In six years time, the Prince of Wales will be seventy.

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  16. Sam (498 comments) says:

    Prince Charles’ comments are exactly why we should become a Republic – the monarchy has no backbone for doing its job here if necessary…

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  17. Reid (16,062 comments) says:

    Any actual changes to our constitution should be discussed by all of us and agreed by a significant majority of us.

    Yeah but that’s not going to happen is it Pete. We all know that.

    Te Tiriti is going to be written into the new constitution as a founding document, which would be fine if only someone knew precisely what it meant, which none of us do, apparently. Despite the fact that at most 14% would think this is a good idea, this is what will definitely happen, no doubt about it.

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  18. Pete George (23,159 comments) says:

    “The only argument they seem to have against it is based on emotional jingoism ”
    “Imagine a President Bolger or Clark or Palmer or Shipley. Pffttt.”

    Imagine being able to choose our own head of state instead of having a foreign one chosen by an antiquated foreign system based on birthright.

    I don’t see any reason why Bolger or Clark or Palmer or Shipley couldn’t make an adequate Governor General, providing the choice was made openly and correctly according to a decent democratic system.

    I have never seen an adequate argument against Bolger or Clark or Palmer or Shipley being our powerless head of state. At least they would probably visit us more than rarely.

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  19. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    Excuse me if I sound like an idiot…

    But why do we even need a head of state? Do we really require other high-paid and highly-perked do nothing job for retired politicians?

    It’s not as if the Queen anything at the moment. If we get rid of her, can’t we replace her with… nothing?

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  20. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    The most important first step is not the how – but why….

    eg: take the privy council decision – it was made for the wrong reason – which was ‘We dont want to be running of to the UK for legal decisions’. What weve now got is an incestuous bunch of inbreeds running the superior courts.

    It should have been made for a positive reason – like weve got better systems or weve got really different systems.

    Its going to be the same for Head Of State. If we do it because we dont like the HOS being in the UK, then well get a fucked up system

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  21. ChardonnayGuy (1,169 comments) says:

    I imagine that any adoption of a written constitution would be subject to considerable debate, particularly parliamentary submissions. I’d have to say that the Charter has served Canada quite well over the last thirty years, although unlike a Treaty-inclusive equivalent here, it doesn’t provide any cornerstone status for Canadian indigenous communities. What the hell, as long as it includes robust human rights and civil liberties protections.

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  22. Longknives (4,624 comments) says:

    “Despite the fact that at most 14% would think this is a good idea, this is what will definitely happen, no doubt about it.”

    I think 14% is being generous. Even the left-leaning commentators like Chris Trotter are opposed to this debacle…
    This ‘Constitutional review’ puts New Zealand on a slippery slope to becoming another Zimbabwe.

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  23. ChardonnayGuy (1,169 comments) says:

    Trottersky is an idiot and out of touch with mainstream left opinion on constitutional reform. He’s the Right’s tame leftoid whose tunnel vision doesn’t extend beyond trade union politics. Bruce Jesson would have been more thoughtful.

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  24. Longknives (4,624 comments) says:

    So you don’t think a Constitutional Review should be put to the people Chardonnay? Rather than being drafted behind closed doors by a group of self-serving activists?

    New Zealand is still supposedly a Democracy…(well at this stage anyway)

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  25. lastmanstanding (1,231 comments) says:

    Good God I can just see the new Republic Socialist State of Aoteroa. Run by Horis for the benefit of Horis with the White MotherF….s picking up the tab and having to bow and scrape to the Horis.

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  26. lastmanstanding (1,231 comments) says:

    Cause thats the real agenda of the Horis and the Plastic Tikis that support them. Make no mistake.

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  27. Fletch (6,099 comments) says:

    This kind of thing goes in cycles.

    Look at the reactions to the Queen.

    For a while in the 90s she was reviled, but just look at the outpouring of support and love during her Diamond Jubilee this year.
    People love the monarchy, even if those in high places and the media don’t.

    I think it all comes down to big boss syndrome. I haven’t been in too many jobs where the boss is liked. I think people generally don’t like being told what to do – no one likes an authority over them, but that is life.

    If we didn’t have the monarchy, it would be whoever was President(?) of New Zealand that would be reviled by the bleaters and whiners.

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  28. BlairM (2,303 comments) says:

    I don’t buy the inevitability argument that so many people trot out. It’s entirely possible that the monarchy will be with us in 200 years time. However, I think the situation where we have a Governor General appointed by the Prime Minister will not continue that long. I can envisage a future situation where the GG was either elected, or appointed by a parliamentary supermajority, as DPF advocates. Personally, I would prefer that the position was an elected one, which would make the GG a Head of State for all intents and purposes anyway, ceding only to the British Monarch when he or she was physically in the country. If that happened, I think the argument for a New Zealand republic would be diffused.

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  29. David Garrett (6,658 comments) says:

    How nice of Laidlaw to reveal what he himself calls, effectively “a private conversation.” And Charlie was probably downing more than his share of pinot because he had to sit next to that boring leftie twat.

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  30. BlairM (2,303 comments) says:

    Excuse me if I sound like an idiot…

    But why do we even need a head of state? Do we really require other high-paid and highly-perked do nothing job for retired politicians?

    It’s not as if the Queen anything at the moment. If we get rid of her, can’t we replace her with… nothing?

    It’s kind of like having firefighters. 99% of the time firefighters sit on their arse and do nothing. You could argue – why do we have a fire department? – if you looked at it that way. But if you ever have a fire, the firefighters suddenly become very necessary. So it is with the Queen. There’s that rare instance in parliamentary democracies where politicians get too big for their boots, and you need a backup to make sure they do the right thing instead of, say, making themselves President for Life and dropping dissidents out of Hercules aircraft.

    That’s what the Queen is for. If we were to get rid of the Queen, we would need either a ceremonial President (like India, Germany, Ireland or Israel), or we would need to completely separate our Executive and Legislative branches so that neither could wield absolute power (as France and the USA do).

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  31. emmess (1,386 comments) says:

    Did Prince Charles says NZ should be a republic?

    All the article says is he asked “I take it you assume that will inevitably happen?’

    It doesn’t match the headline
    Is KiwiBlog becoming the MSM?

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  32. rg (197 comments) says:

    The monarchy is a cheap deal for us.
    Without it we do not have the necessary checks and balances in place
    Before being a republic we have to have a constitution. the Treaty of Waitangi will be a major sticking point there. Then we have to go to the expense of electing one and maintaining them. depending on the constitution but Maori are not going to sit back and let a white guy in there, it will have to be a partnership so there will be a layer of maori in there somewhere.

    We might have to have another House as well
    I don’t think you republicans have thought this through.

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  33. davidp (3,550 comments) says:

    BlairM>There’s that rare instance in parliamentary democracies where politicians get too big for their boots, and you need a backup to make sure they do the right thing instead of, say, making themselves President for Life and dropping dissidents out of Hercules aircraft.

    So it’s an important limitation on government power. But the person who has that power isn’t elected or selected, but has it because one of their parents and one of their grandparents had it. That’s about the worst way of filling any position. Would we fill the positions of prime minister or chief justice using the same random method?

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  34. Shunda barunda (2,965 comments) says:

    If it’s not broken don’t fix it.

    I absolutely believe that “going republic up in this bitch” would currently throw our nation into chaos.

    Every nut bar in the country will be writing the constitution and expecting it to be the final draft.

    For goodness sake just leave it alone, we’ve got enough crap to worry about as it is.

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  35. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    emmess,

    Indeed. Also he was asked how he would react if the question were put to him, not what his preference would be.

    How would anyone expect him to respond otherwise? Presumably, Laidlaw was looking for “I’d send in the troops to stop you; bomb you heathens into submission” as the only response that would do anything other than affirm HRH’s agreement with Laidlaw’s preference for a republic.

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  36. Manolo (13,514 comments) says:

    I’d expect DPF to inject Ardern and Robertson’s names in the conversation any moment, so his three favourite topics would be mentioned. :D

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  37. Jack5 (4,781 comments) says:

    And it would be impossible for a President Helen Clark or President Jim Bolger to dismiss a government elected by New Zealanders?

    It’s almost inconceivable that an NZ Governor General would try to block an elected government. Our governors-general don’t have the practical power or the mana. No-one would take any notice.

    Our present de facto republic is ideal: light government, cheap, and the vast majority of the costs of the ceremonial side borne by the British state and crown.

    As for Chris Laidlaw: I would gladly fight for any faction if leftist Laidlaw was on the other side. As for his recollection of an allegedly pinot noir-fuelled conversation of 15 years ago – did Laidlaw take notes or is this hearsay based just on alcohol-numbed memories? Was the pinot noir even from Canterbury? From Central Otago surely? Can Laidlaw remember the conversation so clearly but not the wine source?

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  38. graham (2,248 comments) says:

    As this was 15 years ago, I wonder what Charles’ reaction would be if asked the same question today? Lots of changes have happened since 1997.

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  39. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    There’s that rare instance in parliamentary democracies where politicians get too big for their boots, and you need a backup to make sure they do the right thing instead of, say, making themselves President for Life and dropping dissidents out of Hercules aircraft.

    But what if we had, say Helen Clark, for president. Then the National Party stated that they were going to only give beneficiaries money though a benefit card. So Helen Clark, as unelected head of state, thinks “what a horrible and unjust thing for the country” and steps in with her presidential power to stop it.

    There’s always going to be someone on top. And why should we trust them any more than the PM? (The monarchy is in a better situation, because they are heads of multiple countries, and they can’t act in one country without causing ire of the others.)

    I trust our citizens to react more to a “President for Life” military state more than some useless head of state. If it came to that the head of state would be killed, or would do nothing. Even with the royalty, if something like that happened, I can imagine a sternly worded speech being the only intervention. At least fireman have engines and hoses.

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  40. grumpyoldhori (2,412 comments) says:

    Ah the hypocrisy DPF, you want us to keep knighthoods, keep the VC and believe that a super majority would not vote to give us another Holyoake.
    As one bloke mentioned let US the voters decide whom will be GG not some parliamentary hacks.
    So want a vote on this or do you prefer it to be put through parliament with a bare majority ?

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  41. Paulus (2,544 comments) says:

    The day that I listen or accept anything from Laidlaw is a sad day.
    He is a failed Labour MP, a failed overseas NZ Ambassador in Africa, a favourite from Lange era and a ………………not allowed to say.
    BUT he was an All Black so it’s all right.

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  42. KevinH (1,142 comments) says:

    Fact: New Zealand was an independent republic prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi ie The Declaration of Independence 1835.
    Fact: Should the Crown choose to leave the relationship that the Treaty confers, then New Zealand will revert to it’s earlier status.

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  43. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,819 comments) says:

    That’s another fine bucket of horse manure David has tipped on Charles.

    Charles would be glad if New Zealand became a republic only because he or his children would never have to visit the god awful country again, ever.

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  44. Jack5 (4,781 comments) says:

    KevinH posted at 1.32:

    …Fact: New Zealand was an independent republic prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi ie The Declaration of Independence 1835.

    Pre-colonial NZ was not a state or a nation. It was a primitive land of indigenous tribes and wild foreign whalers,sealers, and traders, plus a few zealous missionaries. The land wasn’t recognised internationally as a nation.

    The 1835 declaration was organised by Busby of Britain and was not signed by all the tribes of NZ. Notably, the declaration called upon King William IV of Britain to become the tribes’ ‘parent’ and ‘Protector’.

    What sort of a republic was that?

    Interestingly, the declaration talks of Nu Tirene, not Aotearoa.

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  45. Harriet (4,614 comments) says:

    ChardonnayGuy#

    “….I’d have to say that the Charter has served Canada well…..What the hell, as long as it includes robust human rights and civil liberties protections….’

    Your fucken kidding right?

    Go read up on what Mark Steyn says about the Canadian Charter of Rights -.

    “…..“Rights” are not those things granted by the sovereign and enumerated in statute, but the precise opposite: They’re restraints upon the sovereign. They’re not about what the state allows you to do, but about what the state is not allowed to do to you….”

    The NZ Police will become facist pigs under a Charter. They can’t not be.

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  46. big bruv (13,454 comments) says:

    It ain’t broke, so don’t fuck around with a system that will see us with a President Clark, Bolger, Tama Iti, John Hatfield or Georgina Beyer.

    And for those of you who think that a super majority in Parliament would save us from having ex politicians installed as our President then I suggest you think again. Deals will be done, arms will be twisted and like it or not we will have a political appointment each and every time.

    The Windsor’s might not be ideal but they are part of our Heritage and they are far better than anything we could create ourselves.

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  47. BlairM (2,303 comments) says:

    But what if we had, say Helen Clark, for president. Then the National Party stated that they were going to only give beneficiaries money though a benefit card. So Helen Clark, as unelected head of state, thinks “what a horrible and unjust thing for the country” and steps in with her presidential power to stop it.

    That’s a straw man (or woman in this case). As I said, either you have a Head of State who is a mere constitutional safeguard, in which case President Clark would have no power of veto, or you have an Executive Head of State who is completely separate from the legislature, in which case they will be democratically elected, not appointed, so they would have a mandate to back up their veto.

    In the former case, the only thing the President could do would be to dissolve parliament, and this comes with the risk of making the President’s position untenable if the same party gets a fresh mandate for their policies.

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  48. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    If people want to consider the sort of person who would be head of state.

    Just look at the list of the New Zealand born in the office of Governor General.

    Instead of the government recommending a Governor General to the Crown – automatic acceptance. It would instead go to parliament as representative of New Zealanders sovereignty.

    My preference is for government to offer a nomination for parliament to accept (75% would ensure this is non partisan as at present). If more than one nomination is made, and more than one is acceptable to parliament – then the public get to determine their preference from these non partisan candidates (we could exclude former MP’s and party members from this office).

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  49. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    I prefer the title Crown Governor to President as the head of the Commonwealth will still be the Crown. And because this reflects that the Crown of New Zealand would still have a Treaty commitment.

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  50. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    The transition from Crown head of state being a foreign person represented by a local to a local being head of the Crown state (as Crown Governor) is a simple matter and does not require a constitution as such.

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  51. OneTrack (2,750 comments) says:

    BlairM 4:01 – What would there be to stop El Presidente Clark, or Elias, from unilaterally dissolving the current Key government because of “asset sales” and because they are on less than 50% in the polls? And, please, confidently tell me that “they would never do that”.

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  52. Steve (North Shore) (4,517 comments) says:

    I reckon NZ needs a King, our own King. Charlie boy should tell his mother to stick it, NZ becomes independent with him as our King.
    Let’s face it, we waste so much money on the Moari in this country, and waste so much money on the nutbars in this country; what is the big deal about wasting more money on our own King?

    What’s that? we need a Moari King? get real. Charlie would be great for NZ, we could give him a gardening show on TV1 so he earns his keep. Holidays he can go to the Coromandle.

    Oh when you need to travel overseas Charlie, just use mums Visa card

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  53. mikenmild (11,214 comments) says:

    Damn right Steve. I’d put in King James of the House of Bolger – he’s got plenty of kids to make an impressive royal family. Sure, we’d be a laughing stock for a while, but no more than the Hutt River principality over in Oz or the King of Tonga. After a few generation, the Bolgers would seem as natural as the obscure Germans that the UK imported in 1715.

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  54. BlairM (2,303 comments) says:

    BlairM 4:01 – What would there be to stop El Presidente Clark, or Elias, from unilaterally dissolving the current Key government because of “asset sales” and because they are on less than 50% in the polls? And, please, confidently tell me that “they would never do that”.

    Nothing, but it does create a bad precedent and contributes to constitutional instability. Would you really want to go down in history for doing that? Bear in mind that the Queen and Governor General currently have this power right now – why doesn’t Matepare do it tomorrow? The Irish, Indian, German and Israeli Presidents all have this power – why is it almost never exercised? Because Presidents are generally no less scrupulous than Kings or Queens in the exercise of this power.

    Besides which, even if it was used, one of two things happen: Either the government is re-elected, which makes the Head of State look like a dick, or the government loses (as happened in Australia in 1975) and the Head of State is vindicated. Either way, no real harm is done.

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