Debating the Constitution

April 2nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Centre for Public Law at Vic Uni has a series of debates on . They run for the next five Mondays at 6.30 pm. The details are:

  1. 8 April, Hunter Council Chamber – “What’s the problem?”. Professor Bruce Harris, Moana Jackson, Dame Claudia Orange, Dr Matthew Palmer – about the Constitutional Review, its process, its political genesis.
  2. 15 April, Hunter Council Chamber – “Reforming our democratic institutions”. Dr Maria Bargh, Colin James, Professor Elizabeth McLeay, Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC – term and size of Parliament, size and number of electorates, Maori electoral representation.
  3. 22 April, Te Herenga Waka Marae – “Maori aspirations for constitutional change”. Tai Ahu, Dr Rawinia Higgins, Veronica Tawhai, Valmaine Toki – status of the Treaty, alternative models of Māori-Crown relationships, development of a kaupapa Māori or tikanga-based constitution.
  4. 29 April, Hunter Council Chamber – “Human rights in the constitution”. Professor Andrew Geddis, Jack Hodder QC, Stephen Whittington, Professor Margaret Wilson – Should the Bill of Rights be supreme law in a written constitution? If so, what rights should be included or excluded?
  5. 6 May, Hunter Council Chamber – “Time to be a Republic?. Jim Bolger, Professor Janet McLean, Michael Mabbitt. Is it time to become a republic? If not, will it ever be? What would that involve, and what will be the major issues confronting us if and when we do so?

I plan to attend at least three of the debates. I assume they will allow interactions from the floor? They will be broadcast of Radio NZ also.

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25 Responses to “Debating the Constitution”

  1. BeaB (2,125 comments) says:

    I just hope no-one tries to talk us into retsoring an upper house. We don’t need one in a nation with a population of a middling city like Sydney. I can’t help thinking the politicians who want one are eyeing up their next cushy job.

    Even banging on about getting rid of the monarchy is so tedious with most of us being able to recite the mind-numbing reasons for and against. For most people it isn’t even an issue so why bother? I think it’s because we’d rather have a nonentity GG than all the pomposity and power of a president. Not to mention what one would cost us.

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  2. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    What’s the problem?

    The problem is that the conflict between the law of the land and the civil system is so problematic for the state that it lies about the basics.

    law of the land:
    Due process of law (q. v.). By the law of the land is most clearly intended the general law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial. Dupuy v. Tedora, 204 La. 560, 15 So.2d 886, 89I: The meaning is that every citizen shall hold his life, liberty, property, and immunities under the protection of general rules which govern society..- ‘See Due process of law. (Blacks 5th)

    lex terre
    The law of the land. The common law, or the due course of the common law; the general law of the land. Equivalent to “due process of law”. In the strictest sense, trial by oath; the privilege of making oath. (Blacks 5th)

    common law
    As distinguished from law created by the enactment of legislatures, the common law comprises the body of those principles and rules of action, relating to the government and security of persons and property, which derive their authority solely from usages and customs of immemorial antiquity, or from the judgments and decrees of the courts recognizing, affirming, and enforcing such usages and customs; and, in this sense, particularly the ancient unwritten law of England. (Blacks 5th)

    LAW, COMMON. The common law is that which derives its force and authority from the universal consent and immemorial practice of the people. It has never received the sanction of the legislature, by an express act, which is the criterion by which it is distinguished from the statute law. It has never been reduced to writing; by this expression, however, it is not meant that all those laws are at present merely oral, or communicated from former ages to the present solely by word of mouth, but that the evidence of our common law is contained in our books of Reports, and depends on the general practice and judicial adjudications of our courts. (Bouvier’s 1856)

    The NZ Parliament misrepresents common law as simply being case law:

    The elements of the constitution are often defined by important Court judgments under the common law (which is the law declared or “created” by judges) and under statutes.
    http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/AC9829DF-32D8-4569-A672-FFEFA2BC6278/6641/2005Constitutionupdate1.pdf

    The common law, which is a body of law built up from decisions made in the United Kingdom and in New Zealand. Developments made by New Zealand courts mean that New Zealand now differs from the United Kingdom on some aspects of the common law.
    http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/t/the-new-zealand-legal-system

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  3. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    What a bunch of Gravy slurpers. I wouldn’t trust any of them.

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  4. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    If republicans had the balls for change they would organise a revolution.

    Our republicans want to talk, talk, talk, the majority into submission.

    While there’s any possibility of Jim Bolger or Helen Clark being president, absolutely no way.

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  5. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Any debate around a NZ constitution win inevitably be hijacked into a debate about what superior rights Maori will be entitled to over the rights of all other citizens. It will also be a debate held between Maori on one side and liberal apologists on the other and the rest of us will be royally screwed (pardon the pun) in the process.

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  6. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Our republicans want to talk, talk, talk, the majority into submission.

    A NZ republic makes sense, but IMO it can’t be achieved simply by modifying the existing system.
    Submission to the state isn’t a part of the ideal of the republic.

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  7. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    No Peter Cresswell…? No Lindsay Perigo…? Two of the most informed and attune Constitutionally literate people in NZ…?

    farce…

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  8. Tautaioleua (309 comments) says:

    If it aint broke, don’t fix it. END OF DEBATE.

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  9. Griff (7,808 comments) says:

    “What’s the problem?”. Professor Bruce Harris, Moana Jackson, Dame Claudia Orange, Dr Matthew Palmer – about the Constitutional Review, its process, its political genesis.

    The problem is maori aspiration to distort democracy and fit the principles of the treaty into our constitution. It is not democracy to apportion considerable political power to a unelected tribal elite or to any group defined on racial grounds.

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  10. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    the principles of the treaty

    … being the argument of necessity and the assumption of sovereignty through the use of ambiguous language?

    VICTORIA … regarding with Her Royal favour … and anxious to protect …. has deemed it necessary … to constitute and appoint a functionary properly authorised to treat with the Aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her Majesty’s Sovereign authority over the whole or any part of those islands

    http://www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/treaty/english.asp
    http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~sai/Maori_tino.htm

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  11. Reid (16,509 comments) says:

    The trouble with the people in these debates is that they see themselves like this, whereas really they’re more like this.

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  12. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    What will happen to the following treaties.
    Originals are available and cleary understood.

    Magna Carta 1215
    Habeus Corpus 1679
    Petition of Rights 1628
    Bill of Rights 1689
    Act of Settlement 1701

    I assume that they will be subservient to the Treaty of Waitangi, an incomprensive and only understood by the few who can translate it to be whatever they want.

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  13. Reid (16,509 comments) says:

    an incomprensive and only understood by the few who can translate it to be whatever they want.

    That’s the fatal wound against it ever being included, to any sensible constitutional committee following guidelines from Constitutional Law 101 as taught during Law Intermediate year.

    But apparently none of this matters to the commission on Te Tiriti. Having basic consensus on fundamental meaning doesn’t apparently really matter at all, after all, it’s only the Constitution. It’s not important whether or not people clearly know what it says and that it serves as a Rock of Gibraltar, in that it doesn’t change like a fickle wind everytime a new technology is introduced which Maori think they can exploit clearly had in mind in 1840. No, that’s not important at all and will definitely not cause endless angst as reinterpretation after reinterpretation arises, making us all learn just how evil we all really are and isn’t that awful.

    Yeah that’s exactly what the constitutional commission should be aiming for, I don’t see a thing wrong with that, it’s like the yellow brick road with Disneyland at the end. Imagine what fun it will be living with that in our midst.

    I can’t wait for the triumphant unveiling of their deliberations. I hope they do some fireworks.

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  14. OneTrack (3,114 comments) says:

    “and only understood by the few who can translate it to be whatever they want.”

    You can only understand it if you have the appropriate blood quantum.

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  15. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    I assume that they will be subservient to the Treaty of Waitangi

    Te Tiriti isn’t worth the paper it’s written on when it comes to sovereignty. The ambiguity of the English and Maori versions is in the Maori interest, they never ceded tino rangatiratanga/sovereignty, only kawanatanga/governorship.

    This is one of the reasons for the current debate.

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  16. wiseowl (899 comments) says:

    Victoria Uni and Constitutional Law.
    Enough to make one chuck.
    What a lineup.There is no point debating this issue with these troughers.

    Principles of the treaty.No such thing.Manufactured add-ons that should be struck out of our law.

    Infuriating.

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  17. KevinH (1,229 comments) says:

    Griff said:

    ” It is not democracy to apportion considerable political power to a unelected tribal elite or to any group defined on racial grounds.”

    What do you think we have right now?
    Who is our head of State?
    Whose laws rule this land?

    New Zealanders are such ignorant people, blindsided by their total lack of comprehension.

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  18. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    “the conference is premised on the view that in order to reform our constitution we need to understand the traditions of thought that have affected its development to its present state.”

    http://www.victoria.ac.nz/law/about/events-old/nz-centre-for-public-law

    Reform it? the constitution is light years away from the needs and traditions of these muppets.

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  19. Nostalgia-NZ (5,220 comments) says:

    I don’t imagine I’ll be attending, but of course the TBORA must prevail above all other law because it protects the freedoms and rights of an individual while allowing remedy for infringements to be taken to the Courts. This shouldn’t overlook the fact that the Courts already embrace the importance of TBORA and this conversation will serve to enhance and endorse that.

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  20. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    New Zealanders are such ignorant people, blindsided by their total lack of comprehension.

    So what is the remedy?

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  21. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    the TBORA must prevail above all other law because it protects the freedoms and rights of an individual

    Are the freedoms of an individual more important than the wellbeing of the people?

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  22. Graeme2 (102 comments) says:

    The Scorned-“No Peter Cresswell…? No Lindsay Perigo…? Two of the most informed and attune Constitutionally literate people in NZ…?”

    And no David Round, Elizabeth Rata or Muriel Newman. Sounds like a repeat of the Te Propaganda “debates” earlier in the year with 6 for the affirmative and 0 for the negative.

    Victoria University should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

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  23. southtop (265 comments) says:

    Ugly truth 9.11
    YES – look around the world and at history government should fear the people not the other way round. In NZ add those Maori elitists that have benefitted greatly from Treaty settlements whilst their ‘people’ remain at the wrong end of most societal measures.
    YES, YES, YES

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  24. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    southtop, I was speaking of the people as a whole, I wasn’t referring to government or specific cultural groups.

    My point was that the wellbeing of the many is more important than the absolute freedom of the individual. This is the rationale behind the regulation (not licencing) of public resources, eg road rules.

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  25. Nostalgia-NZ (5,220 comments) says:

    UglyTruth (481) Says:
    April 2nd, 2013 at 9:11 pm
    the TBORA must prevail above all other law because it protects the freedoms and rights of an individual

    Are the freedoms of an individual more important than the wellbeing of the people?’

    The freedoms and protection under the law is the essence of the well being of the people.
    You know that already and I can see you enjoy the subject as I do.

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