The cost of the monarchy

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

The NZ Herald reports:

New Zealand is missing out on vital relationships and economic benefits by keeping the Queen as its head of state, says a former top diplomat.

, a former Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said his 35-year career had brought home the missed opportunities caused by having the Queen as the country’s titular head.

“We little realise in New Zealand that we have a head of state who – no fault of hers – cannot represent and advocate for us in any meaningful manner internationally.”

It’s a good point, highlighting one of the problems of sharing out Head of State with dozens of other countries. The sensible thing is to retain our links with the Queen by having her as Head of the Commonwealth – but not as Head of State of New Zealand.

Mr Hamilton recalled being invited during his time in Berlin by the British ambassador to an official dinner during Queen Elizabeth’s state visit to Germany.

“It was a grand occasion, but it came as a shock to me to realise that here was my head of state in Berlin and she was completely unable to fulfil a key part of the role required of her – to represent in this case New Zealand’s interests in Germany.

When the Queen is outside New Zealand, she represents the United Kingdom, not us.

While New Zealand’s Governor-General can make official visits overseas, Mr Hamilton said, there was considerable international confusion on the role and status of the position.

“I can think of one European country which has a monarch as head of state which will never receive our Governor-General as equivalent to their monarch, because they know our actual head of state resides not too far away across the Channel.”

Saying “who cares?” missed the huge effect such visits could have on opening doors for New Zealand business, supporting international negotiations and campaigns and advancing the nation’s economic interests.

A New Zealand Head of State could be a dedicated Ambassador for New Zealand and our interests.

Who might be our head of state would be a decision for all New Zealanders, but the transition should happen gradually, he said.

A simple first step would be to keep the system used to appoint the Governor-General but without reference to the Queen.

My preferred option is to have the Prime Minister recommend a Head of State to Parliament, which must be passed by at least 75% majority (which would mean only someone without a partisan party background would be approved).

Mr Hamilton said New Zealand would not have to leave the Commonwealth, and royal visits could continue under that relationship.

Would be the best of both worlds.

The Herald has printed the full speech of Peter Hamilton. One extract:

‘Ok, and who is your Head of State?’

This is where the discussion gets tricky.

‘Our Head of State is Queen Elizabeth. She is represented by a Governor General in New Zealand’.

‘Governor? Why do you have the British monarch as you Head of State. Aren’t you independent?’

‘Yes, well, it’s historical, we were a British colony but we aren’t any more. In NZ, she is not the British monarch but ‘Queen of New Zealand’.

At this point, the conversation ends, with a glazed look in the eye of the person you’re talking to. They are much too polite to say it, but they wonder how a country can be independent and still have a foreigner as Head Of State. It would be inconceivable in their own situation. There is no point in trying to prolong the discussion. Perception is everything. I have found people in Asia, the Middle East and Europe particularly confused about our international persona.

And Hamilton sees a more international focus for a NZ Head of State:

Moreover, we are underutilising the office of Governor General. His or her role is no longer just domestic, although we tend to see it as limited to this.

The Governor General should be tasked to undertake a much more active role of international representation for New Zealand to complement the work of the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers, to open doors for New Zealand business, to support our international negotiations and campaigns and to advance our economic interests. The Governor General should be visiting our key bilateral partners much more actively than is currently the case. To not utilise the office of Governor General in this manner is a wasted opportunity.

Admittedly, it will be much easier for the Governor General to do so, and have far greater impact, when he or she goes as our actual Head of State and not as the representative of one.

Indeed.

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69 Responses to “The cost of the monarchy”

  1. simonway (387 comments) says:

    I understand the French developed some exceedingly efficient methods for transitioning from a monarchy to a republic a couple of hundred years back. I’m of the opinion that perhaps we ought to take a page out of their book.

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  2. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    Pompous crap!

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  3. Redbaiter (8,941 comments) says:

    Sorry, completely disagree with the concept that says the role of our political leaders to “represent us overseas”.

    This opens the door to far too many unnecessary expenditures (read tax collections) and interference (signing us up to international treaties and imposing conditions that are never voted on).

    I don’t need high profile heads of state or PMs or whatever. I prefer them just to keep their damn heads down and do their job.

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  4. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    I am no great monarchist in so far as NZ is concerned, but Hamilton’s reported remarks are really rather absurd. If he was an Ambassador and expected the Monarch to represent NZ, then why have an ambassador.

    I realise you are a republican, but I think you have allowed your desire for a republic to obscure the nonsense in much of what Hamilton said.

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  5. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    The trade and foreign affairs argument is the first one that has been put forward other that “the head of state shouldn’t be hereditary” that I agree with.
    I’m for a republic in principle but I won’t vote to change the status quo unless I am happy with the new arrangement.

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  6. Michael (910 comments) says:

    NZ are stupid, we don’t use the Royal Family like the Poms do. They’re genuine worldwide celebrities and we should leverage that by telling them that if they want to stay on as NZ Head of State then they need to pull their weight. Imagine the coverage if William and Kate (or even Charles and Camilla) went to Los Angeles to promote NZ tourism and industry? Contrast that with the same publicity Sir Jerry Mataparae would get on the same mission.

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  7. markm (114 comments) says:

    Well said AdamSmith

    If Helen Clarke was head of state and at the Queens dinner, would she have represented us better than our ambassador .

    I think it is Peter Hamilton who should be looking at his performance and DPF explaining why he agreed with a bunch of tripe

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  8. Scott (1,801 comments) says:

    Nonsense and tosh. I wish DPF would concentrate on his other group that’s doing laudable things like cutting out government waste and who knows one day lowering taxes?
    I love the monarchy. I can’t stand the idea of a republic.

    And always remember that saying yes to a republic is saying yes to Helen Clarke for president of NZ.

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  9. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    Perhaps Mr Hamilton might like to tell us precisely how much foreign trade he was personally responsible for facilitating in his 35 years as a diplomat. In that time we probably paid him the best part of several million dollars in salary and allowances so I would like to know what we got for our money.

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  10. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    “And always remember that saying yes to a republic is saying yes to Helen Clarke for president of NZ.”

    Well said.

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  11. Fentex (980 comments) says:

    He says nothing that is not obvious to most young New Zealanders.

    Our current situation persists solely on inertia and without an obvious crisis to provoke change may survive another thirty years until all the generations with the habit have died.

    It would make excellent timing and sense to switch to a Republic at the passing of Elizabeth but that will happen when we still have too many misty eyed habitual old fogies around and will probably be a missed opportunity.

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  12. tas (625 comments) says:

    Urh. We have a head of government — the prime minister — who is responsible for representing us abroad. The role of our head of state is — and should be — minimal.

    I don’t think this argument holds water. A NZ ‘president’ will never command the same level of respect and recognition as the Queen, who is head of state to 16 nations including several which are much larger than ours. So the idea of a NZ president with the same clout as the Queen representing only our interests is a pipe dream.

    Also, dumping the Queen because you’re worried that foreigners think NZ is not independent, sounds like an act of teenage rebellion. Grow up and embrace our historical ties with the UK.

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  13. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    This is the other loon conference in CHch this weekend.Maybe they should just amalgamate!

    Once again the argument put forward is based supposedly in economic terms ie representing our trade interests.How shallow.We do well in trade because people need and like what we produce,not because some ex politician hawks ones wares around the world!

    The Head of State ,in our system,is there to act as a counter weight or balance, a control on the actual government,keep them in order as it were.
    On that basis the British constitutional monarchy is one of the best systems in the world,tried and tested and proved in the UK,Australia,canada and NewZealand.Why change a really successful model?

    And what are we going to get? What new constitutional arrangements are going to be foisted on us?Kumara Republic .

    Comment at the top is about the French regicides,how the hell can revolution,civil war ,a war mongering dictatorial emperor,followed by a series of corrupt republics as well as a Vichy collaboration ,down to the incumbent socialist Holande with his 75% tax on the rich be called “efficient” and get any thumbs up on a “right wing” blog?

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  14. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    Probably the most important issue concerning any NZ change is whether a NZ Head of State should have an executive role as presidents of republics or whether the role should be limited to a ceremonial, ambassadorial and ‘backstop’ role. I would favour the latter.

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  15. Gulag1917 (923 comments) says:

    Monarchy inexpensive and class
    republic expensive and crass.

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  16. wreck1080 (3,919 comments) says:

    Status quo is preferable by far compared to the hell on earth that elite maori would bring to NZ if we became a republic.

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  17. gump (1,649 comments) says:

    @Scott

    “And always remember that saying yes to a republic is saying yes to Helen Clarke for president of NZ.”

    ———————————-

    And always remember that saying yes to a Monarchy is saying yes to Prince Charles for King of NZ.

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  18. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    Charles by convention can’t interfere with the govt’s lawful activities………good luck with Helen not getting involved where she has no business.

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  19. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    I think Peter Hamilton’s argument is completely without merit. Losing business because we have the Queen as our Head of State. Arrant nonsense.

    Mind you, I would certainly agree with the proposition that we are getting a great deal of business because we have John Key as Prime Minister.

    As for republic non-debate. Surveys from around the time of the last election to more recently show that only around 20% of people want to switch from our monarchy to a republic.

    That’s not the basis for change. That’s not how the 80/20 rule is supposed to work.

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  20. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    gump (945) Says:
    November 2nd, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    And always remember that saying yes to a Monarchy is saying yes to Prince Charles for King of NZ.
    =======================
    Probably not.

    anyway I said a few weeks ago when the Keys were staying with the Queen there was a good reason. and it ain’t dumping the monarchy.

    The next Gov. Gen of NZ will be William. Heir to the Throne.

    We have not had any British Gov. Gens since Sir Arthur Porrit.(1 December 1967 7 September 1972) and since then all have been Kiwi’s, some good, some trash from Auckland.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Governors-General_of_New_Zealand

    Wills will come here to “learn the Commonwealth ropes” as it were.
    Personally I couldn’t think of anyone better unless of course you want Bolger, or Clark or some other failed clergyman, Justice or politician.

    Unless of course one of the Fletcher dynasty fits the bill. This one fills in between Govt’s.

    Dame Sian Seerpoohi Elias (born 13 March 1949) GNZM PC QC[1] is the 12th and current Chief Justice of New Zealand,[2] and is therefore the most senior member of the country’s judiciary. She is the presiding judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand. As Chief Justice, she also acts as the Administrator of the Government (acting Governor-General) when the position of Governor-General is vacant or if the Governor-General is overseas. Elias has held the position of Administrator of the Government from 22 March 2001 until 4 April 2001, between the terms of Sir Michael Hardie Boys and Dame Silvia Cartwright, from from 4 August 2006 until 23 August 2006 between Cartwright’s term and that of Sir Anand Satyanand, from 23 August 2011 until 31 August 2011 between the terms of Satyanand and Sir Jerry Mateparae, and at other times when the Governor-General has been unable to act (through absence from New Zealand or other cause).

    Still think I prefer Wills and Kate is better looking than most of the tired old women round this place.

    Time Ipredict opened a book on this.

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  21. Gulag1917 (923 comments) says:

    The monarchy works why would anybody want to change it.

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  22. SJM (77 comments) says:

    To put our constitutional affairs in economic terms, or perceived peer pressure terms, as Hamilton does, is idiocy. He must have been hanging out with far too many people who are keen on a United Sates of Europe, who do the same thing.

    Our constitutional arrangements are our own, bugger what the rest of the world thinks. If another nation lacks the intellectual capacity to understand the divisibility of the crown, that’s their problem not ours. Moreover I suspect that allot of the former ambassadors views are horseshit: If there is one thing that other nations leaders understand and that is where actual power is located, and the Governor General or Monarch aint it, although thats qualified by the GG’s reserve powers should the Politicians get out of hand.

    Given the GG’s reserve powers, I will take the republican issue seriously in New Zealand only when (three words all politicians fear) ‘We The People’ can sack politicians at will and the initiation of constitutional change can only be started and approved by We The People without comment or action by politicians.

    The republican issue puts power up for grabs, we should never allow those who use power to determine how much power they wield.

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  23. PaulL (5,986 comments) says:

    It’s a one sided argument. Republicans continue to argue that the monarchy is a problem without clearly articulating the details of what would replace it. I’m not overly attached to the monarchy, but I think it’s likely to be better than anything plausible that would replace it.

    If we move to a president I’d expect:
    – more money to be spent
    – new arrangements to control split of powers between PM and President (I doubt we’d stay with President having as few powers as the current GG)
    – probably we’d end up with a written constitution, as we’d have to change a bunch of arrangements when we remove the Crown. This written constitution would likely be stupid, because no country in recent times has written a good one
    – problems with the Treaty of Waitangi

    In short, it sounds like a good idea, but the detail of implementing it would be quite complex, and likely end up with us having replaced a free thing that works reasonably well with an expensive thing that works badly.

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  24. Andronicus (219 comments) says:

    It is time we cut the apron strings and became a truly independent nation. DPF’s approach sounds good generally, although I would prefer to have the Head of State popularly elected.

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  25. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    SJM

    Well put.

    Isn’t there something out there about people who seek power aren’t to be trusted?

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

    The “beware Helen Clark” scaremongering is ridiculous. There’s more chance of Helen Clark returning to lead Labour after the Cunliffe experiment and standing for Prime Minister again, where she could influence far more than as President. Should we abolish elections to prevent that?

    And head of state should be appointed by super majority, so whoever was chosen and approved would have majority approval so should be accepted whoever it is. At least New Zealand would get a say, which we don’t get now.

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  27. SJM (77 comments) says:

    Pete George: If you think that ‘New Zealand’ will have any say on NZ’s head of state so long politicians have any say on the matter, you are very sadly mistaken. When it comes to power republic or monarchy makes no difference, money talks, merit walks.
    This tells you all you need to know about how moving to a republic will take place (regardless of where that money comes from and to whom it goes to). Sure as hell Joe, or Jane, Blow wont get a say.

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  28. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    Republicans continue to argue that the monarchy is a problem without clearly articulating the details of what would replace it.

    PaulL,

    Their bigger problem is that they can’t articulate a practical, ‘real world’ scenario where having the Monarch as our HoS is actually going to compromise our ability to act as we wish through our locally elected Parliament.

    They simply don’t have an argument beyond, “But don’t you think it would be nice if our Head of State was a Kiwi?”

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  29. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    The only difference between DPF’s suggestion for a super majority, and a normal majority, is that two politicians will get to appoint the President instead of one. Not exactly democratic is it?

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  30. edhunter (547 comments) says:

    Sally Ridge for President!

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  31. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    As I understand it, the call for a super majority is pointless without a written constitution (and I do notice that the reppublican movement don’t seem to be very vocal in call for that.)

    The reason being that while a piece of legislation might require a super majority to enact, amend or effect it’s provisions, it only requires a simple majority in Parliament to remove the super majority provision.

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  32. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    I just about spewed on my keyboard. Fuck next you will want Bevan. augggh

    Talking of which I see she is about to earn some more dogy (pun Intended) money on TV1 at 7 tomorrow.

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  33. greenjacket (466 comments) says:

    DPF wrote: “the Prime Minister recommend a Head of State to Parliament, which must be passed by at least 75% majority ”

    That assumes that 75% of the Parliament is capable of behaving in an adult way. A 75% majority to do anything means that 26% can hold the rest to ransom.

    And, lets be honest, the antics of Greens-Labour in the past few years suggest that it will be impossible to ever achieve a 75% majority on anything.

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  34. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    @V2,

    Re:your earlier post on Prince William as GG. I don’t think you would find too many Kiwis opposed to that idea!

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  35. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    BH. I think it would be very welcome.
    In fact incredibly so. Sort of thing that could be announced in the run up to the election.

    Just saying.

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  36. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Little Bevan came home from the meeting with a smile on her face and told her mother, “Lenny Brown showed me his willy today in the Ngati Whatua room!”

    Before her mother could raise a concern,
    Bevan said, “It reminded me of a peanut..”

    Relaxing with a hidden smile, Bevan’s Mum asked,

    “Really small, was it?”

    Sally replied, “No… Salty.”

    http://screencast.com/t/Tox3h2tf

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  37. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    “….While New Zealand’s Governor-General can make official visits overseas, Mr Hamilton said, there was considerable international confusion on the role and status of the position….”

    Fuck me…..so the former ‘diplomat’ misses the entire point – it’s the ‘diplomats’ of the other countries who are the problem – not the Governer Generals. Or the Queen for that matter.

    Diplomats roles are one where they are educated in something as basic as who is the head of state, and then to inform their countries MP’s of that when the need arises.

    We shouldn’t have to get rid of the Queen because of useless diplomats.

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  38. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    @Viking2. Lord Porritt was born in Wanganui in 1900. He was one of the most distinguished Kiwis of all time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Porritt,_Baron_Porritt

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  39. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    The only way NZ could make more impact than ER would be to drop something on Buckingham Palace, say a nuclear bomb, but I would settle for DPF in a frilly dress.

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  40. Scott1 (552 comments) says:

    I have to agree with the majority here,
    especially PaulL in regard to it being a mess, in the end it just isn’t worth opening that door.

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  41. Scott (1,801 comments) says:

    Pete George at 5.28pm- you have been making sense lately,don’t stop now!

    If there is a republic and a Labour government they would be extremely likely to nominate Helen Clarke for president. The Labour left think she is fantastic and she is probably the first name Labourites would think of as a suitable president.

    I can see it now- President Helen Clarke- the first president of the peoples republic of Aotearoa!! Bliss!!

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  42. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    In theory, resident for president makes sense, i do appreciate that Liz Windsor has done a decent job and i see no need to fire her.

    However i have no desire to hire her idiot son or any of his offspring to replace her.

    Are we really suggesting we have a head of state that puts on a white jersey and cheers against the All Blacks? That’s just masochistic.

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  43. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    “And always remember that saying yes to a Monarchy is saying yes to Prince Charles for King of NZ.”

    OK..so who would you prefer?

    President Helen Klarke?
    President Lucy Lawless?
    President Margaret Wilson?
    President Mike Williams?
    President Jim Bolger?
    President Winston Peters?
    President Jeanette FItzsimmons?

    Despite DPF and the rest of the republicans assuring us that it would take 75% of the house to agree and the other equally hollow promise that there would never be an ex PM as President you just know that leaving it up to the pollies will be far to much of a temptation for them.

    Prince Charles might not be a great option but he is far better than anything we can produce here.

    And anyway, who the fuck are the republicans to legislate away my ancestry?, not one of them (DPF included) would dare say to Maori that they should do away with their whakapapa so what makes my ancestry worth any less?……might it be the colour of my skin?

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  44. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    “Re:your earlier post on Prince William as GG. I don’t think you would find too many Kiwis opposed to that idea!”

    I think you’d find millions of people opposed, however given that the chances of it happening are 3/5th of fuck all i wouldn’t stress the subject

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  45. Scott (1,801 comments) says:

    Great post big bruv. I just have a small quibble about Lucy Lawless. She probably doesn’t have the best surname for a head of state but she does have other qualities – (try and imagine with a sceptre and crown)
    http://ilarge.listal.com/image/427269/936full-lucy-lawless.jpg

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  46. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    @Alan,

    Given only 20%-odd favour a change to a republic, good luck with your “millions”. Perhaps if you call a public meeting and get the journos to assess the numbers, you might get there…

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  47. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    I’ll take all the republicans as a given, then add fair amount of royalists who see the GG as a potentially important position and would be opposed to putting an unqualified foreigner into the post.

    I’ll get to millions with very little effort.

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  48. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    @Alan,

    I’ll go with the Darryl Kerrigan response to that. Well worth the test to show you how wrong you are though

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  49. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    For once Big Bigot has actually said something I agree with:

    …..And anyway, who the fuck are the republicans to legislate away my ancestry?, not one of them (DPF included) would dare say to Maori that they should do away with their whakapapa so what makes my ancestry worth any less?……might it be the colour of my skin?….

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  50. JMS (330 comments) says:

    And anyway, who the fuck are the republicans to legislate away my ancestry?

    big bruv (and Harriet too),

    becoming a republic would not make your grandfather a different person.

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  51. Azeraph (604 comments) says:

    It will take awhile before transitioning to an independent becomes a nice reality for our kids kids who are very different people than those of us that grew up with England as a normal head. Our kids are going to change it when we are dead. They are because dead is dead.

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  52. Warren Murray (311 comments) says:

    Having read the speech, I’d have to say it’s a pretty weak argument. To paraphrase;

    1. Supporters if the status quo make NZ appear cheap by not having its own Head of State and we are bludging off the British,
    2. The Queen is HoS of several other countries – it’s too many to do the job properly,
    3. The Queen can only really work on behalf of Britain’s interests, she potentially is faced with having a conflict of interests or responsibilities,
    4. A ‘native’ Head of State is vital to promote NZ’s interests, especially trade,
    5. Europeans don’t understand our constitutional arrangements and ( somehow ) this confusion adversely affects our trade.

    To counter each:

    I don’t think we are bludging off the British, we fund our GG and would fund his / her international travel if this was increased. What we avoid are the costs of a deputy GG which might be needed if the GG spent longer periods abroad. We also avoid any significant costs of a process to (s)elect a Head of State. Lastly we have been successful in having an apolitical defacto Head of State, no small issue in itself. Peter then goes on to pose the question that we should fund the Queen’s maintenance in the UK. Lame! This shows his bias as a fervent republican and weakens the arguments that follow based on his experience as a diplomat.

    Each country who shares the Queen as their Head of State has a GG. The work of their GG is a domestic issue. The notion that the Queen being Head of State of so many countries is too much is absurd. While she is undoubtedly briefed on the affairs of her sixteen realms, her main active responsibility in fifteen outside of the UK is appointing a GG on the advice of her PM. No biggie.

    I agree that the Queen could have a conflict of responsibilities in a situation where in some (imagined ) international forum the Queen was expected to promote competing interests of the UK and NZ (or, indeed any if the other 14 countries for which she is HoS), but I think the risk is minuscule and Peter hasnt really demonstrated when this has happened, so very theoretical. IMO it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure the Queen is not put in such an unlikely position.

    A native head of state could be the GG, Peter’s speech concedes this. It is up to the GG and the Government to work out how much work the GG should be doing abroad. I think promoting NZ trade interests is the responsibility of the PM, other ministers, our diplomats and our entrepreneurs.

    Lastly, the suggestion that Europeans don’t understand how the Queen is Head of State for several countries belittles their intelligence. Over the centuries many European monarchs reigned over multiple realms. It’s not that strange. I’ve heard many europeans are quite well educated, especially the circles that Peter would have moved in. They probably know NZ was a British Colony, became a self governing Dominion, that our constitutional governance stems from this history and that most NZers prefer having Queen Elizabeth as our Head of State.

    Peter Hamilton is clearly a despicable republican and when I read the report this morning, I knew DF would blog on it. None of the arguments he makes are very compelling.

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  53. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    The Republic of Aotearoa will be Governed by a ‘United Nations’ of Maori tribes…according to Willie Jackson.
    When the interviewer asked “won’t this upset Pakeha?” he replied “It’s not their country so they don’t get a say”
    Good on you ‘Republicans’- New Zealand is being fast-tracked into becoming the Zimbabwe of the Pacific…

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  54. JMS (330 comments) says:

    @Longknives,

    I think most Maori want us to remain a monarchy, so they can continue their love/hate relationship with the Crown.

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  55. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    JMS- By “love/hate” do you mean that they hate ‘Honkey Pakeha’ but absolutely love the endless gravy train of taxpayer cash that ‘Honkey Pakeha’ gives them??

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  56. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    We’ve got a good system now: in effect a pseudo-republic but with some legacy benefits of a monarchical state.

    The Royal family costs us very little indeed, and provides us with some class celebrities. Most importantly, our Governor-General has almost no practical political power over us.

    A republic inevitably means having presidents like Helen Clark and Jim Bolger. Yuck! Compare them with the reasonable, run-of-the-mill ordinary New Zealanders who usually fill the Governor-General’s role. A republic means another layer of Government compared with the token, absentee system we have now. It also means another layer of bureaucrats.

    Hamilton, as a former Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade, might well be expected to back a republic, with consequent opportunities for such career bureaucrats. Fuck them.

    Look at the present campaign for an NZ seat on the UN Security Council, which would bring only kudos to our diplomats and politicians, and probably another influx of Third World people such as the Somalis. They seem to have been taken into the country as part of the backroom lobbying for NZ’s last term on the Security Council.

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  57. calendar girl (1,239 comments) says:

    PG @ 5:28pm – “The ‘beware Helen Clark’ scaremongering is ridiculous.”

    Is it? Just as it was ridiculous to imagine that a National Government would actively support / campaign for the vanquished Helen Clark’s appointment to a senior role in the UN cesspit?

    No thanks. I’ll not vote for our taking that kind of risk. There’s too much mutual back-scratching amongst the political elite that favours ex-politicians who have been rejected loudly by the electorate. Take Sir Michael Cullen as another example.

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  58. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    The whole point of having ineffectual heads of state is that they are ineffectual. Figureheads.

    The queen is not feted because she is head of state. She is feted because she is the Queen of England. To have a queen you need a royal family, and you can’t just invent one overnight or indeed at all now, since it is an anachronism, the absurdity of which cannot bear close inspection.

    All you can say about it is that it works, and that’s good enough for me. What’s more, someone else pays for it.

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  59. eszett (2,411 comments) says:

    calendar girl (975) Says:
    November 3rd, 2013 at 12:33 am
    PG @ 5:28pm – “The ‘beware Helen Clark’ scaremongering is ridiculous.”

    Is it? Just as it was ridiculous to imagine that a National Government would actively support / campaign for the vanquished Helen Clark’s appointment to a senior role in the UN cesspit?

    No thanks. I’ll not vote for our taking that kind of risk. There’s too much mutual back-scratching amongst the political elite that favours ex-politicians who have been rejected loudly by the electorate. Take Sir Michael Cullen as another example.

    You realise that there is nothing stopping a Labour PM installing Helen Clark as GG today, don’t you?

    If you think that it is a risk, you should all be for a 75% majority of Parlaiment voting for our head of state.
    The Helen Clark argument is completely bogus and scaremongering.

    In fact, all a republican PM would have to do is indeed nominate Helen as a GG, it would be funny to see al the monarchists suddenly becoming republican.

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  60. Manolo (13,783 comments) says:

    Here we go again: DPF promoting his eternal republican views.
    He’d probably side with those who tell us Potato Head Bolger or Comrade Clark should be our first president.

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  61. dog_eat_dog (781 comments) says:

    If a foreign power doesn’t understand how the Commonwealth works then they’re too stupid for words.

    We already have a mechanism for appointing non-partisan figureheads to a ceremonial role. It’s called appointing the Governor-General. If your biggest problem is that we maintain historical ties to the founders of the country by having an absentee Head of State then you must have things pretty good. If anything we should keep Liz and ditch the Commonwealth.

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  62. Dave Mann (1,222 comments) says:

    I think longknives and JMS have hit the nail on the head in that the big elephant in the room in the republicanism debate is the Maoris. Its obvious that if there was any likeliood of us becoming a republic the Maori activsts would immediately gear up with the aim of putting their race in ‘its rightful place’ (in their eyes).

    Its only the TOW gravy train that is stopping this happening now…. but it will come in earnest when the money/bribes/back handers start to dry up.

    This elephant is waiting go crash into the room with such a noise that nobody will be able to ignore it.

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  63. Dave Mann (1,222 comments) says:

    Actually, on second thoughts, what the hell? Lets just ignore all the whites, Indians, Pasifika, Chinese and other Asians who live here and built the country and simply hand it over right now? We could overthow the Westminister system of government while we’re about it, introduce a tribal council instead of all this messy parliament crap, change the name to The Democratic Republic of Zimtearoa and rotate the Paramount Chief every 10 years based on Iwi affiliations. Yeah… lets DO IT…. embrace the FUTURE and throw off our awful sinful guilty colonist shackles!

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  64. Azeraph (604 comments) says:

    It’s only the last century borns that are complaining about keeping it. Anyone want to hazard a guess when it’s going to happen rather than prattle on about keeping something that is gone? Dead man! We’re all dead, there’s no way this tradition is going to survive the rest of this century. Look what happened in the last one, several empires imploded.

    Go on all you want because history is fluid and we only swim in it for a short time. None of us here will see the century out and know if this old tradition is kept or not. Knowing humans, it won’t.

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  65. calendar girl (1,239 comments) says:

    eszett: “You realise that there is nothing stopping a Labour PM installing Helen Clark as GG today, don’t you?”

    Yes, I do. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, as I think you know. Fairly obvoisly, the theoretical debate is about a Republican state, not the appointment of GGs within NZ’s current constitutional environment.

    As for 75% super-majorities, I would favour that kind of threshhold for appointing / onfirming Governors-General today or Presidents in any future Republic.

    “The Helen Clark argument is completely bogus and scaremongering.” When it comes to the danger of Helen Clark’s return to any sort of constitutional role in NZ, nothing could constitute scaremongering in my view!

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  66. Duxton (651 comments) says:

    “At this point, the conversation ends, with a glazed look in the eye of the person you’re talking to. They are much too polite to say it, but they wonder how a country can be independent and still have a foreigner as Head Of State.”

    Peter Hamilton may have been a respected diplomat (although the article doesn’t actually provide any evidence to that effect), but he clearly isn’t a quick thinker, nor does he have the snappy repartee one would normally expect of a diplomat.

    What he should have done was point out to the Kraut that Germany has had a foreigner as head of state in very recent history. He was an Austrian, called Adolf something-or-other,

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  67. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    @Fentex “He says nothing that is not obvious to most young New Zealanders.

    Our current situation persists solely on inertia and without an obvious crisis to provoke change may survive another thirty years until all the generations with the habit have died.”

    Completely wrong there dude. The current situation is due to there being no better alternatives to the status quo, certainly not in terms of $$.

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  68. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    “Azeraph (536) Says:
    November 3rd, 2013 at 11:25 am
    It’s only the last century borns that are complaining about keeping it.”

    I don’t see too many 12 year olds calling for change.

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  69. eszett (2,411 comments) says:

    @calendargirl

    you say

    Yes, I do. But that’s not what we’re talking about here, as I think you know. Fairly obvoisly, the theoretical debate is about a Republican state, not the appointment of GGs within NZ’s current constitutional environment.

    and

    When it comes to the danger of Helen Clark’s return to any sort of constitutional role in NZ, nothing could constitute scaremongering in my view!

    Well, it is far more likely and plausible today that Helen Clark would be appointed GG than become a republican Head of State with a 75% majority required.

    If that is you true motivation, then you should be all for a change, as that would be more likely to prevent Helen Clark from getting a “constitutional role in NZ”

    The argument of “I am against a republic because Helen Clark could be come president” is self-defeating, irrational nonsense.
    Besides it is silly and childish to argue against an democratic arrangement, because it may lead to someone being appointed who you dislike. Happens every day and all the time.

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