Reconstituting the Constitution

I’m attending the Reconstituting the Constitution conference today and tomorrow. Topics being discussed are:

  • Overseas constitutional reform lessons
  • The republican question
  • The need for a written constitution
  • The future of electoral law
  • Australian constitutional reform
  • Influence of international treaties
  • The trans-tasman relationship
  • The role and governance of sub-national government
  • Protecting future generations

I hope to blog some of the contributions.

UPDATE: The conference is being webcast for those who are interested in these issues –

Grant Robertson, as host, did the welcome address. He must have read my blog this morning as he remarked how looking around the people gathered in the Legislative Council Chamber, he thought what a fine upper house they would make. Then seeing me at the back, he hastened to add on “except for David Farrar”. I guess Grant prefers one party rule 🙂

In a  nice twist the opening speech is not from one of the “good or great”, but a couple of recent Victoria law graduates – Greg who now works for Crown Law and Catherine who is a clerk to Justice Arnold of the Court of Appeal.

Greg made the point that most people probably know more about the US constitution, than the NZ one. He went on to say this is partly because our arrangements do work. He does see the future as NZ having a document which is supreme law, and NZ being a republic.

He also touched on how to get better engagement with these issues. Looking around the room I note there are very very few MPs or media present. If one really wanted to get constitution debate going you need the people who can actually do something about it there and participating.

Catherine touched on how the projected population growth for Maori (21% vs 11% for non Maori) means it is likely treaty issues will become more important in future. She compared our approach to constitutional issues as being like McGyver – we patch it up with number 8 wire and think she’ll be fine mate.

Was a very good idea starting with two young graduates. Any constitutional changes in future will affect them most of all, and it was refreshing hearing from them.

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