Little calls for a republic

Two good announcements from Labour in two days!

Audrey Young at the Herald reports:

Labour president Andrew Little has called for a fresh debate about republicanism following a speech at the party’s conference by former Wallaby Peter Fitzsimons, an outspoken advocate of ditching the monarchy.

Mr Little said that he backed Fitzsimons’ views, and it was time for New Zealand to engage in the debate.

“It’s a cop-out to say, ‘Yes, I’m a republican, but it’s not time’, that it be left up to somebody else.

“That’s a failure of leadership, in my view,” said Mr Little.

He was not saying it was something that had to be done tomorrow.

“But it is saying are committed to making a move and we do it in a courteous and respectful way.”

It was an issue that ought to be actively debated in terms of what constitutional arrangements might be set up, and negotiating with the UK over what a transition might look like.

A minor correction – we do not need to negotiate with the UK. It would be polite to negotiate with the Queen however.

I’m intrigued by Andrew saying it is a failure of leadership to say yes, but let’s wait until later. Fitzsimons also commented:

Fitzsimons was applauded last night when he spoke of republicanism and changing the flag for Australia. He did not think the decision should be put on hold until the Queen died.

“As a sovereign nation we shouldn’t be deciding our politics on the health of an elderly English woman. She’s a good woman, no doubt about it. But we should be carving out our independent way.”

Now look at what Phil Goff said a couple of weeks ago:

Goff said the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign was the logical transition point.

“Succession of the monarchy is the time to have a head of state who is a New Zealander,” said Goff. “We need to start the conversation now. Don’t rush it. Fully consult the people of New Zealand. It’s a major change and needs a reasonable consensus.”

Is this the failure of leadership Andrew was referring to?

Regardless I’m pleased that both the Labour Party Leader and President are supporters of a move to a republic. It means that when there is an inevitable change of Government, there will at least be a silver lining – assuming their preferences becomes some sort of formal commitment to starting a process to allow NZers to decide the issue.

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