A couple of Green MPs (I can’t recall which ones – Holly Walker is one I think) are doing a survey on the parliamentary oath. There has been a recent change made by the House to standing orders, so that any MP needing to be sworn in, will not be sworn in if they do not recite the correct wording of the oath on the first occasion.
This is because it had started to become a game with various MPs that they would recite their own personal version, be told it is incorrect, and then finally do the correct one.
I’m a supporter of the change to standing orders, because I think it was all about MPs grand-standing. I actually do not like the wording of the current oath, and think it should be changed. However as a citizen I have no power to change the oath. However MPs do – they can amend the Oaths Act. And I’ve never seen one of these grandstanding MPs put up a members bill to do that. If MPs do not like the oath, they should amend it, not ignore it. It is a legal requirement of being sworn in.
So I do give the Greens kudos for surveying people on what they think of the oath. Their questions are:
- Do you think NZ Members of Parliament should have to swear (or affirm) allegiance to the Queen?
- Would you support an oath that MPs swear (or affirm) to do their best for Aotearoa/New Zealand?
- Would you support including an oath where MPs would swear (or affirm) they would do their best to protect the environment?
- Would you support and oath or Affirmation where MPs would swear (or affirm) to honour the Treaty of Waitangi?
- Would you support a change from a standard oath or affirmation to an arrangement where each MP makes a personally meaningful oath?
My answers are no, yes, no, no and no.
The oath should be something that 99% of New Zealanders would agree with – hence serving New Zealand should be the focus. Anything beyond that is starting to get into personal partisan agendas, which not all MPs would agree on. Just keep it simple – have the MP swear they will do their best for New Zealand.