Palmer’s constitution

For constitutional pundits the proposed constitution by Sir Geoffrey Palmer is an interesting read. Some key aspects are:

  • Constitution is supreme law
  • Head of State elected by free vote in House of Representatives for a single five year term
  • The PM is elected by the House of Representatives from within its members
  • The PM can not be Minister of Finance or Attorney-General (or Deputy PM)
  • The Attorney-General must be an admitted barrister and solicitor (which would have ruled Cullen out)
  • Cabinet limited to 20 members and five Ministers outside Cabinet
  • A fixed four year parliamentary term unless 75% of the House votes for an early election or the Governments falls and no new is formed within 14 days
  • Speaker does not vote in Parliament and the party he or she represents gets an additional List MP to maintain proportionality
  • The House must have a Business Committee, a Privileges Committee, a Committee, a Regulations Review Committee, a Human Rights Committee and subject matter select committees
  • Ministers can not serve on subject matter select committees, the Regulations Review Committee or the Human Rights Committee
  • Elections are by MMP
  • All bills must have an analysis which includes the detailed nature of the bill, policy papers relating to the changes, the fiscal costs of the new measures, an analysis of of Waitangi issues, if any and an analysis whether the proposals comply with this Constitution.
  • An urgency motion in the House needs 75% support
  • Judicial Appointments to be short-listed by a Judicial Appointments Commission
  • Courts can strike down laws inconsistent with the constitution but only takes effect if confirmed by Supreme Court
  • Parliament can over-ride the Supreme Court with a 75% majority
  • All future agreements mist be confirmed by the House of Representatives
  • The heads of the Armed Forces appointed by Parliament on the recommendation of a select committee
  • The House is required to vote on any overseas deployment of the Armed Forces
  • The of Waitangi is incorporated in the Constitution
  • A Bill of Rights is incorporated in the Constitution (meaning laws inconsistent can be struck down)
  • Constitution must be approved by a majority in a referendum
  • Constitution can only be amended by an Act that passed in Parliament by either 75% majority or that then goes to and passes a referendum

I have to say that if we were to ever have a written constitution, this one would be a very good template for it. There are parts I would change, but overall it is very thorough yet not overly long. It is also quite simple.

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