Here's What I Think
The Republic of Aotearoa
Kiwis should be ready for when the beloved Queen Elizabeth II passes on.
We should become a Republic and have a kiwi as our head of state.
I have always jokingly said we didn't want a republic because we might have to have a kiwi in charge of the country - like a Rob Mulddon - or a Winston Peters. But hopefully we have moved on.
When I first flew into London (some time ago) I was incensed on having to walk through the Alien gate. My father's parents were both born in Scotland. But I have never sought a UK passport or work permit.
First we have the insult to Sir Edmund Hilary and now the suggested change of the work rules. The time has come.
But we are the only country after the UK that does not have a written constitution. But I don't think we need one. We don't want to be locked down to a document that won't move with today's rate of change.
And we don't want a President and 2 houses like the USA. The USA has proved that written documents do not survive a press given to spin and civil servant PR consultants and lobby groups. $1bn will have been spent on the presidential campiagn in the USA by November 2009. We don't want that! See Al Gore's book "The Assault on Reason".
Our Lower House could operate with say 60 seats of directly elected representatives and a further 40 of proportionally allocated list members.
Given a proportionally structured second house the 5% allocation to small parties could be abandoned in the Lower House. In MMP small parties have had too much influence in the formation of governments with weird appointments of Ministers Outside of Cabinet and have introduced too many very peculiar bills or have compromised other bills.
That issue could be handled by an Upper House where representation would be proportional not only by party but also for say, Ethnicity (as determined by the Census) and Gender (50%-50%). The total number of seats could possibly be as low as 30.
This is where the issue of the number of Maori seats could be resolved. Maori may expect 50% - certainly more than the 7/120ths plus whoever gets on the party lists at a high enough level. Certainly some Maori would interpret the Treaty of Waitangi that way. The issue of Tino Rangatiratanga could be handled in a better way by an Upper House.
There need not be elections for the Upper House as such. Parties would put up a list at each general election time and the Upper House populated proportionally. But sitting members would remain in the House unless they lost on proportionality including on Ethnicity and Gender or they chose to retire or have been absent for more than 90 days.
The Upper House would only have a vote on Financial Matters - and bills affecting Rights and Responsibilities. While it might debate a bill at the second reading stage it would not be able to change any bills - only Approve or Reject - and hence make recommendations to the Lower House.
The Prime Minister would be appointed as now - usually the leader of the dominant political party.
The current requirement to present to the Governor-General evidence that a stable majority has been negotiated and hence a Government can be formed could perhaps be met by the Chief Justice formally agreeing on this or requiring a further election.
Hence we would not need a Governor-General or a President - just a Prime Minister.
2008 - Ian Mitchell
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