Sunday, November 25, 2007

Independence day

Today, 25 November, is the 60th anniversary of New Zealand's adoption of the Statute of Westminster. It's a little-known anniversary, but an important one - by this act, we required the British Parliament to relinquish the right to legislate for us except at our request, essentially making it our act of formal independence from Britain. Unlike the US, our path to independence was one of slow, steady, and peaceful growth rather than violent revolution, a recognition by both parties of a practical situation rather than a unilateral declaration and throwing off of the colonial chains, but it is still constitutionally significant. On this day sixty years ago, we finally became a nation in our own right, rather than just a colonial appendage of "mother Britain".

Unfortunately, 60 years on, we still have one colonial link tying us to Britain's apron-strings: the monarchy. Despite being legally independent, having our own government, judiciary, culture and common law, we are still ruled by an absentee monarch who lives 12,000 miles away. And they are appointed not on merit, but on the basis of hereditary - of being descended from someone who ultimately raped, looted, and slaughtered their way to power. This is an absurd situation, and sixty years on, I think it is time we said "enough". We should become a republic, and finally cement our political independence from Britain by having our own head of state, elected by and answerable to the people of New Zealand, rather than unelected and hence answerable to no-one.