Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More from Moore

Former Prime Minister Mike Moore follows up on his piece last week in which he proposed a constitutional convention with a second piece in which he responds to his critics. In doing so, he makes it crystal clear that his proposal is aimed primarily at "throw[ing] some sand in the gearbox" and impeding any future move towards a republic:

Doing nothing is a valid option. The threshold must be very high, and the case overwhelming and compelling for any change.
Which again makes you wonder what sort of republic he thinks we're drifting towards. Despite Moore's insinuations, a shift to a republic does not mean reinventing our constitution from scratch. The expected model - in which we simply twink out the monarchy and Governor-General and replace it with an elected or appointed figurehead with exactly the same powers and constraints - is no change at all in a legal sense. A President in such a system would be able to do exactly what the current Governor-General can do: attend dinner parties, open Parliament, and sign whatever the Prime Minister puts in front of them. The reason for the shift is almost entirely symbolic, about asserting our independence, our belief in democracy, and our dignity as human beings 9things which a foreign monarchy is fundamentally incompatible with). This is obviously something which should be discussed and ultimately approved by the people. At the same time, the degree of change isn't anywhere near meriting Moore's uberconservative approach (and I'd regard the case for democracy and dignity as already having been made - something I'm sure Moore would agree). Moore's proposal then is simply an attempt to pre-emptively raise the bar and lock in current arrangements, a last gasp by a dying generation to maintain cultural dominance and strangle the future.