Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bringing on the republic

Republicanism has been a sleeping issue for the past decade or so. Most politicians freely acknowledge that it is "inevitable" that New Zealand will grow up and become a republic, but none seem willing to do anything to bring that about.

Today, that changed, with the drawing of Keith Locke's Head of State Referenda Bill from the ballot. The bill would establish a two-step referendum process on whether to become a republic. In the first referendum, we would be offered a choice of the status quo, a republic with a President elected by a supermajority in Parliament, or a republic with a President directly elected by the people using STV. If any option gets a majority (unlikely, given that republican support will be split on the issue of election), then we go with it. If none does, then there will be a run-off between the two strongest options.

The important thing to note is that this bill makes the absolute minimal changes to create a republic. It would not see a powerful executive President with powers to veto legislation. Instead, if we go republican, the President would have exactly the same powers and be bound by convention in exactly the same way as the present Governor-General. All that would change is their method of appointment and who they work for: us, or a foreign monarch.

The Republican Movement has a guide to the bill here. If you want to show your support, you can join them here.