Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Dom-Post on the republic

In an editorial today, the Dominion-Post says that it is time to test the waters on the republic:

Green list MP Keith Locke has finally had his Head of State Referenda Bill, which he has waited seven years to have pulled from the members' ballot, selected for debate by Parliament. It is to be hoped MPs will allow it to reach a select committee, so that those who feel strongly about retaining links with the British monarchy or electing a president as head of state can have their say.

Mr Locke believes strong arguments exist for change, "not least that we are now a confident, independent nation in the South Pacific. Having a head of state in Britain does not match who we are in the 21st century". Monarchists disagree. They feel respect for Prince William's granny, a woman who has dedicated her entire life to duty, unlike some of her offspring, and great affection for Charles' and Diana's elder son. Ad Feedback

Though Parliament last considered our constitutional arrangements via a select committee inquiry only in 2005, it can do no harm to discuss it again.

Sending the bill to select committee will let Parliament have a good look at the prospects for a shift to a republic. More importantly, it will let the people have their say through the submissions process. On a serious constitutional issue such as this, Parliament should recognise that the constitution belongs to the people, and give us the opportunity to discuss it. If the government, which seems to be the main obstacle, thinks this bill is the wrong mechanism for doing so, then it should propose and provide an alternative. I'm sure republicans would be happy to have a Royal Commission investigate the issue, as was done for electoral reform. But even that is probably too much for National's anti-democratic monarchists.