On the New Zealand Republic

Revenue Minister Peter Dunne wants a referendum on whether New Zealand should become a republic:

If the result of that referendum is no, then the issue stops there and then.

If the answer is yes, then a full proposal, including how the new head of state should be selected, should be developed and put to a second referendum during the term of the next Parliament.

If that proposal is endorsed then, the Republic of New Zealand could be initiated some time after the 2017 general election

Dunne’s “let the people decide” approach is admirable but flawed. This issue is far too important to be left to the masses to decide. Besides, we are in a time of recession and need strong decisive action from Government, not endless public consultation and referenda.

In the words of one politician (but on a completely unrelated matter):

The difficulty with a referendum is it would cost a million dollars and it would just ask `yes’ or ‘no’.

So here are two proposals from me.

1. Set up then ignore Royal Commission

Let’s set up a Royal Commission to look at the issue. We’ll appoint three commissioners (say a former High Court judge, a retired civil servant, and maybe an accountant). They can take travel around the country, hold public meetings, and take submissions from interested parties.

Let’s get them to report by 31 March 2010. They will inevitably conclude that New Zealand should become a republic, with a President to perform the duties currently performed by the Governor General. They will no doubt provide detailed recommendations about how the new President is to be elected, and what powers the President will have.

We will need to give Cabinet time to consider the report. Something as critical as this will take at least a week. Cabinet is bound to agree with the Commission’s recommendation to proceed with a republic, though most of its other recommendations will probably be ignored. We all know what these Commission reports are like – volumes and volumes of waffle. Nobody has time to read these things.

I recommend we put Rodney Hide in charge of this project – he gets things done, doesn’t he? After all, it’s critical we get this republic in place in time for the 2011 elections. Some people will complain about the lack of consultation on the proposed model, but there will be time for public submissions during select committee hearings.

Those who might worry the select committee process will cause further delays need not be concerned. Those hearings should only take a couple of weeks, and they won’t change a thing. The decision’s been made already.

2. Just do it already

Let’s skip all that consultation mumbo jumbo. Let’s just take a sample of the opinions already out there and make a quick decision to bind us for the ages.

To help Mr Key out I’ve taken a sample from such reputable sites as Kiwiblog and Herald’s Your Views.

Your Views:

Chris of Remuera says:

Mr Dunne should know that Kevin Rudd has dropped the idea of a referendum on Australia becoming a republic because Rudd knows that the motion will be lost again. This whole business is ‘Pommy Bashing” by those of Irish ancestry; Keating, Bolger and now O’Dunne. If they think Ireland is so marvellous let them go and live there and leave us to get on with our happy lives.

Because this is just a big Irish conspiracy and Ireland is a hole. Take that you paddies!

NZ Brit of the North Shore counsels:

You kiwis should just be quiet and do what the “motherland ” tells you like good little boys and girls, do the Maori’s know that if you become a Republic they can kiss goodbye treaty settlements?Us Brits have contribued more than any other Race has ever contributed to this country. We tried to offer you some real culture yet you bag us all the time in your papers!As for your national anthem you really should change it to “God save the Queen”

What treacherously disloyal scum we all are. And our papers are full of nasty bile, unlike those fine English institutions like the Sun and the Daily Mail.

Paul of Northland:

Forget the Republican issue. Why become another home for Bananas!Why don’t we go forward towards ANZEC (Australia New Zealand Economic Community) or just go straight to becomming another state of OZ!

We all know what happens when a country becomes a republic. Just ask those banana states like Sweden, Finland, the US, and France.

CJFR of Torbay makes some important points:

Oh forgoodness sake – no. Who on earth would you pick to head up the Commonwealth of NZ? Certainly no one with as much dignity. The Queen is removed from political point scoring in NZ (not aligned with any parties) and isn’t part of the big boys business club, nor does she have any sneaky socialist agendas. We’ve a lot less to complain about with her as our Head of State than we would an elected Kiwi who is learning the ropes. And the next debate would be what nationality our Commonwealth Head of State would be – European, Maori, Chinese, Pacific Islander.

God, what if the first President isn’t white? Or is a “sneaky socialist”?

Matt from Auckland:

No way! Can you imagine the cost of re-doing all those letterheads, rewriting the national anthem and painting over ‘HMS’ on all our warships?Maybe AFTER the recession.I kinda like our leadership being a notch down from the top. Not sure I’d like to see Comrade Helen with absolute power.

Exactly! Look at the monstrous mess Comrade Helen left us in after nine years of Prime Minister: mass starvation, suppression of the media, and the murder of political opponents. Oh wait, that’s the North Korean leader. I always get those two mixed up. I mean they’re so similar. They’re both… um, humanoid.

Our warships don’t have the words “HMS” painted on them, so the paint bill will be quite small. I reckon one small tin of Dulux navy grey would do it. But one tin of paint in these recessionary times is still extravagant.

colin from Kaikohe:

No of course not. go away mr dunne and find another cause to champion. you are the leader of a miniscule party,and i’m amazed that the media gives you any credence at all. get your head above these petty problems and latch onto something worthwhile, like child abuse, crime, abuse of drugs, and health services.

Peter Dunne, you heard the man: go and abuse some children, commit crimes and abuse drugs. Then he might vote for you.

Nz brit from North Shore revels in his British heritage:

As a first generation NZer I have always been brought up with stories about the Motherland and the fight for freedom. My parents are both English , I am immensly proud of my English heritage. Now if we become a Republic it will be everyman for themselves and this time I hope the Brits finish the job good and proper and gid rid of the small minded minorities who force their deluded opinion on the majority ,so us people making a positive contribution can get on with it without some bleeding heart minority having a cry. Us Brits and Her majesty are here to stay so you Kiwis better get use to it , we are the majority! Rule Britannia!

So if we attempt to become a republic the British will invade us. We don’t want that, do we?

I h8 aussies of Auckland says:

I do not think it will be a good idea to become a republic. Definitely not a good idea, in fact. Hong Kong had British sovereignty, until it was returned to the Chinese a few years ago. Since then, they’ve had all sorts of problems concerning governorship. Not or us! Look around the world at what has happened to almost all of the places that were under the commonwealth or governorship of the UK. Most of them have fallen into chaos, disarray, or some other problems have beset them. Do we really want this? Ok, just supposing we do get our own independence from the UK. Then, those loudmouthed, brash, descendants of British criminals suddenly decide that after all these years of being our neighbours, they suddenly would rather be our rulers. Can you imagine it? A dirty, sweaty, smelly Australian invasion fleet, sailing over, landing troops on our nice clean shores, aircraft bombing us with cheap stuffed toys shaped like koalas and kangaroos. An invading force generally makes the original owners of the land speak in the invading forces tongue. Can you imagine it? Us, having to learn to say ‘Stewl’ instead of ‘stool’, ‘pewl’ instead of ‘pool’. No thank you.

Because only our allegiance to a distant monarch is stopping those dirty Australians from taking our land and launching soft toy air strikes against us (weren’t soft toys banned under the Geneva Convention?)… despite Australia’s own allegiance to that same distant monarch.

Happy scot of Glasgow:

If you have to ask the question,the answer is no. The dominions (pardon the nomenclature)are part of a band of peoples related by blood and/or tradition. We are uncommonly decent people who share a distaste of politicians and power seekers and to that end we have allowed our shared Head of State to be a wee half -Scottish woman of no great intellect or ambition whom we can hold in affection or distaste equally.

A happy monarchist Scot. Who knew?

Scared citizen of Auckland is not too frightened to subject his/her cliches to public scrutiny:

Absolutely, definitely not and I wont go into why not here because it has been already said many many times by others in this column. The one thing that really scares me about this is in this current climate of anti-liberty, anti-New Zealander, anti-common sense, nanny state legislation increasingly forced on us, what other really big and liberty restricting nonsense is going on that the sudden resurrection of this red herring is meant to distract us from?

It’s all a plot by anti-New Zealanders. It’s the Lizard People again!

Ex concerned kiwi of New York writes:

Definitely not, what on earth are they thinking? Look at what has happened to the USA. Keep New Zealand the way it is for as long as possible.

Exactly! Do we really want to live in an economic powerhouse with a stable functioning democracy that (despite its flaws) remains admired around the world? Ugh!

Edmundos of Auckland:

Republic! No. And whoever suggested it should apologise to the Queen. New Zealand would do well to remember its origins and start celebrating its English heritage rather than denigrating it. As a former school-teacher, I was horrified to see the over-emphasis of Maori history and apparent disdain towards English history. It’s time to get your priorities right. Celebrate NZ history and NZ achievements but keep a special place in your hearts for Merry England. And, if you can’t do that, at least keep a civil tongue in your head.

Apologise to Her Majesty, you villainous treacherous republican worms! You make me sick! off with your heads!

Donut of Wellington:

No. The Republicanism issue is always an easy rah-rah issue to get people all stirred up. But what is at stake? For example, would anyone really want control of the armed forces completely in the hands of the politicians? I certainly wouldn’t, especially this lot that is in there now. So be careful what you wish for, you might get it!

We can’t let politicians control the armed forces. Imagine what might happen. No, those nice people in Fiji seem to have it right.


Freedom101 lets his cliches do the talking:

A lot of words, but what exactly are the benefits of change? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Becoming a republic doesn’t stop the government trampling over freedom of speech. Isn’t the Congo a republic? There are dozens of countries which are republics where citizens live in both poverty and fear. We should put our energies into public policies to increase our economic performance. See the OECD recent report. Dunne is an absolute classic – run red herrings all over the place while ignoring the elephant in the room.

How exactly does one “run” a red herring? Like a dog? Where does the leash go?


OTOH, a lot of Americans I’ve encountered over the years are slightly envious of an arrangement where the head-of-state lives 20,000km away, and basically leaves us alone.And constitutional monarchies have been by and large, pretty stable countries.

Stable like Fiji and Zimbabwe?

Banana Llama says:

The Herald should just shut up and be thanking their lucky stars we don’t become a Republic like the old days as they would be hanging from the end of a hemp rope by now.

Yes, those Republic of Aotearoa days were dark ones, weren’t they?

My conclusions

The evidence is overwhelming. If we move to a republic we will end up living in a banana republic nanny state ruled by sneaky Irish socialists running red herrings while an elephant’s in the room, and while our treacherous Australian cousins attack us with soft toys. Would you really want your children to grow up in a country like that?

God Save the Queen!