The Government has announced that it will undertake a review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.
The review will look at a range of constitutional issues, such as the size of parliament, the length of parliamentary terms, and whether the nation should have a written constitution.
The review was originally intended to involve a range of other political parties, and was to report back to the Government by June 2011.
But an impatient John Key, speaking at a business function last night, said that was far too long to wait, and he has instructed those involved to move faster.
“I don’t need the Magna Carta. Just get on and do something,” said Mr Key in his speech.
Simon Power will head the review, ending speculation that the review would be led by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.
Mr Power said it was critical to take care to get things right in the review.
“I’ll be consulting widely within Cabinet and among a close group of departmental officials, to ensure the best outcome,” said the Justice Minister.
“I intend to listen carefully to what people want. That’s why next week I’m going to devote a whole three hours to listening to Newstalk ZB.”
Mr Power said he expected that legislation to implement any necessary constitutional changes would be introduced to Parliament under urgency early next week.
“Of course, we can’t pre-empt what the review might come up with. That’s why we’ll be putting a Brownlee clause in the legislation, so we can enact quickly any changes to the constitution that may be needed.”
Mr Power was referring to a commonly used provision in modern legislation that enables the law to be changed to whatever Gerry Brownlee wants, without the need to call Parliament.
Mr Power rejected criticism that the review is being rushed.
“It’s important that we get this done and dusted by Christmas,” said Mr Power.
“The public of New Zealand are fed up and want change. They don’t want to wait around for months while we go through endless rounds of fruitless consultation.
“The public don’t know what change they want, but luckily for them we do.”