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Way forward on constitutional reform clear as mud

Opposition MP, Simon Upton, said today that the way ahead, following the conference on constitutional reform sponsored by the Institute of Policy Studies, was as clear as mud.

"The Conference provided a useful platform at which a vast array of theories and ideas could be canvassed. Certainly, there are many more wild and woolly ideas lurking in the undergrowth than many of us had imagined," says Mr Upton.

There is no obvious way forward - with the possible exception of removing the Privy Council as our highest court of appeal, and even there matters are unresolved, he says.

"The only clear message that emerged, is that it is not possible to engage in constitutional reform for window-dressing reasons. Talk of emerging maturity and nation building is not a basis for tangling with important constitutional issues, as a number of speakers emphasised.

"Notice has been served that any politician who thinks he or she can play around with republicanism and/or a written constitution, will immediately trigger a huge and possibly irresolvable debate about the place of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"While this is an important issue that the National Party amongst others must grapple with, it would be folly to embark on a debate without a clear idea of where the country should end up.

"Enthusiasts for constitutional reform would do well to heed Judge Mick Brown's humane advice that constitutionalising could be a self-mutilating business," says Mr Upton.

Ends

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