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PM tears down constitutional conventions

Richard Worth MP National Party Justice Spokesman

28 April 2004

PM tears down constitutional conventions

"The Prime Minister is tearing down the fabric of constitutional conventions that have underpinned New Zealand's democratic system of government," says National Party Justice spokesman Richard Worth.

"The fact that she is doing so in order to give Tariana Turia options not available to other Ministers of the Crown provides reason for concern among constitutional law experts.

"It also demonstrates that the Prime Minister will not accept historic constraints on her exercise of power if these get in the way of her perceived political needs.

"Historic Parliamentary practice has been that those Members of Parliament who agree to take on a Ministerial position accept as a matter of course the doctrine of collective responsibility for decisions made.

"By using the retention of the privileges of a Ministerial rank as a carrot to induce Tariana Turia to act in a manner that suits her political needs, the Prime Minister is trampling all over the conventions that have been a cornerstone of our Parliamentary democracy.

"Those conventions were put in place and adhered to by successive governments in order to ensure stability of executive government. If it is accepted that a desperate leader of our country can tear them up at will, we must face up to the fact that our democracy is in a fragile condition under this Prime Minister.

"The only consolation in this sorry affair is that the Prime Minister's cynical disregard for the country's constitutional conventions has been exposed for the self serving exercise of power that it is," says Mr Worth.

"Perhaps it is time for the Governor-General to ask if the Prime Minister has the confidence of Parliament," he says.


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