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Moore: Let the Constitutional Conversation Begin


NZ Constitutional Arrangements - Let the Conversation and Process Begin

“The conversation about New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements has begun and is being taken seriously,” Mike Moore, former Prime Minister and former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation reported today. “However some media reports have suggested I want a republic, not so. One report even suggested I wanted to cut ties with the Commonwealth. Not so. I have never spoken for a republic. This shows how difficult it is to have this conversation.”

Mr. Moore recently released a proposal to create a process for New Zealand to discuss and determine the way NZ manages her constitutional affairs. Mr. Moore said he’d spoken to a number of Members of Parliament asking them not to lock any doors, to judge the idea and process, not the author. “Our political leaders need space and grace to consider all this because the ‘process’ cannot be owned by any one person.

The media, by its nature, needs instant comment which unfortunately can firm up positions by politicians and commentators without adequate reflection. So far, the idea has been treated with the respect it needs because, while governments have the right to nationalise or privatise and raise or lower taxes, matters of constitutional change, once made, are difficult to unmake. New Zealand’s political system is not in a state of desperate disrepair, however things are changing and change needs to be managed and this should not be solely in the hands of temporary politicians.

It is important now because there is almost a consensus amongst Australian politicians for Australia to become a republic, this will become fashionable in New Zealand. Queen Elizabeth II, who has been the only monarch most New Zealanders have lived under, is respected and, because no-one is immortal, there will be questions raised eventually. Some people think this process is about creating a republic - it is not. It’s about a process. There’s a group who want to launch a public movement to review MMP which could be counter-productive. MMP, along with other great issues, should be part of a wider, longer process. There is anxiety among New Zealanders in what they perceive as a breakdown in what was a multi-party consensus and conventions on how power is wielded in our country. Rather than ad hoc, populist change based on current anxieties or perception of current politicians, we need a process that goes beyond the life of any Parliament or Government. These decisions, once made, are hard to unmake, that’s why the process should take time. The need for change must be compelling, the threshold very high, doing nothing is a very valid option,” said Mr. Moore.

Mike Moore
former Prime Minister of New Zealand
former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation

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