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Referendum needed to legitimise constitutional change

Referendum needed to legitimise constitutional change

For a country to change its constitution without asking its own citizens would be a disgrace, constitutional law expert James Allan has warned.

Writing on the week that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's constitutional decrees sparked violent protest, Professor James Allan of Queensland University, a constitutional law expert and member of the Independent Constitutional Review Panel, wrote that changing the constitution without a referendum would be “the sort of thing one might expect after a military coup in Pakistan or as a consequence of a passing whim of Mr. Mugabe in Zimbabwe”.

“And yet, unbelievably, that same disgraceful possibility is a real one here in New Zealand of all places," he wrote. "It is a real possibility because Deputy Prime Minister Bill English, at the launch of the Constitutional Review in December 2010, stated that ‘significant change will not be undertaken lightly and will require either broad cross-party agreement or the majority support of voters at a referendum’.

“The key point to notice is that Mr. English is clearly implying that New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements – arrangements that have been amongst the world’s most successful over the past century or two – might be changed solely on the basis of ‘broad cross-party agreement’", he wrote.

“And that is a completely bogus and illegitimate way to change New Zealand’s constitution.” To read the full article, click HERE.

Professor Allen is a member of the Independent Constitutional Review Panel (ICRP), a diverse group of New Zealanders who share a common concern that an out-of-control Treaty industry threatens not just New Zealand's prosperity but its very survival as a nation. The ICRP supports the Declaration of Equality which:

1. Rejects any reference to the Treaty of Waitangi or its principles in any constitutional document.
2. Requires that such references be removed from all existing legislation.
3. Requires that race-based parliamentary seats be abolished.
4. Requires that race-based representation on local bodies be abolished.
5. Requires that the Waitangi Tribunal, which has outlived any usefulness it may have had, be abolished.

The ICRP Panel is chaired by Canterbury University law lecturer David Round and consists of Auckland University Associate Professor Elizabeth Rata, Massey University Emeritus Professor Martin Devlin, Professor Allan, New Zealand Centre for Political Research Associate Mike Butler, and NZCPR Founder and Director Dr Muriel Newman.

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