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Richard Prebble: Our constitutional monarchy works well

Republicans have been saying: “When the Queen dies New Zealand will become a republic”. We have not. We have witnessed a seamless transition. “The Queen is dead, long live the king”.


What they meant was no one wanted to offend a woman who has served New Zealand for over a quarter of our nation’s history. King Charles has never been as popular. Being a prince in waiting is a frustrating role. King Charles may exceed our expectations.


Some MPs can swear an oath to the Queen and to “her heirs and successors” and then proclaim they are republicans. As they make promises they never intend to keep why should we be surprised that they do not keep their oaths?


A government that does not want to run on its record might be tempted to stage a diversion and hold a referendum to become a republic. Those who advocate holding a referendum first need to say what sort of republic.


Just abolishing the monarchy and changing the Governor-General’s name to President will not do. While the Prime Minister nominates the Governor-General and could technically request a dismissal, the Prime Minister cannot dismiss the king. It would be a damaging reduction in status for our head of state to be appointed and dismiss at will the Prime Minister.


Some nations have had parliament elect the president and others the electorate. Even if the head of state’s role is ceremonial the election by itself gives the president power. The temptation to use power is overwhelming.


The conflict between presidents and parliaments is one of the reasons presidential government is so unstable. Only the Americans, with great difficulty, have managed it.


What to you do with presidents or an ex-president, who breaks the law? Worldwide there are presidents and ex-presidents in conflict with the courts, their Prime Ministers and parliaments. Republics are often unstable.


A hereditary head of state from another country is weird. Constitutional monarchy just works better than the alternatives. The World Economic Forum says New Zealand is the world’s third oldest democracy. The Economist Intelligence Unit this year rated New Zealand the second most democratic country. Why fix what is not broken?


We are a small, isolated country. Having a shared monarchy with the UK and 14 other countries has been advantageous and will be in the future.


Monarchy is more fun. It has given me one of my first memories, a social success, a great embarrassment, a nice compliment and an honour.


At age five we school children lined the road to watch the royal tour. We all waved Union Jack flags as a convoy of black cars speed past. I prized the medal we were given. It is a warm childhood memory.


As a new MP I was invited to a seminar at the United Nations in New York. There was a huge cocktail party with the rich and famous. I overheard some New York socialites discussing whether Prince Charles or his new bride Diana was the taller.


“She is” I said. “When I met them I noticed”.


“How have you met Princess Diana” they asked.


“I am from New Zealand. We are a monarchy. As a member of parliament I have met our future king and his bride”.


News spread. There is a New Zealander who has met Princess Di. I was the center of attention. Then one socialite asked; “What was Princess Di wearing?” I replied “A dress”. My moment passed. If we were a republic I would never had that momentary international social success.


I was the Minister in attendance at Ellerslie Racecourse in 1986 when two young idiots threw eggs at the Queen. Very embarrassing. The Queen was gracious.


Prince Phillip was not amused. I made an abject apology. 400 years ago ministers lost their heads for less. With a president, protests will be common.


I am the first New Zealand minister to receive his appointment directly from the Queen. She was visiting New Zealand at the time. As she signed warrants for my 22 portfolios the Queen asked the Prime Minister “Apart from Mr. Prebble, does anyone else in the cabinet do any work?” Would I value such a remark from a president?


When I was sacked as a minister I lost the title honourable. I was astonished when the Queen sent me a personal letter saying she had granted me the title for life. If I had received the honorific from some hack president would you be impressed? As the Queen has said I am honourable who are we to disagree?


If we became a republic what would the Woman’s Weekly do? Seriously, the record is that our system of government is much more stable than a republic.


We have real issues but being a constitutional monarchy is not one of them.


The Honourable Richard Prebble CBE is a former member of the New Zealand Parliament. Initially a member of the Labour Party, he joined the newly formed ACT New Zealand party under Roger Douglas in 1996, becoming its leader from 1996 to 2004.

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67 Comments


Mark Hubbard
Mark Hubbard
Sep 14, 2022

I suspect my wife and I are like many who will leave New Zealand if Labour and the co-governance radicals get back into Wellington in next year's general election. You are right that for all it's faults our constitutional monarchy is a fair and democratic system, with the Westminster system of democracy and government - one man one vote, all equal before the law - the bottom line for a country I will live in. I will not live in an increasingly violent Pacific Zimbabwe under tribal rule where Willie Jackson has 'tweaked' democracy to the point it's not democracy any longer, and we are back to family and tribal graft as Nanaia Mahuta has shown so stunningly clearly with…

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Ron
Ron
Sep 14, 2022

You say - "The Economist Intelligence Unit this year rated New Zealand the second most democratic country. Why fix what is not broken? "


But it IS BROKEN! The charlatan Winnie Peters broke it when he installed the avowed, odious, abhorrent, fanatical Communist Ardern as PM! That is why we are in the current financial crisis.



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gordonpotts4
gordonpotts4
Sep 14, 2022

What came out of Biden's mouth the other day,"Make sure that no one steals the elections again". That could mean one of two things,that he stole the last election from Trump,or the lying democrats are not going to let the republicans be voted in again.

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
Sep 14, 2022

Look.

It's not perfect but it has served us well over the past 200 odd years.

Don't change what's not broken.

The monarchy, and being part of the commonwealth is a very important part of new Zealanders lives, and the thought to ditch it , I think, is driven by the idealistic fools that don't have a clue how drastically this would affect us, as a nation.

Yes.

The king is but a figurehead, but to remove that stable structure , would result in chaos, for us that believe in true democracy.

For christs sake. You only have to look no further than that despot of a human being Willie Jackson, to know how a republic would go.

Redefining democracy?…


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mr.max
mr.max
Sep 14, 2022

Well how about that this site is acting Jacinda's censored media . One of my post was getting a lot of votes and has had the numbers of up votes reduced ..

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