Talking about bold policy, here is mine


Listening to Labour and National go at each other, both appear to be parties trying to land big hits against each other but only seemingly able to land superficial blows. Neither party seems to have a king hit policy or idea that the other one cannot respond to.

I have said before as have others that Labour need to release some bold policy in order to draw in voters. I find it hard to believe that politicians can be so bereft of ideas as to only think about ones that last to the next election. One might therefore ask, okay if you are so sure that politicians are bereft of ideas, what great ones do you have?

When a political party talks they have a short period of time to get the key points of their policy platform across to the media. Keep it clear and keep it snappy – bullet points are best in a print format. I will be focussing on the following over the next couple of weeks:

  • Constitution
  • Social Welfare
  • Jobs
  • Environment
  • Health

Reform does not always have to be economic. Constitutional and/or legal reform can have equally significant effects, and change anything from the structure of the legal system, to a nations constitutional arrangements and include such areas as type of Government, election frequency, a single House of Representatives or a bi-cameral arrangement.

At some point in the near future, possibly in the next couple of years and certainly in the next two decades, New Zealand will have to have this discussion. I would personally much prefer it to happen now on our own terms, so that if in case a need to defer for a bit longer arises, we can establish an appropriate temporary framework that can be dismantled or added to.

If it happens on terms that are not ours, that would suggest something major has happened, such as the reigning sovereign Queen Elizabeth II has died and the public are not happy with whomever became King. This could be problematic because politicians, whilst wanting to appear in tune with the voting public can often find themselves wanting to make changes when there is no public appetite, or the public want changes, but they insist it is just a vocal minority stirring up trouble.

What I suggest is not new, but I think it is visionary enough to be a departure from the discourse currently emanating from politicians and political commentators. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Labour Prime Minister, has likewise suggested that it is time to consider a formal constitution.

I agree with Sir Geoffrey. It is time to hold a binding referendum on the subject. It must be a binding referendum because ignoring it may spark a constitutional crisis of a magnitude not known to have existed in this country. It must also be binding because for all the transparency and relatively smooth functioning of the court system, there are some glaring loop holes, such as (but not limited to):

  • No clear cut legal mechanism for impeaching corrupted representatives who are not fit to serve another minute in office
  • Insufficient entrenching or other legal protection ensuring the key planks of our constitutional arrangement such as the Human Rights Act 1986, the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Constitution Act, 1986

I can see a time coming when support for a Republic will grow substantially. This is something I personally support as well, but for reasons ranging from love of the Monarchy, through to concerns about Treaty of Waitangi recognition must be addressed before this can happen and given the contentious nature of becoming a Republic is well known, only a binding referendum can give the result the due legitimacy.

It is probably too late to go back now, but New Zealand should have gone through a binding referendum phase to determine whether or not the country should have a Supreme Court.

So, this is one of my big policies. The extent to which it can play out will be determined by the outcome of the referendum. I envisage that if the answer is NO, then legislation be passed that sets in place the mechanism for revisiting something that believe will eventually have to happen one way or the other.

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