Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Former Prime Minister calls for new constitution
Former Prime Minister and Victoria
University of Wellington Distinguished Fellow Sir Geoffrey Palmer is calling
for a modern written constitution in New Zealand to boost public confidence in
Sir Geoffrey and constitutional expert Dr
Andrew Butler have been working on a proposed new constitution and will soon
publish a book, A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, setting out
their ideas and seeking public comment on them.
New Zealand’s Constitution should be
modernised to make it more easily accessible, says Sir Geoffrey.
“We aim to provide a model and stimulate
the debate. We believe this country needs a modern constitution that is easy to
understand, reflects New Zealand’s identity, enhances public confidence in
government, and better protects rights and liberties.”
A constitution outlines the fundamental
rules regarding the powers of government, how government institutions are
structured and interact, as well as protections for human rights.
Compared with overseas constitutions, New
Zealand’s Constitution was highly unusual in that it was made up of “a
hodge-podge of rules”, was not located in one place and was very hard to find,
said Sir Geoffrey.
Parts of what could be considered the
current constitution were located in 45 Acts of Parliament, 12 international
treaties, nine areas of common law, eight constitutional conventions, several
executive orders and other legal instruments.
Trying to understand the current New
Zealand Constitution was difficult and frustrating, says Sir Geoffrey. “It is
unsurprising then that New Zealanders speak little of their Constitution and
think about it even less.”
However, he believes the public will
engage strongly once they have specific proposals to consider and its
importance becomes clear.
Sir Geoffrey and Dr Butler today launched
a new website on the subject at http://constitutionaotearoa.org.nz/. More specific detail about the proposals will be
revealed on the site after Victoria University Press publishes the book at the
end of September and the public will then be invited to make submissions to the
New Zealand would be more successful and
better governed if there was constitutional change, says Sir Geoffrey.
“The changes we will put forward we
believe are a necessary part of preserving democratic freedom in New Zealand,
and of protecting the fundamental principles which anchor public power and
strengthen government accountability. We want to find out if New Zealanders