A New Zealand Bill for a plebiscite about creating a politicians’ republic has been defeated in its first stage.
Green Party MP Keith Locke’s Head of State Referenda Bill was defeated at its first reading 68-53. The National, ACT, the Maori Party and the Progressive Party opposed it. Labour supported sending it to a select committee and it was also backed by the Greens and United Future, according to the New Zealand Press Association.
The first plebiscite (misleadingly called a referendum) would have asked whether the voters wished to continue with the Sovereign as Head of State, or to change to either a Head of State appointed by a vote of at least 75% of the House of Representatives, or a Head of State directly elected by the people.
Within twelve months, a second plebiscite would have to be taken on the two options for Head of State that polled the most votes in the first referendum. If a majority of voters voted for either of the republican models, the Governor-General was to become New Zealand’s Head of State and would remain so until a replacement is appointed or elected.
….constitutional monarchists welcome defeat…
Monarchy New Zealand welcomed the defeat of the Bill.“This has already been an expensive and time-consuming waste of taxpayer’s money” said Professor Noel Cox, Chairperson of Monarchy New Zealand.
“It is remarkable that one man’s obsession has been allowed to take up so much parliamentary time and money when there are many other more important issues of concern to New Zealanders.”
“Mr Locke’s bill was poorly conceived, attempted to subvert the democratic process, and sought to hide dramatic constitutional changes behind a rather glib question.”
“Studies have repeatedly shown that constitutional monarchies around the world are more gender balanced, more multi-cultural, and more inclusive than republics. New Zealanders strongly support their democratic monarchy, and are rightly proud of it.”
“Individual politicians should not promote radical constitutional change simply because of their own personal ideological agenda, and then attempt to persuade us that they are acting in the best interests of all New Zealanders. We are mature enough to decide our own constitutional future.”
National MP Simon Bridges said his party opposed the bill and he personally wasn't much concerned about the issue. "There are much more important things to deal with," he said.
"Over time we might look seriously at becoming a republic but now is not the time. It would be a distraction."
Labour's Charles Chauvel said the bill should go to a select committee so there could be a public discussion.
"Tonight isn't going to see the start of the republican journey, but the day surely doesn't lie far ahead," he said. Maori Party MP Rahue Katene said the bill had the potential to make Maori's relationship with the Crown obsolete. Speaking in reply to the debate, Mr Locke said his bill would have had a majority if the Government had allowed its MPs to have a free vote.