Beware Of The Constitutional Review
- Older & Bolder column
19 March 2012Rt Hon Winston Peters
In December 2010 the government announced a ‘wide-ranging’ review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. The purpose was to ‘stimulate public debate’. There has been little public debate and the issue slipped under the radar during the election campaign.
In reality, this review should be setting off alarm bells throughout New Zealand. It does not spring from public demand. It is the result of political horse-trading between John Key and the Māori Party. The majority of political parties were never consulted about this and that is why New Zealand First declined a recent invitation to take part.
The review is stacked and the results are already decided. They intend to create a constitution that has the Treaty of Waitangi as its cornerstone. The so-called ‘principles’ of the Treaty will creep into all laws that shape our existence.
The two men responsible for overseeing the review, Bill English and Pita Sharples, have been silent on the matter since last August. That was when they appointed a ‘Constitutional Review Panel’ to initiate public consultation and make formal recommendations.
Members of the panel are worthy individuals in their own right but do their qualifications match the enormity of the task? Any review of our democracy requires the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the faith of Abraham, the insight of Daniel and the courage of David!
Although the terms of reference for the Review Panel state that it will consider a wide range of constitutional issues, from the number of MPs, the length of the term of parliament to the Bill of Rights Act, these do not disguise the fact that its main focus is on the Treaty.
In particular, the review is going to explore ways that ‘Tikanga Māori’ (‘the Māori way of life’) can be incorporated into our legal system. For the Māori Party, this is the main purpose of the review. They hope to force their irrational psycho-legal-babble about the Treaty of Waitangi principles on to the rest of us. No one can accurately define what these principles mean yet these meddlers are prepared to corrupt our political and legal systems with them.
As of March 2012, the Key government is yet to announce plans for the promised “Information and Education Programme” and public consultation process that were supposed to begin early this year. Whether this is due to stonewalling or administrative incompetence, we deserve to know what is going on behind closed doors.
Sooner or later, though, public submissions will open. When they do it is important that people see the process for what it really is - a sham.
If there is to be a review of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements, then it should be through an open and transparent process that is free from political bias and narrow sectional interest. As it stands, the ‘Consideration of Constitutional Issues’ negotiated by Pita Sharples and John Key is nothing short of a Māori Party think tank.
Remember George Orwell’s Animal Farm? “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”http://nzfirst.org.nz/article/beware-co ... der-column