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Bolger told Queen monarchy's time numbered

By Maggie Tait

Former prime minister Jim Bolger has revealed today that he told the Queen while he was in office that he believed that at some point New Zealand would elect its own head of state.

The long-time advocate of republicanism said that on several occasions he had aired his views with the Queen and she had not been bothered about his comments.

Current Prime Minister Helen Clark is on record as saying New Zealand will at some point become a republic, but probably not until Australia does.

Mr Bolger told a conference in Wellington today about a speech he gave after the 1993 election in which he said New Zealand should have its own final appeal court, drop knighthoods and elect its own head of state and become a republic within the Commonwealth.

He said: "Very many across New Zealand, especially within the National Party, thought this was at best totally ill-conceived and at worst an Irish Catholic plot."

A New Zealand honours system and Supreme Court have now been established.

"And for the record I haven't spoken to either the Vatican or Dublin but I have more than once spoken with Her Majesty about my view that New Zealand would at some point elect its own Head of State," he said.

"We discussed the matter in a most sensible way and she was in no way surprised or alarmed and neither did she cut my head off."

Former Governors General Sir Paul Reeves and Dame Cath Tizard said in 2004 that the Queen should be replaced by a New Zealand head of state.

The question of whether New Zealand should become a republic was likely to raise its head in the inquiry to consider the country's constitutional status, United Future leader Peter Dunne said at the time. But there has been little debate since.

Helen Clark has said the issue largely creates "boredom" among New Zealanders.

Mr Bolger was speaking today at the Seventh Parliamentary Conference -- The Bolger Years, organised by Victoria University's Stout Research Centre and the Former Parliamentarians Association.

- NZPA, NZHERALD STAFF

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