Editorial: Keep the oath but start the debate


Discussion on NZ's path to republic needed first

Labour MP David Shearer with Phil Goff. Photo / Janna Dixon
Labour MP David Shearer with Phil Goff. Photo / Janna Dixon

The 50th New Zealand Parliament began this week with some misplaced hankering by a number of MPs for a new parliamentary oath. Rather than swear allegiance to the Queen as this country's head of state, they would prefer to pledge to do their best for New Zealand.

The push, led by the Green Party, which wants this considered by a cross-party forum, was quickly endorsed by the new Labour leader, David Shearer.

He based his position on his belief, and that of the Prime Minister, that this country will eventually become a republic.

"If we are inevitably going to go there, what's wrong with taking a look at the oath to start with?" asked Mr Shearer.

What's wrong is that an oath recognises lawful authority. If change is desired, it must start with the law.

New Zealand is a constitutional monarchy.

As long as it remains so, it is logical for parliamentarians to swear allegiance to the Queen. Unless and until the country becomes a republic, anything else would be both odd and inappropriate.

It would, therefore, be more sensible for Mr Shearer to put himself at the forefront of a debate that would lead to constitutional change, most logically at the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign.

In the meantime, there is no compelling reason the issue should be left to lie.

If this country wants a singular and unambiguous identity, a national discussion on the path to, and form of, a republic is the logical and sensible starting point.

- NZ Herald

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