The Queen when newly-elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair is accused by his wife Cherie of going all wea' />

There's a delicious moment in the movie The Queen when newly-elected British Prime Minister Tony Blair is accused by his wife Cherie of going all weak at the knees about the monarch after just a couple of meetings.

Twisting the knife, she suggests the man who'd promised to modernise Britain was, where the Queen was concerned, suffering from a mother complex.

He's not the only one. Most New Zealand politicians seem to be similarly afflicted.

In a way it's understandable. Years of imprinting have taken their toll. I'm of an age where you were hissed at if you didn't stand for "God Save ..." at the beginning of a film show, or dared talked through the grainy pictures of the Queen's coronation that accompanied the scratchy anthem.

She ascended the throne as mother of the empire and she's the only head of state anyone under 60 has known.

So it's not surprising that many Kiwis feel uneasy about talk of retiring her and her family, and replacing them with a home grown model.

Not wanting to upset Mother Queen is one thing, but to see the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and the All Black captain go all giggly over the weekend in the presence of a 27-year-old trainee helicopter pilot because he happens to be the first-born male child of the Queen's first-born male child, was rather demeaning for all involved - including those of us watching the 6pm news.

Late last year Prime Minister John Key conceded New Zealand would become a republic but, like all his immediate predecessors, he refused to take a lead.

However, he did give support to British moves to abolish discriminatory royal succession laws that allow a first-born female to ascend the throne only if she has no male siblings, and ban Catholics from marrying into the royal family.

In so doing, he missed the reality that even with these tinkerings, a much greater discrimination remains - the law that excludes anyone except the heir to one British farming family from becoming New Zealand's head of state.

If Catholics are now going to get a look in, and females, isn't it past time to follow the spirit of New Zealand human rights legislation and also give every New Zealander, regardless of their sex, parentage, sequence of birth, religion or class, a chance?

From all accounts William Wales, as he's known to his British Air Force colleagues, is a personable young chap.

But what a weird lottery it is that awards him the prize of flying first class across the world to kick a football with some All Blacks, sail with Team New Zealand and open the new Supreme Court building in Wellington.

Even the Monarchist League of New Zealand had difficulty manufacturing a positive spin. All they could come up with was the mercenary headline on their press release claiming "Prince's Tour is Value For Money".

It was a response to the Republicans' claim that the trip was costing local taxpayers $200,000.

Professor Noel Cox, chairman of Monarchy New Zealand, said the trip had attracted free publicity "worth hundreds of thousands of dollars" in the Australian and British press and had the potential to bring in "millions in increased tourism revenue".

Dr Cox's expertise is in theology and constitutional law, not marketing, but even if his sums are right, it's hardly a justification for maintaining the Windsors' exclusive hold on the head of state contract.

If the main qualification for this job is the ability to attract tourists, then how about a proper celebrity? Tiger Woods has a certain curiosity factor - and is likely to be in our price range. Or what about a popular film star from a blossoming tourist source such as China?

Still, what other argument could the professor of constitutional nostalgia parade before us? The man Dr Cox would have rule over us after the Queen dies, is William's eccentric dad, Charles. The same chap who, courtesy of a phone tap, we've all heard discussing with his long time mistress - now wife - the possibility of being reincarnated as her tampon.

Luckily, the Head of State Referenda Bill is waiting to save us from inheriting a wannabe tampon as king.

Last October, Green MP Keith Locke's republic referendum bill won a parliamentary ballot of members bills. Next month MPs have to decide whether to refer it to a select committee for consideration, or throw it out.

To reject it undiscussed would be a cop-out. Leaders of both main parties have said becoming a republic is inevitable. Now they have a chance to lead a national debate on the issue.

Mr Locke envisages a local head of state with the minimalist powers of the present Governor-General. This would follow the model used in republics such as Germany, Ireland and India. Our president would not be involved in the day-to-day politics but be a non-partisan, ceremonial head of state.

The bill proposes a referendum offering the choice of the status quo, a parliamentary election for the president requiring 75 per cent support for the candidate, or direct election by popular vote. If any option gets 50 per cent or more, it wins. Otherwise, the top two polling options face a run-off poll.

To assuage the guilt of those with the mother complex, a suitable compromise might be to delay the change-over until the present Queen dies. But compromise or not, the reign of the Windsors over New Zealand has reached its natural end. The sooner we move on, the better.