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Ditch the Queen
Entry 1397, on 2012-06-05 at 12:20:54 (Rating 4, Politics)
The basis for the New Zealand political system has been a subject of debate for years now. Specifically the issue is whether we should retain the Queen as our official head of state or whether we should complete the separation from Britain and become a republic.
Effectively the Queen does nothing in the current system and many people seem to think that is actually a good thing. They worry that if we have a president instead then that office will just be another source of political incompetence and corruption. That is a valid point but I think it represents a rather negative and cynical view, and as we know I prefer not to be like that!
The question has come to prominence again as a result of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It was interesting to look at the results of a polls the Herald recently ran showing that only 10% really cared about the Jubilee (specifically the results were: Question: What do you think about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee? Answers: I'm a royal fan so will be going all out with massive celebrations got 10%, I will watch a few highlights on the television scored 43%, and I couldn't care less about the whole thing scored 47%)
Another relevant poll judged the response to Prince Philip (the Queen's husband) being mentioned in the New Zealand honours list. In that case 30% seemed to approve and 42% didn't care at all about the whole thing.
So it seems that there is no real interest in royalty here yet the idea of becoming a republic is still not as well supported as these numbers might suggest. Why not? I guess the political system here works OK the way it is so people are cautious of change. And fair enough too.
Also the Queen is fairly highly regarded. Sure she does nothing, but she does it so well! If she was replaced with Prince Charles, who many people see as a bumbling and amusing buffoon, I think things would change.
And the change would be largely symbolic anyway. But I personally find the fact that the Queen is our official head of state to be both rather embarrassing and offensive. If New Zealand was really part of the British Commonwealth why were our trade ties cut in the 70s when Britain became part of the European Community? It seems it was OK for the relationship to end there.
To me the whole idea of royalty is anachronistic. Having a person become a powerful leader just because she is part of a particular family is ridiculous now. Strangely enough conservative politicians, who often like to emphasise advancement based on merit, also seem to support this system where merit is completely ignored. The Key government made sure a referendum on the subject was blocked in 2010: so much for democracy!
I'm sure that New Zealand will eventually become a republic and at that time we will hopefully get a new flag as well. Our current flag is rather inappropriate and too much like Australia's (although they will probably become a republic before us).
There is one last symbolic change I would also like to see: our national anthem. It really is rather boring and I find the constant reference to a god as quite offensive, especially because New Zealand is an increasingly irreligious country.
Whether any of these changes would really make a difference is irrelevant. I agree they are all symbolic changes, but symbolism can be important.
Comment 1 (3107) by SBFL on 2012-06-08 at 11:57:26: (view recent only)
While I very much agree with OJB's sentiments his finger-pointing to conservative politicians is misguided because left-wing leaning Governments have also failed to act.
In fact it was Jim Bolger, the nation's (National) Prime Minister during the 90s who first spoke out on the issue of becoming a republic. Others have followed in comment.
One day we will realise some self-identity (beyond the All Blacks).
Comment 2 (3111) by SBFL on 2012-06-08 at 12:56:15:
OJB said "I'm sure that New Zealand will eventually become a republic and at that time we will hopefully get a new flag as well."
Yes indeed the flag is a point of embarrassment today. I cringe so much. At least our passports have been updated to something we can be proud of...black with the silver fern, something we can relate to, something that differentiates us...so happy to show it you can't believe...
Comment 3 (3114) by OJB on 2012-06-08 at 13:29:13:
Yes, it was a bit unfair to pick on a particular political persuasion that way. I was more thinking about the current administration versus the previous one (which also didn't act but at least didn't throw the idea out without any thought) but I had forgotten about Bolger.
There are some nice proposed flag designs in black, blues and greens featuring a fern and/or Southern Cross. Even the worst alternative is better than what we have now!
My favourite is probably this one.
Comment 4 (3118) by SBFL on 2012-06-08 at 13:42:46:
Yes there were some exciting designs proposed in that 2005 campaign though I don't share your favourite. Too mechanical sorry. Zzzzz.....
Comment 5 (3119) by OJB on 2012-06-08 at 13:45:35:
Yeah maybe, do you have anything better? I don't think a flag should be too extravagant! In order to be taken seriously it should follow a few more conservative (am I really saying this? :) design guidelines.
Comment 6 (3122) by SBFL on 2012-06-08 at 14:00:05:
Heh, it's okay to suggest that, flags should be that way to be taken seriously for the long term.
I really like this one but where black replaces the blue.
Comment 7 (3125) by OJB on 2012-06-08 at 14:16:30:
Yes, I quite like that too. I could live with that one. Our two preferred designs are very similar: fern, Southern Cross, black. Its just you prefer red to my green, and the exact style of the design differs. At least we know roughly what we want.
Comment 8 (3127) by SBFL on 2012-06-08 at 14:23:32:
Indeed. And FYI, I was out collecting signatures for a change in Auckland in 2005, so I was an "activist" as well. It didn't work out for Lloyd Morrison (a capitalist) at that time, but we believed in something then. And I hold on to that today. Just waiting....
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