The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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This House agrees that New Zealand should become a repucblic

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/1/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,517 times Debate No: 15754
Debate Rounds (2)
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Votes (1)




"Is New Zealand to continue to have an appointed Governor-General... or should we move to an elected president? This will not happen because of any lack of affection or love for our Queen in London, but because the tide of history is moving in one direction." - former Prime Minster Jim Bolger.
Our current head of state is not a New Zealander and does not represent New Zealand. When the Queen travels overseas, she does so in order to represent Great Britain.
The Queen works to strengthen British economic and political ties, and does whatever the British Government asks of her. In fact, whenever "our" head of state visits New Zealand, the Queen has to ask for permission from the British Government to leave Britain.
If the Queen wanted to be a citizen of New Zealand, she would not meet the legal requirements to become a citizen. The Citizenship Act 1977 requires an applicant for New Zealand citizenship to have been resident in New Zealand for five years before citizenship is granted. The Queen has spent a total of no more than six months in New Zealand.
The Governor-General is not a proper head of state. While the Governor-General may increasingly act in ways that befit a head of state, the reality is that New Zealand is still not regarded as being fully independent of Great Britain. Appointing the Queen's representative in New Zealand is inadequate. A New Zealand head of state will make it clear that New Zealand is an independent country. It will signal New Zealand's independence and maturity to the world.
"The case for an independent republic of New Zealand is summed up in one word — nationhood. It is a statement to the world and ourselves that New Zealand is a mature nation, that we possess a constitutional framework that best suits New Zealanders." — Michael Laws, Mayor of Wanganui.
New Zealand is a unique, dynamic and diverse country. New Zealand's constitutional arrangements, national symbols and head of state should reflect this.
A republic affirms New Zealand's sense of nationhood
"We exhibit symptoms of retarded nationhood: a widespread insecurity about what others think, a search for applause and endorsement by visitors; and, conversely, a begrudging willingness to extend applause here at home." — Simon Upton former minister and National MP.
A republic will ensure we have a head of state that is democratically elected and accountable to voters. As a result the head of state will be a more effective constitutional safeguard. This will decrease the risk of political instability.
Replacing the Governor-General
At present, the Prime Minister chooses the Governor-General and advises the Monarch of their choice. They usually choose someone who will not challenge them, and someone who has something to do with their own party.
In the past, this has meant a number of openly political appointments. National Prime Minister Jack Marshall gave his friend Sir Denis Blundell the job in 1972. In 1977, Robert Muldoon appointed former Prime Minister Sir Keith Holyoake to the job.
While, individually there have been good appointments made, there have also been a number of openly political appointments. Many of those, particularly the appointment of Sir Keith Holyoake, were very controversial. Creating a transparent democratic process will ensure that the replacement of the Governor-General will not be as controversial.
A republic means an effective constitutional safeguard
A republic will create a head of state in New Zealand that could act in times of constitutional crises. The Monarch and the Governor-General do not have the political power to do this. The Governor-General is unable to resolve constitutional crises because the Prime Minister holds the power to dismiss and replace the Governor-General at any time. The Monarch will never get involved in New Zealand politics, because they are "non-political". Having a head of state able to act effectively in times of crises will be a better restraint on the power of the executive — the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The Monarch is an absentee and ineffectual head of state. The position is unaccountable to New Zealanders. In a republic, the head of state will be chosen by New Zealanders. They will work on behalf of all New
 Zealanders regardless of their political beliefs.


First, I'd like to welcome my opponent to this debate. It's good to see more New Zealanders on DDO.

What I've heard from the affirmative team is really a very elaborate and intellectual elaboration on only two arguments. The first is that the queen does nothing for New Zealand. The second is that republics are constitutionally safer. My opponent also makes a third argument, about the value of certain appointments to the post of governor-general. I refuse to deal with this in detail, because the argument is a logical fallacy. This debate is on the value of a monarchical governmental structure. Even if I was to accept some appointments to the post of governor-general have been bad, that would not break my case or buffer yours. It is therefore a red herring ... irrelevant to the debate. Aside from this, my opponent commits one further non-argumental logical fallacy that I will largely ignore. This is several emotional appeals, for instance, that the queen would not gain citizenship here, or that the queen does not represent "us". Again, this has no bearing on the topic, besides which, it is not an argument at all. Regardless of who the queen is, she is still the queen. What we are debating is whether we should have a queen or not, not whether this particular queen or governor-general is a good one.

So allow me to present two short rebuttals against each of my opponent's real contentions. First, does the queen do anything for New Zealand? My opponent's claims are that she doesn't "represent" New Zealand, as evidence citing the fact that she needs the British government's permission to fly, and the fact that she doesn't represent our uniqueness, dynamics and diversity. Let me deal with them in reverse order. You cannot have a person who is diverse and unique. The two contradict one another. You cannot have a person who is unique and dynamic. They are also mutually exclusive. Even if it were possible, a single person who represents diversity is pretty hard to come by. What exactly qualifies a "diverse" person? How is any given person not unique? How can dynamics be measured or quantified? Even if we were to become a republic, I think it is dangerous to impose a "test" on potential elected candidates for governor-general-replacements to check their personal qualities according to subjective values such as these. Therefore I don't mind if she doesn't represent our uniqueness or diversity, because we don't really understand what those words mean. They are just buzzwords we use to give ourselves a sense of national pride. Second, while it is true the queen requires the British parliament's permission to fly, that is because she is using the British parliament's money. Under the Bill of Rights Act 1688, which is in force here as well (see Fitzgerald v Muldoon) she CAN instead ask New Zealand's parliament for the money, but she graciously snubs the Brits instead. That's doing something for New Zealand.

Allow me to make a counter-claim. I submit that by virtue of the fact she is a monarch who has dedicated her whole life to giving impartial advice to rulers of dozens of countries. The countries she has advised have been stable, successful democracies. Just look at the ongoing middle eastern conflicts and Libya and Yemen, as well as the prior conflicts in such places as Egypt and Bahrain, to see what I mean when I say the alternative of a republic is not necessarily better. Indeed, monarchies have a proven track record of being more inclusive, gender-balanced, multi-cultural and open than republics. My opponent extols the virtues of an apolitical elected head of state based on popularity, wealth and political pandering that is so common in republics. Well, I stand for an apolitical head of state based on a fair, neutral, certain criteria. The queen ticks all those boxes. Transitioning to a republic will only give us less-experienced, constantly changing and even more politically charged nitwits. And incidentally, they'd be taking a salary out of your pocket. All in all, monarchy costs us about a quarter of a cent per day. As such, we are pretty close to having the world's cheapest political system. Thus I conclude that having the queen as our monarch does best suit New Zealanders.

Cool. Now let me deal with your second contention. You claim that the head of state could help in times of constitutional crisis, and that the queen is unaccountable to New Zealanders. First, the governor general does have the power to resolve constitutional crises. Look at what happened at the end of Muldoon's tenure. Better still, look to Australia. In 1975 the Governor General dissolved parliament and dismissed the prime minister. Under the Statute of Westminster, and reaffirmed in the Constitution Act 1986, our governor-general has the same powers. So your argument is based on a factual inaccuracy. Secondly, I contend that the queen, acting through her agent the governor-general, is just as accountable to us as any judge or member of parliament. They are very difficult to remove from their roles. The exception is at elections, when a new parliament is voted in. New parliaments have the option to appoint new judges or change the governor-general. So while the queen may not be accountable to you personally, when you get to vote she is accountable to your representative. If you have a problem with the governor-general, there are constitutional steps your MP can take. I further answer your claim by submitting that accountability is not the be-all and end-all of government. Chief justice Elias answers to nobody, yet she is near-universally loved. Why don't you propose removing her? Because she's a good governor. Good government can indeed arise from non-accountable positions ... and as over 150 years of experience tells us, it does!

But again, I want to make a counter claim. Democracies protected by monarchy are constitutionally safer. I have already shown that they are internally safer. I also claim that in a republic, what protects the constitution is a document entitled "the constitution." In a monarchy, what protects the constitution is an old woman wearing a silly hat and long robe on a big chair, and a whole bunch of her cronies. Documents are a lot easier to ignore than scary old ladies wearing silly hats. Face it - you and I break the law every day. Today, for instance, I crossed a street at an unmarked point. That's an offense. Does anyone care? No. That's just a stupid rule. But what if the street in question was a motorway off-ramp? I'd be putting other people (and myself!) at risk. Do people care? Yes. Suddenly it becomes more than a stupid rule. Rules are only important so long as there is a higher-up individual who cares about the rule and has the power to enforce it. This is the case in a monarchy but not in a republic.

So what I do believe? Status quo. Show me a problem, even a potential problem, to fix, and I'll be glad to fix it. You have provided no adequate problem, your solution is vague. I have advanced two counter-claims against your substantial arguments, which fail for the reasons I have described. The motion falls. I look forward to your closing statement.
Debate Round No. 1


As I stated in my my last argument I stated "the prime minister holds the power at any time to dismiss the governor-general at any time" in your example for 1975 that the prime minister was dismissed by the governor-general it was only because the prime minister hadn't picked someone of close relation to themselves. Since have been many occasion when the prime minister has picked someone of close relation meaning the prime minister has a foot to stand on in times of constitutional crisis. A few quotes from previous Pm's have stated there liking to republic so would the people who have had an overpowering rule want a government with such different standards and not the freedom of choosing the governor-general. And such cases of constitutional crisis have occurred in New Zealand such in 1984 with the currency devaluation situation when the prime minister refused to devalue the dollar causing the reserve bank having to close the currency markets down temporarily until an election appointed a new prime minister who was able to solve the problem all of which could have been dodged if we had a head of state who can solve the problem as soon as possible. I would also like to add to my previous argument that the principal of changing to a republic is not just about the power of the political leaders it is about the New Zealand becoming a mature, respectable country giving it the adjective nationhood which all countries want to have but can't with the leash of the monarchy. So it really isn't a question of if New Zealand becoming a republic it's a question of when. So if such outcome ere to occur that would mean that the structural integrity of the monarchy is at stake here because of the inevitability of the fall down. With your mentioning of the African countries with political issues they are republics but not the type we will become being that in Libya the leader is GENERAL Gaddafi key word being general if you didn't notice. The word general is almost an antonym to the word president as the don't associate each other unless major times call for it. Look at the most recognised country in the world, the U.S.A. the country was once part of the monarchy they now have separated and are probably the best off country in the world. When was the last time the U.S.A. had constitutional crisis. Just going back on the comment about diverse and unique. Diverse being a great deal of variety and unique being different from the rest of the world. I don't quite get how in that context the cancel each other out. Rebuttal for 1975 crisis in Aussie the reason the prime minister was dismissed was because the governor-general beet him to the punch, because the prime minister didn't believe that the governor-general would dismiss him he was to late when he did.

P.S - thankyou for the welcome and sorry for the short rebuttal it was not as long as yours.


I'd like to thank my opponent for making his closing rebuttals. As he didn't have a lot to say, I don't have a lot to say in response.

This debate can be put down to three main issues:

1. Are we in a constitutional crisis?
I maintain that the governor-general is as explicit a safeguard as you could want, within the bounds of parliamentary sovereignty. What you had to show, to win this debate, is that the governor general is not effective. I pointed to two examples of a governor-general being effective. For the first (1975), you claim it could have gone differently. This is true, but it does not mean that the system is ineffective. For the second (1984) you claim a president is needed to resolve crises like that. First, the Constitution Act 1986 already contains such safeguards. Second, you will note that the governor-general did resolve that crisis, although Muldoon, being the walking constitutional disaster that he was, unfortunately took hours to convince. My opponent continues to attack the choice of governors-general, yet as I remarked last round, this has nothing to do with the system.

2. Does the Queen represent us?
My opponent tries to show that for reasons of national maturity and political power, having a queen who is not very "kiwi" (and thus not unique?) and being a "great deal of variety" (how the hell does one be a great deal of variety?) - yet fails to respond to my analysis that imposing a test on a potential overseer of government should be based on experience, not ethnicity or even living arrangements. Again - what makes a New Zealander? The answer is subjective, meaning we can't all agree. What good is a criterion if we cannot agree on it? He says monarchy is a leash holding our nationhood back somehow. His causal link is the US example. While it is wrong to say the US never has a constitutional crisis (in fact, their constitution is debated almost every week because it is so ambiguous and contradictory), it is also true that the US model is very far from perfect, because it allows special interests to dominate the system. There is no safeguard. In New Zealand we do have a safeguard - the governor-general. He also rebutted my African counter-examples, but acknowledged they are all republics. Republics are by nature volatile, and that is what my opponent fails to understand. There was no response to my excellent analysis that a queen is harder to ignore than a document. I mean, who doesn't watch her say a cheery "Merry Christmas" every year?

3. Does the Queen have anything to offer us?
There has been a distinct lack of engagement on this very important point. While my opponent has failed to show any tangible benefits of a republic, other than resolving potential constitutional crises (which I have already dealt with at length). I submitted that the Queen is an inexpensive, impartial and wise old lady, with decades of experience in international politics. My opponent ignores all of this analysis, and overlooks all of the benefits of the status quo. I think he is taking our present government for granted and not appreciating what it is he actually wants to do away with.

In conclusion, for all of these reasons I have won this debate. Again I would like to thank my opponent, and urge voters to vote CON. Be a hero. Save our constitution. Save the queen. [starts patriotically singing both national anthems]
Debate Round No. 2
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by RougeFox 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro didn't show any very good benefits of a republic over a monarchy. Spelling and grammar goes con because pro had a few mistakes and was disorganized.