Except, it isn’t her birthday.
(She was actually born April 21 ,1926)
The Queen can take someone to Court
Except she doesn’t.
While a court document may read “The Queen Vs So-and-so” it really means “The People Vs the Defendant”.
The Queen is our Head Of State.
Except she can’t tell us what to do.
The Queen gets to hand out Honours – Knighthood and Damehoods and such.
Except she doesn’t get to decide who will get honoured and who will not,
So what’s the point of continuing with the monarchy ?
Except it’s far too complicated to answer in a Facebook post.
There are very good reasons why it might be time to consider becoming a republic.
There are also very good reasons for having a powerless Head Of State. You only have to look at what can happen when you have a President Trump or Putin where the Head of State has political power.
You might think a written Constitution is a good idea, but when you look at the problems Americans have changing their gun laws because of a line penned in 1787, you might also think that’s a good reason to stick with a legal system where an elected parliament is the highest authority and not a piece of paper.
Like many New Zealanders I probably only began thinking about the value or otherwise of the monarchy when John Key ( yes I’m one of those egalitarian New Zealanders who thinks we should call no man ‘Sir’) campaigned to change our flag.
I voted against the change – not because I have any great affinity for the Union Jack (quite the opposite in fact ) but because I thought the reasons for changing it were wrong. Key’s language was all about “branding” . It was the language of neoliberal commercialism and I really didn’t want a flag fluttering over our parliament that proclaimed “Business Rules Here!”
No. A flag ought to be about identity and to the extent that we can talk about a National identity -common shared beliefs, a sense of belonging to one group of people sharing common values gathered in one place = then clearly that’s something that coalesces over time.
Are we ready to have the New Zealand Republic debate yet?
Currently I don’t hear any great call for it.
But if and when those ‘ Let’s become a Republic” voices are next raised let’s be very careful what we might wish for in terms of a presidency and a written constitution,.
Oh.. and the next time a flag change question comes up could we please not have a national colouring competition for the best “brand design”.
If you want to remove the Union Jack from our flag I won’t shed a tear , just as long as any new flag reflects high value beliefs , such as fairness and unity , not commercial ones like “ branding” “NZ Inc” and the language of exploitation.
Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.