Constitutional reform: It’s about time, but you’re doing it wrong

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Photograph by Jason Morrison

Finally, it looks like we’re going to get some sort of Constitutional reform, and it’s about time. We have a Constitutional Advisory Panel, which was set up to create public debate on the issue, but so far it has, as far as I can see, been absolutely useless. However, now, they’re talking about how to get public involvement. Well, sort of.

Unless the article I linked to there is wrong (wouldn’t be surprised), what they’re looking at is:

Early conversations with iwi, Maori leaders and other people at events, and online through blogs and social networking sites were planned.

As usual, the emphasis is on about 14% of the population. Yes, the Maori were here before any of the others here now, but if this process is to be about moving New Zealand forward, it needs to be something for all New Zealanders, whether you’re Maori, NZ European, Asian, or anyone else for that matter. I know I’m going to be branded a racist by 90% of the people who read this, but I don’t understand that. Surely it’s racist against 86% of the population to say that the most important opinion is that of 14% of the country?

Sure, they’re talking about online content which will capture the opinions of all New Zealanders, but firstly, I don’t see the majority of New Zealanders posting on a Facebook page about the Constitution. In fact, let’s be honest, that’s not how Facebook works. People interact by commenting “Yes” or “No” or by liking. Some people will post lengthy essays that no one will read, but the majority won’t. I don’t see how trying to integrate this with social networking with work. As for blogs, what the hell does that mean? Are they going to trawl the internet for blogs by New Zealanders and see if there’s anything on the constitution? Are they going to set up a blog themselves and hope people comment? Once again, it’s either canvasing too small an area or not going to work.

This whole process has been a shambles. Most New Zealanders will still say “New Zealand doesn’t have a constitution!” Before we can ask people what should be in a Constitution, surely we need to make sure they know what’s already there, so they can decide what’s working and what’s not.

I do intend on making a post on my thoughts on the Constitution in the near future, but I will leave that out of here. This post is just to point out the incompetence of Professor John Burrows and Sir Tipene O’Regan who chair the panel.

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About Daniel Farrell

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Posted on June 17, 2012, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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