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New Oaths step in the right direction
MEDIA RELEASE: 10 May 2005
The Republican Movement of Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the Government's new Oaths Modernisation Bill as a good start towards a republic.
"The new oaths cover values and beliefs that matter to New Zealanders, such as the rule of law, the democratic values of New Zealand and the rights and freedoms of our people. We urged the Government to make those changes in our submission and we are happy that they have followed that direction, said Republican Movement president Dave Guerin.
The Republican Movement's main comments in our submission to the review were:
- we should swear to important ideas (ie rule of law, democracy), responsibilities or our country, not a person;
- the oaths are archaic and our practices are well behind those of other countries, as noted in the review; and
- this is not a constitutional issue, but a pragmatic one of ensuring that oaths have some meaning for those who take them.
The best thing about the new oaths is that they can easily be changed when we become a republic. The old oaths only covered allegiance to the Queen. Now that we have included the key beliefs and values that matter, all we will need to do is drop the reference to the Queen and move on.
"We are not giving up on the inclusion of the Queen, though. Australia has a fine oath of allegiance that includes no reference to the Queen whatsoever. Two Australian states are currently considering removing the Queen from their MPs' oaths. Just because we have a head of state does not mean that we need to swear allegiance to her. Our view is in line with Phil Goff's views, expressed just last year, that "whatever the constitutional theory, in practice the government's authority is derived from the people."