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Swearing to the Queen: the Oaths debate
Thousands of New Zealanders are required every year to swear allegiance to the Queen, instead of New Zealand. While not strictly a republican issue, the oaths and affirmations debate is part of the New Zealand republic debate, because it's a question of symbolism.
As part of our campaign for a New Zealand republic, the Republican Movement wants oaths and affirmations currently made to the Queen to be change changed so allegiance is sworn to New Zealand. Most of us never have to swear allegiance to the Queen and can miss one of the biggest intrusions on our democracy, but every new citizen, police officer, judge, member of parliament or member of the military must swear an oath (religious) or an affirmation (non-religious) to the Queen, as Sovereign.
We believe that people should commit to ideas, such as the rule of law, democracy or the biggest of ideas, "New Zealand". We believe New Zealanders should swear allegiance to their country, and not an individual. Swearing allegiance to the Queen is unnecessary and meaningless. It reflects the constitutional reality that political power in a monarchy comes from a Sovereign, and not the people - when the political reality in New Zealand today is that power comes from citizens. Our oaths should reflect this reality, and our values. Australia has managed to move past swearing allegiance to the Queen and so can we, as outlined below in our opinion piece.
Oaths (Modernisation) Bill
The former Labour Government's public review of oaths and affirmations in 2004 led to the Oaths (Modernisation) Bill. While the Bill did not in its final form remove references to the Queen from our oaths and affirmations, it did amend the current oaths and affirmations by adding "loyalty to New Zealand, its laws and democracy". This amendment would have made the oaths easier to amend in the future, to remove references to the Queen. The Bill passed its first reading and has been reported back to Parliament from Select Committee stage. However, the bill languished at the bottom of parliament's order paper waiting to be enacted for four years, before being discharged (discontinued) on the 1 June 2010.
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We want your feedback - if you've sworn to the Queen recently, or are about to, please contact us.
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- Write a letter to your MP on the issue of oaths