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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Knights tell Shogun: Emperor must keep tax exempt salary

The Law Commission's report on the Civil List has become something of a Trojan horse victory for the Republicans. Under the guise of revamping the tax-free status and remuneration of the Governor-General the commission headed by former reformist PM Sir Geoffrey Palmer is recommending the Head of State's representative have their own legislation. Sounds like a complimentary piece of legislation parallel to what Green MP Keith Locke had drawn from the private member's ballot in October: the Head of State Referenda Bill.

From the Commission's report:At the moment the G-G must have permission from the PM to do just about anything - including going overseas. The last PM was so controlling she ordered the G-G not to attend at Waitangi on Waitangi Day despite his pleading; so it's not as if they have any freedom domestically either. At the moment the G-G is inside the tight aegis of the PM by way of the legislative gimp jacket of the Constitution Act 1986 and the practical restriction of the office being run from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Any move to give additional statutory recognition to the G-G is a foreshadowing of the inevitable debate we will have when a republican system is put up in a referendum. Not that what Palmer is doing is particularly revolutionary on the face of it however:

The operational budget for the residences, and staff costs, should continue to be funded through vote Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The relationship between the PM and the G-G is not being changed from what I've read, but the separate legislation mooted makes it a convenient conduit to advance a republican agenda which can be done by way of amendment later on and be set up through compromises in the bill at committee stage this time round.

To some though any such interim law amending a colonial office will be seen as pointless as re-arranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic as far as Aotearoa constitutional history goes.


At 21/12/09 11:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of the three forces which can dispute the position of science, religion alone is a really serious enemy. Art is almost always harmless and beneficent, it does not seek to be anything else but an illusion. Save in the case of a few people who are, one might say, obsessed by art, it never dares to make any attacks on the realm of reality. Philosophy is not opposed to science, it behaves itself as if it were a science, and to a certain extent it makes use of the same methods; but it parts company with science, in that it clings to the illusion that it can produce a complete and coherent picture of the universe, though in fact that picture must needs fall to pieces with every new advance in our knowledge. Its methodological error lies in the fact that it over-estimates the epistemological value of our logical operations, and to a certain extent admits the validity of other sources of knowledge, such as intuition. And often enough one feels that the poet Heine is not unjustified when he says of the philosopher:

‘With his night-cap and his night-shirt tatters,
He botches up the loop-holes in the structure of the world.’

But philosophy has no immediate influence on the great majority of mankind; it interests only a small number even of the thin upper stratum of intellectuals, while all the rest find it beyond them. In 'contra-distinction' to philosophy, religion is a tremendous force, which exerts its power over the strongest emotions of human beings. As we know, at one time it included everything that played any part in the mental life of mankind, that it took the place of science, when as yet science hardly existed, and that it built up a Weltanschauung of incomparable consistency and coherence which, although it has been severely shaken, has lasted to this day.


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