The Maori Party wanted a review of the constitution and the Nats agreed to the talk shop knowing it's just another committee they can ignore. To the Maori Party the discussion and any legislation that may arise because of it will advance the concept of the Treaty as paramount law, but to the Nats it will be more a modernisation exercise and a side-show to keep the Maori Party (should it survive the election) entertained. The Constitutional Advisory Panel has been named:
* Emeritus Professor John Burrows (co-chair)
* Sir Tipene O’Regan (co-chair)
* Peter Chin
* Deborah Coddington
* Hon Dr Michael Cullen
* Hon John Luxton
* Bernice Mene
* Dr Leonie Pihama
* Hinurewa Poutu
* Professor Linda Smith
* Peter Tennent
* Emeritus Professor Ranginui Walker
Firstly, I'm glad inside operators like Mai Chen and Geoffrey Palmer aren't there, secondly a bit sad that a political zero like Coddington got on and amazed that the Attorney-General (who was not a lawyer) and who was responsible for the foreshore and seabed confiscation has a place, Michael Cullen. Is his appointment a slap in the face to the Maori Party or what?
The size of parliament is on the list of topics - as is Maori representation - and these two issues will become the main focus after the election as the referendum on MMP is decided and changes will definitely be made to MMP if it survives.
But look what's missing from the topics:
* The size of Parliament.
* The length of terms of Parliament and whether or not the term should be fixed.
* The size and number of electorates, including the method for calculating size.
* Electoral integrity legislation.
* Cown-Māori relationship matters:
* Māori representation including the Māori Electoral Option, Māori electoral participation and Māori seats in Parliament and local government.
* The role of the Treaty of Waitangi within New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.
* Other constitutional matters:
* Whether New Zealand should have a written constitution.
* Bill of Rights issues.
Where is the word "republic"? That's the one thing off the agenda and the elephant in the room as far as the Treaty is concerned. In some ways it is a question that should be dealt with lastly, after everything else is sorted, but it is at the top of everyone's mind when the word constitution is mentioned.