NZ has a new (quasi) Head of State today. Not that anyone outside of the forecourt of parliament buildings would know it - or care. A new Governor-General is not a big deal. Most people will not know who they are by name - even after five years.
They are the Queen's representative - and the Prime Minister's bitch. They sign whatever gets put in front of them. No matter what. Despite petitions pouring in to stop the Foreshore and Seabed Bill the Governor-General of the day - at her holiday home - signed it off without even reading it. It's a farce. Even if they wanted to reject something they know the response would almost certainly be that the PM would fire them and replace them with someone who would - Nixon style. It's a very wobbly apex to our otherwise democratic pyramid.
At his swearing-in ceremony on Parliament's forecourt this morning, W[where's the 'h' you illiterate racist wankers!?]anganui-born former Defence Force chief Sir Jerry paid tribute to his predecessors and also to the spirit New Zealanders had shown in difficult recent times.
Sir Jerry said his appointment as governor-general was "an extraordinary honour'' that was still sinking in.
Appointment being the key word. They don't get elected by the voters, like they do in Ireland, the US etc., they are appointed. And they are not appointed by the parliament or a constitutional convention like they are in Germany etc., they are appointed by the Cabinet.
There are no safeguards or accountability in this system apart from the minimal courtesy of announcing the appointee some months ahead of swearing in so as to allow any problems to be brought to light in that period. The problem in this case is that Sir Jerry was acting as the chief spy-master throughout and is a product of the military. He assures us he is politically neutral, but obviously he cannot be system neutral in the way that an outsider to government institutions could claim to be. They are chosen for their obedience and adherence to the regime and Sir Jerry is a conservative choice by a conservative government.
The G-G role will be up for debate in a formal setting now the constitutional panel has been convened and we can expect little support for continuing the current system when they tackle this issue. Australia voted down a republic primarily on the grounds that voters at large would not determine the Head of State (the proposal was that parliament would choose), but I'm not sure NZers would be as insistent if the same option was put to at a referendum.