Time for debate in NZ on discriminatory royal succession rules


current dilemma over the discriminatory nature

of royal succession will hopefully stimulate a similar debate in New Zealand. The timing is good, now that my

Head of State Referenda Bill

– to see whether Kiwis want to stay with the monarchy – has been picked from the Private Member’s Bill Ballot.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has

recently pointed out how anachronistic

and outdated the current laws of succession are. He wants to change rules that give the first-born son of the monarch preference over an older daughter, and prevent Catholics from marrying into the Royal Family. Mind you Catholics are still to be banned from the Throne itself. Gordon Brown doesn’t want to offend the Anglican Church, which since the 17th century has been headed by the reigning Monarch.

For many New Zealanders it won’t sit comfortably that we are still caught up in a system that discriminates on the basis of religion and gender! It’s hardly in tune with our human rights legislation.

Our Prime Minister

has been quizzed on the matter

at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in Trinidad and Tobago.

John Key said New Zealand would follow any change in Britain with legislation to remove discrimination against women and Catholics. Gordon Brown had been expected to

bring the matter up officially at CHOGM

because he needs a buy-in for the law change from the 15 other nations who have Queen Elizabeth as their head of state.

Each of these countries needs to change their succession laws in exactly the same way. If even one country stayed with the present rules it could end up with a different Royal as head of state – if for example, Prince Andrew if Prince William disqualified himself by marrying a Catholic.

All this highlights the relevance of my

Head of State Referenda Bill

, which would enable Kiwis to vote on whether we still want our head of state living on the other side of the world, or whether we want that person to be based in New Zealand.  My bill, as pulled from the ballot, proposes a two-stage referenda process between the present system and two republican alternatives, one being a directly elected president and the other being selected by 75% of Parliament.

For more on info my Bill check out this website: