Who would’ve thunk that swearing an oath to uphold the central document in our constitution would be “controversial” and “another bid by the Maori party to take New Zealand down the road of racial separatism”. In line with their populist and racist roots National, Act, United Future and NZ First voted down Te Ururoa Flavell’s bill that would allow MPs to swear an oath to uphold the Treaty of Waitangi. The current oath reads:
“I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 11, her heirs and successors, according to law, so help me God.”
Yuck. It’s easy to imagine this oath in pre-Magna Carta England, but New Zealand in 2012?
One of the basic tenents of the rule of law is that governments and citizens are held to the agreements they freely negotiate. The Treaty of Waitangi is not an exception, operative words being not an exception – it’s the central tenant of our constitution after all. With that in mind, shouldn’t we expect MPs to swear an oath to uphold it? Federal representatives in the US swear an oath to uphold their constitution, the nearest equivalent in NZ would be to swear an oath to uphold the Treaty.
In reality, there is no argument against voting the bill down. All Winston Peters could muster were empty platitudes about separatism. Weak. The National Party hasn't, as far as I'm aware, offered a justification. Weaker. What the rednecks forget is that the Treaty doesn't just confer rights on Maori and obligations on the Crown, the Treaty gives the Crown the right to govern.Wouldn't MPs want to swear to uphold the document that they source their legitimacy from?
NB: normal blogging will resume from about the 19th of November (after my exams).