Thursday 31 March 2016

God Save The Royal Republic!

The English Revolution: In 1649, Oliver Cromwell famously decided to "Cut off the King's head with the Crown upon it" . The English Commonwealth, which replaced the monarchy, was a parliamentary republic, constituted in a fashion remarkably similar to our own. We have yet to cut off the Queen's head, but that's only because there's no real need to. Unlike Charles I, Elizabeth II wields no power. If she, or her Vice-Regal representative, the Governor General, ever attempted to interfere in our democratic politics, however, New Zealand's decorative royal figurehead would be gone - probably by lunchtime.
IS MITCH HARRIS RIGHT? Is New Zealand, for all intents and purposes, already a republic? Are all the monarchical appurtenances of our unwritten constitution nothing more than an entertaining illusion, as the veteran broadcaster insists? Full of pomp and ceremony, certainly. But in a nation where the people, as embodied by Parliament, are indisputably sovereign, of no relevance whatsoever to the way in which New Zealanders actually govern themselves.
Harris’ heretical opinions, broadcast on Tuesday night’s (29 March 2016) Waatea – Fifth Estate, cast the outcome of the flag referendum, and the earlier, almost totally ignored deliberations of the Constitutional Review Panel, in a new and very interesting light. Stripped of its talkback host’s bravado, Harris’s thesis asserts that over the course of the last 176 years New Zealanders have, with a minimum of fuss, fashioned one of the purest and least constrained democratic regimes on Earth.
What’s more, says Harris, we’ve done it surreptitiously. The Prime Minister may proudly proclaim himself a fan of Constitutional Monarchy, but he, like most New Zealanders, would bridle at the slightest suggestion that the legislature he dominates is anything other than absolutely sovereign. The idea that an unelected judiciary might one day possess the power to strike down legislation passed by the House of Representatives would strike him as a dangerous and undemocratic extension of judicial power. New Zealand is, and must continue to be, governed by those in command of a parliamentary majority – and nobody else.
You’ve got to go back a long way in the history of the English-speaking peoples to find a constitutional set-up like New Zealand’s. All the way back to the conclusion of the English Revolution, in fact, and the establishment in 1649 of the “English Commonwealth” – the world’s first parliamentary republic. Having cut off the King’s head with, in Oliver Cromwell’s memorable phrase, “the Crown upon it”, and dissolved the House of Lords, England was now governed by a 14-member Council of State, answerable (at least in theory) to the House of Commons. This latter body, representing the common people of England, was deemed to be the repository of “all just power” in the state. It was a principle destined to endure long after the English Commonwealth succumbed to Cromwell’s dictatorial “Protectorate”.
New Zealand, too, is governed by a council of state – The Cabinet – drawn from and answerable to the elected representatives of the people. Our own equivalent of the House of Lords, the Crown-appointed Legislative Council, was abolished with barely a murmur by the first National Party government, led by Sid Holland, in 1950.
For all practical political purposes, therefore, our unwritten constitution makes Parliament the supreme organ of power in the state. It passes the laws, makes appropriations of money for the administration of the state, and, if moved to do so, can bring down any government at any time simply by withdrawing its support from the Prime Minister and his or her Cabinet. The only other example of a unicameral parliament operating without the restraint of a written constitution is the State of Israel.
But what about the Queen? I hear you say. Legally and constitutionally Elizabeth II is Sovereign in Right of the Realm of New Zealand, and her Vice-Regal Representative is the Governor General. Quite true. But Harris’s point – and I agree with it – is that all this monarchical mummery is just a grand distraction from the realities of political power in New Zealand.
The only way the Queen could hope to influence events in New Zealand would be if she allowed herself to be drawn into a plot to topple a democratically elected government – as happened in the infamous conspiracy to bring down the Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and his beleaguered Labor Government, in 1975. The only thing that saved the Queen and her Governor General, Sir John Kerr, on that occasion was the fact that the interim regime installed to replace the “dismissed” government went on to win the obligatory general election. Had Whitlam’s Labor Party been returned to office, Australia would, today, be a republic of 40 years standing.
What the “Dismissal” did demonstrate, however, was that royal and/or vice-regal interference in the democratic political process, unbuttressed by the electorate’s ex post facto validation, can only end in constitutional tears. Her Majesty was extremely fortunate that a majority of the Australian people concluded, notwithstanding the machinations of vice-regal ratbags, that Whitlam’s government wasn’t worth reinstating. The important lesson to take away being that the political decision was theirs – not hers – to make.
It is to be hoped that both Charles and William Windsor have absorbed this lesson, and that in the event of a New Zealand Governor General asking the Palace to support his or her plan to dismiss a government (or, more likely, refuse to appoint a government that the “business community” doesn’t like) the correct constitutional response is to immediately ask the New Zealand politician commanding a majority in the House of Representatives to advise him to dismiss the incumbent Governor General and propose a new one.
Because any other course of action: any attempt to circumvent the will of the New Zealand people; any reassertion of the royal “prerogatives” destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1649; will instantly see the monarchy’s gloriously retro decorativeness brought to an abrupt and permanent end. The Queen and the Governor General are like the diminutive Bride and Groom on the top of the Wedding Cake: sentimental favourites – but you wouldn’t expect them to impart serious marital advice.
Some would say it’s a typically Kiwi solution to the fraught business of defining the exact nature of the New Zealand state. A republic presided over by a queen may cause the political scientists to tear out their hair in bewilderment, but, as Mitch Harris might say, “we know what we mean”, and somehow, like a Taranaki gate, it works.
What our royal republic appears to represent, and what it actually stands for, would appear to be, like the flag we just voted to keep, two very different things.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 31 March 2016.


Nick J said...

If only a modern day Cromwell could bestride the Beehive and address the Key government, "You have sat too long for any good that you have been doing lately. Depart I say and let us have done with you. In the name of God go!"
Nice daydream, back to work.

peteswriteplace said...

Whatever set-up we have, there must be ab ability to replace a government that the present National one could evolve into. In a republic the president could topple a government. What grounds do we have to topple the Key regime if it warrants it?

greywarbler said...

Is the Queen on any of our new notes? They only seem to be legitimated by the signature of the Gov.of the Reserve Bank, one of the barons I presume.

Unknown said...

To repeat my comments on FB: I have heard this argument before and it is correct at one level. However the power of the monarchy, IMO, is not that it wields active political power but rather that it determines the boundaries within which politics operates.
The notion that sovereignty resides in the monarch and that sovereignty is indivisible sets the parameters for a highly centralised form of government that is constitutionally incapable of dealing with the demands of Maori to recognise the Treaty of Waitangi, and the tino rangatiratanga of Tangata Whenua.
Additionally the lack of any inherent jurisdiction for local authorities means they are a creature of statute, and exist at the pleasure of central government.
It depends, I think, on whether you see sovereignty residing in the people and flowing up, or residing in the Crown and flowing down. The answer to that sets the pattern for everything else.

Anonymous said...

A well written and thoughtful article, with the age of our present Queen I will contend that your article is topical and needs wide discussion across our country.
I do not wish to see Prince Charles become the King of New Zealand when the Queen passes, pomp, sadness and celebration being the only bridges he must go over to achieve King of New Zealand.
Prince Charles has already proven that he wishes for his role to be expanded by recent proven evidence to have been writing letters to politicians on matters of State. These letters would have been populists to the people of Britain but no matter he had moved outside his role. I will contend the whole matter including being caught out was a ruse by our future King to pave the way for future incursions into the role of a elected Parliament. Some monarchist politicians like Nick Clegg supported his incursions.
I hope that that our Parliament starts making ready for a referendum on whether we wish to remain a monarchy or become a republic when the Queens dies.
Has I have already said this is a very good article and I sincerely hope that it generates opinion on your blog and much wider opinion in the MSM and populace of our fair country.
Well done Chris.

Simon Cohen said...

You say Chris:
"The only way the Queen could hope to influence events in New Zealand would be if she allowed herself to be drawn into a plot to topple a democratically elected government – as happened in the infamous conspiracy to bring down the Australian Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, and his beleaguered Labor Government, in 1975."
There has never been any evidence that the Queen conspired with Kerr in this decision.In fact Whitlam on a number of occasions stated that he was certain that the Palace had no knowledge of the decision to dismiss him prior to the event.
Indeed an apocryphal story that Whitlam told has the Queen being woken in the middle of the night to be told that Whitlam was out and Fraser was in and remarked why have you woken me to tell me a cricket score.
Also you persist in the belief that what happened was unconstitutional when on the contrary what happened is perfectly legal under the Australian Constitution.The Senate did and still does have the power to reject or defer money bills and if a government can't obtain supply it no longer has the power to govern.

Wayne Mapp said...

Broadly you are correct. There really is no prospect of monarchical interference into our affairs.

I think you have raised a "straw man" argument to suggest that the Governor General may refuse to appoint a government that was not"business friendly." In truth any Governor General would appoint such a government, since they would have received 50% or more support among the voters in order to be able to secure a majority in Parliament.

If New Zealanders want the throw off the neo-liberal settlement they can, knowing that their choice will be respected by the vestiges of monarchy. All New Zealanders need is parties they can credibly vote for. For instance Mana did not meet that definition, hence the reason it got no support.

A much more interesting prospect is a government passing laws that are so onerous that they usurp fundamental rights. The most obvious areas are civil and political rights, but it could also extend to economic rights. The difficulty is actually thinking of practical circumstances where the Courts would invoke Cooke's dicta that the courts could not recognise such law. Heath J has just made a declaration of inconsistency under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in respect of prisoners voting rights, but that was not even close to a GG not enacting the law, or the Court saying such a law was unenforceable.

One can always imagine extreme laws, but they typically exist in another time, such as World War One and Two. It would be hard to imagine a govt would act in such a way today, in the absence of such an extreme national emergency. But I would ask the question, would a New Zealand court uphold the detention of people on suspicion (particularly of terrorist charges) as happens in a number of countries we would regard as democratic. I suspect our Courts would be vigilant about this.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"but rather that it determines the boundaries within which politics operates."
I would really like an explanation of whatever that means. Because – all due respect – it sounds like vague twaddle to me.

B'art Homme said...

Hi Chris,

Well considered and timely posting thank you.

I think if you and anyone else is interested in opinions here I would add:

1. That the recent flag debate (for me – alone) meant that I chose the Monarchy’s effigy because I feared the rampant trajectory of the proponent of the alternative… the smug, ‘smiling assassin’ / moneyman John Key and his cronies.
2. The Rpyals for me thereby provide an alternative (however symbolic) yet in this case the actuality is – we chose democratically to favour the current, traditional, status quo – we chose to have that alternative and ‘higher court’ and likewise I think would reconstitute the Privy Council rather than trust Key’s mob and their cosy relations with power, the judges, constabulary, business, oligarchy.
3. The flag must change one day but as with so many last week or so we chose that we were very unhappy with the process, faux consultation added spin and bullying PR stratagems. There appears to be a freedom in the ‘symbol’ of the monarchy that even Key’s mob can’t buy – or control
4. If this freedom exists and its inherent rights – we citizens, we kiwis, need it badly… so we can remain better that USA or any Republic that can and does favour the market and its fiscally obsessed, greed ridden (Pamuera) privilege over the people. We are not Fiji free under the barrel of a gun and we are not too obese and gluttonist which for me are merely symbols of how far people’s right to health has been trammelled in Aotearoa.

5. I have no reason to believe that Charles won’t make a very (Sanders like) fair and wise King of our distant fair shores. Rather him any day to our PM.

Barry Thomas
Artist/film maker/bricoleur

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The idea of having a head of state who is simply there because they were born is abhorrent. Particularly if they are an idiot. Prince Charles springs to mind. On the other hand, got no objection to a relatively powerless head of state being appointed by Parliament to welcome foreign dignitaries, open supermarkets, maybe make end of year speeches at the odd secondary school,and so on. However I did discover I think in these pages that the wage is somewhat in excess of $300,000? Considering a lot of people would crawl over broken glass to do that job, I think it's just a tad excessive. Somewhere around about the average wage would probably be appropriate, with an allowance for fancy uniforms, ostrich feathers and the like.:) If we could get John Clarke for that – unlikely I know – that it be ideal.

Brendon Harre said...

I think the more pertinent question is what are the constitutional implications of the TPPA, which I discuss on the DailyBlog version of Chris's article.

Because the way I see it, NZ is evolving away from Parliamentary Democracy not towards it.

I would be interested if the former MPs commenting above (or anyone else) will hear and answer questions on that issue.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as an ardent republican, I find this article a bit of a straw man. No-one is arguing that the Queen can ever interfere in our democracy.

My objection to the monarchy isn't practical, it's symbolic. I resent my Head of State being chosen via genetic lottery. Add in the fact that she's on the other side of the world, a symbol of unearned elitist privilege, not to mention a symbol of religious bigotry (no Catholic can ever become New Zealand's Head of State), and I find the situation outrageous.

Loz said...

Simon Cohen @5:21
"There has never been any evidence that the Queen conspired with Kerr" ... actually there is.

Prof. Jenny Hocking revealed from Kerr's private papers (in 2012) that the Palace knew that Kerr was considering the dismissal months before it happened. Quoting the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Palace did not counsel Kerr against the dismissal scenario, did not advise him to warn Whitlam of the possibility of dismissal and, most significantly, did not themselves alert Whitlam to the fact that the matter had been raised by the Governor-General.

Prof. Hocking said "the Queen's private secretary Martin Charter is had also written to Kerr establishing a "secret arrangement" between the Palace and Yarralumla to delay acting on the advice of the Prime Minister to recall the Governor-General, should Whitlam have decided to remove Kerr.

nolajo said...

It still worries me that there is no formal constitutional restraint on what legislation a government in NZ can pass if it has a majority. Anything they think they can get away with it seems to me. An amazing amount of damage can be done to the country in three years. I favour working towards a written constitution, whether we retain the Windsors or not.

Wayne Mapp said...

Nandor argues that being a constitutional monarchy sets the boundaries for the form of government that New Zealand can have. His evidence being that we do not have devolved regional govt, or one that can recognise te tino rangatiratanga (at least to the extent he would prefer).

But are either of these the product of being a constitutional monarchy?

New Zealand once did have provinces. Australia and Canada are both federal systems. It is true we don't have autonomous iwi authorities as exist in the US. But we also don't have a second chamber, something that is relatively unusual in representative and parliamentary democracies, whether they be republican or constitutional monarchies.

It seems to me that our form of govt represents our own particular circumstances. We are relatively small, and even in the early period had good coastal communications. Therefore federalism never had much appeal. Maori and Pakeha were much more integrated in the social and economic sphere, even in the nineteenth century, than any other comparable societies. Far fewer Maori lived apart from the settlers, so that autonomous Maori regions were much less likely, Tuhoe excepted.

There are other smaller nations that have quite centralised governments; Israel and Denmark. Conversely some are devolved as with Switzerland.

I don't think the monarchical influence on our form of government (other than being a parliamentary democracy) has had quite the impact on modern New Zealand that Nandor believes to be the case. There are other good explanations for this outcome.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

" have no reason to believe that Charles won’t make a very (Sanders like) fair and wise King of our distant fair shores. "

It seems a little weird to me, to compare – I was going to say a child of privilege, but let's say THE child of privilege – to Bernie Sanders. Charles is someone who can't pick his clothes up off the floor for God's sake.:) He's never had to make a living. What would he know about the aims and aspirations of the common New Zealander? Not to mention Sanders is intelligent. Charles, in spite of his very expensive education could only gain something akin to a conceded D at his exclusive university of choice. This is shown by his adherence to quack medicine practices. Even as a figurehead for God's sake, the man is butt ugly.:) I wouldn't even want him on the stamps.
Surely even the right-wingnuts would prefer someone who is somewhat of a self-made man, the son of migrants, who knows something about what ordinary people have to do to make a living? And also perhaps someone who, rather than being a parasite all his life, has contributed something to society by way of fighting for civil rights – although the right are less enamoured of that sort of thing IMO.:)

Simon Cohen said...

Here is what Paul Kelly and Troy Bramstom [co authors of the book "The Dismissal" published in November 2015 said in an interview on the ABC in November 2015.

EMMA ALBERICI: Paul Kelly, how much prior knowledge did the Queen or her private secretary, Sir Martin Charteris, have of the plot John Kerr was hatching to sack the Whitlam government?

PAUL KELLY: There was no arrangement. There was no understanding between John Kerr and the Palace. This is quite clear. It's clear from the documentation; it's clear from what Buckingham Palace officials have said; it's clear from what Kerr has said.

Now, there's no doubt that Kerr cultivated the Palace. He wrote a lot of letters to Buckingham Palace during the course of the crisis. And when you look at all his diaries in the years afterwards, he is telling himself, he's telling his diaries, he's telling his notes all the time that he's quite confident that the Queen was happy with the way he looked after things.

EMMA ALBERICI: Sure. Troy Bramston, what did you manage to glean from the material you have managed to obtain about the attitude Buckingham Palace held toward John Kerr?

TROY BRAMSTON: Well, there's a very important document that we disclose in The Australian tomorrow that comes from the book. This is a record of a conversation that Sir Paul Hasluck, who was governor-general before John Kerr, that he had with Sir Martin Charteris, the Queen's official private secretary in 1977.

And it becomes clear from that document that the Palace were unhappy with John Kerr's dismissal of Gough Whitlam in 1975. They thought that he was "very greedy" and potentially could be embarrassing the Palace. And they helped to push him towards an early retirement in 1977. So that document, in addition...

EMMA ALBERICI: And that's significant also - pardon the interruption: just to give this some context, because John Kerr always held that he left of his own volition; that no one pushed him to leave and that he just thought this is what he should do?

TROY BRAMSTON: That's exactly right. And I think this underscores the point that the Palace had no prior warning. They were surprised by the dismissal and our interviews with other Palace officials confirm that.

And so when it came to 1977, they wanted to push him towards an early departure. And that was something else that Malcolm Fraser himself as prime minister was happy to see. But John Kerr remained deluded, I think, by this reality. But the Palace were quite happy and relieved, indeed, when he did resign in 1977.

Both Bramston and Kelly are long time critics of Kerr's dismissal of Whitlam and the book "The Dismissal" is generally regarded as the most accurate record of those events.

B'art Homme said...

Hi Guerilla (Sic)

I am not very deeply read but I have noted the wise words of both Charles and Bernie... tis all... they both lead by wisdom with fair doses of truth IMHO... a rare thing these days.


Victor said...

At the most general of levels, I'm something of a supporter of constitutional monarchy as a form of government. In fact, despite its manifest lack of inherent logic, I suspect that it’s the best such form yet invented.

I arrived at this conclusion by asking myself three simple questions. The first is whether there are a large number of countries more worth living in than Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium (despite terrorism and ethnic rivalries), Luxembourg, New Zealand, Australia, Canada or the UK (despite manifest and growing social injustice). My answer to this question is simply "No".

The second question is whether I would have answered similarly 60 years ago and the third is whether I'd also have answered similarly 90 years ago. In both cases the answer is "Yes". And extend it out to 120 years and you probably still get an affirmative, although Norway was still part of Sweden back then.

I could descant at length over why there's a broad coherence between the rather short list of long-term stable, comparatively well-governed constitutional democracies and the even shorter list of constitutional monarchies. But that's for another day. For the moment, let me suggest that it may have something to do with splitting off the power from the glory.

And, of course, I accept that there’s a VERY short list of republics (e.g. Switzerland and Costa Rica), which have similarly venerable and respectable records and that there would have been a few more of them if, for example, the former Czechoslovakia had not had both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union as neighbours.

But constitutional monarchy in New Zealand has two significant weaknesses. The first, as with Canada, Australia and a number of other former British colonies, is that the head of state is non-resident.

.....more to come

Victor said...

.....continuing previous post

This might have some advantages (e.g. it’s cheaper). But it does mean that the monarch fails to perform one of her/his most significant constitutional roles of keeping career politicians in their place (viz. a place of power but not of glory). As a result, John Key, like Helen Clark before him, has become increasingly ‘presidential’ in behaviour.

It might also mean that the New Zealand state lacks not just glory but gravity. This could be why we’re so besotted with meaningless change. But I’m far from certain over this point and wouldn’t want to press it.

The other weakness is that, in New Zealand, as in the UK but not as in all the other monarchies listed above, we have a constitutional monarch without having a written constitution, entrenched bill of rights and/or separation of powers between the central and regional governments.

By and large, this does not mean that the monarch or her/his governors general tend to act in a peremptory or tyrannical manner (though for every rule there are exceptions). But it does mean that the traditional powers of the crown, as exercised by the elected government of the day, are less subject to legal restraints than in many another democracy.

This has long been an issue of significance but has become all the more pressing with developments such as (inter alia) the evolution of modern surveillance technology and the concentration of the news media into fewer (largely pro-government) hands.

In 1780, John Dunning introduced a celebrated motion into the Westminster House of Commons, stating that "the influence of the crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished".

Turn the crown into a republic, as had occurred in the 1640s, and the problem remains. The only possible solution is the one used, with varying degrees of success, by every other democratic nation other than ourselves and the Brits; viz: a written constitution.

But that’s where our problems really start. Do we want a written constitution based on the equal status of all citizens as an undifferentiated mass of individuals or do we want some form of “Treaty Partnership”?. And what exactly would the status of the Treaty be if we also had a constitution?

One thing is clear; we couldn’t continue with the hyper-pragmatic and somewhat British fudge that we have at the moment. We certainly couldn't become a republic without addressing these issues.

Just a few thoughts to help you enjoy your weekend..........

greywarbler said...

Your sentences quoted below express well the concerns of many thinking NZs. Mine grew after attending one of the Constitutional Conversations until I walked out while the RW rabbited on. I was disturbed at the number of red faced, white haired rabble rousers and all too regular suspects. When possibilities of denuding Maori of lands and the limited powers they have reclaimed, the good ole boys (mainly) can hold the floor to the exclusion of any other matter. There is a big downsize in we oldies lving so long with minds that either are as rigid as train tracks, or floating like a newspaper in a wind, information all up in the air.

It still worries me that there is no formal constitutional restraint on what legislation a government in NZ can pass if it has a majority. Anything they think they can get away with it seems to me. An amazing amount of damage can be done to the country in three years.

And GS
You mightn't look so good to others if you had been shaped by the royal system and been a toy of the media. What would he know about the aims and aspirations of the common New Zealander? What would you know of what he knows, or doesn't know. You are as full of hot air as Donald Rumsden.

someone who is somewhat of a self-made man, the son of migrants, who knows something about what ordinary people have to do to make a living? Son of migrants, can lead to very ambitious, forceful people who can turn out to be really hungry entrepreneurs. I was interested in the importance to Hawke of Sir Peter Abeles, and remembered how other European immigrants arrived with little and flourished to stamp their name and their foot on parts of Australian society, which has been noticeable in other countries as well. He was very involved in Ansett and responsible for it being loaded with debt, and everyone was quietly happy when he offloaded that to NZ. Is that an example of the worldly, street-wise person you were thinking of GS?

More on the background to this interesting man no doubt similar to many others as I have mentioned.
Abeles was born in Vienna, in Austria, but grew up in Budapest. When Germany invaded Hungary in 1944, Abeles, who was Jewish, was sent to a Nazi work camp. He later became a cabaret entrepreneur, working in Romania, where in 1947 he met and married his first wife, Claire Dan, a cabaret performer.

In 1949 they fled the devastation left by World War II, and moved to Australia. After doing small business by selling books and clothing,[2] he quickly befriended George Rockey, a fellow Hungarian immigrant. The pair bought two trucks, which they named "Samson" and "Delilah," and set up a transport company, "Alltrans." In 1967, Alltrans merged with Thomas Nationwide Transport, and the combined companies became TNT Ltd.. Under Abeles' guidance as managing director, TNT quickly expanded, and by the 1980s had established a presence in 180 countries and was termed "the second biggest transport empire in the world, operating by road, rail, sea and air".

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor – at least Canada has an opt out clause for those who don't wish to swear allegiance to an inbred foreign royal family. And I'm not at all sure we want a written constitution or an entrenched Bill of Rights looking at the major example, the US. Unless it be so vague as to be meaningless. Because what the "founding fathers" of the US put into that document is very hard to get out. Hence we are left with idiotic Second Amendment rights, and idiotic interpretations of others. Times change, people's perceptions of rights evolve, and we should be able changed to suit the times.

Loz said...

Prof. Jenny Hocking - November 2015

Kerr's papers make it clear that the Palace -- the Queen, Prince Charles and the Queen's private secretary Sir Martin Charteris, among others -- knew that Kerr was considering dismissing Whitlam from as early as September 1975, when Kerr confided this to Prince Charles.

Kerr's concern was conveyed from Charles to the Queen's private secretary, Sir Martin Charteris, who then wrote to Kerr just weeks before the dismissal. Kerr's notes include a hand-written reference to 'Charteris' advice to me on dismissal'.

These letters remain embargoed until 2027 and I was recently refused access to them. Government House informed me that the letters are embargoed 'At her Majesty, the Queen's instructions'.

As Simon stated, Kerr "wrote a lot of letters to Buckingham Palace during the course of the crisis". We know that he was canvassing scenarios over dismissing the elected government as well as blocking requests from the Prime Minister for his own dismissal. Exactly what the advice of the Palace to Kerr was will remain embargoed for another decade although, the mere fact that the Queen's representative was communicating with the Palace about dismissal scenarios well before the perceived crisis precipitated is the problem.

There is no evidence, nor could it be reasonably believed that the Queen was actively plotting to overthrow Whitlam. The Machiavellian collusion between Kerr and Mason in precipitating the crisis is another matter. It is probable that Kerr's communication with the Palace surrounding dismissal scenarios were simply designed to ensure a pathway for dismissing a government "in a time of crisis" existed – not permission to overthrow the government. The palace either sanctioned a (theoretical) scenario for dismissal or was complicit through silence at the Kerr’s ponderings. The Palace certainly didn’t warn the government that the Queen’s representative was considering dismissal. In that sense, Chris' statement is absolutely valid - that the Queen "allowed herself to be drawn into a plot to topple a democratically elected government".

What’s even more frightening is the idea that the Queen may have communicated to Kerr a policy of non-involvement in domestic politics. If this was the case, the Governor General could effectively act as a monarch in their own right – limited only by written constitutions throughout the commonwealth!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"And GS
You mightn't look so good to others if you had been shaped by the royal system and been a toy of the media. What would he know about the aims and aspirations of the common New Zealander? What would you know of what he knows, or doesn't know. You are as full of hot air as Donald Rumsden."

Well, even accounting for the fact that he has lived in a bubble all his life, I still consider him an idiot. And my comment about self-made men was perhaps a bit cryptic but I would have thought right-wing people would love self-made men as opposed to those who have been born into positions of power? That was the main thrust of it. Plus, Bernie Sanders is nothing like the example you give of a self-made man. He for instance, was arrested for demonstrating in favour of civil rights in the US. And he has worked in ordinary jobs such as carpentry.

But as to Charles:

1.Charles's Butler is required to put the toothpaste on his toothbrush for him.

2. Someone at the Spectator seems to think he's an idiot. (That's not definitive mind) :)

3. The black spider letters.

4. He supports homeopathy.

5. He's supposed to represent upright moral probity and family values, yet committed adultery quite regularly.

6. He's never had to have a "real" job.

7.So yes I think he probably doesn't have a great deal of knowledge of the common person. But if you can provide evidence that he does, I will gladly change my mind.

8. I must confess I haven't got a clue who Donald Rumsden is, and they don't seem to be too many of them on the Internet. Even when I googled "Donald Rumsden – hot air" Perhaps you could enlighten me?

Simon Cohen said...

Loz says:
As Simon stated, Kerr "wrote a lot of letters to Buckingham Palace during the course of the crisis".
I did not state this.
Paul Kelly stated this in the quoted ABC interview.
And Troy Bramston says in the same interview.
TROY BRAMSTON: That's exactly right. And I think this underscores the point that the Palace had no prior warning. They were surprised by the dismissal and our interviews with other Palace officials confirm that.
And Paul Kelly says.
There was no arrangement. There was no understanding between John Kerr and the Palace. This is quite clear. It's clear from the documentation; it's clear from what Buckingham Palace officials have said; it's clear from what Kerr has said.
So how it can be said that " In that sense, Chris' statement is absolutely valid - that the Queen "allowed herself to be drawn into a plot to topple a democratically elected government". is beyond me.

Loz said...

Simon: The disagreement between Bramston & Kelly vs. Hocking is primarily over Sir John Kerr’s 1980 journal entry surrounding a discussion with Prince Charles in Papua New Guinea in September 1975. Significantly, the meeting was prior to the development of the crisis of supply. According to Kerr, in relation to a scenario of Whitlam moving to dismiss the Governor General, Prince Charles stated: “But surely Sir John, the Queen should not have to accept advice that you should be recalled at the very time should this happen when you were considering having to dismiss the government,”

Bramston & Kelly state Sir John Kerr’s 1980 written testimony cannot be accepted as a reliable because “the budget had not been blocked at this stage. There was no certainty of a crisis. The sequence of future events was not known”. Hocking takes the opposing view. She believes that a written first-hand account of John Kerr’s, instead of being dismissed as because the budget crisis hadn’t occurred, demonstrates an awareness of Kerr and the Palace as to the possibility of a crisis occurring. As is to be expected, the Palace has never commented on what was actually discussed or advised in the months leading up to the crisis.

Kerr is one of only parties that can divulge what communications occurred with the Palace prior to dismissal. As the Palace has not released copies of the correspondence, dismissing Kerr’s writing absolutely guarantees “no evidence exists”.

We know now that Kerr publicly lied about not informing Fraser prior to the dismissal of his plans. It’s not inconceivable that Kerr’s private papers contain other falsehoods and his claims for prior communication with the Palace over the dismissal are just that. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I fail to see how Kerr’s written accounts of discussions he had can simply be declared as untruthful or irrelevant.

Victor said...


It seems to me that you are damning a suggestion about getting in-line with the rest of the world by pointing out that what's being suggested doesn't work well in just one country, whilst ignoring all the countries where it does work well (or, at least, not so problematically).

I agree that the US Constitution is a peculiarly cumbersome instrument with quite a few sillynesses in it, of which the right to bear arms is the most obvious. It's also uniquely old as such documents go and particularly well-entrenched. And it's revered as a totem and symbol to a rather unusual degree.

A "basic law" that is respected rather than revered and which requires (say) a two thirds majority of parliamentary votes to be amended, would be a much more flexible instrument.

Besides, you haven't come up with an alternative to excess executive power.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

That's probably because I don't see a huge problem with excess executive power. I prefer it to having a small group of unelected people such as the US Supreme Court making decisions about my life. I'd much sooner have a small group of elected people making these decisions. Because it least elected people can be deselected. But if you can show me some examples of real problems with an elected executive I might come round to your opinion. But I do see more real problems with the separation of powers as shown in the US.

Victor said...


I doubt whether the invasion of the Ureweras or the assault on the Dotcom Mansion could have taken place had New Zealand possessed a written constitution. But, of course, that would have depended on what the constitution actually said.

One case of which I had direct knowledge through my work and which may well have been kyboshed by a constitution, was the 2002 retrospective changing of residence requirements for people who were already in the queue for permanent residence and who had typically committed large amounts of time, effort, worry and money, often making irreversible life-changing decisions in the process. In most western countries, this kind of high-handed but electorally not unpopular inhumanity wouldn't, I think, have been possible.

But constitutions aren't just there to help right individual wrongs. They're also there to help protect the liberal democratic order from the kind of threat currently posed by authoritarian but elected governments in countries such as Turkey, Poland and Hungary.

Can you rule out New Zealand ever having to face such a threat? I don't think I can. I wasn't in this country during the 1980 Springbok tour, but I get the impression that civil liberties were on rather thin ice at that point. Be that as it may, the fact that your house has never yet burnt down is no argument for not having fire insurance.

Of course, a constitution would not save you from a direct military coup or some other mega-illegality. But it would certainly help contain lesser threats.

Anyhow, I doubt that New Zealand could become a republic without some legal instrument establishing it as such and also defining the relationship between citizen and state. I would, however, gladly defer to a constitutional lawyer on this matter.

Unknown said...

Nothing is more boring than debates about swapping one set of empty symbolism for another. Nor am I particularly interested in a republican model where we end up with a president and a PM competing in demagoguery. If it ain't broke... And it ain't broke. Nandor Tanczos is, not unsurprisingly, wrong. Monarchy does not determine "the boundaries within which politics operates" - that should be perfectly obvious to anyone who spent a few minutes comparing the Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and British legislatures. Sovereignty doesn't "reside in the monarch", it resides in the Crown.

It is patently absurd to suggest that "sovereignty is indivisible sets the parameters for a highly centralised form of government that is constitutionally incapable of dealing with the demands of Maori to recognise the Treaty of Waitangi, and the tino rangatiratanga of Tangata Whenua." For one thing, look at Quebec. And in any case he's ignoring the flexibility of the monarchical system - a sovereign may be paramount over other sovereigns without depriving them of their sovereignty. The Queen recognises Maori mana and tino rangatiratanga more directly than our own government does - it's symbolic, but it matters.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor. The Waco siege? The Patriot act? Not to mention the various armed police assaults, often mistakenly on perfectly innocent people, that take place in the US. As chronicled here among other places.

On the contrary Victor these things seem to happen far more often in at least one country with a written constitution. I could find you dozens more examples. You should maybe look at American news sites a little more.
There is nothing it seems to me in a written constitution that cannot be subverted or circumvented by the authorities if they are determined. The only difference MAY be that in the US you can get your day in court afterwards, but I suspect that's perfectly possible in New Zealand as well. I think you need to think again.

Bushbaptist said...

We need to be careful what we wish for. I agree with Unknown, ain't broken - don't fix it. Do we really want a system like the US and their Pressie elections? On one side they have a Geriatric "Socialist" and a war-mongering woman (the latter is debatable!) and on the other a Clown who is as phony as an empty tin can, painted orange and has an absurd hair style and a religious Theocrat. Sheeesh!

There are democratic Dictatorships and there has been so in the past. One could even go so far as to say that a Democracy is a Dictatorship of the Majority but far be it from me to say that.

Victor said...


It seems to me that you’re still regarding the US as some kind of paradigm, to which any country following the global norm on some issue on which the US also follows that norm, is bound to default. I see no reason to make that assumption, particularly when you take the difference between presidential and parliamentary systems into account.

Moreover, I’ve not suggested that a written constitution is a total panacea for dealing with the problem of arbitrary or unjust elected governments, merely that it’s one tool in the kit available in most democratic countries,though not in ours. Clearly, the United States with the Patriot Act and without the First Amendment, would be a worse place that the United States with both the Patriot Act and the First Amendment.

And the fact remains that any move to a republic by NZ would require a specific legal instrument with a different status to the legislation that it subsequently enables . Meanwhile, I’d take some convincing that the only three democracies without written constitutions, viz. New Zealand, the UK and Israel, are uniquely well-governed.

Turning to your comments on Charles Mountbatten-Windsor (or whatever the clan’s called these days) , I think you’ll find that the toothpaste farago relates to a brief period when his arm was in a plaster caste following a polo accident. Yes, he’s lucky to be able to play polo, own a string of ponies and employ lackeys to smooth the rougher edges of life. But this doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable use of the latters’ time.

Secondly, I can think of at least one former editor of the Spectator and quite a few contributors thereto who are idiots or worse.

Thirdly, the “black spider” letters merely show Charles doing what all Brits are entitled to do, viz. lobby those in authority on issues of choice. Of course, some people are in a better position than others to lobby, and all the more so in a class-riddled society such as the UK . But I really don’t see how Charles can be prevented from lobbying without infringing his civil rights. He will certainly need to behave differently when he ascends the throne, probably limiting himself to the accepted job description of advising and warning the prime minister of the day. I’ll only start worrying if he fails to observe that description.

.....more to come

Victor said...

....continuing previous post

Fourthly, whilst not myself a supporter of homeopathy, I don’t regard advocacy thereof as the moral equivalent of raping your own grandmother. I (and most other regular readers of Bowally Road) realise by now that you, personally, do think it the equivalent of raping your grandmother and accept that you’re entitled to a peccadillo or three.

Fifthly, contrary to what the Murdoch press, celebrity gossip mags etc.would have us believe, we have no evidence of Charles having committed adultery prior to what he termed the “irretrievable break down” of his marriage to Diana. This formula sounds to me like an old fashioned gentlemanly way of referring to Diana’s numerous, well-documented affairs.

If I’m wrong over this, I would still question the right of anyone to hold Charles (or Diana) to a different standard than everyone else was expected to attain in late twentieth century Britain. Moreover, old fashioned though I may be, I was appalled at the Medieval-style penance imposed on Charles and Camilla prior to their getting legally hitched. Apparently, though, you would have been happier had they been physically flagellated qua Peter O’ Toole in “Becket”

Sixthly, Charles was a serving officer in the Navy for around half a decade, commanding a corvette at one point. That seems rather like a real job to me. Not that he’s been exactly idle for the rest of his life.

Seventhly, the notion that he doesn’t know how ordinary people live is just absurd. He meets more people in the course of a year than most of us meet in a lifetime. He’s also been deeply involved with cutting edge youth charities through the Prince’s Trust. And he’s commanded a bunch of RN matelots whom, you can assume, weren’t all Old Etonians.

Why the constant, cruel and cowardly belittling of this well-intentioned man who palpably tries to do his best in an unenviable role for which he never actually applied?

As I know you’re aware, the media feeds on the destruction of reputations and is rather good at pillorying and demonising selected individuals to the point that it seems perverse to defend them . Normally there’s a political agenda behind such campaigns and, because of the crude facts of media ownership, there’s typically a right wing agenda involved. We had a prime example of this in New Zealand with the “white-anting” of David Cunliffe in the lead up to the last general election

So think back to how the UK was when the dismantling of the then still hugely popular Charles began in the early 1980s and try working out who had an interest in dismantling him. You might be surprised at the conclusions you reach.

And now I'm off to read Chris's post on the infinitely more important matter of UBI. See you there, no doubt.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Victor. As I remember it, all I said about the US was that it shows that a written constitution is no guarantee of anything. You mention two incidents that you thought probably wouldn't take place with a written constitution, and I countered that yes they can – with examples. I was merely making the point that if we had a written constitution then the dotcom thing and the tuhoi raids probably would still have taken place. I'm not quite sure what the answer to that sort of thing is, but I'm pretty sure it's not a written constitution as such. You didn't make it entirely clear that you regarded it as just one tool. I just don't think it has much bearing on governance.
Prince Charles may deny having his toothpaste squeezed onto the brush for him, but there are enough equally damning extravagances, some even condemned by the Queen I believe. Including not picking his clothes up off the floor after changing five times a day.

"Thirdly, the “black spider” letters merely show Charles doing what all Brits are entitled to do, viz. lobby those in authority on issues of choice"

Actually, no he's not allowed to do that in theory, he's supposed to stay well clear of politics, which is what all the fuss was about.

The Spectator thing was a joke Victor, you will notice that I said it wasn't definitive and put a little smiley after it. Or maybe not.

The homeopathy thing is just an example of his lack of mental clarity. But he has lobbied for it to be included in the national health service, which could quite possibly have killed people. I'd have to research that :)

I don't care about his adultery, except if you live by "family values" then you damned well die by them. I'd say the same of any politician. I never condemned Muldoon for his affairs, but I certainly would condemn Don Brash.

Yes Charles was a naval officer. My father was a naval rating, serving under his grandfather. I don't think you realise the gap between officers and men in the British armed services which has closed, but not a great deal. It is to his credit that he did serve, but I suspect that he was pushed into it, as it expected – as a sort of feudal obligation. I regarded more as a hobby than a job – as I do his present occupation.

Yes, he is involved in various charities. Yes, he probably meets people to whom his charities give money. But I doubt if he delves very deeply into their lives. Besides, it's very easy to be involved in a charity, when you haven't got much to do, and you're very rich. I doubt if he's ever had to deal with any of the problems of the people his charity supports personally. So no I think he probably doesn't know a huge amount about the way poor people have to live. I have, and it ain't pretty.

Constant cruel and cowardly?

1.The man's name hardly ever comes up.

2.Are you suggesting he should be free of (IMO) justified criticism?

3.I would say exactly the same to his face. If the topic ever came up. :) Although I wouldn't go out of my way to yell it at him on the street – that would be rude.

To be honest I wouldn't be surprised if he was doing his best with what limited intellect he has. I think you could do a bit better in the matter of distributing money to the poor perhaps, as he seems to have a great deal more than he will ever need. But I'd be quite happy if he stayed in Britain and did his best. All I was saying was that I don't want him as my head of state. Because even if he didn't ask to be born a Prince, he is, he has taken full advantage of it, and I don't see that it necessarily qualifies him to hold that position in my country.

Unknown said...

Also one would ask Mr Tanczos how having a foreign monarch as your head of state is any more absurd than having a foreign monarch as your messiah?

Charles E said...

Very sound post Chris, except the certainty you express about the Strine '70s crisis so long ago. Definitely in a different country in both senses.

We are de facto fully independent now and having a one chamber gov we can be rid of every 3 years, but one that can get things done without hindrance is so far just right for us.
If we were stupid enough to get rid of the crown (it would very likely be spitefully done I bet) we would soon regret it, as is always the case with spite. I imagine if we voted ourselves a constitution it would not include the ToW so that would be very divisive, perhaps even lead to armed conflict. And entrenching it could do the same.
Best leave all our constitution as is I think, forever, to evolve as it has so well so far.

For those who think a written constitution would be great just look at the right to bear arms in the US. If that were an old law here or in the UK I bet the judges would simply interpret it as follows: "Yes you do have the right to bear arms, but as the law was enacted in the time of muskets & swords then that is what you can have. Not uzi machine pistols". Problem solved.
That is one reason why an unwritten constitution is superior. It's always 'fit for purpose', just like our head of state convention. Long live King Charles, to be. A decorative, somewhat pythonesque but very useful creative anachronism.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

""Yes you do have the right to bear arms, but as the law was enacted in the time of muskets & swords then that is what you can have. Not uzi machine pistols". Problem solved." I suspect the judges would interpret it as they have in the US. Depending on how conservative they are. But that argument just doesn't fly in the US, and I can't think of any reason why it would fly in Britain or New Zealand. As it stands the law on that is a mess anyway. It seems to be interpreted different ways in different states. There are states in which you are allowed to own submachine guns and even full machine guns, and states in which you are decidedly not. I spend a fair amount of time arguing about RKBA issues, and it just ain't that simple.

Incidentally Charles, still waiting for a reference on "businesses are desperate to go green." I was expecting some interesting reading. Do you have one or not?

And while I'm here, I still can't find Donald Rumsden. Who the hell is that? It's got me all a twitter. Sounds like a good northern English name but. :)

Charles E said...

You miss the point Gs. Common Law judges are not strictly bound by a constitution so they can 'do what is needed'. That gives them a great deal of power they are not really meant to have, to make law, as Cooke did with his ToW partnership fiction. (Fiction in the legal sense, which is fine)
But it also gives us a system that can evolve and adapt organically and that is worth the risk they will make law on occasions. Yet if they do, we have a parliament that can the next morning change the law. Way better than a republic with an entrenched constitution. I expect most Americans and most French would agree these days.

Changing the subject, although I should not follow your agenda, I do like the odd sweeping statement, or generalisation (as our host does) although not just because it winds you up. By their nature generalisations are sweeping and general, but generally, they contain truth. They may be opinion formed from all of one's experience and reading etc, which could be selective I agree but that is legitimate. So I have been reading The Economist for 30+ years now, almost every week and that is where I get the information that big biz is keen to be green. Now it may be that a lot of them don't actually always put it into practice (Lord make me good, but just not yet), or just do it for image etc etc. But that is why many actually green businesses do it: to sell stuff. Yet I believe plenty of successful business owners actually want to do good and improve the world. Indeed I believe the majority do.
You see my view of the world is the huge majority of people, including the rich and powerful are good people. You appear to have the opposite view and that is why you appear so miserable I expect.

Victor said...


I simply don't buy into the notion that the Anglosphere is the be all and end all of constitutional experience. Things don't have to be just as they are in the UK and NZ or alternatively just as they are in the US. The experience of other stable democracies (most of the older ones also being monarchies)might be worth taking into account.

But I apologise if I seemed to be suggesting that a written constitution was a panacea of some sort. Nothing is ever a total panacea. I take that as read. I would have assumed that this was also the case with yourself.

And the fact remains that a constitutional monarchy without a constitution is somewhat oxymoronic and leaves a vast amount of closet reserve power in the hands of a government. Chris has written very perceptively before now of the British "deep state". I think he was on to something.

Moreover, if you don't like poor old Charles and want a republic, there's no way you can avoid having a written and entrenched constitution. Or, if there is, I'd like to know how.

Meanwhile, if you don't think the criticism of him has been constant, cruel and cowardly, you've just been living on a different planet to me for the last thirty odd years.

And no, I'm not saying he should be free from criticism. But these visceral outpourings of contempt and hatred strike me as unmeasured, unfair, cowardly (because he cannot respond in kind)and essentially (in most cases if not in yours) the result of very thorough media manipulation, originally tied, in my view, to the politics of 1980s Britain (c.f. Margaret Thatcher, Rupert Murdoch, property development, "Wets" & "Dries", neoliberalism etc.) although they've since gained a life of their own. That's the way it works.

Enough already!

greywarbler said...

GS I put the name Donald Rumsden into ordinary google search and came up with a few similar -
donald lumsden
donald rumsfeld
ronald ramsden
ronald lumsden

Sorry. I was after Donald Rumsfeld, one-time US Defense Secretary. Originally I referred to his detailed traverse of gaining knowledge which should be studied in all secondary schools as part of a critical thinking course. Then, discuss:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.[1]

And just for dessert - I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.

Donald Rumsden was referred to by an Islamist post, but wrong name.
Mujahideen in Afghanistan facing a grim fate, , Crescent ...
Donald Rumsden, the US defence secretary, has demanded that none should be allowed to escape, telling the Northern Alliance that they should be killed or, ...

But to be fair, perhaps they were getting their own back, for his misrepresentation of the truth here: "We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead." (Also in the 'politicalhumor' link above.)

And this comment thread has been so interesting. Victor and Guerilla Surgeon have had a great contest of ideas. I consider Victor the victor and GS gets the award for throwing the most squibs. And I think any determined paparazzo? could put us all in the stocks if using the same assiduous zeal turned on Prince Charles.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

The main objections I have to a written constitution is that, firstly it needs writing very, very carefully. And secondly, I don't feel that a bunch of unelected people should be the final arbiters of what it all means. If you can overcome those two problems somehow I'd be happy with it.

I only criticise Charles under two sets of circumstances.
One is when someone suggests that he be the head of state of my country. And I therefore feel free to give people the reasons why he should not be. One of these is his extravagant lifestyle, and the fact that I have to subsidise him whenever he comes to New Zealand. (For God sake even his mother has criticised his lifestyle, so I don't see how even you can object to that.)

The second is his support of homeopathy, about which he has lobbied the British government. Something which I repeat, he is not supposed to do. This is unconscionable on his part for two reasons. One is he is supposed to stay above politics, and the other is that homeopathy actually kills people. Somewhere someone keeps a list.
And considering what a lot of arse kissers our politicians seem to be when it comes to royalty and US presidents, I don't want him lobbying ours.

Otherwise, as I said I'm quite content for him to remain in England and be king of that if the British want to keep him. If he did that, I would only need to comment under one set of circumstances.

Anyway if he chooses to come to these columns and comment, or rather order one of his flunkies to do it, I'd be ecstatic. Don't tell me he's not allowed to respond in kind, because enough comes out of his organisation officially and unofficially to establish that he can.

My final word on the man, he's not worth wasting any more time over.

“We have known for a long time that Prince Charles' empty sails are so rigged as to be swelled by any passing waft or breeze of crankiness and cant. He fell for the fake anthropologist Laurens van der Post. He was bowled over by the charms of homeopathic medicine. He has been believably reported as saying that plants do better if you talk to them in a soothing and encouraging way.”
― Christopher Hitchens

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"And I think any determined paparazzo? could put us all in the stocks if using the same assiduous zeal turned on Prince Charles."

I wish. My life is far too boring for the paparazzi :).

However thank you for the reference. Rumsfeld, no wonder I couldn't find it. I've always rather liked that "unknown unknowns" phrase. I've had a few in my time.

Victor said...


A debate with GS is always worth having, normally fun, often educative and occasionally exasperating. But PLEASE don't declare me the victor or you may set him off again.....and then I'll have to reply.... and then etc. etc.

Charles E said...

g-w the unknown unknowns statement from Rumsfeld was about the same time as two great books by Nassim Taleb called Fooled by Randomness & The Black Swan came out and were widely read. You may have read them but for those who have not a Black Swan is a an unknown unknown thing or event that lies outside our experience, has a large impact and is only predictable in hindsight. It refers to when the first Europeans arrived in Australia and were amazed to see that the swans were black. They had never even thought of such a thing because until then in their experience over millennia all swans were white.

So that swine Rumsfeld was not speaking nonsense in that first quote you gave at all, but profound truth, which he mangled. However he probably stole it from Taleb (no connection to the Taliban)
Taleb's books are well worth reading as he is very persuasive in his thesis that its the unknown unknowns that determine our course on the planet.

Anonymous said...

Bride and Bridegroom walk down the aisle:
Oliver Hartwich and Ms AsiaNZ Foundation

The wives of Property Institute touch eyes with hankies.

Anonymous said...

New Zealand's "Superdiversity Stocktake: Impact on Business, Government and on New Zealand" was launched in November 2015[12] and sponsored by banks, companies, the Human Rights Commission, and the Ministry of Education. A study on "Implications of Superdiversity for NZ’s Electoral Laws and Democracy" was also launched. Both projects were carried out by the Superdiversity Centre for Law, Policy and Business in New Zealand, which describes itself as "a multidisciplinary centre specialising in analysing the law, policy and business implications of New Zealand’s superdiversity".[13][14] Its patron is Sir Anand Satyanand
and its chair is Mai Chen.[15]
A conventional economic analysis of large -scale immigration impacts

The distinctive feature of the New Zealand economy is that land is an important input into the productive process. This is obvious with the agricultural, fishing and forestry sectors but it also applies to international tourism. In a simple model of the New Zealand economy where the supply of land is fixed, and New Zealand’s isolation means it is not a ‘natural’ location for the production of a broad range of internationally traded goods and services, then an increase in the labour supply through large scale immigration will reduce the marginal product of labour. As a result:

 Real wages will fall

 Owners of land will benefit [banks and key's mates]

 There will be an outflow of ‘native’ labour in search of higher wages in Australia

 The economy will be bigger, but average incomes will fall

 Resources will flow into low value service production. [poor sods making beds and carrying suitcases, all hoping the welfare state will stay in good shape]

What sort of (ex) Governor General is that? What's The Queen's phone number????!

Unknown said...

Should Mae Chen's Superdiversity Stocktake section stay in the Wikipedia article without critique?
CordlessLarry says Michael Reddell's Croaking Cassandra and Wellington Economics Consultancy Tailrisk Economics online booklet Superdiversity Myth lacks "secondary coverage". Michael Reddell (however) is guest on TV One's Q&A: Michael Reddell is "creating quite a stir"; has become a "must read blog".

Other objection is "article is about concept not about New zealand".
But can you have a concept without context? And the whole point of the "superdupa" approach is an exercise in not seeing the wood for the trees? This approach requires power structures in case a member of the public says: "your slip is showing" however Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia?

Other objection is that the article doesn't mention Chen's findings so criticism isn't relevant (is just giving an example without giving the tyres a bit of a kick). That approach is like having an article on electric cars without reference to road testing.

Unknown said...

Of course with the "edu's" sitting in their offices with all the time in the world to make changes while others have to work in the low wage service sector where tiredness means you come home for recovery it will be an uphill battle.

P.S On Country Calender a dairy farmer has posted that he is looking for a job and is going to become a tour bus driver. Let me tell you that wages have gone sideways since the 1990's; days have gotten longer; everywhere is more congested; the public are less tolerant; the work is divided between English speaking drivers and Mandarin/Korean speaking drivers; buses still use diesel (CO2).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Charles, sorry just noticed your reply. I managed to sort out some evidence for your vague statement some time ago. Walmart of all people seem to be going in for sustainable business. Not of course because they want to make the world a better place, but because it makes the money.
Of course I believe most people are good. I also believe that most businesses exist simply to make money, and the hell with the consequences on the good people – or should I say the small people.
And on the contrary Charles, I'm a very happy person. All the happier when I'm winding you up about your bullshit.