In their new book Towards Democratic Renewal, Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler set out their vision for a modern constitution that strengthens democracy, protects rights and liberties, reflects New Zealand's identity and nationhood, and prevents governments from abusing power.

ORDER NOWfrom Victoria University Press


15 proposals for a better democracy

  • 1. Write it down

    Write the rules of government in one place so people can find them.

  • 2. Make it superior law

    So governments can’t ignore democratic rules and human rights.

  • 3. Entrench it

    So Parliament can’t easily change basic rights and democratic rules.

  • 4. Strengthen the Bill of Rights

    Protect new rights and give all rights constitutional protection.

  • 5. Discuss the treaty

    Have a national conversation so we can agree on what it means.

  • 6. Make it Kiwi

    Have a New Zealander as head of state and kaitiaki/guardian of the constitution.

  • 7. Define the state

    Create the state of Aotearoa New Zealand and define the branches of government.

  • 8. Improve Parliament

    Have a 4-year term, an independent speaker, and less use of urgency.

  • 9. Provide clarity

    Define the powers of government agencies, and the limits on those powers.

  • 10. Protect the judiciary

    Ensure that judges are independent and can uphold the constitution.

  • 11. Make treaties democratic

    Let Parliament vote on whether to adopt treaties and declare wars.

  • 12. Be more open

    Require governments to be more open, transparent, and inclusive.

  • 13. Have regular reviews

    Review the constitution every 10 years to ensure it remains relevant.

  • 14. Be prepared

    Allow Parliament to temporarily suspend the constitution for national emergencies.

  • 15. Involve the people

    Let the people decide what is in the constitution.


Latest news


The Listener

7 May – 7 May 2018 – New Zealand will become a republic, but politicians are in no rush, writes Jane Clifton. More >>

Hawkes Bay Today

12 Apr – Any decision for NZ to become a republic would require a rethink of the treaty relationship, writes Janet McLean.More >>