Democracy matters all the time, not just between elections. A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand proposes to strengthen public input into political decision-making, enhance protection for democratic rights, and increase checks and balances on government power.

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Under New Zealand’s current constitutional arrangements, the Government and Parliament can make important decisions with little or no public input. New Zealanders get to vote every three years, but otherwise have little active involvement in political decision-making. A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand aims to change that. It aims to support a democratic model in which New Zealanders are routinely involved in major decisions affecting them. The result would be better policy, and better and fairer outcomes. We therefore propose to strengthen obligations on Parliament and government to inform and consult citizens and involve them in decision-making. More decisions would be made by Parliament instead of the government, and it would be harder for Parliament to pass laws without public input. We also propose to strengthen checks and balances on government power, and strengthen protection for democratic rights such as the right to freedom of speech.

A constitution must stand above the interests of any particular political party or political philosophy. It must belong to all of the people because it is under their will that government is conducted in a democracy. They are the ultimate authority, not the Parliament.

Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler

Our proposals bring power back into the hands of the people. There are processes that have to be followed, and if those processes are followed then citizens will have a proper say about everything.

Geoffrey Palmer