Remove The Royal Assent

Original discussion here

Once upon a time, the head of state had a veto power over legislation passed by the elected Parliament. This power has not been exercised in our constitutional history since 1708 (and then on Ministerial advice) - but its theoretical existence means that people still believe in it. And so we get regular appeals to the Governor-General to refuse assent to legislation and overturn the democratic process simply because one political faction or another does not like it.

Worse, as long as it still theoretically exists, this power could actually be used by a rogue head of state who did not know their place, precipitating a constitutional crisis. Constitutional safety suggests we should eliminate it.

Relevant legislation
s16 of the Constitution Act 1986 stipulates that bills become law when assented to by the Governor-General.

Potential changes
There are two obvious options. One is to amend the law to append "or after 3 days, whichever is sooner", so that bills become law even if not signed. This formulation is IIRC common in Europe, but creates an implied right of refusal, which we don't actually want. The alternative is to eliminate the signature entirely, following the scheme of s34 of the Niue Constitution (enacted by the NZ Parliament as schedule 2 of the Niue Constitution Act 1974). Bills become law when signed by the Speaker and countersigned by the Clerk.


  • This will be seen as a shift towards republicanism, though it acts as a constitutional safeguard regardless of who the head of state is.

Constitution (Removal of Royal Assent) Amendment Bill

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