Constitution Act 1986


Constitution Act 1986
Constitution Act 1986
Coat of Arms of New Zealand.svg
Parliament of New Zealand
Long title/
Purpose
An Act to reform the constitutional law of New Zealand, to bring together into one enactment certain provisions of constitutional significance, and to provide that the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom shall cease to have effect as part of the law of New Zealand
Dates
Date passed 13 December 1986
Commencement 1 January 1987
Other legislation
Amendments 1987, 1999, 2005
Related legislation New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, the Electoral Act 1993
Status: Current legislation

The Constitution Act 1986[1] is the principal formal statement of New Zealand's Constitution.

It ended the last remaining associations of New Zealand with the British Parliament.[2]

Contents

Background

1984 constitutional crisis

After the 1984 election, there was an awkward transfer of power from the outgoing Third National government to the new Fourth Labour government in the midst of a financial crisis. Outgoing Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon was unwilling initially to accept instructions from the incoming Prime Minister elect David Lange to devalue the currency. Eventually he relented, but only after his own party caucus had threatened to replace him.

An Officials Committee on Constitutional Reform was established by the Labour Government to review New Zealand's constitutional law, and the Constitution Act resulted from two reports by this Committee. The issue of the transfer of power from incumbent to elect governments (and hence prime ministers) was not resolved by this Act however, and the transfer of executive powers remains an unwritten constitutional convention, known as the 'caretaker convention'.

Committee's report

The Officials Committee on Constitutional Reform reported back to Parliament during February 1986.[3] The Committee recommended that New Zealand adopt an Act to restate various constitutional provisions in a single enactment, that would replace the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, thus "patriating" the Constitution Act to New Zealand.

Parliamentary process

A Bill was introduced into Parliament during mid-1986, and was passed unanimously with the support of both the Labour and National parties on the 13 December 1986. The act came into force on 1 January 1987. Amendments were passed during 1987 and 1999.

Effect

The Act repealed the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852, renamed the General Assembly as the "House of Representatives" and ended the right of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to legislate with the consent of the New Zealand Parliament.

Entrenchment

Unusually for constitutional documents, the Constitution Act is not entrenched. However, when the Electoral Act 1993 was passed, it included provision for the entrenchment of section 17 of the Act, the Term of Parliament. Hence the term of Parliament cannot be amended unless an amendment is passed by a majority of 75% of all the members of the House of Representatives or has been carried by a majority of the valid votes cast at a poll of the electors of the General and Maori electoral districts.[4]

Key provisions

The Act consists of four main parts:

Part I: The Sovereign

Part II: The Executive

  • Ministers of the Crown and members of Executive Council to be, with some timing limitations, Members of Parliament (section 6)

Part III: The Legislature

The House of Representatives

  • The House of Representatives noted as the same entity established by the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (section 10)
  • Oath of allegiance to be taken by members of Parliament (section 11)
  • Rules relating to the election of speaker and speakers role upon dissolution or expiration of Parliament set out (section 12, section 13)

Parliament

  • Parliament shall consist of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand (the Queen) and the House of Representatives (section 14)
  • Parliament to have full power to make laws (section 15)
  • Term of Parliament to be 3 years unless sooner dissolved (section 17)
  • Parliament shall meet not later than 6 weeks after the day fixed for the return of the writs for that election (section 19)

Parliament and Public Finance

  • Bills providing for the appropriation of public money or for the imposition of any charge upon public money not to be passed unless recommended to the House of Representatives by the Crown (section 21)
  • Not lawful for Crown, except by or under an Act of Parliament to levy a tax, to raise a loan from any person or to spend any public money (section 22)

Part IV: The Judiciary

  • Rules relating to protection of Judges against removal from office set out (section 23)
  • Salary of a Judge of the High Court not to be reduced during the Judge's term
  • Section 21, covering bills appropriating public money, was repealed.

Entrenchment

Only section 17 of the Act (which says that the term of Parliament is "3 years from the day fixed for the return of the writs issued for the last preceding general election of members of the House of Representatives, and no longer.) is entrenched, by section 268 of the Electoral Act 1993. This provision requires that any amendment to section 17 can only be made with a majority of three-quarters (75%) of all votes cast in Parliament, or by a referendum. However, section 268 of the Electoral Act 1993 itself is not entrenched - which means that Parliament could repeal the section itself, and amend section 17 of the Act. Thus, the provision is said to only be 'singly entrenched'. Some academics, including Sir Geoffrey Palmer[5] argue that the Act should be totally entrenched.

United Kingdom

The Act replaced the New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 and repealed the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1947 and removed the ability for the United Kingdom to pass laws for New Zealand with the consent of New Zealand's parliament.

The last British Act of Parliament passed on behalf of the New Zealand Parliament was the New Zealand Constitution Amendment Act 1947. This Act was passed to allow the Parliament of New Zealand the ability to amend any part of the 1852 Act (a number of sections of the Act were unable to be amended by the Parliament of New Zealand, including provisions establishing the Parliament itself), requested by New Zealand in the New Zealand Constitution Amendment (Request and Consent) Act 1947. The British Act allowed New Zealand to amend the Constitution Act to abolish the New Zealand Legislative Council, a body established originally by the 1852 Act.

See also

External links

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Constitution Act 1986 — Le Constitution Act 1986 est le principal document relatif à la constitution de la Nouvelle Zélande. Il coupe les derniers liens de la Nouvelle Zélande avec le Parlement britannique. Il annule et remplace le New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 et… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Constitution Act, 1982 — Constitution of Canada This article is part of a series Constitutional history …   Wikipedia

  • Constitution Act — Not to be confused with Constitutional Act. The Constitution Act is the name of several acts, notably: Several Acts forming part of the Constitution of Canada, such as, The Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act,… …   Wikipedia

  • Australia Act 1986 — The Australia Act 1986 is the name given to a pair of two separate but related pieces of legislation: one an Act of the Parliament of Australia (No. 142 of 1985), the other an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (c.2 1986). These Acts… …   Wikipedia

  • New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 — The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (15 16 Vict. c. 72) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that granted self government to the colony of New Zealand. It was the second such Act, the previous 1846 Act not having been fully… …   Wikipedia

  • Criminal law under the Constitution Act, 1867 — In Canadian Constitutional law, the Constitution Act, 1867 provides the government with the authority to legislate on matters of criminal law and quasi criminal law. The primary criminal law power is granted to the federal government under… …   Wikipedia

  • Constitution De La Nouvelle-Zélande — Nouvelle Zélande Cet article fait partie de la série sur la politique de la Nouvelle Zélande, sous série sur la politique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Constitution de la Nouvelle-Zelande — Constitution de la Nouvelle Zélande Nouvelle Zélande Cet article fait partie de la série sur la politique de la Nouvelle Zélande, sous série sur la politique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Constitution de la nouvelle-zélande — Nouvelle Zélande Cet article fait partie de la série sur la politique de la Nouvelle Zélande, sous série sur la politique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Constitution of New Zealand — New Zealand This article is part of the series: Politics and government of New Zealand Constitution …   Wikipedia