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More than one way to ruin a country

New Zealand needs to look to Switzerland

11 September 2021

9:00 AM

11 September 2021

9:00 AM

The shock of the brutal religious fanaticism of the Taliban again abroad in Afghanistan, partly at least to the shame of the Biden administration, is also a reminder to us. There is more than one way to destroy a country.

The invasion of the coronavirus has given political overlords in the West more opportunity than at any other time to trample on democratic freedoms. The deaths from Covid-19 are tragic and some form of lockdown is arguably justifiable. But many extremist measures imposed have been extraordinarily cruel, resulting in people dying in utter loneliness, children forbidden from being with their parents, and the sick and elderly being prevented from holding the hand of someone much-loved, and needing love, when leaving the world behind.

What price our autocracy here in New Zealand? Not only does our government’s imposition of full lockdowns bring such sad outcomes for many gravely ill and prevent women giving birth having a husband close by, it also ensures more will die unable to access much-needed medical procedures. Equally, the toll on individuals’ mental health is incalculable, with despair yet again leading to suicides as a result of failed businesses and personal losses.

The incompetence of the Ardern government is now cited as the reason for New Zealand’s lowest ratio of vaccine rollouts of any OECD country. The delayed decision to even order them has the Pfizer vaccine available late to the majority of the country. Many are only now able to get their first dose, while other countries prepare to give their third. Given the increase in community transmission, and our low vaccine rate, this new total lockdown is viewed as a rod for the government’s back. For so many others it is catastrophic.

We are well overdue, in fact, to look at how we are governed, doubly problematic, given that our hard-left coalition is virtually waging war upon the country by implementing identity politics, with inevitable consequences. A small minority of part-only Maori extremists, obsessed by a percentage of their racial inheritance, is pushing a Maori supremacy movement endorsed by our government’s unmistakably anti-democratic agenda.

The push towards constitutional change to establish co-governance of New Zealand along racial lines, while completely unacceptable, nevertheless brings home the realisation that constitutional change is possible. Moreover, to reclaim our democracy, there is one very practicable, achievable piece of legislation which would put us in control of determining our own directions – rather than being ruled by our oligarchy, that small group of powerful individuals now controlling the country.

The answer lies in a reform of the political system. It will not come from our virtual rulers, profiting from their domination. It will have to come from a tipping point of New Zealanders demanding it.

We are well overdue to insist on a far better outcome than being forced into complying with the agenda of a Jacinda Ardern. And no call for reform can possibly disregard Switzerland, the only real democracy in the world, prosperously and harmoniously balancing four different ethnic groups. Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what is its secret? Why is the Swiss system far superior?

Firstly, the Swiss, well aware of the corruption of power, will not allow any individual to stay as head of the country for more than a year. Ask any New Zealander or Australian to name the current President of Switzerland. Virtually no one can. The answer is Guy Parmelin. The reason few know any of their names is that after that one year, he (or she) must step down. The next in line from their cabinet of seven-only ministers steps up for a year, usually the former finance minister.

Members of parliament in Switzerland do not regard this position as full-time. Most have regular jobs in home districts as farmers, doctors, secretaries, architects, chefs or housewives. The Swiss believe in the notion of a ‘citizen legislature’ – i.e. staying close to their constituents – keeping one foot in the real world. Unlike our career politicians, for the Swiss, rejecting being politicians as their main profession enables them to keep a stronger grip on reality than shown by so many of our own MPs, where our political parties expect their members to conform to hierarchical edicts.

On the contrary, the Swiss have rejected top-down legislation. Proposals for new laws have to come from the people themselves, a practice which would make it impossible for Ardern’s government to be foisting off on us its current, immensely damaging proposals like the new ‘hate speech’ legislation – and taking over Crown and local council assets on the basis of racial preference, promoting the divisiveness to which we are being subjected.

It simply couldn’t happen in Switzerland – and it is arguably high time we looked to the clever Swiss, who, fighting for one particular piece of reform, contrived for themselves a government which acknowledges the people as ‘sovereign’ – so that when any proposed legislation is rejected, their government says it must have got it wrong.

This very simple provision is called the Facultative Referendum, not to be confused with the BCIR (Binding Citizens Initiated Referendum) which has been spectacularly inadequate to control runaway governments in this country.

Basically, in Switzerland, any government-passed legislation has to wait for 100 days for the country to scrutinise it. If 50,000 people then request a national referendum to be held, it is compulsory for the government to do so, and the people’s decision is final. To the dismay of the once-respected Economist, this has enabled the sensible Swiss to ban the facial covering of a burqa, and reject the extremist provisions of the Paris climate accords.

Given our smaller population, proportionately fewer New Zealanders could compel our own government to consult the whole country before enforcing any legislation – and be bound by the decisions of New Zealanders themselves.

We are undoubtedly overdue for political reform. Adopting the 100 Days Facultative Referendum would achieve for New Zealand a genuine democracy, where the wishes of the majority – as opposed to those of an agenda-ridden political party – would prevail.

What are we waiting for? As G.K. Chesterton reminds us, ‘The simplification of anything is always sensational’.

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