A written constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand?
A related response to the lack of checks on the power of the New Zealand government is perhaps the current resuscitation of the idea of a written constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand. A written constitution could, and in my opinion, should, open the door to the introduction of a second chamber of parliament, perhaps initially as an advisory body, but with the firm intention of it becoming a fully empowered consitiuent of parliament. The second chamber should be selected by lot from the voting register.
I don’t know of any instance where selection by lot has been used in Aotearoa New Zealand, other than the form of this process which is used when selecting trial juries. I would love to hear of trials which have taken place here. There are plenty of instances around the world, but none, it seems, from the country which was the first to introduce universal female suffrage.
Of more direct relevance to the aim of this website is the question of when and how citizens at large should contribute to the discussion and adoption of a written constitution. It is too late for citizens’ participation to be organised by lot at the outset, but the adoption of the constitution could and should be discussed, and modifications suggested where appropriate, by a citizens’ jury drawn from the voting population of the whole country and not simply be put to a binary referendum. Any constitutional commission should be comprised of citizens, chosen by lot, and advised by the legal and constitutional experts, but not controlled by them.