Key’s republic comments dismay monarchists



Prime Minister John Key’s meeting with the Queen this week at Buckingham Palace has struck a discordant note with monarchists back here in New Zealand, after he described the country’s republican future as “inevitable”.

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, Key said “It’s inevitable, but it’s very unlikely that it will occur under my leadership.”

It’s a line that was also followed by his Labour predecessor Helen Clark who, despite playing coy on the main issue, rapidly made constitutional changes hastening republicanism, including cutting links to the Privy Council and removing Knights and Dames from the Honours system.

Monarchist League spokesman Robert Mann, in an email to National MPs this afternoon, expressed dismay at Key’s apparent refusal to stick up for Queen and country.

“If he meant no criticism of the “inevitable” trend which he’s alleging, this is very bad news. Did this man campaign on the Clark/Cartwright line re monarchy? Is his ‘very unlikely’, as opposed to ‘never, on my watch’ much less ‘over my dead body’, merely a further signal of his PR-dominated attitude to democracy?

“His frequent sub-chant “y’o” [you know] expresses, I fear, a postmodern degraded egalitarianism. He appears to be projecting a ‘person of the people’ wimpish image – doubtless coached by Crosbie Textor PR agents, as Clark was coached by the cynical atheist Brian Edwards,” said Mann.

Meanwhile, Key has clarified his concerns about a new British departure tax on long haul flights, saying he’s worried other countries may impose environment taxes on flights to New Zealand.

He is also raising questions about how rational British plans to more than double the tax to fly to Australasia are.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s pre-budget report proposed a $240 tax on flights to New Zealand by 2010. The increase would come under changes to Air Passenger Duty (APD) flight taxes, imposed to penalise travellers who use most environmentally-damaging fossil fuels.

The passenger levy — which increases the further a passenger is flying to help offset carbon emissions — would affect New Zealanders flying home from the United Kingdom.

“Firstly as I pointed out to Prime Minister Gordon Brown it’s not necessarily rational,” Key told Radio New Zealand.

There were efficiency differences between airlines and aircraft and some airlines, including Air New Zealand, were trialling biofuels.

“So to simply put a random tax on because we are a long way away in our view is not only unfair but I am worried about the contagion effects of that, where you might get other countries in Europe imposing the same thing.”

He questioned how the tax would work in practice, for instance when passengers had stopovers.

“We just indicated we were concerned about it, we didn’t think it was fair, and we’d like to progress the issue further if we can.”