New Zealand reviews loyalty oath

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The Independent Online

New Zealanders are considering whether they should give up swearing allegiance to the Queen, in a move that reflects changing attitudes to the Crown.

New Zealanders are considering whether they should give up swearing allegiance to the Queen, in a move that reflects changing attitudes to the Crown.

The once staunchly monarchist country will conduct a review of oaths taken by new citizens, people in public office and certain employees in the state sector. If it concludes that the current system is outdated, New Zealanders will swear oaths to New Zealand and its people instead of to the Queen "and her heirs and successors".

Phil Goff, the Justice Minister, said the system of oaths and allegiances had not been reviewed for almost half a century. It was "timely to consider whether our oaths accurately reflect the values that are important to New Zealanders in the 21st century", he said.

Neighbouring Australia replaced its oath of allegiance to the Queen with one pledging loyalty to Australia and its people in 1993. While New Zealand has yet to wrestle with the notion of becoming a republic, Helen Clark, the country's Prime Minister, has said that the move is inevitable in the future. A republic was rejected by Australians in a referendum in 1999, but the issue is expected to be reconsidered if Labour wins power in an election due to be held later this year.

Mr Goff noted that cabinet ministers swear allegiance to the Queen, "but not to the nation whose laws they make". He said that the government would call for public submissions on the topic, and that a report recommending any changes to the oath procedure would be prepared by the end of August.

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