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The powers of the Governor-General are set out in the Letters Patent , and it is for the courts to decide on the limits of these powers. The Governor-General's main constitutional function is to arrange for the leader of the majority party in Parliament to form a government. Almost all the powers of the Governor-General are now statutory.

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The Crown is part of Parliament and the Governor-General's assent is required before bills can become law. The Governor-General is required, however, by constitutional convention and the Letters Patent, to follow the advice of ministers. In extraordinary circumstances the Governor-General can reject advice if he or she believes that a government is intending to act unconstitutionally.

This is known as the reserve power. The Sovereign appoints the Governor-General on the Prime Minister's recommendation, normally for a term of five years. Table 2. Catherine Maclean was born in Auckland in to Scottish parents, who emigrated to New Zealand in the s. Her father was a marine engineer employed by the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company, latterly in Waharoa in the Waikato, where Maclean grew up an only child.

One son and three daughters followed; the youngest, Judith, becoming the Labour MP for Panmure in From to Tizard tutored in zoology at Auckland University, completing her Bachelor of Arts in After her husband put forward her name as a candidate in the municipal elections she began her career in local body politics, and for 12 years balanced family obligations with teaching and council responsibilities. In , the same year her marriage was dissolved, Tizard was elected Auckland's mayor, the first woman to hold this position. Her time in office saw both the building of Auckland's Aotea Centre and the staging of the Auckland Commonwealth Games.

Re-elected as Auckland's mayor for a further two terms, Tizard was three months into her third term when she was invited to become Governor-General in December In addition to carrying out the Governor-General's vice-regal obligations and patronages, Tizard has always been a strong supporter of community, charitable, educational and women's causes.

She received an honorary Doctorate in Law from the University of Auckland in She is the fourth female Governor-General appointed in the Commonwealth. A feature of New Zealand's constitution is that, although it is a monarchy in form, it operates democratically because of a long political tradition of parliamentary government and a network of constitutional principles.

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The Government cannot act effectively without Parliament, because it cannot raise or spend money without parliamentary approval, and for most categories of expenditure this approval takes the form of an annual vote of funds to the Government. Parliament therefore has to be assembled regularly and has the opportunity to hold the Government to account.

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Under the two-party system, however, the Government effectively controls proceedings in Parliament and cases of Government members voting with the Opposition are uncommon. On 5 February the Treaty of Waitangi was presented to the assembly of northern Maori chiefs of Waitangi. The following morning 45 chiefs signed the document. Over the following six months that first Waitangi sheet of the treaty was taken around other places in Northland for the collection of signatures.

Seven copies of the treaty were made and these were taken to nearly 40 locations in the North and South Islands. In the final count of over signatures, six of the signatories have been identified as women. These women were:. This Act protects certain fundamental rights and freedoms in New Zealand. These rights include freedom of religion, speech and assembly and the right to protection against discrimination as well as fundamental principles of criminal procedure such as the right of access to lawyers and the right to a fair trial.

The rights and freedoms in the Act are not absolute and may be subject to justified limitations. But the Act provides that any limitations must be reasonable, prescribed by law, and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Unlike some similar documents in other countries the Act is not supreme law. Rather, it is an ordinary statute which can be amended or repealed by simple majority in Parliament.

Nor do the Courts have the power to strike down legislation on the basis that is inconsistent with the rights set out in the Act. However, this does not mean that the Act is a mere statement of rights. The Attorney-General is charged under the Act with the responsibility of alerting Parliament when any provision in a bill before Parliament is inconsistent with those rights.

And where the interpretation of a statutory provision is ambiguous, the Courts are required to interpret the provision in a manner consistent with the rights and freedoms in the Act. The Act came into force on 25 September Electoral reform. The Electoral Referendum Act provided for an indicative referendum on electoral reform. The referendum was divided into two parts. The first part asked voters to choose between electoral reform or maintaining of the present first past the post system. The second part of the ballot asked voters to indicate which of four options for electoral reform they preferred: supplementary member, single transferable vote, mixed member proportional and preferential voting.

The referendum was held on 19 September Of the 1 people who voted roughly 55 percent of the electorate 1 or A clear preference was shown for mixed member proportional representation which received The single transferable vote system got A second referendum will be held in conjunction with the general election where voters will choose between the present first past the post system and mixed member proportional representation. Chief electoral officer pointing out the final vote of Privacy of information.

In August , the Government introduced the Privacy of Information bill. The bill is currently being studied by a select committee of Parliament. Its purpose is to promote and protect individual privacy in general accordance with the OECD guidelines on the protection of Privacy and Transborder flows of Personal Data.

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The bill provides that requests by natural persons for information about themselves are to be dealt with in accordance with the new Act rather than the Official Information Act when the relevant sections of the new Act come into force. These sections which are modelled on Part IV of the Official Information Act extend entitlements to access to personal information to information held by private sector agencies. The right of review by the Ombudsmen in respect of refusal of personal information requests is to be replaced by a complaints procedure involving the new office of the Privacy Commissioner.

If settlement of the complaint cannot be secured by the Commissioner proceedings may be taken to the Equal Opportunities Tribunal, renamed the Human Rights Tribunal. The Official Information Act is amended accordingly in the bill.

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The Privacy Commissioner Act established a privacy commissioner with the functions of overseeing compliance by the government agencies involved in the matching of government information with the statutory controls; and of performing a general watchdog role in relation to privacy. The Privacy Commissioner has no jurisdiction to deal with complaints by individuals that the statutory controls have been breached. The controls consist of requirements such as notice to the affected individual before action can be taken on the basis of a successful match, observation of time limits on the commencement of action after a successful match, and the establishment of technical standards for the conduct of matching programmes.

The information that may be matched with the beneficiary records of the Department of Social Welfare and the Accident Compensation Corporation covers information relating to prison inmates, people arriving in and departing from New Zealand, illegal immigrants, taxpayers, recipients of student allowances and records of births, deaths and marriages. At the heart of the parliamentary system lies the power to make laws that is vested by the Constitution Act in the Parliament of New Zealand, which consists of the Sovereign in right of New Zealand normally represented by the Governor-General and an elected House of Representatives.

The principal functions of Parliament are to enact laws, supervise the Government's administration, vote supply, provide a government, and redress grievances by way of petition. The Constitution Act forbids the House to allocate public funds for any purpose unless first recommended by the Crown. Although the reasons for this provision are historical, it is also used by governments to defeat legislation brought forward by individual members which ministers are unwilling to support or adopt. On the other hand, the law forbids the Crown to tax citizens without express parliamentary approval.

Perhaps the most important privilege of the House is that of freedom of speech, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights , and claimed by the Speaker upon confirmation in office by the Governor-General. The House meets in answer to a summons from the Governor-General. Sessions of Parliament are marked by a formal opening when the Government's legislative programme is described in the Speech from the Throne, read by the Governor-General in the absence of the Sovereign, and a closing prorogation by proclamation. Because control of the House's business lies with the Government, many of the rules and customs of the House are designed to ensure that members are given a full opportunity to debate any aspect of government proposals.

A central figure in Parliament is the Speaker, who is elected to act as an impartial chairman when the House is in session. The Speaker controls debates and the conduct of members, and ensures the Standing Orders are complied with. The Speaker is assisted by the Clerk of the House of Representatives who notes all proceedings of the House and of any committee of the House, and provides advice on parliamentary law and custom.

Mabel Howard was born in Adelaide, and emigrated to New Zealand with her father and sisters in In she took a commercial course at Christchurch Technical College, and in the same year became involved in politics, joining the Christchurch Socialist Party. Following her father's active interest in the Trade Union movement, Howard held the position of assistant secretary and secretary of the Canterbury Labourers' Union before being appointed national secretary of the New Zealand Federated Labourers' Union in the first woman to hold such a position in an all-male trade union organisation.

A year later she contested the by-election for the Christchurch East seat and won on the Labour ticket. She became the Labour member for Sydenham in , holding the seat until her retirement in Howard was a woman of strong convictions, particularly where women's equal rights were concerned, and she is remembered for her forthright approach. She is most famous for her display of outsize women's bloomers in Parliament, demonstrating the poor quality of women's clothing, and the need for measurements to be given in inches.

In addition to her devotion to women's issues, she also had a love of animals. This concern motivated her to fight successfully to enact the first Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bill in New Zealand's first woman Cabinet minister, Mabel Howard. Parliamentary opposition. As the name suggests, it is the job of the opposition party with the highest number of seats to oppose the Government.

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Its role is to present itself to the people as an alternative government. It will attack government policy and attempt to demonstrate inefficiency, and government or departmental mismanagement.