So while in Wellington the capital of the fine nation I was informed I could scoot along to the Houses of Parliament and receive a free tour. For some one who is like me, I could not let this pass and so headed fourth to the rather grand Victorian modelled building. Now I have been luckily enough to tour our wonderful Palace of Westminster which you can only normally do with prearranged visits through your MP or as a school or some other organised body.
Anyway after passing through a rather relaxed security, and I can tell you that the Scottish parliament was more of rigorous procedure, I was through to the house. To the left was the debating chamber, to the right a stair case leading to the beehive, the seat of politics. Think of it as Whitehall. In this building the cabinet would meet, the PM has his office and the head of departments have there, well departments. The striking impact of this building is the design. It was built in the 60s to finish the original building off and even to this date, they don’t know the true cost as no paperwork or accounts were recorded. But it’s 7 storeys of marble and granite so I’m guessing it was cheap.
The parliament sits right on the main fault line of Wellington and because of this has in recent years its undergone work to make it with stand an earthquake of 7.8.
Now the NZ political system works much the same as ours, after all we started it and gave them the rules. There are some differences. There is no upper house, well there is but it is empty as 3 years in they voted themselves out and said the lower house should hold meetings among themselves to discuss laws and the like. Think of these like select committees. The parliament has been opened by the Queen, but rather than every year it’s every three years which coincides with the result of the general election.
Many years ago the government sat in the then capital of Auckland until the southern island MPs refused to travel and it was moved to the centre of the country. Can you imagine that, a government in the centre of the country it governs.
The main camber is the same size as the House of Commons, and every member as there own seat and like in the UK the government are on the right. (No pun intended)
While looking around this building with the pictures of the PMs on the wall all in date order apart from Helen Key. I think they’ll run out of room soon. There was a section where every 183 cultures were represented that lived in NZ, showing that it is a house for everyone in the land. But that is not what makes it a true democracy, oh no.
Anyone in NZ, be it a three year old to someone who is on holiday can write to the government and ask to have an audience with them to discuss a new bill, or law. That could be free ice cream to the under 5s or anyone who’s English can live and work here without a permit. And so what I hear you say! Well they have to listen and they have to debate it.
The only place in the world that allows the people who they represent a true voice, hence a true democracy.