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The Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Constitution

4 New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 1, 2006

Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper Series Palmer Paper No. 19

37 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2013 Last revised: 24 Feb 2015

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Although the mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system in New Zealand has changed the context in which Cabinet operates, the Cabinet system has adapted to meet the challenges of diverse parties within government. Techniques developed to deal with coalition and confidence and supply agreements, and changes in management style, have not diminished Cabinet’s coordinating and control role to any appreciable degree. The prime minister is the key manager in the process because the prime minister must manage the agreements that keep the government in office. The essential feature of MMP New Zealand is that power has to be shared, and it is the role of the prime minister to decide under what conditions. The relative fluidity of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements coupled with their inherently political character means that the prime minister is the most important actor in the New Zealand constitution. It is the prime minister who is the major player within the executive government and who has within his or her range of responsibilities making the constitution work. This paper explains how Cabinet government works including constitutional conventions, both written and unwritten, such as the Cabinet Manual 2001.

Keywords: Cabinet, MMP, mixed member proportional, New Zealand electoral system, New Zealand government, constitution

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, The Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the Constitution (2006). 4 New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 1, 2006; Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper Series Palmer Paper No. 19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2198642

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington, 6140
New Zealand

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