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The Bill of Rights after Twenty-One Years: The New Zealand Constitutional Caravan Moves On?

33 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2014 Last revised: 23 Feb 2015

Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC

Victoria University of Wellington - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 was an important constitutional development in New Zealand. Twenty-one years after its enactment it appears to have made a positive contribution to the protection of human rights in New Zealand. It is a significant check on executive power. Perhaps the time has come to entrench the Bill of Rights Act and make it superior law. In this article the author, who was then the minister in charge of its production and parliamentary passage, looks at how the Bill of Rights Act has fared and considers its future. With a constitutional consideration now drawing to a close in New Zealand, the future of the Bill of Rights Act is being reviewed. The author considers that the Bill of Rights Act needs to be measured along with other constitutional changes. Thus, the wider context and the overall constitutional balance must be assessed before deciding where next the New Zealand constitutional caravan should travel. The author examines the nature of the constitutional consideration currently underway. He concludes there is a strong case for making the Bill of Rights Act superior law.

Keywords: Bill of Rights Act, constitution, constitutional law

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Palmer QC, Sir Geoffrey, The Bill of Rights after Twenty-One Years: The New Zealand Constitutional Caravan Moves On? (2013). (2013) 11(1) NZJPIL 257 ; Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper Series Palmer Paper No. 11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2404080

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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