ACT's David Seymour: Why now isn't the right time for NZ republic debate

The idea of New Zealand becoming a republic is front of mind for many following the King's coronation, but David Seymour says now is not the right time for that debate. 

The debate reignited earlier this year over the need to keep the UK royal family in New Zealand after the death of King Charles' mother, Queen Elizabeth. 

However, a February 2022 Newshub-Reid Research poll - taken several months before the Queen's death - found almost half of New Zealanders wanted to remain with the monarchy.  

Just last week, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said the country would ideally become independent in time but has no immediate plans to act on separation from the monarchy. 

ACT leader David Seymour has a similar view to the Prime Minister, telling AM on Monday now is not the time to have the conversation. 

"I mean, I just ask, what difference would it make? We need a country where, frankly, it's safe to run a dairy where people can afford to make ends meet, where we don't have 100,000 kids regularly not attending school," Seymour told AM co-host Laura Tupou.

"If you can explain to me how ditching the King will help with any of that, then I'm all ears. But it seems to be another one of those distractions, a bit like the previous topic from what is actually affecting New Zealanders."

Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick, who was appearing on AM alongside Seymour, said the conversation on if New Zealand should ditch the monarchy needs to be on our constitutional arrangements.

"I do have to say that I think the conversation around a republic and head of state-based domestically here in Aotearoa, which I guess to a certain extent the governor-general kind of is.

"I think for that conversation to move forward, we have to not see it in isolation of the broader conversation around our kind of constitutional arrangements in this country. 

"This is something that I frequently come back to when discussing the efficacy of politics in this country," she said.

Swarbrick believes the conversation should be around how New Zealand can better design our political institutions to reflect modern-day needs.

"If you were to design a system that was capable, let alone competent, of dealing with the issues of our time, you would not design the Westminster parliamentary system," Swarbrick said. 

"I think there is a far bigger conversation we can have around how we can better design our political institutions to reflect the modern needs and actually to get to those places of consensus that we were just talking about before.

"Right now, this deeply embedded adversarial approach, which is actually part and parcel of, again, the Westminster and colonial system, I don't think works particularly well for anyone."

Watch the full interview with David Seymour and Chlöe Swarbrick in the video above.