Thursday, October 26, 2017

New government sworn in

The (long…) Facebook video above is of the swearing in of the new Prime Minister and cabinet. It’s from the Facebook Page of the Governor-General of New Zealand. It turns out, that was the only place to watch the swearing in live, since no broadcast media carried it live, though that has happened in the past. This isn’t a good substitute for general availability, but it’s better than nothing.

The video is over an hour long, and begins with the new ministers being introduced to the Governor-General. She signs the Royal Warrant, designating Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand’s fortieth Prime Minister at a little before 13 minutes. After that is the signing of the warrants for other ministers, and then Prime Minister Ardern makes her Affirmation of Allegience at about 20 minutes in, followed by the other ministers making their own oaths or affirmations.

There were a few things about all this that struck me the most. First, one of the Prime Minister’s special guests was one of her high school teachers, now a principal at a different school. He had inspired her, and she wanted to acknowledge that in a very public way. Aside from being a great gesture, it was an indication of how this new government will once again make education a priority, and will work with teachers, not against them.

As I watched the livestream, I saw some people moaning about ministers making their oath or affirmation in Te Reo Māori. However, New Zealand has three official languages: English, Te Reo, and NZ Sign Language, and MPs and ministers alike have the right to make their oath or affirmation in any one of those three official languages. The people moaning about it really need to get over themselves.

Most the first ministers who first stated their allegiance made an Affirmation of Allegiance, which led one watcher to ask if they were all atheists. Of course they’re not. There are many reasons why someone would NOT take an oath swearing on a Judeo-Christian Bible and to the Judeo-Christian god, and, ironically, religious reasons is actually one reason why someone might choose the affirmation rather than the oath. Another reason is that someone who is religious may nevertheless object to a Judeo-Christian relgious-based oath in what is officially a non-denominational country. And, then, some probably are atheist or agnostic, not that it matters in New Zealand.

The video below is a description of what happened when the Prime Minister returned to Parliament after the swearing in, and the video below that is of John Campbell interviewing Jacinda Ardern on her way to Government House to be sworn in.

This was a day of pomp and ceremony, just as the opening of the new Parliament will be. But it represents the one thing that all democracies have in common, regardless of their structure: The peaceful transfer of power from one political grouping to another. No armies, no weapons, no violence or bloodshed in the streets, just very formal and pretty archaic ceremonies to mark the change. I love democracy.

Now, it’s time to get busy.

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