This conference,”Reconstituting the Constitution”, builds on an earlier conference “Building the Constitution”, hosted by Victoria University’s Institute of Policy Studies, and will discuss recent issues relevant to major constitutional change.
17-year-old Wellington College student Rayhan Langdana is looking forward to the prospect of speaking at Parliament before a conference of politicians, judges and academics.
“I would also like to see the public gallery filled with people of all ages, especially young people,” he says.
“I think people my age should be more involved in Parliament. The voting age could be lowered by one year and there should be youth seats in Parliament. Elsewhere in the world, people our age are fighting for their country and for their religion. Here, we need to be challenged and to feel our opinions are valid.”
The conference will discuss recent issues relevant to major constitutional change, such as the creation of the Supreme Court; the passage of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and New Zealand’s involvement in the international debate over climate change.
According to Professor Jonathan Boston, Director of the Institute of Policy Studies (which is co-hosting the event with the New Zealand Centre for Public Law) , the conference provides “a unique opportunity to reflect on the significance of New Zealand recent constitutional changes and the key challenges that lie ahead”.
International keynote speakers include Australian human rights advocate Father Frank Brennan; Professor Heinz Klug from the University of Wisconsin and Professor Robert Hazell, Director of the Constitution Unit at University College London.
Local speakers include Justice Joe Williams; Hon Simon Power and Drs Andrew Butler and Petra Butler, authors of Butler and Butler on the Bill of Rights.
Conference co-organiser and Victoria University legal academic, Dr Petra Butler, says: “We are very conscious of the need to pass the Bill of Rights mantle to the next generation. Rayhan’s presence at the conference sends an important message in that regard.”
The public is invited to attend the conference, which is on Thursday 2 September and Friday 3 September. To do so they should register their names with Olivia.James @vuw.ac.nz by the 1st September.
The conference is being streamed live at http://www.r2.co.nz/20100902/