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Annual Sir John Graham Lecture 2012: Can the ruler truly be a servant?

Political power, which can so easily be abused, is supposed to be exercised, checked and limited by the very people over whom it is exercised. But what is the proper scope, and what are the limits, of rule by the people and their elected representatives? For the sake of the common good, what sorts of decisions should be left to non-governmental authority structures, beginning with the family? What sorts of limits on power should democratic regimes respect for the sake of these “mediating structures” of civil society and the rights and dignity of individuals? How can democratic government be strong enough to achieve its legitimate goals, but limited in ways that protect against tyranny?

With the New Zealand constitution currently under review, it is a good time to be asking such questions. How is power limited and who should have the final say on our laws—government, Parliament, judges or the people? How do we provide for ourselves a government that can reflect and sustain who we are as a nation?

Internationally acclaimed legal and political philosopher Professor Robert George has spent many years addressing these questions. He will help us understand how constitutional government can serve the cause of freedom—and the common good—without becoming a mortal threat to freedom and the common good.

Read about Professor Robert George

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