“New Zealand has marked the Queen’s 84th birthday by rejecting an attempt to abolish the monarchy,” writes Paul Chapman for The Telegraph. A bill that would have set up a referendum on the country becoming a republic was thrown out by parliament on its first reading, by 68 votes to 53. Keith Locke, the Green MP who tabled the bill with Labour’s support, said it could have led to an elected president having similar powers to the Governor-General, the Queen’s representative. “The question many New Zealanders ask is: Why should we have a head of state on the other side of the world who is not a citizen of our country?” Chairman of Monarchy New Zealand Professor Noel Cox hailed parliament’s stand, saying: “New Zealanders should strongly support their democratic monarchy, and are rightly proud of it. “He condemned the bill as “an expensive and time-consuming waste of taxpayers’ money”. An opinion poll, conducted by the Republican Movement just before the vote, showed 45 per cent of respondents favoured Prince Charles becoming the next king of New Zealand, with 43 per cent supporting a republic. Women supported the monarchy more strongly than men.