The SST reports that it looks likely that opponents of the anti-smacking law will gain the 300,000 signatures they need to trigger a Citizens Initiated Referendum.
They have to do it by 1 March 2008. Now just because on paper they have over 10% of the eligible voters, doesn’t mean they automatically succeed. A proportion of the signatures are always found to be invalid.
The Government will have a dilemma over the timing of any referendum. The Clerk of the House has two months, or until the end of April to determine the the petition has enough signatures. Then the Government sets a date within 12 months.
Now the most logical thing to do is include it with the general election, which will be only six months off. But Labour may not want people voting on the anti-smacking law at the same time as they vote for a party. So they may try to hold the referendum earlier.
But this will cost significantly more money to have it as a separate election. So Labour would be accused of wasting taxpayer money for its own electoral purposes. The ballpark estimate is this increases the cost from around $1.5 million to $10 million. Will the Govt has a convincing reasons for spending an extra $8.5 million rather than just have the referendum with the election?