Referendum Timing

February 28th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Now the Supreme Court has cleared the sale of Mighty River Power, I expect the taxpayer funded gathering of petition signatures will be presented to Parliament, and Labour and Greens will call for no partial sales to occur until after the .

The response to that should be when will Labour and Greens vote to repeal or amend the anti-smacking law, which 85%  of New Zealanders rejected in a referendum? You can’t claim referenda should triumph over election results in one case, but not in another.

Anyway what is the possible timing of the waste of money that Labour and Greens have forced on us. It is appalling that the Greens used taxpayer funding to hire peopel to collect signatures. CIRs are meant to be about citizens petitioning Parliament, not parliamentary parties using taxpayer funding to re litigate election results.

The Clerk of the House has two months to audit the petition, estimate duplicate or invalid signatures and certify if it has made the 10% threshold. It will of course make it, as the taxpayer funded collectors make it easy to do. If presented in March 2013, then expect certification in May 2013.

If for some reason they do fall short, then they have two further months to collect more signatures and repeat the process. So resubmission would be by July 2013 and certification by September 2013.

If it is certified in May 2013, the Speaker announces it to the House and the Government has one month to decide when the referendum will be held. The referendum must be held within 12 months of the Speaker’s announcement so no later than May 2014.

75% of Parliament could delay the referendum beyond 12 months.

The referendum would almost certainly be a postal referendum, which will mean a three week voting period starting and finishing on a Friday.

 

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35 Responses to “Referendum Timing”

  1. kowtow (7,871 comments) says:

    Referenda should be binding and could be timed to coincide with general elections.

    Politicians should not be allowed to ignore the results of referenda.

    CIR’s are a cynical ploy of the political elites to pretend that we are more democratic than we actually are.

    They are our representaitives ,as such they should represent us,not have the ability to ignore the electorate.

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  2. Tom Jackson (2,479 comments) says:

    It’s specious to conflate this referendum with the smacking decision. The smacking law was an issue of fundamental human rights, as would be laws on freedom of expression or voting laws. Majority opinion is simply irrelevant to such issues, since the laws exist to protect those in the minority (or otherwise lacking power) from the rest of us. It’s not the sort of thing for which votes should matter. For example, I imagine you would get overwhelming support for a lifetime gagging of John Banks, but that would be a violation of his rights.

    Asset sales are a purely political issue. Hence, it’s reasonable to take account of a referendum result (not that the referendum should be binding for obvious reasons) because while the consequences of doing it may or may not be bad, it won’t violate any fundamental human rights.

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  3. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    CIRs are meant to be about citizens petitioning Parliament, not parliamentary parties using taxpayer funding to re litigate election results.

    In very few other important areas of decision-making are we expected to accept “all or nothing” from a provider – in this case of governance. I can have my mortgage with a building society, a credit card with a foreign bank and a savings account with a NZ one.

    If someone greatly prefers National over the alternatives but doesn’t agree with asset sales it’s perfectly reasonable they should have a mechanism through which to express that preference, surely?

    It’s not “relitigating the election”; no one is challenging National’s majority, merely one of its policies.

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  4. Philonz (91 comments) says:

    Binding referenda lead to terrible law. The results will always be for lower taxes and more services. It’s a terrible idea.

    It’s also untrue that 85% of New Zealanders rejected the anti-smacking law in a referendum. 85% of those who bothered to vote answered no to a very loaded question that showed little understanding of the actual legislation up for debate.

    Every CIR so far has demonstrated that when an issue becomes emotive we throw reason and logic out of the debate and that is not the best way to decide policy or legislation.

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  5. Chuck Bird (4,734 comments) says:

    “You can’t claim referenda should triumph over election results in one case, but not in another.”

    Labour had no mandate for the anti-smacking law. Clark said she would not support such a law prior to the 2005 election.

    Referenda have their place but not over a major election issue that the major parties disagree on.

    I have just made inquiries with my share broker and reserving some shares.

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  6. alwyn (397 comments) says:

    I wonder if there is any attempt to check whether the people on the petition actually signed it?
    It must be very tempting for people who are being paid to collect signatures simply to copy names and addresses out of the roll and add a rough signature.
    Obviously one person can’t simply fill in line after line of a petition but a group of a dozen or so activists doing one line each on a page wouldn’t be obvious, particularly if the pages were mixed up with real ones.

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  7. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Considering only govt referendums are binding we have yet to learn this National govt inspired lesson

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  8. thedavincimode (6,582 comments) says:

    The smacking law was an issue of fundamental human rights

    Ain’t that the truth. So what happened?

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  9. kowtow (7,871 comments) says:

    What are fundamental human rights?

    Parents have a duty and a right to bring up their children. Loving discipline is a part of that.

    If parents do not teach their children right from wrong ,self control etc the power of the state is ultimately deployed to jail or punish.

    Some people seem to think the latter is preferable to the former.

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  10. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Ain’t that the truth. So what happened?

    Not much, other than since the repeal of s59, every parent who has smacked their child has committed a criminal offence.

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  11. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    The referendum will simply prove that the opinion polls were accurate.

    And that the public have to accept the bad with the good if they don’t think assets sales policy was reason enough for vote for the other lot – because the referendum will change nothing.

    Do the stars stand in a line when Winston, David, R and M, T and P and Colin all agree?

    How important is it to sell shares in assets before the Conservatives arrive in parliament saying they oppose asset sales?

    Or was this policy just a device to get NZF voters to vote Conservative? I raise this because while Colin Craig claims to be a fiscal conservative he proposed in the 2011 campaign that there be zero income tax up to the MW and promoted this policy to those on super – as how much extra they would be paid in super as a result. All to get votes off NZF. It was the largest tax cut proposed in our history and totally inconsistent with fiscal conservatism.

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  12. Cunningham (828 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom

    It’s not “relitigating the election”; no one is challenging National’s majority, merely one of its policies.

    But their whole range of policies depend on this one FFS! You can’t take it out and expect them to implement everything else they campaigned on FFS. If they did and decided not to go ahead with other policies as a result the Greens and Labour would be up in arms about broken promises. Makes me sick they are using my taxpayer money on this.

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  13. Rex Widerstrom (5,307 comments) says:

    Cunningham says:

    But their whole range of policies depend on this one FFS! You can’t take it out and expect them to implement everything else they campaigned on FFS.

    Well, FFS, that’s a highly risky strategy then, isn’t it! Akin to my saying that my spending this year depends not only on being able to flog my car on Trade Me, but upon it realising my asking price.

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  14. Keeping Stock (10,161 comments) says:

    What confuses me is that the Left claims as an indisputable fact that polls show that 80% of New Zealanders oppose asset sales. Yet with almost a year of saturation media coverage, countless collection points up and down the land, websites and social media urgings etc etc the Greens and Labour are still struggling to come up with the genuine signatures of 10% of New Zealand voters (excluding children, visitors from overseas and those who have signed more than once).

    On that basis you’d have to suggest that it’s not actually a die-in-a-ditch issue, but if Labour and the Greens want to die in a ditch over it, who am I to stop them?

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  15. SPC (5,472 comments) says:

    Cunningham – presumably they want the private sector to create jobs?

    So how will sucking $5B of local savings/capital into owning shares in assets that already exist create any jobs. We are now dependent on foreign investors bringing in $5B …

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  16. Nostalgia-NZ (4,992 comments) says:

    It is a risky strategy not having a backup. I’ve been wondering since yesterday what the government would have done if the Supreme Court ruled the sales couldn’t go ahead. A number of people I know are not enamored by the the ‘partial’ selling of assets and still lament over the fiasco with the railways. Yet the government were elected on the basis that selling SOE’s was on their agenda, so they need to be getting on with it.

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  17. s.russell (1,578 comments) says:

    Bill English said that he hoped to have the first sale complete by the time of the Budget on May 21 – before the referendum can be held.

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  18. Pete George (23,165 comments) says:

    It’s not “relitigating the election”; no one is challenging National’s majority, merely one of its policies.

    But if this referendum succeeds (in getting majority suport) and then succeeded in overturning National’s asset policy it would set a very disturbing precedent.

    I could imagine Labour wouldn’t be too happy if they won the next election (with Greens) and National initiated referendums to stall CGT implementation, increasing the minimum wage, killing all the cows or whatever they try and get through.

    In this case CIR is being used as a political filibuster and in fact also as Govrnment buster. It is also being used as an inter-election campaign tool, funded by the taxpayer.

    If this sets a trend in politics expect mayhem driven by the large parties. The people’s voice will be drowned out by the party systems. (Successful) sabotaging of governments could become standard procedure

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  19. Cunningham (828 comments) says:

    Rex Widerstrom (4,961) Says:

    “Well, FFS, that’s a highly risky strategy then” – sorry I went overboard with the FFS’s :-)

    Well that was the strategy though wasn’t it. They bought it to the country and were voted in. People knew the proposal to partially sell assets and they voted them in (even though granted they did not necessary like it, they saw it as necessary). How can the oppositon then turn around and say ‘oh you should drop that policy’? How the hell are we as voters supposed to make an informed decision at election time if parties could just drop policies after being voted in? When you think of it that way, the referendum is an absolute waste of time and to me what they are proposing is undemocratic. Would Labour drop a key policy after being elected if over 50% of ppl said they didn’t want it? Even if the revenue was going to be used for other purposes? OF COURSE THEY WOULDN’T!!!!!

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  20. Mark (1,406 comments) says:

    For Fucks sake National has been dithering around this issue for 3 years. They need to get on with it now.

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  21. Pete George (23,165 comments) says:

    Would Labour drop a key policy after being elected if over 50% of ppl said they didn’t want it? Even if the revenue was going to be used for other purposes? OF COURSE THEY WOULDN’T!!!!!

    Ah, but that would be different, Labour’s policies would be best for the country whether people know that or not, usually just because the media don’t explain it properly.

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  22. beautox (433 comments) says:

    It’ll be bloody funny if there is a referendum in may 2014 asking “Should national be allowed to sell assets” when in fact they sold them already, a few months earlier. Will make the greenies seem like complete tossers.

    Am I the only one who sees the arse-over-tit way the Greenies/Lefties see things: They say “Don’t sell OUR assets” when they are not in fact “OURS”. However if National sell the assets, and we buy them, they will then be OURS

    The slogan should be “Sell the government’s assets so they are truly OURS”

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  23. PhilP (158 comments) says:

    @ Mark

    “For Fucks sake National has been dithering around this issue for 3 years. They need to get on with it now”.

    Pray tell me how they were dithering when every obstacle was put in their way by Liarbour, Gweens and Maori Council.
    Had those I’ve mentioned had done nothing, then MRP would have been sold last year FFS!

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  24. Inky_the_Red (743 comments) says:

    I don’t know why Labour just say if people buy the shares than a future Labour Government will Nationalise the SOEs back at the same price less dividends paid. A socialist party would make that clear, however the liberals in Labour don’t have the guts

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  25. Changeiscoming (154 comments) says:

    We could and should follow the american model of putting referendum on the ballot at the same time as the General Election. This would reduce the costs of one considerably, to almost nothing. The only downside I can see is it takes a little longer for results to come in on Election night and we spend a little longer in the polling booth – so what.

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  26. thedavincimode (6,582 comments) says:

    Inky

    I wish they would say that but I have my doubts because they’ve provided so much entertainment over the last 4 years it just strikes me that there has to be a point when it stops. But then on the other hand, they are pretty fucking stupid so who knows?

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  27. bringbackdemocracy (412 comments) says:

    In the 2009 referendum on the anti-smacking law 87.4% voted to get rid of it. Turnout was 56.09%
    In the 1992 referendum on our voting system only 84.7% voted for change. Turnout was only 55.2%

    There is a larger mandate to get rid of the undemocratic anti-smacking law, than there was to change our voting system.

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  28. OneTrack (2,754 comments) says:

    Changeiscoming (10) Says:
    February 28th, 2013 at 5:58 pm
    We could and should follow the american model of putting referendum on the ballot at the same time as the General Election. This would reduce the costs of one considerably, to almost nothing. The only downside I can see is it takes a little longer for results to come in on Election night and we spend a little longer in the polling booth – so what.

    FFS National DID. It was one of their main policies. They WON the election with that policy clearly stated to the public. What is so hard about that to understand?

    Or are you all saying that you know better than the voters of New Zealand on what they really want? Slippery slope much.

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  29. Tom Jackson (2,479 comments) says:

    What are fundamental human rights?

    Not a question you expect to hear on a supposedly Tory blog.

    Every adult New Zealander has the right to be free from physical violence. Heck, it’s even illegal to thump incarcerated felons – because corporal punishment of adults is illegal. Children also have that right, just like they have the right not to be raped or murdered. Otherwise we end up with a situation where a relatively powerless minority can be physically attacked at will with no prospect of protection or recourse. Child beating is no different than beating our wife as punishment. This used to go on all the time, but who would stand for it to be legal now? Hell, it used to be legal in many places to rape your wife.

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  30. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    bringbackdemocracy – there was also a followup referendum on MMP where there was an 82.61% voter turnout even though only 53.86% voted for MMP. Arguably this is a far more relevant result, since there was a huge majority of voters who turned out.
    I would also point out that had the last MMP referendum been held a week after the election, instead of before the results were out, I suspect that there would have been a different result. It is wrong that the party who got the most votes by nearly 15% almost wasn’t able to govern, and had to rely on coalition partners to get a 1 seat majority.

    Tom Jackson – a smack isn’t a beating and you know it.

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  31. ChardonnayGuy (1,169 comments) says:

    Dare I suggest abolition of the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act 1993 altogether?

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  32. ChardonnayGuy (1,169 comments) says:

    And for those who want National to get into bed with the Conservatives, yes, what about their opportunist, poorly rationalised opposition to asset sales?

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  33. Paulus (2,544 comments) says:

    I hope that some of my 40 plus signatures are counted.
    M Mouse and D Duck were prominent in many electorates.
    And I was not the only multi signature, as others did so too.

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  34. emmess (1,387 comments) says:

    DON’T VOTE

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  35. Shy_stir (2 comments) says:

    Sometimes the “TRUTH” can be spun out so much that it is no longer able to be seen …so

    Crown proceeding with “Money Laundering”

    I was wondering if there are others that are concerned about the “Laundering” of the Public’s Interests in their Investments in this Nations Infrastructure (both National and Regional)?

    No I am not talking about Corporations, I am referring to the Infrastructure from which the Corporations derive an income.

    The Public Invested in Infrastructure (not Business Enterprises) and up until the Business Lobby took over Government (1984) those Investments were held under the “Stewardship” (not Ownership) of Ministries- 1984 comes along and by “Hobsons Choice” the Public’s Interests in the various properties were systematically concealed and transferred to become the Property of Corporations in which the “Public” have no Legal Interest.

    [The Crimes Act 1961 Section 243 Money Laundering defines that which is considered to be a Crime and Section 408 refers to this Act shall Bind upon the Crown]

    And now they want to sell us shares in the laundry?

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