Dom Post on referendums

December 17th, 2013 at 5:54 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The on state asset sales was not the first held under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. It was the fifth.

If opponents of partial privatisation believe the Government is now honour bound to reverse its position on state asset sales, then previous governments were presumably honour bound to give effect to the popular will expressed in referendums on firefighter numbers, the size of Parliament, tougher prison sentences and smacking.

Yes I look forward to Labour and Greens announcing that the first act of a Labour/Green Government will be to reduce the size of Parliament to 99. If they refuse to do so, then by their own rhetoric they are being arrogant and out of touch.

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34 Responses to “Dom Post on referendums”

  1. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    Well David Labour can justify the sales ………..just like how Labour justified selling two terrorists to the French! :cool:

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  2. flipper (4,067 comments) says:

    Scrap the CIR system. The Green/Labour/Union effort on asset sell down (Not sale) was an expensive waste of time and money.

    Let’s go with the UK system….. This from the Telegraph last week:

    “…. Local residents could be given the power to force town halls to review punitive parking charges and regulations, ministers have said.
    If enough people sign a petition complaining about parking policies, councils could in future be made to hold debates and votes on the issue, according to a new Government consultation.
    The system would work along similar lines to the one that currently allows members of the public to force debates in Parliament.
    Currently if a petition on any subject posted on the Government’s website gets more than 100,000 signatures, it leads to a full debate in the House of Commons. ….”

    Much better than a CIR, and it would reduce the time available for bureaucracy-driven make work legislation.

    And think what such a system could now do in Auckland. Bye, bye red loopy Len.

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  3. bringbackdemocracy (427 comments) says:

    Labour are hypocrites on referendums.
    895,322 voted to stop asset sales
    1,470,755 voted to get rid of the undemocratic anti-smacking law

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1312/S00216/double-standard-of-labour-and-greens-schizophrenic.htm

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  4. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    And if Labour/Greens get in in 2014, What would their response be to a CIR in 2015 delivering a resounding ‘no’ to tax increases?

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  5. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    Labour and Greens pledge binding CIR – to be consistent they will put all legislation on hold pending any CIR petitions.

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  6. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    The citizens-initiated referendum experiment should be abandoned. It is an unnecessary add-on that has contributed nothing but cost to the political system.

    I agree that CIR are a failed experiment. Designed by politicians to be impotent, then ironically hijacked by politicians.

    But giving up and abandoning is not answer.

    What we should do is replace CIR with something that is effective – and not controlled by politicians or Parliament.

    Something that is fast enough to express public opinion before legislation is debated and decided in Parliament. A system of public information, debate and opinion measurement that can contribute to MP knowledge of public opinion. If it is timely it will have more influence.

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  7. NK (1,244 comments) says:

    What we should do is replace CIR with something that is effective – and not controlled by politicians or Parliament.

    I know what we could do – we could have elections.

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  8. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    @NK, and how about as an additional layer of accountability we elect all mps on a ward system where the winning candidate must gain a plurality over the others by gaining acceptance from those best situated to know those candidates, ie locals.

    Sort of like local members eh.

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  9. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    “Yes but the fact that over a million people think it’s okay to beat their kids is exactly why we need the law!”

    *This was how I had the anti-smacking referendum result explained to me by a ‘Green leaning’ work colleague…

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  10. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    Lets not forget – no compulsory super either !!!!!

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  11. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    I know what we could do – we could have elections.

    We need more than a three yearly vote. And so do politicians. They are supposed to be representing us, and to do that effectively they need to know what we think about issues they are dealing with.

    We already have public input into select committees. That can be enhanced.

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  12. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    Pete George

    Yes… lets put parliament into urgency and bypass select committee process to get that through quickly… It’s in the best interest of the voters right !!!! ;-)

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  13. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    This debate should be about the principal of referendums. There have been some I supported, some I opposed. I have not agreed with the results of all of them.

    What I do believe in is the ultimate power of referendums – that regardless of the overcome they should be binding, to reflect the will of the people who voted, on that particular issues.

    Many other countries, and many States in the USA accept the outcome of voter referendums, the sky has not fallen. Our governments, whoever they are, ought to be bound by them too.

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  14. itstricky (1,831 comments) says:

    Meh. You are being devious David. You know that there is no way Labour actually expect the Government to do anything – they are mearly playing the game to milk points. Just as the opposition does and is supposed to do. You are trying to spin in reverse by somehow suggesting that means they should agree on completely different issues from 15 years ago. National would do the same in opposition. Let us not forget Key saying that he would not rule out pushing a CIR if he was in the same position.

    The majority of CIRs have been pushed by MPS, parties and their “shell entities”. Also Colin Craig bankrolled the smacking march and presumably a lot of the campaign. So what do we have there – whomever has the most cash can set the agenda? So… Maybe it is time to look at an alternative that actually gives the collective average joe a voice.

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  15. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    Some idiot wrote to the Dom-Post saying electors will ‘remember’ that Government turning its back on the referendum result. Only problem for this idiot – those most likely to ‘remember’ would be Labour / Green supporters.

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  16. Alan (1,087 comments) says:

    The current referendum system doesn’t work for several reasons;

    They are non-binding. As such people don’t take them seriously and turnout suffers. Make them binding if the winning side can reach a threshold of 50% of eligible voters.

    The group pushing the issue gets to frame the terms of the question in a way they want. The smacking issue is a great example.

    The scope of them needs to be restricted to social and constitutional issues; you can’t undermine an administrations finances and force spending or borrowing commitments on them. Nothing that costs money should be in a CIR. Gay marriage is a great topic, asset sales aren’t.

    Do these things and you’ve fixed the problems.

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  17. Mark1 (90 comments) says:

    I always thought that the plural of a singular Latin word that ends in “um” is “a” rather than “ums”. Or am I pedantic and/or incorrect?

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  18. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    Actually, I think CIR are working just fine. The opposition gets to grandstand on them, the government gets to ignore them. For issues that are suitable for a referendum, with a well worded question, they might get listened to. For issues that are just political side shows you can word the question however you want and you get political mileage out of them.

    So, some would ask why allow them at all. The answer is….why not? They do allow the people to be heard, and whilst the answer that the “people” (being those who put up the referendum) choose might not be what ends up being done, they do get listened to in one way or another – even if it’s just as a message of “enough, no more”.

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  19. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    And I oppose CIRs utterly, regardless of whether it is left-wing or right-wing populists wasting taxpayers money on them. The far right use them to attack civil liberties and human rights, the far left use them to attack fiscal responsibility and prudent government spending (as one liberal Nat friend pointed out to me). I didn’t vote during the asset sales CIR for that reason. That, and I really think the Left need to do a lot more when it comes to elaborating their capital gains tax proposals.

    We can have endless populist rabble rousing referenda or we can have quality health and social services. We cannot have both, which is what addicts like Colin Craig, who has never held public office, fail to recognise.

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  20. David in Chch (519 comments) says:

    Chris2: California has had so many binding referendums (I accept that referenda is the Latin plural, but after listening to a learned man of words comment, I am going with his suggestion), that they have no room to move. Some of those binding referendums had implicit contradictions. I agree with Alan, that if we are to have binding referendums, then they must not involve funding or expenditures.

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  21. alwyn (425 comments) says:

    Peterwn at 8.54am mentioned a letter in the morning’s Dom/Post.

    There was an even funnier letter immediately below it. The heading on the letter was “Helen Clark would’ve heeded the result”
    After a whinge about John Key and how he’ll plough on regardless and tells New Zealanders there opinions don’t count, and then a bit about his attitude being shockingly disrespectful etc, etc, the author of the letter then wanders off into a display of inspired lunacy.

    “The way former prime minister, Helen Clark, for example, might have handled a result that she was personally opposed to would have had the decency to say: “It’s not the result I personally believe is best for New Zealand, but we’re a democracy, and I respect the will of the people. Asset sales will stop for now, but we welcome further discussion on this topic”. That’s the kind of leader I want”.

    Obviously the person who wrote this must live in some strange parallel universe where Parliament does have 99 members and the “anti smacking” legislation was repealed. Does anyone else live there with him?

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  22. Manolo (13,775 comments) says:

    Labour has zero credibility on this matter after having ignored past referendums.
    The socialists and its Luddites accomplices always speak with a forked tongue.

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  23. Yoza (1,875 comments) says:

    The dictatorial behavior of our governments, especially when dishing out valuable public assets to private corporations, was the reason MMP so easily displaced FPP as the preferred method of electing our representatives. Adding a Citizen’s Initiated Referendum was intended to provide yet another bulwark against the dictatorial arrogance of an elected minority. As neither of these institutions have achieved the desired objective, we need to consider alternative ways of selecting representatives who are more responsive to the will of the public – as I understand things; the sale of strategic public assets is opposed by the majority of those who voted National in the last election (I could be wrong, but I do seem to recall this statistic cropping up somewhere on more than one occasion).

    By carrying on in such an arrogant fashion the Key government, like the ABC camp of the Labour Party hierarchy with its attempt to undermine the will of its membership, has provided a motivating force for the public to become more receptive to considering more responsive forms of representation. Those of us interested in a more democratic society should be grateful to the Key regime for the opportunity it has provided.

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  24. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    “So, some would ask why allow them at all. The answer is….why not?”

    Because it’s a waste of money, that’s why. People are waiting for operations in hospitals and we throw money down the drain on useless politicking exercises for the Greens.

    This one in fact was far worse than all the others.

    In this case the asset sales were a key plank of Nationals campaign in the last election. National won. But the Greens didn’t like that result – they think they should have won. So they used the CIR legislation in an utterly cynical and anti-democratic attempt to subvert the result of the last election. The true hard-left totalitarian nature of the Green party coming through loud and clear. Its their way or the highway, and a stupid thing like a democratic election isn’t going to get in the way of their cause.

    Scary stuff. Wonder what they will do when they are in power?

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  25. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Yoza – “we need to consider alternative ways of selecting representatives who are more responsive to the will of the public ”

    You mean somebody isn’t doing what YOU want so you want to change the rules to ensure the results will be more loaded in your favour. Wasn’t MMP going to do that for you.

    You vote left don’t you. Something is giving it away.

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  26. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    “Many other countries, and many States in the USA accept the outcome of voter referendums, the sky has not fallen. ”

    Californians might have a different view – well the net taxpayers anyway – the ones that haven’t left.

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  27. Than (473 comments) says:

    as I understand things; the sale of strategic public assets is opposed by the majority of those who voted National in the last election

    They can’t be particularly strongly opposed if they still voted for National anyway. Asset sales were openly stated as National policy well in advance of the election and opposing them was the major theme of Labour and the Greens campaigns. Anybody who ticked the box for National is obviously willing to accept (not necessarily in favour of, but willing to accept) asset sales.

    But hey, the ball’s in Cunliffe’s court now. If he thinks state ownership would be so popular he should pledge to buy them back, and run on that policy during next year’s election.

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  28. Yoza (1,875 comments) says:

    OneTrack (1,314 comments) says:
    December 17th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    So they used the CIR legislation in an utterly cynical and anti-democratic attempt to subvert the result of the last election. The true hard-left totalitarian nature of the Green party coming through loud and clear. Its their way or the highway, and a stupid thing like a democratic election isn’t going to get in the way of their cause.

    I think you will struggle to maintain the argument that the CIR opposing the public asset sales was anti-democratic, if anything it was extra-democratic. Confining democracy to spending 30 seconds marking a card in a polling booth every three years is a long way from providing a model for popular representation, regardless of whereabouts on the political spectrum your political allegiance lies – unless, of course, you are the sort of masochist that yearns for totalitarianism.

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  29. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    Yoza

    unless, of course, you are the sort of masochist that yearns for totalitarianism.

    I don’t think OneTRack is a Green Party voter….

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  30. Yoza (1,875 comments) says:

    burt (6,558 comments) says:
    December 17th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Yoza

    unless, of course, you are the sort of masochist that yearns for totalitarianism.

    I don’t think OneTRack is a Green Party voter….

    Someone else who isn’t afraid of reality harpooning their internet ravings. The Green’s internal process is the most highly democratic of any of the political parties in parliament.

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  31. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Yoza – “The Green’s internal process is the most highly democratic of any of the political parties in parliament.”

    It’s their external processes I worry about. And David Hay, for one, doesn’t seem to agree that the internal processes are really that crash hot.

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  32. OneTrack (3,107 comments) says:

    Yoza – “Confining democracy to spending 30 seconds marking a card in a polling booth every three years is a long way from providing a model for popular representation, regardless of whereabouts on the political spectrum your political allegiance lies ”

    So I look forward to the Green Party’s formal proposal to change New Zealand from a representational democracy to a direct democracy. I haven’t heard Meteria mention it so far – maybe I missed that announcement. Or are they only interested in direct democracy when they aren’t in power?

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  33. burt (8,271 comments) says:

    Yoza

    The Green’s internal process is the most highly democratic of any of the political parties in parliament.

    Fantastic – they have a democratic election of a leader before totalitarianism is implemented in government… Hell – I’ll feel much better when they ban and regulate knowing that they took some time to choose their leader.

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  34. MH (757 comments) says:

    yes lets have sharia law and Maori referendums in local areas,and Indian laws for dairys on corners,taxi cab ranking…….

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