Craig demands binding referenda

July 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he would not form a Government with National unless it agreed to introduce binding referenda.

Mr Craig confirmed the party’s bottom line for potential coalition talks at its annual meeting in Auckland this afternoon, attended by around 120 delegates.

In his keynote speech, he said: “We are not playing a mystery game. We are being upfront with the electorate.

“The thing that we want, that will be required if a party wants our support, is that they are going to need to agree to a change whereby that the people of this country have the right on those rare occasions … to tell the government where to go and what to do.”

One can try and lay down bottom lines but it isn’t that easy. What do you do if say the hold the balance of power and National won’t agree to binding referenda. Presumably Labour won’t agree to them either, so Colin Craig them has three choices:

  1. Make John Key Prime Minister
  2. Make David Cunliffe Prime Minister
  3. Force a new election

It is unwise for any party to try and lay down bottom lines before an election. One should indicate priorities. But what you get in any negotiation will be a factor of how many seats in Parliament you get, and whether you are necessary or just desirable for forming a Government – and if you can credibly form a Government with the other major party.

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77 Responses to “Craig demands binding referenda”

  1. Southern Raider (1,809 comments) says:

    This guy is scary and is just going to waste conservative votes.

    My wife said “not sure if I want to vote for National as that may help getting Colin Craig into Parliment”

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  2. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    direct democracy…awesum. Politicians hate it

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  3. EAD (995 comments) says:

    I think that’s a great bottom line – I mean isn’t democracy supposed to be “government by the people, for the people”?

    I think something that has been lost in “modern” politics is that politicians are supposed to serve us, not rule over us.

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  4. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    “It is unwise for any party to try and lay down bottom lines before an election. One should indicate priorities.”

    I agree, it’s not a good move. Especially with any change of this type, it needs studies, reviews, and debate. I’m not opposed to binding referendums if the bar for binding law changes is made high enough to prevent it becoming a circus. But it’s dumb to make it a bottom line.

    The CP’s strategy should be to influence National by being a constructive partner, not piss them off by trying to force their hand, especially when, at 1-2%, it’s likely to be the hand that feeds them.

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  5. adze (2,105 comments) says:

    Craig may have made it easier for National in deciding whether or not to gift him East Coast Bays.
    Why are binding referenda so important to him? I suspect it’s about the anti-smacking thing.

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  6. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    EAD; Much as my fingers shake as I ttttyppe this…Judith made a good point on binding referenda..what if someone got the question” that payment of income taxes be voluntary” on a ballot? Who would vote against that? there might be a huge number of abstentions (by people who knew it was impractical) but virtually no-one would vote against it… There would have to be some kind of filter for such proposed questions…

    Does anyone know how the Swiss – stolid sensible people that they are – manage this problem??

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  7. gravedodger (1,552 comments) says:

    @ wikiiriwhis binding referenda would be another subversion of democracy as voters with a direct conflict of interest would never be disquallified.
    Bad enough now with all those with skin in the game around Tax and welfare getting a vote regardless.

    How about binding referenda around Maori seats certain to pass muster but would such an outcome be within your acceptance meme.

    Total bollocks Craig, if you really want a point of difference try a four year term and stop looking to re-litigate histo/erical shit

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  8. Ross Miller (1,700 comments) says:

    Just another reason for National not to throw ECB to Craig with his 1.2% rating in the latest poll.

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  9. SGA (990 comments) says:

    While I understand the general concept of binding referenda, I realise that I’m not sure how they are supposed to work in any detail. Does the referendum itself become law? Or, is it a directive that parliment must draft a law consistent with the referendum? Can a law that arises from a binding referendum only be changed by another binding referendum? Just curious.

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  10. SGA (990 comments) says:

    David Garrett at 1:11 pm

    what if someone got the question” that payment of income taxes be voluntary” on a ballot? Who would vote against that?

    Or eight weeks paid vacation per year!

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  11. J Bloggs (235 comments) says:

    SGA: Andrew Geddis over at Pundit has a good post on the topic.

    http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/colin-craig-is-asking-for-the-impossible

    Short version – you can’t make citizens referenda binding without fundamentally changing the way NZ governments work.

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  12. SGA (990 comments) says:

    Thanks J Bloggs, much appreciated.

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  13. EAD (995 comments) says:

    @ DG,

    The power in the Swiss system lies in the devolved system of government where all decisions bar national security, law and order are made by local Cantons. I.e there is no monopoly of government and Cantons must compete with each other to secure a resident. They don’t vote how much tax they have to pay, citizen’s just choose which Canton best serves their needs.

    Imagine I’d Otago had to compete with Taranaki which had to compete with Auckland? Very quickly, government waste would end. Government should be as small and as localised as possible(yes I’m an Austrian but a small amount of govt is required) and it is why I oppose all these eggheads who want our population to grow to 10 million as the corruption and democratic deficit would increase correspondingly and exponentially.

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  14. Rightandleft (663 comments) says:

    They work in many American states. I vote in them regularly when I post in my absentee ballots to US elections. You could easily create a proviso that gives the government a veto on any referendum which would have a major financial impact on their budget, just as they already have for members bills. That would allow the government to block the asset sales referendum or one on cutting taxes but they’d have to listen on ones around social policy like the Maori seats or the smacking law.

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  15. EAD (995 comments) says:

    One final one, lf we weren’t to have binding referenda (which I’d like to see), then perhaps we could had binding manifestos ( I know it is tough in the age of MMP).

    It would at least be close to direct democracy and mean that politicians would have to at least implement something they were given the mandate to do. The biggest affront to democracy are things like the gay marriage bill. Never in a manifesto, never put before the public, but nonetheless passed into law not as a result of grassroots demand, but top down imposition.

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  16. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    I do hope Colin gets in – I can think of many referendums that would be extremely popular. I really can’t wait to get started, at least a few of them would have to succeed.

    Apart from the one DG used, here’s a few more I think could be successful.

    No taxes or levies on Petrol.
    All ACC claims automatically accepted.
    Ban police ‘revenue gathering’
    and I think its time they made marriage licences renewable on an annual basis. :-)

    Of course the country would fall apart – but at least Mr Craig would be happy.

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  17. Paulus (2,607 comments) says:

    I worked for a large Swiss Company for a number of years – don’t believe all you see and hear about their probity.
    They are quietly venal, secretive to anybody but their own class, ( and they are the most class conscious country in the world) , and very racist.

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  18. SGA (990 comments) says:

    J Bloggs at 1:20 pm

    Short version – you can’t make citizens referenda binding without fundamentally changing the way NZ governments work.

    Ok, I see. I also see now why I was having trouble figuring out how it would work in detail.

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  19. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    I will not be voting for John Key but John Key is highly intelligent and certainly no fool. Sadly, Colin Craig does not learn from his mistakes and will not take advice except from his inner circle that he hand picked or very wealthy donors.

    I advised him on a number of occasions to read, “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury. It is even available free on line.

    http://6thfloor.pp.fi/fgv/gettingtoyes.pdf

    It basically says if you want to make someone like like a fool you might be able to to so. If you want to successfully negotiate a deal that benefits you that is also quite possible. However, doing both is almost impossible.

    I few months back I was tossing up whether to vote for Colin or Winston. I will not now consider voting for Colin. Firstly, because he does not have the makings of a politician. Can you imagine him handling foreign affairs as Winston did?

    Secondly, John Key said he would make his call on ECB by the end of this month. I see little chance of him polling above 2% let alone 3% in the next 10 days.

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  20. EAD (995 comments) says:

    @ Judith,

    As an experiment, let’s give 1 & 3 (petrol + police) a try (for 3 months) and see what happens. I’ll fund it by reducing WFF thresholds and removing race based spending. I’d like to know from the other end of the spectrum if their is chaos or if adults will make their own decisions wisely………like adults…..

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  21. ShawnLH (4,600 comments) says:

    Craig certainly is not going about this the right way if he want’s Key to get to ‘yes’ and not ‘bugger off, we don’t need you.’

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  22. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “@ wikiiriwhis binding referenda would be another subversion of democracy as voters with a direct conflict of interest would never be disquallified.”

    Binding referendums means the most votes win

    The govt is allowed their referendums binding but not the people

    How condescending and obviously agenda setting and conspiratol

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  23. 3-coil (1,215 comments) says:

    This is just Colin Craig pitching to his voters – why is everybody else (who won’t be voting Conservative Party) getting their tits in a tangle about something that will probably never come to pass?

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  24. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ EAD (549 comments) says:
    July 20th, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Ahhh EAD, you’re a cockeyed optimist. Clearly you have a lot more faith in human kind than I do.

    I think you suffer from what I refer to as intelligent delusion. You think that because you are sensible and intelligent enough to work out what is best for the country, that most people are also the same.

    The fact is that (technically) for every person with an IQ over 100, there is someone with an IQ under that. Our community exists of a heap of people who are able to vote, and do not bother to connect the dots. Getting cheaper petrol by not paying taxes would appeal to them – as would paying no income tax at all. They would not bother to stop and think of the consequences.

    Add those people to the anarchists like me, and the referendum might just suceed – and Mr Craig would have no way to stop it.

    His idea is ridiculous and demonstrates the man, whilst very nice and well meaning, is way out of touch with reality.

    @ 3-coil

    Because stranger things have happened. :-)

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  25. gravedodger (1,552 comments) says:

    Very simplistic and shallow,Wiki—–,
    A Westminster democracy and even with the shambolic rubbish MMP delivers we still have one, the people elect those who would legislate for them and when they over-reach they get their beans and a DCM well they would if the conniving scumbags didn’t resort to “The List” for resurrection.

    Give me one issue that you consider a vote available to every citizen would result in a manageable and equitable outcome that would stand without amendment for any reasonable time.
    Just one!

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  26. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    It’s easy to be silly about this idea.
    I’m not a fan of referenda but I am also not a fan of politicians that stick the finger up to the voters when they give a clear signal to Government. Such as the number of politicians.

    It is also I believe subversive tactics to use the conscience vote to introduce policy that , as has been stated, is not in anyones manifesto.
    We can easily belittle the idea by sniggering and suggesting silly stupid ideas to vote on.That won’t happen.
    If politicians represented their constituents we would not be in this position.I would like to see some National members have the balls to cross the floor over policy that they feel strongly about .

    It may be a bottom line for the CP but this is MMP.

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  27. SGA (990 comments) says:

    Judith at 1:59 pm

    The fact is that (technically) for every person with an IQ over 100, there is someone with an IQ under that.

    The exception, of course, is driving ability where every driver I’ve ever spoken to is above average.
    (Oh, and all the children at Lake Woebegon – mustn’t forget them).

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  28. redqueen (555 comments) says:

    Good plan, further antagonise National…great… ‘I need your help into Parliament, because I can’t really get there myself…oh, and here is my list of demands! And I, like many people, have had a guts full of you. Call me when you’re ready to grovel…’

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  29. OneTrack (3,020 comments) says:

    gravedodger – “Give me one issue that you consider a vote available to every citizen would result in a manageable and equitable outcome that would stand without amendment for any reasonable time.
    Just one!”

    Anti-smacking and maori electorates spring to mind.

    Apart from them, I can’t think of anything else.

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  30. DJP6-25 (1,376 comments) says:

    David Garrett 1:11 pm. It’s actually pretty hard work to get the required number of sigs. Plain hard work. The question has to resonate with the public. Case in point was the ‘Cabinet Palace’ of 1997 vintage. That was just a petition to stop the construction of said palace. It got the 200,000 signatures in three weeks or less. A friend and I collected some of them on Ballantyne’s corner in Christchurch. Even Labour Alliance people were signing it.

    The appropriate legislation would have to be carefully worded, and referenda questions carefully stated.

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  31. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    OK, someone suggested that the government have a right of veto of any referendum result that had serious fiscal implications, and that the only truly binding ones would be – for example – social issues like the abolition of the Waitangi Tribunal. Fair enough…

    Here’s the one that would prevent either major party going along with this: capital punishment is still favoured by over 60%…as it has been for years. If there was a carefully worded referendum question e.g “Do you favour the death penalty for cases of aggravated murder which now attract a minimum non parole period of 17 years?” well more than 60% would vote “Yes”….and no major party would introduce law to put it in place…and if they did, there would be chaos…the army would be needed to keep the factions apart at every execution…

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  32. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Where is the money going to come from for this apparently interminable succession of referenda?

    Personally, I think Margaret Thatcher was right to oppose them -and Key’s right on this one too, endless referenda bankrupted the Californian state economy. It’s also a wedge issue. If the fundamentalist elements of the Christian Right push this too far, they’ll lose most of their erstwhile conservative Catholic allies, who above all do not want referenda on euthanasia law reform. And possibly not anti-drug groups, either. Judging from the Economist last week, it’s starting to look as if the pot prohibitionist tide is starting to turn in the United States. Give it a few years and perhaps it’ll spread to New Zealand.

    The problem with the binding referenda fanatics is that they assume social conservatives will be the only ones to take advantage of these populist measures. They won’t. It’s a prescription for dissent and internal conflict on the right between social conservatives and libertarians.

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  33. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    …Actually that putative question is nowhere near tight enough…but the point remains the same…

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  34. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “Give me one issue that you consider a vote available to every citizen would result in a manageable and equitable outcome ”

    Compulsory military conscription would be popular.

    Get youth disciplined and educated with certificates and trade training.

    Onto a winner straight away with jam on top.

    For an apertif how about scrutiny into corporate fraud. That would be so popular National would be disgraced if they ignored it.

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  35. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “endless referenda bankrupted the Californian state economy.”

    That was obviously purposely mismanged to create the disaster as a ploy to discredit direct democracy.

    Certainly a certain number of interest must be introduced to legislators before the topic is raised in the public domain to vote on.

    I wonder how many sham topics the legislature wasted money on to diminish the effect of real concerns.

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  36. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    “Where is the money going to come from for this apparently interminable succession of referenda?”

    Strip MP’s in parliament. Strip parliamentary wages and perks so we get sincere representation.

    Reduce govt wholesale and only commit to legislation concerning the economy and not individual freedoms.

    Govt is the problem Ronny said.

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  37. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    No, w/b, it shows the danger of potty plebiscitism gone beserk and the rapacious self-interest of public relations consultancies and advertising companies who are the real beneficiaries of the referenda industry. Referenda do have a place, but they should be used sparingly and certainly not as indiscriminately and frequently as the binding referenda zealots are suggesting.

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  38. DJP6-25 (1,376 comments) says:

    So without changing our ‘constitution’, it looks like any referendum result would only be binding on a given National, or Labour led government. After that any law changes would presumably expire, or would be repealed by an incoming government of a different stripe. Presumably anyone who wanted to initiate a referendum would have to include a draft law consistent with it.

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  39. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    OK, let’s take the death penalty as an example…not an extreme; half the countries in the world have it, including the biggest democracy..

    The question for the vote is: “Do you favour a discretionary sentence of death being available for cases of aggravated murder that now attract “life” sentences of 17 years or more?”

    Once “aggravated murder” and “life” in the current context was explained, I am very confident well over half the population would vote “Yes”…They have in every reputable survey done since my book was published 15 years ago…

    SST – which currently has no position on CP – would “come out of the closet” and campaign in favour of it…let’s say the “Yes” vote is 65%…what then? Bolger once said that even if 90% of voters endorsed a return of CP he would not introduce legislation to put it in place…I have no doubt at all that the position of both major parties would be the same now…

    But let’s say some government passed enabling legislation…Have a look at footage of Ruth Ellis’ execution in 1955…Those are the kind of scenes we would witness as the pro and anti factions fought it out outside Mt Eden…You would have dozens of hung juries as soft cocks who had got themselves on juries determined to vote “Not guilty” regardless of the evidence paralysed the court system..

    “Do you support the abolition of the Waitangi Tribunal once it has completed hearing claims currently filed?” would have exactly the same results: carried by the people by a big margin; major parties reluctant to legislate; if they did, battles in the street as Hone’s racists battled it out with the ugly side of New Zealand…

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  40. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    I wonder how a referendum would go abolishing name suppression for sex offender found or pleading guilty unless the victim requests it.

    I bet this sexual predator is going to be worried for the next couple of weeks until Parliament has a recess at the end of the month.

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  41. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    Great. Binding referenda a bottom line.

    ChardonnayGuy,

    If the fundamentalist elements of the Christian Right push this too far, they’ll lose most of their erstwhile conservative Catholic allies, who above all do not want referenda on euthanasia law reform.

    Yep. Though, Colin Craig lost me a while back when he decided to take Russell Norman to court. I keep hoping some good will come out of the Conservative Party, but those photos in a meadow that Mr Craig posed for have been just too much. And now binding referenda as a bottom line. A voter veto on all conscience votes I would support, but not binding referenda.

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  42. nasska (11,277 comments) says:

    Did you see Whale’s take on Colin’s electioneering Lucia? :)

    Ref: https://www.dropbox.com/s/b3tjb4q3l7b0dmx/Colin-Craig-Unconservative.png

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  43. masterman (19 comments) says:

    “A referendum is little more than a ‘rumour of choice.’ The idea behind the mechanism, ever since its first modern manifestations two centuries ago under Napoleon, has been to replace democracy with the sensation of democracy. That is: to replace the slow, complex, eternally unclear continuity of democracy, and all the awkwardness of citizen participation, with something clear and fast which allows those in power to impose their agenda. Through an apparently simple question with a one-syllable answer, those who ask can get a blank cheque from the citizenry; that is, if they choose their moment well and come up with a winning question.”

    “Stop the talk, we’re going to decide, yes or no. At this point the citizen’s role is to wave one flag or the other and cheer for one side of the simple question or the other. In other words, we’re reduced to children.” John Ralston Saul

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  44. Fentex (936 comments) says:

    Andrew Geddis points out that NZ’s constitutional arrangements just don’t work with binding referenda.

    To allow for it we;d have to do some structural work on the constitutional basis for government in NZ. Which given the impositions on public freedoms we’re increasingly seeing in Westminster style democracies may not be a bad thing to look to.

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  45. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    DG.I often hear this argument that we can never touch the sacred race based seats or Waitangi gravy train or there will be ‘battles in the streets’.

    Does this mean we have to be held ransom and see this crap perpetuated so that the next generation get to pay again?

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  46. georgebolwing (793 comments) says:

    I thought Andrew Geddis’s analysis was superficial.

    There are enough example from US States that have voter-initiative laws to see that it is legally possible to do what the CCCP want.

    The big difference is the the US federal constitution and the state constitutions have Bills of Rights that stop the worst excesses of populism.

    Gay marriage in California is a good recent example. An initiative to get an ordinary state law restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples was passed by the voters, but ruled unconstitutional by the state courts because it was inconsistent with the State constitution. So the promoters of the ban next got an initiative to change the state constitution on the ballot and that passed. But then the Federal courts ruled that the change to the State constitution was inconsistent with the federal constitution and the US Supreme Court (albeit for procedural reasons) agreed.

    As I have said before on this blog, I would like both the CCCP and the National Party to say that any proposal to have citizen-initiated binding referendums will be accompanied by making the NZ Bills of Rights binding on both Parliament and the people.

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  47. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    wiseowl: We will be paying again mate, regardless of whether the Tribunal remains in existence…

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  48. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    DG.
    Speaking of this topic. Some interesting discussion on the onelaw4all blog today.

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  49. big bruv (13,718 comments) says:

    DG

    I take issue with your comment that those of us who want an end to apartheid politics are the ugly side of NZ.

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  50. Lucia Maria (2,306 comments) says:

    Nasska,

    No, I hadn’t seen that. Very funny, and unfortunately a natural consequence of what he’s allowing himself to be portrayed as.

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  51. chris (644 comments) says:

    The first citizen’s initiated binding referendum I’d like to see would be to prevent citizen’s initiated referendums from being binding ;)

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  52. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    BB: You misunderstand me…What I meant is that any such clash with Hone’s followers would inevitably bring out the extreme on the other side…

    I absolutely agree the Tribunal should be wound up…but at the risk of sounding like a know all, my very limited parliamentary expense also tells me it aint never going to happen…and if it did, we would be paying again in 20 years or less anyway.

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  53. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    The following video is why we need binding referenda on conscience votes. John Key has broken he promises on a number of occasions and this is but one example. He promised to change the law if good parents were prosecuted for lightly smacking their children. He now tries to weasel out saying the numbers are not high enough for him to keep his word like he is so fanatical about in regard the pension age.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhu-qI64OSY&list=UUabtaGQvHpvPMoZfGM1dmRQ

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  54. Rightandleft (663 comments) says:

    DG,

    If we are being prevented from enacting laws that a large majority of the populace want because of some sort of a tyranny of the minority, then surely this is an undemocratic situation which needs to be corrected. If the majority of people believe in the death penalty then we should have it, as most US states still do. I expect the death penalty would be reserved for the worst of the worst in NZ, people it would be very hard to protest violently in favour of.

    I also reject the idea that we should avoid removing the Maori seats and race based funding just because it might lead to some angry protests by fringe radicals that make up a tiny sliver of the electorate. Biculturalism has failed to show any real benefits for Maori in thirty years and sticking with a failed policy out of a fear of the radicals is foolish. Let them protest all they want. But if the changes have been enacted by a referendum of the whole NZ populace they won’t be able to blame the government or any particular party. They’ll have to accept they’ve failed to convince the NZ people of the rightness of their cause.

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  55. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    Right and left: I agree with you…and disagree…While in theory “if the majority want the death penalty we should have it”, as I have posted here before I am convinced that if we did, we would very soon regret it. The main reason is that – because we have become such a soft society – there would be a huge number of “not guilty” or “guilty of manslaughter” verdicts when they should have been murder…But don’t take my word for it! Ask any 20 something you know whether, if they were on a jury in a murder case, they would vote for conviction if they knew the sentence might be death, regardless of the evidence. If you can find more than two in ten, please do let me know.

    As for the Waitangi Tribunal and the Greivance Gravy Train I am agin both..I would think it wonderful if one of the major parties would promise – and follow through – with abolishing the former, and doing all it could to end the latter. But look at recent history: In 2008 Key campaigned on abolishing the Maori seats…so did ACT… with ACT’s support they could have been gone… But what did Key do? A deal with the Maori Party, whose very existence relies on those seats.

    In other words, in the absence of a marked turn to the right – and while I wish I could see it I cant – I think both the Maori seats and the Tribunal are staying.

    Oh, and watch the 1law4all Party get about 0.2% at the upcoming election…they couldn’t even get someone to lead the damn thing until a couple of months ago!! (Red doesn’t think they are Right enough)

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  56. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    DG.
    Key had the opportunity to make a stand and failed.
    It’s just not good enough that he ‘did a deal with the Maori Party’.
    That move has caused massive damage to this country and he should have stood up to them even if it meant going to the people again to get a mandate on that issue.
    A huge call but a right one. The public would have supported an end to the rort.

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  57. Unity (526 comments) says:

    Binding referenda have been very very successful in Switzerland for over 140 years. Because the Government know unpopular policies will trigger a referendum they actually listen to their citizens so as a result they have very few referenda. It is said Switzerland is the only true democracy in the World. As opposed to us where you have to get over 250,000 or more (not sure of the exact number) signatures to trigger a referendum, in Switzerland they only need 50,000 and they have a much bigger population than we do. Also their politicians only meet every few months and are part-time so imagine the saving in costs. I believe their Prime Minister only serves for 1 year. Wonderful. It’s a win win situation for the citizens.

    I’m all for binding referenda so we can have a say in the running of our country and not be totally ignored no matter that overwhelming referenda want a certain thing. The politicians just thumb their noses at us and act as if they know better than we do. I will be giving my Party vote to the Party that has not only binding referenda but racial equality under the law also. Both are imperative in my view. No surprise where my vote will be going!!

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  58. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    Unity: No, no surprise where your vote is going…and good to see you so passionate about it…But here’s what’s going to happen – assuming Craig gets a seat or two…Key will say “no way” to binding referenda, and Colin will have to make a choice: Give them confidence and supply anyway, or sit on the cross benches..Even if the Cons got 10 seats – which I am sure they won’t – Key would never do a deal that involved compulsory referenda…or if he did, the necessary Bill would disappear into Select Committee and never be seen again….sorry mate, but this is the reality…

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  59. big bruv (13,718 comments) says:

    DG.

    You are right, I did understand you.

    As you were old chap :)

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  60. Rightandleft (663 comments) says:

    DG,

    Well I am a 20-something myself and nearly all my friends are in that age bracket, so I have in fact discussed this issue with them. Not only that, but as a social studies teacher I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the death penalty each year with teenagers and seen where their views are. Among my friends, who are mostly left-leaning teachers and union members by the way, there are a surprising number in favour of the death penalty, even among those who are otherwise hard-left on most issues. I remember having one discussion where a few of our other leftist friends were shocked when I said I was very pro-death penalty, but then even more shocked when several others agreed with me (they know I’m right-wing so I wasn’t as shocking).

    Among my students a clear majority, in fact an overwhelming majority, are in favour of the death penalty every year when I ask the question. We also teach the Treaty and an even larger majority want to scrap the Maori seats in Parliament when polled on the issue.

    As for the problem of juries refusing to convict, I think that’s solved by only seeking the death penalty in the most extreme of cases where there is no question of guilt. People in the US have similar levels of support for the death penalty and yet juries there still routinely condemn murderers to death. It could help to have changes to jury selection methods where the prosecution could question potential jurors on whether they were okay with the death penalty, as is done in the US. If I was personally designing the system the death penalty could only be applied if the accused was found guilty beyond any doubt, rather than just reasonable doubt.

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  61. Pete George (23,474 comments) says:

    It’s possible Craig has issued a binding referenda bottom line to give him a face saving excuse for not being included in a coalition or C&S deal with National.

    It’s also possible he recognises going into coalition with zero experience in Parliament would be a huge challenge and would detract from setting up and establish a parliamentary party. So he is ensuring he gets onj the cross bench regardless of any outcome (if the party makes it in).

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  62. wiseowl (869 comments) says:

    Right and left.
    Sounds like there is hope.
    I have detected a similar disquiet among younger people who have been indoctrinated but are starting to think for themselves and hope that in the future there will be a backlash against racist privilege and special treatment.

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  63. KevinH (1,217 comments) says:

    Okay lets cut to the quick no bullshit. What sort of referenda is Craig talking about. What does his party want? Let’s face it , the Conservatives if given the opportunity would dictate the terms of referendum’s therefore the electorate is entitled to know what the Conservatives are pursuing.

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  64. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    Right and left: I also am very interested in what you say…now that I think about it, I recall being quite surprised when I visited my old school when I was an MP…three strikes had just passed, and I asked a bunch of seventh formers (year…13’s??) what they thought about it, expecting them to think it was a dreadful idea…to my surprise, after I explained it, a clear majority said they thought it was a perfectly reasonable concept…which did surprise me…

    So, as Wiseowl says, “sounds like there is hope”!!

    As for jury selection in a capital case, of course prospective jurors would be asked “Would you feel able to bring in a guilty verdict having heard all the evidence if you knew the person might hang?” I simply cannot conceive of naïve 20 year old Green Party members honestly saying “Yes”…but I have no problem believing they would SAY Yes, and have no intention of doing so, no matter what the evidence…But maybe I’m wrong…unlike the lefties, I have never had any certainty I am right about anything very much…excepting that 3S is a damn fine idea, and well overdue!

    Please don’t misunderstand my own change of position…I have no problem at all with guys like Burton and Bell – both of whom incidentally fit your criteria of “beyond any doubt” – being hanged…my change of mind is because I fear if we did have CP again, softies on juries would bring in manslaughter verdicts, even for evil animals like Bell….Perhaps I am too pessimistic…

    Just out of interest, what is your view on juries deciding the prisoners sentence as well as guilt or innocence? As you probably know, a number of US states have juries making the sentencing decision as well…

    PG: Your last para makes sense…but I wonder if Colin really does realise the challenges he would face, and the massive learning curve he would have…

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  65. eszett (2,401 comments) says:

    georgebolwing (602 comments) says:
    July 20th, 2014 at 5:01 pm
    I thought Andrew Geddis’s analysis was superficial.

    There are enough example from US States that have voter-initiative laws to see that it is legally possible to do what the CCCP want.

    Well, it seems you haven’t quite understood Andrew Geddis analysis.

    The fact that we do not have a constitution is the big difference to the states.

    There is no simple way to introduce “binding” referenda in NZ without making some fundamental changes to the way our parliament works. There is no mechanism to make it binding, meaning any decision can be overturned by any future parliament.

    The call for “binding” referenda is nothing but a populist demand by Craig, not thought through one bit on how that would be possibly achieved.

    Only shows how political naive and inexperienced he is.

    He will either have to water down his demands to “lets have a look a binding referenda” or he is demanding something that National simply cannot deliver.

    Andrew’s analysis is well worth a read:

    http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/colin-craig-is-asking-for-the-impossible

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  66. Rightandleft (663 comments) says:

    DG,

    On juries choosing the sentence, I have conflicting thoughts about it. On the one hand I think juries would tend out longer sentences than I see judges giving here, which would be good. But on the other side I’ve seen stats that in the US juries tend to be much harsher to Blacks and men who commit crimes while Whites and particularly women get lighter sentences. It’s very important to me that sentencing is colour-blind and fair so I’d rather leave it to a judge. My worry there is that a judge would act like our political class has, morally superior to us plebs, and refuse to actually impose a death sentence. So there would have to be much stricter sentencing guidelines where someone is found guilty “beyond any doubt” of a first degree murder. Oh, and I do think we should have degrees of murder as in the US. The death penalty has been found to deter criminal murders where they’re pre-planned, but not for spur of the moment crimes of passion, so it should be limited to what the US calls first-degree murder.

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  67. Harriet (4,848 comments) says:

    If you are looking for more of a say in government, then you would first get rid of private members bills as they are corrupted by all parties.

    No party took prostitution, anti smacking, or gay marriage to an election. And on all three matters kiwis were by and far against them.

    Next is euthanasia as a private members bill. And that too will be policy for a minority group —- exactly what MMP is for – see now how corrupted politics is with private members bills? What’s the point of MMP?

    National doesn’t want to get into a coalition with the Conservatives who may get say 9% of the vote – but National will represent 3% of the population under private members bills to get gay marriage passed – without having raised the issue at all prior to ANY election – Where’s the ‘conscience vote’ in that from National? What’s the point of MMP with that behaviour?

    Get rid of private members bills and you won’t really need public referrenda. But more importantly – MMP will be working as it is ment to.

    In other words private members bills make the whole democratic MMP system pointless. And the individuals doing that are MP’s and political parties. That is corruption.

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  68. David Garrett (7,110 comments) says:

    Right and Left: We actually already effectively have FOUR degrees of murder…but they are differentiated by sentence and not by charge…

    Your common or garden murder (You kill your unfaithfull wife for example) gets a life sentence with a minimum not parole period (NPP) of 10 years…Judges can and do impose longer NPP’s than that, but usually not much longer…If the murder is “aggravated” by any of the factors in s.104 of the Sentencing Act (such as unusual premeditation and planning; murder for money; murder committed in the course of a house invasion; an unusually callous or cruel murder etc.) the NPP is at least 17 years… Judges can and do impose longer NPP’s for that category… I think 23 years is the high point thus far since the Sentencing Act was passed…(Bell at 30 years is the longest thus far)

    Since 2010, Judges have been able to impose Life Without Parole (LWOP) which is for where nothing less can meet the requirements of punishment and retribution set out in the Sentencing Act…there have been no LWOP cases so far, although in one (Killing of a young girl in her home by a man who had killed before) the Judge said he was “on the brink” of getting LWOP (I personally think he was well over it, and should have got LWOP…partuicularly as not only was he not remorseful, but he continued to deny his guilt…)

    The last and very unusual category is where the person is guilty of murder, but in all the circumstances of the case a life sentence is not warranted…to my knowledge there have only been two such cases…each was an elderly person killing his spouse when the spouse was suffering terminal illness and had asked the spouse to kill her (both were murders by men)…The cases are not manslaughter (Killing by an unlawful act where there was no intent to kill) but in my view it was quite right and just that those guys didnt serve time…

    So…we have ONE charge – murder – but FOUR possible outcomes…(other than acquittal of course)

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  69. Chuck Bird (4,847 comments) says:

    The death penalty is but one reason why binding CIR will not work. The wording is another very good reason.

    A referendum must a short easily understood question. How could a question on euthanasia be worded simply?

    A much better way is if the bill get passed at all 3 reading then if has to be approved at a binding referendum by a simple majority before it becomes law.

    Most people on this blog see that binding CIR is not practical. There for Key will not agree to Colin’s bottom line so I think Colin has painted himself into a corner is he somehow manages to get into Parliament.

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  70. lolitasbrother (664 comments) says:

    Nat party drivel Farrar.
    One of the reasons people dislike the Key Govt is refusal to read and act on people’s wishes.
    If Nat party wants why doesn’t it abolish Referenda.

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  71. Mark (1,479 comments) says:

    Chuck, ok so your law goes through the select committees and is passed by binding referenda and then for whatever reason needs to be amended. Is there another referendum to amend the law?

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  72. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Lucia Maria: For the record, I’d probably oppose any binding referendum on euthanasia/physician assisted suicide. While I think it should be debated in Parliament and be voted on in that forum, the fact of the matter is that until and unless there’s a shift of medical opinion, such legislation will not be passed in this country. The authority of medical practitioners as responsible and knowledgeable professionals is too great.

    Personally? I find the disability right’s lobby’s arguments against decriminalisation more and more persuasive as time goes on. Is it safe for people with disabilities given that there is still so much disability discrimination in New Zealand society?

    To be honest, I’d like to see the ultimate abolition of nonbinding CIRs, but I’d be willing to settle for the exclusion of human rights and civil liberties questions* from the CIR Act as an interim measure.

    *One Catholic friend said she thinks that’d be a good idea from the anti-euthanasia corner’s perspective, because she thinks that anti-euthanasia groups could lodge a disability discrimination intervention against any proposed euthanasia law reform bill.

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  73. Changeiscoming (184 comments) says:

    Judith says
    I do hope Colin gets in – I can think of many referendums that would be extremely popular. I really can’t wait to get started, at least a few of them would have to succeed.

    Judith there is nothing stopping you getting started now! All you have to do is come up with an approved question and go out and collect the 10% of signatures and away we go to the booth to vote.

    The only difference with what the Conservatives are saying is – should the govt listen to the people or continue to ignore the people.

    I do however, strongly agree with the first part of your statement – I do hope Colin gets in.

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  74. freethinker (688 comments) says:

    The profs argument overlooks the constitutional change made when Margaret Wilson abolished appeals to the Privy Council and established a supreme court were some incumbents are by comparison with the Law lords intellectual pygmies with dubious integrity – Justice Wilson for instance. I quite like the idea of Chuck Bird to ratify law by referendum but possibly impractical in terms of volume of law legislated so perhaps a referendum on if voters want binding Referenda even if restricted to power of recall allowing for a vote to remove politicians who voted for a particular act to be removed and as a result their votes redacted.Nothing galvanises those in power more than the reality of loss of office so may force a more genuinely consultative process.

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  75. ROJ (115 comments) says:

    I was gobsmacked this morning to hear the follow-up by Craig on this. He actually seems to be getting the hang of politics, eventually.

    What I heard was that he was now saying this was his top item for negotiation …

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  76. Unity (526 comments) says:

    I can’t for the life of me see why our Constitution needs to be changed to allow binding referenda. Why can’t there be a simple law change saying future referenda will be binding on the Government. I mean we do have referenda in this country, so making them binding shouldn’t be that hard!! The anti binding referenda brigade are putting all sorts of ridiculous obstacles in the way. The people are not stupid and it isn’t easy getting enough signatures to trigger a referendum in the first place. In this country it is either 250,000 or just over 300,000 signatures, whereas in Switzerland it is only 50,000. Even 50,000 is not an easy task. As I’ve said countless times in Switzerland they haven’t had very many referenda in the 140 years it has been law, because the Government knows if it doesn’t listen the people will try and get enough signatures for a referendum, so it actually listens to the people!!

    Of course the Government won’t want binding referenda because their power could be taken away and they just might have to listen to the people for once!! Perish the thought. For a true democracy we must be listened to and binding referenda is one way of doing this. Another way is for the 100 Days system (when legislation is passed the people have 100 Days to get enough signatures to oppose it) to be ushered in but that is another story and can be found on the 100 days website.

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  77. ChardonnayGuy (1,199 comments) says:

    Are the social conservative zealots for Swiss facultive referenda aware that some Swiss jurisdictions have passed legislation that approved state-subsidised heroin maintenance programmes (which actually sounds like a good idea to me, and which I understand is the case for addicts in the United Kingdom) and that Zurich has used the facultive referenda process to sanction and maintain existing and overseas access to the Zurich Dignitas assisted suicide clinic?

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