SUBMISSION OF DAVID FARRAR ON THE NEW ZEALAND FLAG REFERENDUMS BILL TO THE JUSTICE AND ELECTORAL COMMITTEE
About the Submitter
- This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.
The overall Bill
- I support the bill, without amendment.
Order of Referendums
- Some groups and people have advocated that the first referendum should include a question on whether voters wish to change the flag, and if there is not a majority, there is no second referendum.
- I oppose such a move. It could result in no vote occurring on an alternative design, even though a majority would vote for the alternative design.
- Such a change could deny a design supported by a majority of voters, being voted on.
- It is quite possible a large number of voters could vote at the first referendum that they do not want change, yet could be persuaded that the alternate design is preferable to the current design and vote for it, even though they did not have a problem with the current design. There is a difference between finding the current design acceptable, and saying that no other design could be better.
- A flag is not an electoral system. A flag is simply a design, and the most informed way to vote is choosing between the current design and an alternative design.
- An electoral system can produce outcomes such as a disproportional Parliament, a lack of women, a majority Government which allows voters to decide they want change, regardless of the alternative. But a vote on a flag makes no sense without knowing the alternative.
Method of Voting
- I am disappointed that only overseas based voters will be allowed to return their votes via the Internet. There is no sound public policy reasons that voters in NZ should not be able to do so also.
- Postal voting is a dying method of voting. Restricting the referendum for those in NZ to postal voting is likely to lead to a low turnout, which could undermine the moral legitimacy of any vote.
- The turnout for postal referendums in recent times has been declining from 80% in 1997 to 56% in 2009 to 45% in 2013.
- While it is probably too late to make the necessary arrangements for this referendum, planning should commence for future referendums as postal referendums will not be viable in the not too distant future. Younger New Zealanders simply have no relationship with a post office.
Thank you for considering this submission.