Have Labour and Greens broken the CIR Act?

February 21st, 2014 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

Back in March last year David Farrar asked if the Greens, Labour and the Unions might break the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act.

On top of that leaked documents showed that they intended to work together on the referendum, utilising taxpayer funds to do so.

Those documents clearly show it was a co-ordinated campaign working together.

S42 of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act states:

Every person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 who, either alone or in combination with others knowingly spends, on advertisements published or broadcast in relation to an indicative  petition, more than $50,000

And the election returns show:

  • Service and Food Workers Union – $26,269
  • Labour party – $45,382.95 
  • Public Service Association – $3987.18
  • The Green party  – $39,541.49
  • The NZ Council of Trade Unions – $523.20
  • First Union – $23,356.08
  • The NZEI – $547
  • NZ Nurses Organisation – $556

Whale points out:

Total Spend  by Unions, Labour and the Greens is $140,162.90

Labour and the Greens by themselves breach the act, with combined spending of $84,924.44

Will be very interesting to see what the result of a complaint would be.

The $9 million waste of money dates

October 1st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

3 news reports:

A citizens-initiated referendum into National’s asset sales will be held by postal vote in November.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed the referendum will cost about $9 million and is the cheapest option to hold the non-binding vote. Voting in person would cost taxpayers $39m.

That’s a relief!

Voting will be open from November 22 and close on December 13.

By which time there may only be one sale to go! Ridiculous. Phil Goff said the 2011 election will be a referendum on asset sales. He was right.

Armstrong on asset sales referendum

September 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in the NZ Herald:

The time has surely arrived to dump New Zealand’s failed two-decade-old experiment with American-style citizens-initiated referendums.

Anyone questioning that recommendation should look no further than some of the self-serving behaviour following last Monday’s official authorisation of such a plebiscite on National’s partial privatisation programme.

The will of the people – David Lange once observed – was a fickle beast. It could be an awful tyrant; it could be a terrible slave.

Someone should have told the Greens. They are happy to accept the will of the people when it comes to the results of the forthcoming referendum on asset sales. But not so when it came to the 2009 referendum on smacking. That is hypocrisy, pure and simple. If you accept the will of the people once, you have to accept it for good. And that is not a recipe for good government.

If you do accept it, you accept your Cabinet decisions are going to be proscribed by referendum. The Greens would not like that happening to them. So why impose such restraints on National.

Thank God someone is calling it for what it is – flagrant hypocrisy.

If there was a successful CIR on lowering income tax rates, would the Greens drop their opposition to lower taxes? Of course not.

When the law allowing voters recourse to these devices was passed by Parliament 20 years ago, Labour’s Michael Cullen described the measure as “an ill-thought-out piece of political flummery” and predicted correctly that it would end up satisfying no one. He was too kind. Making it mandatory for governments to implement the results of referendums risks making good government nigh on impossible.

Making such referendums non-binding on governments, however, renders those referendums as next to useless.

And making them binding can be a good way to bankrupt a state!

The Press on CIRs

September 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

When the act allowing for citizens initiated referendums to be held was passed in 1993, it provided that they could only be started after a petition to Parliament signed by 10 per cent of registered electors within 12 months.

The provision was designed to be, and has been, an effective deterrent to single-issue cranks getting their pet obsession on to a ballot paper. It means that anything that does make it to a referendum has some public support already.

It has not, however, prevented the four referendums held so far from being a waste of time and money. All four have produced the answer their proponents wanted and all four have, quite properly, been ignored by the governments of the time, both Labour and National-led.

People should keep asking those who claim a CIR should trump an election, when they will vote to amend the anti-smacking law in line with the 87% vote in that referendum.

The referendum is even more pointless than usual. Not only will it have no influence on the Government’s stance on the issue, it is also on a matter on which the Government undoubtedly gained a mandate at the last election – the fate of state assets was one of the foremost issues of the election campaign. The partial sale of state assets is, furthermore, an issue for which the Government will be answerable at the general election just over a year from now.

That is how it should be. You put up a policy at an election. You keep your word and implement it. You get judged on your record at the next election.

Cheek indeed

September 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in NZ Herald:

The week’s prize for barefaced cheek must surely go to the Greens.

With Parliament’s Clerk of the House yesterday finally giving the okay for a non-binding referendum on National’s asset sales policy, the Greens listed the costs to the taxpayer so far of the Government’s partial privatisation programme.

Included in the total, which the Greens estimate as close to $125 million, was $9 million to pay for the referendum.

That sum is certainly a cost the Government has to meet. But it is a cost forced on the Government by virtue of the successful efforts of the Greens and the other Opposition parties.

They force the referendum, and blame the Govt for the cost. Incredible.

The logic for citing this as a Government-imposed cost on the taxpayer was that the referendum was only being held because National has an asset sales policy.

On that basis, the Greens should have included the nearly $50,000 in taxpayer-provided money drawn from its parliamentary funding to pay eight staff to collect signatures for the petition needed to force the referendum.

The $50,000 was only the cost of the extra staff. I estimate the total cost to the taxpayer was around $400,000 when you include all the full-time staff who worked on co-ordinating the petition.

Asset Sales referendum is go

September 2nd, 2013 at 1:58 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A referendum will be held on asset sales after confirmation that a petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act gained the support of 10 per cent of eligible electors.

The petition, organised by the Keep Our Assets coalition and led by Grey Power president Roy Reid, asked: “Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”

Shares in Mighty River Power were first floated on May 10 this year.

The Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mary Harris, today said she was satisfied the petition had more than the 308,753 signatories required on March 12, the day it was delivered.

The Clerk was originally expected to announce the results at 1pm.

But an embarrassing mistake by Greens co-leader Russel Norman has marred the release for Opposition parties.

Dr Norman tweeted the news this morning, having missed the embargo.

He then tweeted an apology.


The coalition had two months to collect 16,000 valid signatures after the initial count was deemed just short of the number required. After a thorough checking process, it was estimated that 327,224 eligible electors signed the petition, about 18,500 more than required.

This is the fifth petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act to proceed to a referendum.

The Speaker is expected to present the petition to the House tomorrow.

The Government will then have a month to set a date for holding the referendum or specify that it is to be a postal referendum.

The date of the referendum must be within a year of its presentation to the House, unless the House by a 75 percent majority vote agrees to postpone it for up to a further year.

If I were the Government I’d do a postal referendum as soon as possible – say December.

Labour’s SOE’s spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said the asset sales programme must be halted until after the referendum.

“John Key must respect the democratic process. Over 327,000 Kiwis have called for a referendum. Their voice must be heard,” he said.

What nonsense and hypocrisy.

If Labour and Greens are now claiming a referendum trumps an election, then why did they vote against allowing parental correctional smacking when 87% voted it should not be a crime? They voted down a bill to allow it, just weeks after the referendum. National voted against also, but at least National has never claimed a non-binding referendum should trump an election policy.

The point of the referendum is to politically damage the Government. Now fair enough, but let’s not pretend it is anything else.

Of course taxpayers now pick up the cost of the referendum, on top of the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on collecting signatures.

The reality is that National got a mandate for its policy at the election. This was not some minor obscure policy. It was a policy debated for 10 months after it was announced in January 2011. It was at the centre of the election campaign. Labour’s entire campaign almost was focused on stopping the partial sales, and the result was they failed.

Why the assets sale petition failed

June 10th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The assets sale petition that failed (but can be re-submitted) had the highest number of non valid signatures of any CIR since the 1990s. I was interested in why this was the case so requested documents from the Office of the Clerk, Electoral Commission and Stats NZ under the OIA.

There were 393,778 signatures submitted.  They needed 308,753 to make 10%. Stats NZ found the estimated number of valid signatures was 292,291 with a standard error of 2,579.  That meant 26% of signatures were invalid.  Stats NZ commented:

The probability of there being enough valid signatures in the full petition given the results of our sample is (negligible) less than one in a billion.

So why were so few signatures valid. The sample stats were:

  • Signatures checked 28,127
  • Unique electors 23,031
  • Ineligible signatures 4,909 (not on electoral roll)
  • Illegible signers 21
  • Duplicate 166

Now that level of duplicates may not sound high, but that is the number of people found as duplicates just in the small sample tested. If you checked the entire sample, you would get far more. Stats NZ estimates that all up, 11% of those who signed the petition signed it at least twice. That is a very high proportion, and significantly higher than any other CIR where the figure has ranged from 5.1% to 8.8%.

The proportion of ineligibles was 17%, and the range in other CIRs has been between 12% and 18%. So the key difference with this CIR was not the proportion of ineligible signing it – but people fraudulently signing it more than once. 11% means one in nine signers signed it twice!

There is a case to be made that if you sign a petition twice, both signatures should be struck out – rather than just one of them. Just like with double voting.

Incidentally I didn’t sign the petition any times. To the best of my memory I’ve never signed any CIR petition except the one for a referendum on the flag.

Maybe when the Greens spent all that taxpayer money on hiring people to (get people to) sign the petition, they should have told them to tell people to sign it once only.

It will be interesting to see how many duplicates are there when they resubmit the petition in two months. If they target the same people and areas as the previous 12 months, then they may end up just getting more duplicates.

My thanks to the agency staff who compiled the info for my request.

6. Briefing Notes for GS 02.05.2013

The parliamentary purchased referendum achieved

January 4th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Olivia Wannan at Stuff reports:

New Zealanders will have their say on asset sales this year after a petition to force a referendum reached the 300,000 signatures needed, campaigners say.

Since April, a coalition including Grey Power, the Council of Trade Unions, the Green Party and Labour have been collecting signatures for the petition.

They need 10 per cent of all registered voters, or approximately 310,000 people, to sign to force a referendum.

Grey Power national president Roy Reid said the group had collected more than 340,000 signatures, allowing for a percentage of signatures that did not meet the requirements under the Citizen Initiated Referendum Act.

It was inevitable they would get the signatures once the Greens used taxpayer funding to hire people to collect signatures. It makes an absolute travesty of a process which is meant to be about citizens initiating a referendum, not about taxpayer funded parliamentary parties purchasing one with taxpayer funding.

The hypocrisy of Labour and Greens in arranging the referendum is quite immense, when you consider their response to the last CIR – on the anti-smacking law. A massive 85% of New Zealanders voted that a light parental smack for correctional purposes should not be a criminal offence, yet they voted against a bill which would have done exactly that a few weeks after the 85% result.

Now you can have a legitimate view that parliamentary parties should vote on the basis of the policies they were elected on, not on the basis of referenda. That is my view for example. But it is hypocrisy to promote a referendum on one issue, and insist the referendum result must be followed – while you continue to oppose implementing other referendum results.

So at some stage in 2013 there will be a referendum. It will achieve nothing but posturing as the policies a Government gets elected on out-trump a non-binding referendum. The end result will just be a few million wasted on a referendum.

Purchased momentum

June 13th, 2012 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Catherine Delahunty writes:

Asset sales petition gathers momentum

Of course it has momentum. That is because the Greens are spending around $80,000 of taxpayers money to pay people to collect signatures for it. It’s an appalling use of parliamentary resources and goes against all their arguments about keeping money out of politics.

Andrew Geddis did a very good post on this issue for Pundit:

There then is a broader problem with a political party so deeply involving itself in the CIR process. When this was set up, it was designed to be a way in which broader civil society can send a message to parliamentarians on issues that it thinks important enough to mobilise around. (Actually, it was designed to be a sop to public outrage with politicians that might be enough to stop them voting to change the electoral system … but never mind that for now.)

So to now have a political party effectively bankrolling the process of forcing a CIR represents something of a distortion of its intent. (I note that Labour is somewhat implicated in this as well, albeit without apparently providing the same financial muscle.) Essentially, it is turning CIR’s from expressions of the views of a self-organising general public into yet another campaign tool deployed to advance the particular interests of organised political parties that are funded through public subsidies.

The Greens and Labour are just using the CIR as indeed a campaign tool. Then the hypocrisy:

First, it becomes pretty hard to rail against the influence of money in politics when you yourself are spending money trying to influence politics. For example, the Green Party’s policy proposal on campaign finance reform reads:

No person or entity can donate more than $35,000 to a political party in any twelve month period. This would need to include rules to make it illegal to split up large donations into lots smaller than $35,000 to avoid this cap.

So why exactly is giving more than $35,000 to a political party to spend on trying to achieve political outcomes A Bad Thing, whilst spending $50,000 (at least) on trying to achieve political outcomes is A Good Thing?

In other words it is bad thing to do, except when the Greens do it.

Anyway I am still waiting for Labour and Greens to announce they are implementing the results of the 2009 referendum, which to to change to the law so a parental smack of a child for correctional purposes is no longer a criminal offence. 87.4% of the voting public voted that it should not be.

Greens are using taxpayer funds for CIR petition

May 30th, 2012 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

I have had it confirmed that the Greens are using taxpayer funds to hire staff to collect signatures for the asset sales petition, as speculated yesterday.

This is effectively an abuse of what the CIR process is about. First of all the idea behind citizen’s initiated referenda are that it gives a chance for non MPs to petition Parliament and force a vote on an issue. It has never before been used by the losing parties in a general election to try and over-throw the results of an election, by holding a referendum on the policy which was at the centre of the election campaign. The history of CIR is that they have been on issues for which no party had explicitly campaigned at a previous election.

So bad enough that Labour and the Greens are pushing a referendum on a policy that was debated for 11 months during the election campaign, but even worse that the Greens are using some of their $1.3m of taxpayer funding to purchase signatures for the petition. The same Greens who decry money in politics. CIR are meant to be about showing the level of community support for a vote on an issue. Using taxpayer funds to hire people to collect signatures will demonstrate little other than how much taxpayer money the Greens are prepared to spend on it.

So much for being the party of grass-roots activism.

At least it is a step up from the Labour MP who was paying an 11 year old girl $10 an hour to wave Labour Party placards during the election campaign.

A referendum on referendums!

September 7th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Smacking referendum campaigner Larry Baldock wants a referendum, to run in conjunction with elections in 2011, on whether the results of referendums seeking repeal or amendment of any law should be binding.

The Kiwi Party leader and a leading organiser of the smacking referendum said the refusal of Prime Minister John Key to act on the result of that referendum raised questions about the abuse of executive power.

While I wish to see the law amended, and believe most of the public do also, the referendum was not a vote on repealing the anti-smacking law.

I, for one, would not vote in favour of repeal and returning to the old law.

I certainly would vote for amending the law, as outlined in the Borrows amendments in the Boscawen bill.

But the referendum did not specify that the law be repealed or amended. For Baldock’s proposal to work, the referendum would have to explicitly (instead of implicitly) state what law is to be repealed.

If we did have binding referenda, I’d be tempted to start one to get rid of the archaic criminal offence of blasphemous libel. Blasphemy should not be a crime – it should purely be an issue between a person and their church.

Final Referendum Result

August 25th, 2009 at 1:54 pm by David Farrar
  • Enrolled Voters: 3,002,068
  • Votes Cast: 1,684,402 (56.1% of enrolled)
  • Invalid Votes: 1,685 (0.1% of enrolled) – unreadable etc
  • Valid Votes: 1,682,717
  • Informal Votes: 10,421 (0.6% of valid votes) – no indication of vote
  • Yes Votes: 201,541 (12.0% of valid votes)
  • No Votes: 1,470,755 (87.4% of valid votes)

Incidentally I have run the results through my margin of error calculator as it it were a poll. If one assumes those who did not vote would vote the same as those who did vote, then the margin of error for the no vote was +/- 0.022%.

The Election Results Website usefully now has a useful excel spreadsheet of the votes per electorate.

Lowest Turnout

  1. Tāmaki Makaurau 34.2%
  2. Hauraki-Waikato 34.4%
  3. Ikaroa-Rāwhiti 36.1%
  4. Waiariki 36.6%
  5. Te Tai Hauāuru 37.4%

Highest Turnout

  1. Bay of Plenty 66.8%
  2. Coromandel 66.2%
  3. Rodney 66.1%
  4. Waitaki 65.9%
  5. Selwyn 65.2%

Highest Informal Votes

  1. Wellington Central 2.02%
  2. Rongotai 1.23%
  3. Ohariu 1.15%
  4. Dunedin North 1.12%
  5. Auckland Central 1.10%

Highest Yes Votes

  1. Wellington Central 36.0%
  2. Rongotai 29.3%
  3. Auckland Central 29.2%
  4. Mt Albert 23.1%
  5. Ohariu 19.9%

Highest No Votes

  1. Waikato 92.54%
  2. Taranaki-King Country 92.41%
  3. Clutha-Southland 92.39%
  4. Hunua 92.38%
  5. Taupo 92.30%

The Government’s response

August 25th, 2009 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

John Key announced yesterday three initiatives in response to the referendum. Taking each in turn:

The Police and Ministry of Social Development chief executive lead a review of Police and Child, Youth & Family policies and procedures, including the referral process between the two agencies, to identify any changes that are necessary or desirable to ensure good parents are treated as Parliament intended.  The Commissioner of Police and Ministry of Social Development chief executive will seek an independent person to assist in the conduct of the review and will report back by 1 December 2009.

I think this is useful and desirable. I’d guess that more parents are worried about over-zealous action by CYFS, than they are about actually being prosecuted and convicted for a light smack.

Bring forward the delivery of the report from the Ministry of Social Development chief executive on data and trends and the effect of the law change from the end of the year to late September/early October. The Minister of Social Development will table the report in the House.

As MSD are doing the review, I will be amazed if it amounts to much. But yes useful to have it done earlier.

Invite Police to continue to report on a six-monthly or annual basis for the next three years on the operation of the law, and invite Police to include data on cases where parents or caregivers say the force used on the child was reasonable in the circumstances.

This is useful, as it may lead to a situation where a conclusion can be reached on whether the law is working or not. Now that I think that is the correct test, but it is the test laid down by the PM.

“Cabinet has agreed that if future Police data indicates a worrying trend, the law will be changed to ensure that good New Zealand parents are not criminalised for lightly smacking,” says Mr Key.

I regard “criminalised” as meaning are in breach of the law, not merely that they are not charged or convicted. And the law is very specific that smacking for correctional purposes is absolutely illegal.

The problem we have is that the Government’s test of “Is the law working” is not the test, that many others have. Their test is “Is this a good law”.

So why is the Government, or more specifically the PM, applying the “Is the law working” test? Why doesn’t he just agree to change the law?

Well the simple answer is he does not want to break his word, and that is not a bad thing. Since the compromise the test he promised was “Is the law working” and while I think that is the wrong test, that is what he promised.

So the PM has to balance up keeping his word, with responding to a clear public vote they do not like the law.

If the public are unhappy with no law change, there are a number of ways this could show itself. National could lose support to ACT who want the law changed. This is not a concern to National. Most of the smart people in National want ACT to be higher in the polls than 1%. Losing support to ACT doesn’t change the Government.

It is hard to see Labour picking up support from National on this issue. Labour are still blamed by most for the law, and Labour have little relevance at the moment for most people.

The nightmare scenario is Winston. His caucus had a conscience vote on this issue and Peters voted against. Could Winston use this to campaign in 2011 that National and Labour are the same, and if he gets back in he will force whomever is in Government to scrap the law. In those circumstances Phil Goff would scrap the law to have Winston make him PM.

Colin Espiner blogs on this issue, and he implores John Key to “hold the line”. I suspect Colin’s view is that of almost the entire gallery. I really do wish someone from the gallery could tell me what the problem is with the Borrows amendment. After all Colin says:

I’ve smacked my child, and I don’t want to be prosecuted for it. But I like the law, because it stops child beaters who bash their kids with lengths of hose pipe from getting away with it.

The Borrows amendment would mean Colin is not breaking the law when he smacked his child (assuming it was for correctional purposes) and it would also stop someone hitting their kid with a length of hose pipe.

Is Colin aware that the current law does not explicitly forbid hitting your kid with a length of hose pipe? If done for non-correctional purposes, it may be found to be reasonable force. While the Borrows amendment would rule that out in all circumstances.

It seems to me (and I admit I have a position on this subject) that what most Kiwis are telling the Government is that they don’t want to be told how to discipline their kids.

Yet they are. The Bradford law is explicit. It says you can not use any force at all for correctional purposes. It says you can use undefined reasonable force for good parenting, for preventing disruptive behaviour but not for correction. And that is exactly telling parents how to discipline their kids.

David Beatson blogs at Pundit and concludes:

Third, he should be prepared to consider an amendment to section 59 that might satisfy all parties – one stating clearly that legal parental correction does not include the use of force that results in a child suffering any form of physical injury or sustained distress.

That is basically the Borrows amendment. But despite it giving children greater protection in most areas, it is not acceptable to the 12%. You can not get a compromise that everyone will accept – there is too much gulf between the 88% and the 12%.

Vote Sizes

August 22nd, 2009 at 3:51 pm by David Farrar
  1. 1,420,959 – No to correctional smacking as a criminal offence
  2. 1,053,398 – 2008 Vote for National
  3. 935,319 – 2005 Vote for Labour
  4. 838,219 – 2002 Vote for Labour
  5. 800,199 – 1999 Vote for Labour
  6. 701,315 – 1996 Vote for National

Key’s response

August 22nd, 2009 at 1:02 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Options for changing New Zealand’s approach to smacking children will go to the Cabinet on Monday after New Zealanders voted by 88 per cent that a smack should not be a criminal offence.

Well it is good to see that the voices of 1.4 million New Zealanders won’t just be ignored.

It was muffled by a low turnout of 54 per cent, including 0.3 per cent who spoiled their votes, so even the huge “no” vote fell just short of half of the enrolled electors.

That is not a low turnout for a referendum not held with an election. The referendum that chose MMP for the run-off with FPP had only a 55% turnout. So it was only 1% less than the choice of electoral system.

Prime Minister John Key said in Australia – where he is on an official visit – that voters had said strongly that “they don’t want good parents to be criminalised for a light smack”.

Yes, but that is not just saying they do not want to be prosecuted and convicted. It is saying they do not want it to be a criminal offence.

His own view was that the law was “working as it is now”.

But on Monday, he would take to the Cabinet “options which fall short of changing the law but will provide comfort for parents about this issue”.

There will be a lot of interest in these. However I believe that the law should be changed. The reason is quite simple.

The criminal code is there to reflect the views of the public on what is and is not acceptable behaviour. And almost every provision in the criminal code would have 99% of adult New Zealanders say this should be a criminal offence. 99% say it is wrong to murder, it is wrong to rape, it is wrong to beat someone senseless, it is wrong to steal etc etc.

But here we have 88% of adult New Zealanders (who voted) saying this should not be a criminal offence. If Parliament does not heed the views of voters on this issue, then we have an awful precedent where Parliament is sits as rulers rather than servants of the people, imposing their private criminal code, rather than society’s.

I’m not an advocate that Parliament in every circumstance should do what public opinion wants. The referendum on the number of firefighters was a classic case. Economic issues can be similiar as the public can vote for cutting taxes and increasing spending without the responsibility of having to balance the budget.

But when it comes to our criminal code, I find it hard to offer up a reason why Parliament would insist on criminalising something that not only lacks majority support for being a criminal act, but in fact has massive and sustained opposition.

The public understand this issue. Hell, it has been debated for two to three years. They know exactly what they voted for. The percentage who spoilt their ballot papers was a miniscule 0.3%.

There is a simple solution to all of this. The Borrows/Boscawen amendment/bill. It will in fact provide greater protection to children (as it significantly lowers the level of acceptable force for non-correctional situations) but remove the insulting differentiation between smacking for preventing disruption and for correction.

Smacking Referendum Results

August 21st, 2009 at 8:13 pm by David Farrar

The interim results are:

1,622,150 votes cast which I think is a 54% response rate. That is higher than most local body elections and pretty good for a referendum not held with a general election.

87.6% voted no and 11.8% vote yes.

A massive victory for common sense.

As a proportion of total enrolled adults, 47% voted no, 46% did not vote and only 7% voted yes.

Detailed results are here.

The three electorates with the lowest no votes are:

  1. Wellington Central 62.1%
  2. Rongotai 69.6%
  3. Auckland Central 70.1%

I think it shows how different opinion is within those enclaves, compared to most of the country. Having said that even WC almost had 2:1 voting no.

The electorates with the highest no votes (all 92.6%) are:

  1. Waikato
  2. Clutha-Southland
  3. Hunua
  4. Taranaki – King Country

The number of electorates who in each band for the no vote are:

  1. 60% – 65% 1
  2. 65% – 70% 1
  3. 70% – 75% 1
  4. 75% – 80% 3
  5. 80% – 85% 13
  6. 85% – 90% 22
  7. 90% – 95% 29

The turnout range varied from 32.8% in Tamaki Makaurau to 65.1% in Bay of Plenty.

Smacking in Epsom

July 20th, 2009 at 9:00 pm by David Farrar

For those in or near Epsom,Rodney Hide is having a public forum at 5.30 pm on Friday 24 July. The guest speaker is Bob McCoskrie on why you should vote No in the referendum.

It is at the Mecca Cafe, corner of Nuffield Street and Remuera Road, Newmarket. A cash bar will operate.

Copyright and Parody

July 14th, 2009 at 9:43 am by David Farrar


We all had fun using the referendum question generator to create parodies.

Now what people may not be aware is the Electoral Commission Enrolment Centre filed a takedown notice against the site allowing you to create a parody, as Orange Man is their intellectual property.

New Zealand doesn’t have a specific exemption for parody and satire, so if they had proceeded, the site could have been forced to close.

Most people would agree the Electoral Commission Enrolment Centre should of course be able to take action if a person is using Orange Man to impersonate the Commission Enrolment Centre , or make people think it is a real notice on behalf of the electoral agencies. But most people can work out that a question such as “Should gingas be exterminated by 2011” is not a real referendum.

Thankfully a compromise has been reached, where in return for explicit reference of the crown copyright, I understand the Electoral Commission Enrolment Centre has withdrawn its objections (which is good of them).

It does highlight though the need for good intellectual property law that both rewards the owner of intellectual property, but also protects fair use and free speech by allowing satire and parody.

Hat Tip: No Right Turn

Design your own referenda questions

July 9th, 2009 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

A site has been established allowing people to design their own referenda questions. The intent is to mock the upcoming referenda – they overlook the minor fact of course over 300,000 signed a petition to trigger the upcoming referenda – something managed only four times in a dozen years, despite scores of attempts.

Anyway here are my questions:


Or should we use the term culled?


Hopefully everyone agrees on that one.


The accent does it for me everytime!

The smacking vote

August 23rd, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As expected, the anti-anti-smacking petition got the required number of signatures, and a postal referendum will be held within 12 months – probably the first half of 2009.

It is a pity that signatures were not gained a bit earlier, so that it would have been even harder for Helen Clark to not hold the vote alongside the general election.

I suspect the referendum will have only around 20% voting in favour of criminalising a smack as part of good parental correction, and 80% against. The turnout will be interesting.

The challenge will be for the Government in office at the time. Refusing to make any change at all to the law could be politically risky. The sensible compromise would be what should have been the compromise all along – the Borrows amendment.

Armstrong on Referendum timing

June 25th, 2008 at 6:23 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Unless the Prime Minister is planning to go to the country much earlier than everyone expects, her assertion that it is not possible to hold the anticipated citizens-initiated referendum on the anti-smacking law on election day simply does not stack up.

Helen Clark claims there is not enough time for the referendum to run alongside the general election “just in terms of sheer organisation”.

The real reason, of course, is Labour does not want its election campaign sullied by periodic discussion of the smacking law whose “nanny-state” connotations have proved to be so damaging to her and her party.


There are good reasons for holding such plebiscites on election day. They are considerably cheaper than stand-alone ones. There is also likely to be a much higher voter turnout.

So to hide the realpolitik, the Prime Minister cites practical difficulties in organising a referendum.

But if that is the case, then it would be impossible to hold a snap election. In case the Prime Minister has forgotten, the 1984 snap election was called by Sir Robert Muldoon just four weeks before polling day. Somehow, electoral officials coped.

In fact, the law covering citizens-initiated referendums specifically allows Parliament to shift the date of a referendum to the day of a snap election. That suggests there is sufficient time and it is not a problem.

Useful piece of research. Basically saying one can do a referendum in 4 – 6 weeks if really pushed. Well with five months to go until the election, there is oodles of time.

$10 million to be wasted by Helen

June 24th, 2008 at 9:18 pm by David Farrar

It is outrageous that Helen Clark is going to waste $10 million of taxpayer money by scheduling the referendum on the anti-smacking law after the election.

Asked why it could not be held at the same time as the election, which must be held by November 15, she replied: “Just in terms of sheer organisation, I do not think that is possible”.

That is simply nonsense. The election date is around five months away, and the Chief Electoral Office is a very capable operator who can handle the addition of a referendum question. They read the newspapers and would have contingency plans for if the petition succeeds and is held with the election.

Everyone knows that Helen is lying when she says it is not logistically possible. The truth is that politically Helen does not want it at the same time as the election, so she is prepared to waste $10 million in order to advantage herself.

Smacking Referendum petitions falls short – but only just

April 29th, 2008 at 1:26 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports that the petition to force a referendum on the anti-smacking law has not made its target of 10% of voters, as too many were found to be invalid.

However the law provides for them to have another two months to bring it back over the level required, and they should manage this easily.

They needed 285,027 signatures valid signatures. They got 324,216 but a sample found around 11% were not able to be found on the electoral roll plus 1% illegible and 0.5% duplicates.  This is about normal off mory.

So their valid signatures were calculated as 269,500 so they need 16,000 more valid signatures which is probably 20,000 more total signatures to be safe.

I suspect the Government is nervous about having every voter reminded of the law they are primarily identified with, at the very point at which they are voting.