They needed 308,753 valid signatures but fell short by 16,500.
That is a massive fail and gross political incompetence. They didn’t have to submit the petition when they did. They could have carried on getting more signatures to make sure.
Around 25% of their signatures were found to be invalid. That is a massively higher proportion than other petitions have had, and makes you wonder about their tactics. Did they sign up children? The Clerk has stated there were also duplicate signatures.
But surely they were intelligent enough to determine for themselves how many signatures were probably invalid, to work out how many they needed to collect. Both parties have access to an electronic electoral roll so they could have done exactly what the Electoral Commission did – take a sample of a few thousand names and check how many are on the roll.
Now the law provides that they can resubmit their petition with more signatures in the next two months, so if they persist, they can still qualify. But it means they have lost any moral claim that the Government shouldn’t proceed until the referendum – because they have failed (for now) to qualify.
It also means that the referendum may now occur after all the energy companies have been sold – making it even more of a farce.
It is bad enough they have wasted over $200,000 of taxpayer funding on trying to by signatures for their petition, and failed. Even worse to use more taxpayer money to gather the extra signatures and waste millions of dollars on a pointless referendum which may not even be held until a few months before the general election. They should instead go into the election with very clear policies on whether they wil buy back the shares or not and let the public decide at the ballot box.
I’m still staggered for now that despite spending $400,000 and having the entire memberships of the Labour and Green parties, and most unions, they proved unable to get enough valid signatures. You could understand it if they were close to the deadline to submit – but they were not. They made a tactical decision to submit early for political posturing, and have ended up with egg on their face.
UPDATE: They claimed to have 400,000 signatures but got 292,250 valid ones. That means 107,750 were invalid which is a massive 26.9%. Maybe they should have put their paid petition gatherers on performance pay!