Referenda in 2019

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders may get the opportunity to vote on legalising cannabis and voluntary euthanasia at the same time, possibly as early as next year.

Labour agreed to hold a public referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use at or before the 2020 general election as part of its confidence and supply agreement with the Greens.

The Government now says it could be held ahead of the election to make sure it did not overshadow the election campaign.

Parliament is also considering a bill to legalise voluntary euthanasia, and NZ First has said its support is conditional on a binding referendum on the law change.

The bill’s sponsor, Act Party leader David Seymour, has agreed to that proposal, though it will still need majority support in Parliament to proceed.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said there could be some benefits to holding two referenda at the same time.

That could be difficult to do, if they are to be held in 2019.

The euthanasia bill only gets reported back 31 March 2019. The third reading could well not be until August or September. If the law triggers a referendum that would make it hard to do it before the end of 2019.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said today that he wanted the cannabis referendum to be binding on the Government.

But Little said neither of the referenda were likely to be binding: “We don’t typically do binding referenda in this country.”

Both referenda should be binding. CIRs by their nature are not binding, but Government instituted referenda have pretty much always been binding.

So Little is quite wrong when he says we do not typically do binding referenda.

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