Three referenda at once?

The Herald reports:

Justice Minister Andrew Little has flagged that referenda on law reform, and reform could take place at the same time.

All good issues for referenda but three at once will mean hard for any one issue to get the attention it deserved.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Q&A programme last night, Little said a Cabinet paper on the cannabis was with colleagues at the moment but the detail of the referendum’s form, whether it’s binding or not, had yet to be decided.

The Government is planning a referendum on cannabis for personal use before or at the 2020 election as part of its confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.

“There’s a Cabinet paper that’s being reviewed by various Cabinet ministers at the moment and I would hope that we’ll make decisions before the end of the year,” Little told TVNZ.

“One of the issues is, is it binding, is it not binding. There’s still the question about the timing of it and various other questions as well. But it’s certainly my strong preference … that by the end of this year we’ll have those principal decisions determined so we all know.”

It’s a waste of time if it isn’t binding. The only useful referendum will be one that triggers a specific law to come into effect. People need to know exactly what they are voting for.

Little said a referendum on the question of euthanasia could also be held at the same time, following discussions with ACT leader David Seymour, who has been driving the issue, and a willingness by New Zealand First to support Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill if it went to a referendum.

“It is possible that there would be a referendum on euthanasia as well,” Little said.

The bill will be reported back in March 2019 and later that year there will be a vote on whether to include a referendum with the bill.

He also flagged a possible referendum on changes to the MMP system of representation.

“It has been floating around that if we’re going to do a bunch of referenda, why wouldn’t we put this question about whether we want to make those final tweaks to MMP, reduce that 5 per cent threshold to 4 per cent, get rid of the one-seat coat-tailing provision.”

Also known as the Save Winston and the Greens campaign.

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