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Conservative idiots

Written By: - Date published: 2:04 pm, July 20th, 2014 - 65 comments
Categories: colin craig, conservative party, Politics, referendum - Tags:

The Conservatives have made a complete cockup of their “bottom line” for making a deal with National about going into government. They want to make referendums legally binding on the government.

It is something that no rational government in NZ would agree with because it is impossible from several different criteria.

From my viewpoint, just looking at the questions that petitions for citizen initiated referendums (CIR) have started with and even wound up doing make the whole thing ridiculous. If you have to think about how they have to be implemented in law and governmental process they usually wind up being absurd. Left is proposed question and on the right is the final.

Should the size of Parliament be reduced from 120 Members of Parliament to 100 by reducing the number of “list” MPs from 55 seats to 35 seats? Should the size of Parliament be reduced from 120 Members of Parliament to 100 by reducing the number elected from the party list?

This question was from 1994. At the time there were 65 electorate seats of which 5 were Maori seats and 55 list seats. Now there are 71 electorates and 49 list seats.

The reason for the rise in electorate seats is due to limits placed on what electorates may exist and population changes. For instance the number of seats for the South Island are fixed at 16. This effectively determines the size of the electorates for the whole country. The Maori seats are related to the number of people on the Maori roll (currently 7 seats).

So if we had done what this dumbarse referendum question (and a similar one in 1997) had proposed we would be now looking at having a even smaller list – probably about 29. Over time it would have made the proportionality of the MMP steadily more and more redundant assuming the population kept growing as it has been. Both were quite stupid questions and badly thought through.

In fact if you look through the questions that have been proposed and even voted on, they uniformly look completely stupid if you look at how you’d implement them in our current system. For instance the classic smacking question of 2007

Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

As John Key said, this was a loaded question. But more importantly I can’t and couldn’t see any real way of putting it into law. Legally it wasn’t a criminal offence at the time unless you were beating the crap out of your kid.

And “good” isn’t something that neither the legislation nor the courts would have been able to decide. It was one of more monumentally stupid questions even in the list of stupid questions that have been proposed for CIR’s, and shows no sign of ever having had advice from a competent lawyer.

Anyway you can go through virtually all of the CIR questions and find similar logical problems.

As Andrew Geddis convincingly pointed out on Pundit “Colin Craig is asking for the impossible“, you simply can’t bind other governments easily.

I can’t see how this binding citizens initiated referendum process would work in New Zealand. Explaining why this is so will take a bit of backfilling.

Other countries that have binding referendums – and there’s actually quite a lot of them – do so because they are included in the nation’s Constitution. In other words, the country has a written document that sets out the “rules for making rules” in that nation. In that document, the lawmaking powers of its legislature are specified, and in addition there is power given to the populace to make laws directly through the referendum process. And because the Constitution – the written document – is “higher” law, it stops the legislature from ignoring/overriding what is said in a referendum, because it says the legislature doesn’t have the power to do so. And if the legislature exceeds its powers, the courts can pull them up for doing so (because the Constitution is a legal document, and the courts are in charge of ensuring it is followed).

New Zealand isn’t like that. We have no written constitutional document of this sort. What we have instead are some fundamental constitutional principles that underpin how our system of government works. And one of those principles is “parliamentary sovereignty” (and at this point, anyone who took Laws 204: Public Law at Otago just collapsed on the ground and starting twitching). Put simply, our Parliament gets to make whatever laws it wants and whatever laws it makes are then binding on everyone in New Zealand (including the courts). What is more, every Parliament is “sovereign”, in that it can revisit and undo any law that a previous Parliament enacted – there’s no way for a Parliament of today to tell a future Parliament “you cannot pass laws on this issue”, or “you must stick with our view of what the law should be”.

So, here’s the problem. How in a system of parliamentary sovereignty can Parliament (in the shape of a National/Conservative majority) pass a law that says that the general public is able to, by referendum, bind future Parliaments in their lawmaking decisions?

Contrary to Colin Craig’s conservative’s position of being unable to govern without them, after having 20 years of CIR’s and seeing what the results are, I really can’t see what in the hell that we have them for.

Aside from the constitutional difficulties, we now have a history of having a piss-poor implementable quality of the questions. They are always couched in terms that would be too simple even for a PR hack and effectively stifle rational debate over a topic. This means that they are effectively useless as a instrument of government.

In the event that we ever manage to have a actual constitution, I’d hate to have these referendum questions actually embedded into a legal document like a constitution.

Despite my earlier support for them, I think that we should reconsider having them at all.

65 comments on “Conservative idiots”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Referenda are a demagogue’s wet dream.

    I would support a civil war rather than make them binding.

    • KJT 1.1

      Parliament is a demogogues wet dream. Where the richest can buy power.

      Fixed it for ya.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        Yes, referenda will totes remove the power that comes with wealth, when you wish upon a star.

  2. Poission 2

    Changes to the electoral act can be made by referendum (by simple majority ) or by a 75% majority of members.This is the only entrenched legislation in NZ.

    http://www.justice.govt.nz/publications/global-publications/t/the-new-zealand-legal-system

    • Pasupial 2.1

      Poisson

      I don’t have the legal training to decipher the relevant phrase from your link regarding the Electoral Act 1993:

      Being “entrenched” means that if certain changes to the Electoral Act are to be made, for example the length of the Parliamentary term, they must be passed by either:
      75 percent of MPs; or
      a majority vote in a referendum of all voters on the electoral rolls.

      Does that mean; “a vote in a referendum equal or greater than half of all voters on the electoral rolls”, so that if there was say a 70% turnout you’d require at least a 71.5% majority to change the Act?

      • lprent 2.1.1

        Nothing to do with referendums. They simply have no basis in the law for changing the law at present. But even then they cannot. The only law making body is parliament.

        This point about that is that referendums can’t change legislation in NZ. Only MP’s can. So to pass this particular law about binding referendums into legislation, a bare majority of MPs will be needed. If they want to make it it entrenched then they have to have 75% of the MPs to vote it in. That will require most of the left.

        If it did get put into place by National, then one of the first referendums would be to require National to buy back the asset sales of this term at cost. In fact I’m sure it will be one of the first to go through because it is a damn good idea.

        Like I can see National doing that.

        It isn’t going to happen.

        • KJT 2.1.1.1

          One thing we can be sure of. No politician is going to vote for democracy, because that will reduce their power.

          Our rotating dictatorship suits the politicians on top just fine. They get their turn at doing what the like dependant not on the effectiveness or benefit to most of us of their policies, but on the “game” of electoral chance.

          Muldoon’s Government with around 40% of the vote, getting unlimited power after an electoral gerrymander.
          National’s ability to de-construct New Zealand dependant on a few thousand votes in Epsom.

      • To clarify: Based on the MMP referendum, it means a majority of those who voted determines the outcome, but that all voters on the electoral roll must be eligible to vote.

    • Lanthanide 2.2

      The law that entrenches the electoral act itself can be repealed by 51% simple majority, which would then allow the electoral act to be repealed or modified by 51% simple majority.

      Parliament is Sovereign. Parliament cannot constrain it’s own, or future, Parliament’s powers. End of story.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1

        What we actually want to do is have the voters constrain parliament. Parliament is adverse to this idea.

  3. Gosman 3

    National could neutralize this bottom line by simply agreeing to hold a referendum on the issue. Craig can’t argue with that as it is what he is asking for. This buys a good 12 to 18 months and allows enough time to reduce the support for the proposal.

    • SPC 3.1

      Quite so. And as soon as the reason why legally binding referenda would first require constitutional change was explained to the public the chance of any referenda succeeding would be gone.

    • lprent 3.2

      …and allows enough time to reduce the support for the proposal.

      What support? I can’t see any support.

      • You_Fool 3.2.1

        Colin Craig makes one,and that translates according to Craig as 100% support in the Non-Muppet world

  4. Pasupial 4

    I actually quite like the idea of binding CIR, but yes; the questions so far have been loose to the point of meaninglessness.

    A possibility I mentioned in my submission to last year’s Constitutional Review Panel was that; an elected upper house of parliament which was concerned primarily with checking the then lower (now only) house’s laws for consistency with the bill of rights and other parts of a written constitution, could also have responsibility for taking CIR questions and converting them into legally specific phrasing to be voted upon. Also that there should be a majority of enrolled voters rather than just those who actually vote would be required to make that law binding. Of course, it was ignored along with all the other submissions, apart from those calling for a 4year parliamentary term – and even that pet project of Key’s seems to have gone by the wayside.

    But there is still the problem of getting a sitting parliament to vote for any curbs on their power – which as Geddis says is most unlikely. Though it’d be a good move for a government who was facing defeat to reinstate an upper house so as to limit their successsor’ s ability to unpick their achievements.

    • You_Fool 4.1

      A better option would be that the CIR wasn’t binding on government/lower house, but was returned to the upper house who then had to create a bill out of the results and send to the lower house for the actual process of making it legislation, where it was treated either as a private members bill, or had it’s own class that was similar to a private members bill, but with slightly higher priority.

      I.e. a CIR didn’t automatically become law, but should become a bill to be introduced to parliament. Yes yo still have the issue of creating a constitution and an upper house, along with the associated costs / increase in MP’s (the upper house should be fully proportional vote, no electorates ((other than maybe 1 Maori electorate? 2?)

      • Pasupial 4.1.1

        YF

        We already have a constitution (though not one embodied a single coherent document), and we had an upper house until it was abolished by the Holland Nats in 1950. It would be more of a matter of restoring the legislative council (the rooms still there and used to open parliament as the monarch in the person of the Governor General can’t enter the elected house), than crating an upper house from scratch. However, in any such reestablishment, we would have to ensure that it had elected representatives rather than the appointed sinecures of yesteryear.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Legislative_Council

        • KJT 4.1.1.1

          Why re-invent the wheel. The Swiss system works.
          Note that they also have referenda for local areas on issues relevant to them.

          As we could see with the refusal of Whangarei’s white elephant, a brake on councils monument building proclivities.

          Any moves towards more democracy and limiting politicians power are supported by an overwhelming majority.
          We all know intuitively that having a small bunch of egotistical wannabes dictating to all the rest of us is wrong. (Even the ones that like to keep it because they think they know better than the rest of us, or a happy with the theft it enables).

          Which is why we have MMP, a step towards less power for politicians.

          • Pasupial 4.1.1.1.1

            KJT

            See Geddis’ comment @ 14.1 for a critique of the Swiss system. Also DTB @ comment 10, about the need for careful deliberation and public consultation in; “get[ing] rid of parliamentary sovereignty and return[ing] that to the people of NZ”. “Limiting politicians power” is not necessarily the same as a “move towards more democracy”.

            I can’t see that having a large bunch of egotistical wannabes dictating to all the rest of us is necessarily much better than; “small bunch of egotistical wannabes dictating to all the rest of us”.

            • You_Fool 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Pasupial: You are correct in your assertions, though they are all a reason in my mind to move to a codified constitution which is embedded in NZ law as the highest authority. Yes we need to have a long hard discussion as a nation about this first, and it needs to be ratified via a referendum and a majority of all enrolled voters (not just those that show up) and yes a lot of it (if not all of it) exists already and possibly just needs a little tweaking or adjusting to make it work in a way that works for all NZers.

  5. SPC 5

    Nice explanation of the problem and a telling expose of how much of a novice Craig actually is.

  6. Clemgeopin 6

    I am a little surprised at the lack of basic political wisdom shown by Craig Colin here for two reasons:
    [1] In MMP it is foolish to have bottom lines, especially when your own survival depends on another party. It is Ok to have any policy, no matter how silly, but stupid to have bottom lines.
    [2] He hasn’t thought out why while a referendum gives a good signal to the government which they may ignore at their own peril if voters are serious, ‘binding’ referendum could be unwise because sometimes the people could make stupid, dangerous, harmful or unwise decisions the government will be forced to implement. Here are four examples : (a) a binding referendum decrees by 55% majority of 52% voter turn out that the government should not collect any taxes (b) a binding referendum by 75% of 35% voter turn out decries that the Conservative party should be banned .(c) A majority of voters decree that NZ should introduce death penalty and (d )that KDC/Key should be sent packing to USA immediately.

    I am sure you could think of various scenarios where binding referendums could be harmful to the government, to the people, to society and to the nation.

    Referendum should be indicative to the Government which can ignore it at its own peril at the election if the people are SERIOUS about what they SAID in the referendum. Elections are where people have the absolute power. If not, why have elections at all? Just run the government through referenda through ballot paper or on line!

    • Tracey 6.1

      and third he still doesnt understand the s59a issue and perpetuates bs based on bis own intellectual deficiency.

    • alwyn 6.2

      I also thought that the idea of binding referenda was nuts, until I read your proposal (a).
      “(a) a binding referendum decrees by 55% majority of 52% voter turn out that the government should not collect any taxes”.
      That got me convinced that Craig was onto something.
      Thank God you put in options (b), (c) and (d). They brought me back to my senses.

      • Clemgeopin 6.2.1

        I know what you mean!

        People overwhelmingly rejected asset sales in the referendum that the National government ignored. But if the people that voted against in the referendum have any memory or integrity or courage of their conviction, they should NOT be at this election voting for National and the other parties that supported that legislation in parliament!

    • KJT 6.3

      binding’ resolutions of parliament could be unwise because sometimes parliament could make stupid, dangerous, harmful or unwise decisions the people will be forced to implement. Here are five examples : (a) Borrowing for unaffordable tax cuts (b) Selling essential infrastructure. .(c) The TPPA. (d )Decisions that keep 250 thousand children in poverty. (e) Unilaterally deciding we would be the one pure country that demolished all our trade and industry protections leaving us nothing to negotiate with.

      that KDC/Key should be sent packing to USA immediately.

      I wish.

      Fixed it for you. Again!

  7. NZJester 7

    Even if you required they be drawn up in consultation with and by layers before they can be submitted a number of stupid referendums would still slip through, so it is very flawed.
    I was not happy casting a vote in the Smacking referendum and chose not to as do believe that a smack as part of good parental correction should not be a criminal offense in New Zealand, but suspected a NO vote would be used to go against what I do believe in and that is that a law needs to be there that prosecutes parents who go further than correctional smacking. The current law does allow for a correctional slap and as I suspected the NO vote was later spun as “87% of voters said NO to the anti-smacking law” by its opponents when that is not what the NO vote meant at all. One of their poster boys at the time was a father being prosecuted for what he claimed as a correctional slap, but the witness said it was an abusive punch and not a slap. It was for punching the child he was being prosecuted for and not a correctional slap as they tried to spin it. That sort of thing does need to go to court to establish the truth.

    • KJT 7.1

      Actually. The anti-smacking referendum did have a good result. It resulted in a much better and more well crafted law than the original, as it forced parliament to reconsider the original bill.

      It is a pity there was no considered discussion about the laws around assault in general.

      Fortunately it seems to be occurring now. Even some good points from Rodney Hide.

  8. Dialey 8

    John Ralston Saul wrote: “A referendum is little more than a ‘rumour of choice.’ The idea behind the mechanism, ever since its first modern manifestations two centuries ago under Napoleon, has been to replace democracy with the sensation of democracy. That is: to replace the slow, complex, eternally unclear continuity of democracy, and all the awkwardness of citizen participation, with something clear and fast which allows those in power to impose their agenda. Through an apparently simple question with a one-syllable answer, those who ask can get a blank cheque from the citizenry; that is, if they choose their moment well and come up with a winning question.”

    “Stop the talk, we’re going to decide, yes or no. At this point the citizen’s role is to wave one flag or the other and cheer for one side of the simple question or the other. In other words, we’re reduced to children.”

  9. deep throat 9

    its obvious that craig can not live life on lifes terms.
    what I dont understand why he isn’t out there doing good deeds for people instead of jumping on the political stage and trying to tell the rest of the world what to do.
    a messianic complex is usually a good indicator of latent paranoia.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    Aside from the constitutional difficulties, we now have a history of having a piss-poor implementable quality of the questions. They are always couched in terms that would be too simple even for a PR hack and effectively stifle rational debate over a topic. This means that they are effectively useless as a instrument of government.

    Have you ever considered that the present system was designed to be unworkable? Everything you wrote about it is true. The questions are moronic, usually fail any sort of logic test and can be loaded to produce a desired answer. On top of that, the government can then ignore them.

    Sounds to me like the present system was put in place by a group of people who didn’t want a bar of them. That seems to have been National but I doubt if Labour want them any more than National do.

    So, here’s the problem. How in a system of parliamentary sovereignty can Parliament (in the shape of a National/Conservative majority) pass a law that says that the general public is able to, by referendum, bind future Parliaments in their lawmaking decisions?

    Well, for starters I suppose we’d have to get rid of parliamentary sovereignty and return that to the people of NZ. Then we’d pass a law, by referendum, requiring that any law passed by referendum can only be rescinded by referendum.

    That takes out the ability of government to do whatever it likes. They get to ask.

    Then we’d deal with the questions. In fact, I think we need to make it so that the referendum question is actually broadly outlined policy. It won’t need to be costed (that’s what we have government departments for) but it should have where the funds are going to come from (i.e, General Taxation or direct charging) and it should have the general logic of the suggested policy and what the issue is that it is there to address.

    Then we’d want to look at the ridiculously high requirement to initiate a CIR and drop that down to a flat 100,000 or perhaps less.

    Once initiated then we have a discussion about it via something like Loomio for a year so that it reflects the will of the people. Then we’d send it of to the government departments to have them go over it for proper costings etc and then we’d vote on it (also via Loomio) to pass it into law.

    Parliament would no longer be government but the administration of NZ. The servants that they should always have been.

    • Well, for starters I suppose we’d have to get rid of parliamentary sovereignty and return that to the people of NZ. Then we’d pass a law, by referendum, requiring that any law passed by referendum can only be rescinded by referendum.

      Sure. But that’s not something a Government can give as part of a deal for support. And it will only happen if the people want it. So if it is what the Conservatives want/mean, they should say so.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        That should only be something that can be done through a constitutional process that precludes CCCPs bottom line. It needs a lot of discussion involving most, if not all, of the voter base.

        • Pasupial 10.1.1.1

          DTB

          Fully agree with your comments regarding both the desirability of; parliament being the administrators of a democratic people, and; taking a considered and extended period of consultation to achieve this goal. I only wish last year’s Constitutional Review Panel had been a step in that direction rather than a neglected part of a post election deal between the Nats & MP (I may be bit of a bore on that point, but I put a hell of a lot of time and effort into crafting a submission to no effect – apart from a spur to educating myself about the NZ constitutional framework I guess).

    • KJT 10.2

      Agree. +1

  11. emergency mike 11

    Of course this ‘bottom line’ could simply be a dog-whistle that Craig thinks could get him some votes that might turn out to be not so much of a bottom line come post-election deal making time.

  12. DS 12

    Citizens Initiated Referenda exist only to allow a certain section of the populace to vent about something (I also remember election night 1999. The stupid tougher sentences question held up the important stuff, namely the actual election vote count, until the early hours of the morning). Given that we have elections every three years, there is no point in them.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Recall referenda allowing citizens to permanently rescind any law passed under urgency by Parliament, might be very useful.

    • Daveosaurus 12.2

      I was one of those counting the votes in 1999. The lateness of the vote counting had nothing whatsoever to do with the referenda on that day, and everything to do with the idiotically designed MMP voting paper and the ridiculously complex system used to count them.

  13. Todd Ross 13

    I think there are a good chunk of CC’s supporters who view binding referenda as an ideal platform for elevating racial ‘equality’ as as they see it. Some of them seem set on playing the taxpayer victim, while maintaining they have popular support. In other words, their ‘nut job’ supporters seem tradable with ACT.

  14. vto 14

    Putting more power into the hands of the people is a good idea and strengthens society. Strengthening referenda is one way of doing this.

    All the rubbish being spouted in this thread is about the detail of implementation – a technicality. What I see in this thread is subconscious fear of one’s supposedly unruly and less intelligent neighbour, and that is nothing but ignorant arrogance the sign of a fool.

    Best get on your bike and go tell the Swiss that they have been doing it all wrong.

    • All the rubbish being spouted in this thread is about the detail of implementation – a technicality.

      No – it’s not just “a technicality”. It’s a fundamental question of how we fit a radically different law-making process into a system developed over hundreds of years (in the UK) and 150-odd years (in NZ) … which is a bit more important than (say) trying to draft a law to stop cosmetics tested on animals being sold in NZ.

      Best get on your bike and go tell the Swiss that they have been doing it all wrong.

      The Swiss have developed a decision-making process over literally centuries. It’s a part of their cultural DNA (if such a thing can exist). It isn’t clear that you can lift this experience and transfer it wholesale into a different context. So, for instance – the Swiss Government consists of 7 (yes – only 7) Ministers. And, according to the source of all knowledge:

      The Swiss executive is one of the most stable governments worldwide. Since 1848, it has never been renewed entirely at the same time, providing a long-term continuity. From 1959 to 2003 the Federal Council was composed of a coalition of all major parties in the same ratio: 2 each from the Free Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party and Christian Democratic People’s Party and 1 from the Swiss People’s Party. Changes in the council occur typically only if one of the members resigns (merely four incumbent members were voted out of the office in over 150 years); this member is almost always replaced by someone from the same party (and often also from the same linguistic group).

      The point being, Swiss politics ain’t like NZ politics. So it would be a bit dangerous to assume referendums can/will function in NZ the same way as they do there.

      • vto 14.1.1

        I appreciate it would be a radical change if implemented in the manner implied by the Conservative loonies ….. and understand the history and background of our system… and that such a change would require time and cultural hinges to be swung on. None of that is minor, sure, but all of that is about implementation, not soundness of idea.

        The main point is unchanged – namely that strengthening referenda in New Zealand is one way of pushing power back into the hands of the people, which leads to a stronger and healthier society. So the posts above really are about ‘technicalities’ around how such a change would be implemented, not about whether giving the people more power through referenda is worthy – which should be the question discussed.

      • Pasupial 14.1.2

        AG

        I would agree that it be foolish to try adopt the Swiss system in its entirety. However, the 21 years since the passing of the; Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993, have demonstrated serious flaws in our present system. Most recently with the present government ignoring the asset sale referendum, though Craig’s focus is more on returning to himself and his supporters a legal defense for assaulting children.

        My proposal of legally coherent questions being mediated by a senate may not be to everyone’s taste. But surely you can see that there is a reasonable desire for the parliament to be responsive to the will of the people of this country by more than the ticking of boxes every three years (vide also the present governments [mis]use of urgency to circumvent the select committee/ public submissions process).

        • KJT 14.1.2.1

          Our Governments and councils have an unfortunate history of ignoring public submissions, and the public entirely, when it suits them.

          It was interesting to read a study on the percentage of US legislation that was against the best interests of the majority of the public. Over 80%. A journal article behind a pay-wall, unfortunately.

  15. Jason george 15

    I think Colin wants referendums as a bottom line so he can repeal section 59 and that is all.

    • KJT 15.1

      I doubt if New Zealanders would vote to repeal section 59. They may vote to tidy it up a bit.

      I think Craig will be disappointed on that one.

      Same with equal rights for LBGT people.
      It was parliament which was lagging on that.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1.1

        I think child safety is too important to be left to your naive gut feelings.

        • vto 15.1.1.1

          I know my family’s wellbeing is way too important to be left to your naïve thinks.

          Why does the left not trust the people anymore? No wonder the left is all at sea these days – lost its understandings

          • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1.1.1.1

            The Left trusts the people enough to let them have direct input into policy making. Were your assertions considered and dismissed then too?

            • vto 15.1.1.1.1.1

              True, relative to other parties, and they should be congratulated on that and keep on course in that regard, however the spectrum from Lords and Kings to full participatory democracy has not yet been traversed, and the march must be continued. See comment below and spreading the franchise.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                A win for the left in September will cut Tories out of the decision-making process, and New Zealand will be a better place as a result.

  16. RJL 16

    Of course, Colin Craig (or at least his policy advisors; if such people exist) may be aware there are problems implementing this Sensible And Self-Evidently Great Idea.

    The point is merely to attract voters (especially, I imagine, those who want to appeal the anti-child-beating legislation, and perhaps some of those who were against Asset Sales).

    It is only post-election when it really becomes apparent what (if anything) “bottom lines” like this actually mean.

    The Conservatives could easily pretend to their voters that something has been achieved, if as part of a coalition agreement a committee or similar is created to look at creating a scheme for binding referenda. Andrew Geddis can then make a submission to the committee and the whole process can eventually fall over. Then next election the Conservatives can have another go, railing against the deceitful sabotage of the previous effort by the usual godless/Green/liberal/communist suspects.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 16.1

      All they have to do is copy the private members bills, most of which are fairly short but with a Minister for Finance veto on money bills

  17. vto 17

    Power was pushed into the hands of the people when male landowners were given the vote. This led to a better society did it not?

    Power was pushed into the hands of the people when non-white males were given the vote. This led to a better society did it not?

    Power was pushed into the hands of the people when women were given the vote. This led to a better society did it not?

    Power should continue to be pushed into the hands of the people and away from the Lords and Arseholes who occupy the Councils and Chambers in Wellington.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

      A win for the Left cuts the Lords and Arseholes out of the loop entirely. Referenda, not so much.

      • DS 17.1.1

        Power is in the hands of the people. If the people dislike what Parliament is doing, they can vote for someone else. We have elections every three years for that reason.

  18. MrSmith 18

    But with this policy they’re after the stupid vote and we all know God loves the stupid.

  19. Sable 19

    I really doubt Keys cares. Craig will do as he is told if he wants a place at the table.

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    The Government is about to give Ministers extraordinary powers to take direct personal control of selling state houses, exempting Ministers from normal legal requirements and leaving the sale process wide open for corruption, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The… ...
    9 hours ago
  • Cash for charter schools, mould for state schools
    At a time when state schools are struggling in old, cold, mouldy buildings and can barely make ends meet, the National Government is shovelling cash at charter schools which aren’t even spending the funding on kids’ education, Labour’s Education spokesperson… ...
    9 hours ago
  • New Zealand needs a wise response to climate change
    Today in Parliament I got to hear from a group of New Zealanders who are concerned for the future of our country. Called Wise Response, the group is a broad coalition of academics, engineers, lawyers, artists, sportspeople and others who… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    9 hours ago
  • No alternative as waste scheme trashed
    Nick Smith must explain how he is going to prevent contamination of New Zealand’s ground and water with liquid and hazardous waste after scrapping the only monitoring scheme and offering no replacement, says Labour’s Environment Spokesperson Megan Woods. “From today,… ...
    10 hours ago
  • Flawed system rates death traps as safe
    ACC Minister Nikki Kaye needs to come clean about what really lies behind the reclassification of 18 vehicles in her new motor vehicle registration system introduced today, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. "New Zealanders deserve the truth about the… ...
    13 hours ago
  • Tiwai Smelter and 800 workers left in limbo
     Workers at Tiwai smelter and the people of Southland have once again been left in limbo over their future in the ongoing debacle over whether the plant stays open, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little.  “It’s not good enough that after two years of… ...
    14 hours ago
  • New twist in state house sell-off saga
    The Government has opened the door to buyers of state houses simply being landlords and not required to provide social services, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Prime Minister said at his post-Cabinet press conference buyers would not “have… ...
    14 hours ago
  • Government fees will hit charities hard
    National’s decision to ignore the concerns of charities will see the voluntary sector face hundreds of thousands of dollars in new costs if the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill passes, says Labour's Community and Voluntary Sector spokesperson Poto Williams. “National’s… ...
    1 day ago
  • Four out of ten for Simon’s Bridges
    The Transport Authority’s decision to fund only four of the 10 bridges promised in National’s shameless Northland by-election bribe is a huge embarrassment for Transport Minister Simon Bridges, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “After one by-election poll showed they… ...
    1 day ago
  • Falling consents adding to Auckland housing woes
    Falling numbers of building consents being issued in Auckland will add to the city’s housing shortfall and fuel skyrocketing house prices, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford “The Productivity Commission found there was a shortfall of around 32,000 houses by the… ...
    1 day ago
  • So Mr English, do you have a plan?
    DIpping confidence about jobs, wages and shrinking exports are highlighting the lack of a plan from the government to diversify the economy and build sustainable growth, Grant Robertson  Labour’s Finance Spokesperson said. " Data released over the last week… ...
    2 days ago
  • Serious risks to tenants and assets in sell-off
    Overseas evidence shows there are serious risks around the Government's plan to sell off state houses to social housing providers, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “In the Netherlands – where community housing providers supply the majority of social housing –… ...
    2 days ago
  • Land of milk and money
    Kiwi families are paying over the top prices for their milk and someone is creaming off big profits, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “In 2011 the Government told us high New Zealand milk prices were a natural result… ...
    3 days ago
  • MoBIE largesse doesn’t stop with TVs and hair-straighteners
    The number of MoBIE staff earning more than $150,000 has risen 23 per cent in just a year, Labour’s Economic Development Spokesperson David Clark says. Documents obtained from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show there are now nearly… ...
    3 days ago
  • English wants to flog state houses to Aussies
    Bill English’s admission that he would sell hundreds of New Zealand’s state houses to the Australians is the latest lurch in the Government’s stumbling, half-baked housing policy, Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Bill English should face reality and admit his… ...
    5 days ago
  • Exports continue to fall as Government fails to diversify
    The Government quickly needs a plan to diversify our economy after new figures show that exports are continuing to fall due to the collapse in dairy exports, Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Dairy exports fell 28 per cent compared… ...
    5 days ago
  • Government inaction leads to blurring of roles
    The Treasury wouldn’t have had to warn the Reserve Bank to stick to its core functions if the Government had taken prompt and substantial measures to rein in skyrocketing Auckland house prices, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The problems… ...
    6 days ago
  • Courthouse closures hitting regions
    The Government’s decision to shut down up to eight regional courthouses, some supposedly only temporarily for seismic reasons, looks unlikely to be reversed, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“The move has hit these regions hard, but appears to be a… ...
    6 days ago
  • A Victory for Te Tiriti o Waitangi
    This week my partner, who has a number of professions, was doing an archaeological assessment for a District Council. He showed me the new rules around archaeologists which require them to demonstrate “sufficient skill and competency in relation to Māori… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    6 days ago
  • Tough bar set for Ruataniwha dam
     Today’s final decision by the Tukituki Catchment Board of Inquiry is good news for the river and the environment, says Labour’s Water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. “Setting a strict level of dissolved nitrogen in the catchment’s waters will ensure that the… ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister for Women and National missing the mark – part two
    The Minister for Women was in front of the select committee yesterday answering questions about her plans for women. Some useful context is that we used to have a Pay and Employment Equity Unit within the then Department of Labour… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Lavish penthouse spend confirms culture of extravagance
    At the same time thousands of New Zealanders are being locked out of the property market, the Government is spending up on a lavish New York penthouse for its diplomats, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. News that taxpayers… ...
    6 days ago
  • Māori Television exodus cause for concern
    The shock departure of yet another leading journalist from the Native Affairs team raises further concern the Board and Chief Executive are dissatisfied with the team’s editorial content, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “Annabelle Lee is an experienced… ...
    6 days ago
  • Million-plus car owners to pay too much ACC
    More than a million car owners will pay higher ACC motor vehicle registration than necessary from July, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “During a select committee hearing this morning it was revealed that car owners would have been charged… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill will restore democracy to local councils
    A new Labour Member’s Bill will restore democracy to local authorities and stop amalgamations being forced on councils. Napier MP Stuart Nash’s Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Bill will be debated by Parliament after being pulled from the… ...
    7 days ago
  • Minister for Women again misses the mark – part one
    Yesterday I asked the Minister for Women about the government’s poor performance on it’s own target of appointing women to 45% of state board positions. I challenged why she’d put out a media release celebrating progress this year when the… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    7 days ago
  • Banks enter Dragon’s Den in pitch for Government’s mental health experi...
    Overseas banks and their preferred providers were asked to pitch their ideas for bankrolling the Government’s social bonds scheme to a Dragon’s Den-style panel, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. Dragon’s Den was a reality television series where prospective ‘entrepreneurs’… ...
    1 week ago
  • Global Mode bullying won’t stop people accessing content
    It’s disappointing that strong-arm tactics from powerful media companies have meant Global Mode will not get its day in court. Today a settlement was reached terminating the Global Mode service, developed in New Zealand by ByPass Network Services and used… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • More questions – why was the Former National Party President involved wit...
    Today in Parliament Murray  McCully said the reason Michelle Boag was involved in 2011 in the Saudi farm scandal was in her capacity as a member of the New Zealand Middle East Business Council. The problem with that answer is… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister must explain Maori TV interference
    Te Ururoa Flavell must explain why he told Maori TV staff all complaints about the CEO must come to him – months before he became the Minister responsible for the broadcaster, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Sources have told… ...
    1 week ago
  • KiwiSaver takes a hammering after the end of kick-start
    National seems hell bent on destroying New Zealand’s saving culture given today’s news that there has been a drop in new enrolments for KiwiSaver, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “New enrolments for the ANZ Investments KiwiSaver scheme have plunged… ...
    1 week ago
  • Straight answers needed on CYF role
    The Government needs to explain the role that Child, Youth and Family plays in cases where there is evidence that family violence was flagged as a concern, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Arden says. “The fact that CYF is refusing to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister confuses his political interests with NZ’s interest
    The Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament yesterday that a Minister who paid a facilitation payment to unlock a free trade agreement would retain his confidence is an abhorrent development in the Saudi sheep scandal, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.  ...
    1 week ago
  • #raisethequota
    Last Saturday was World Refugee Day. I was privileged to spend most of my day with the amazing refugee communities in Auckland. Their stories have been inspiring and reflect the ‘can-do’ Kiwi spirit, even though they come from all different… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Dairy conversions causing more pollution than ever, report shows
    The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Employers want urgent action on health and safety
    Moves by National to water down health and safety reforms have been slammed by employers – the very group the Government claims is pushing for change, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway. “The Employers and Manufacturers’ Association has… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour calls on all parties to end coat-tailing
    Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway is encouraging all parties to support his Bill to end the coat-tailing provision when it is debated in Parliament this week.  “New Zealanders have sent MPs a clear message. An opinion poll found more than 70… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government social sector reforms
    I’ve written previously about the major shake-up that is happening in the provision of government and community services. Yesterday, the Minister of Social Development spoke publically about what these reforms are likely to look like within MSD. There are major… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • PM must explain Saudi sheep scandal backflips
    John Key’s explanations of the Saudi sheep scandal continue to be riddled with inconsistencies and irreconcilable backflips, Labour’s Trade Spokesperson David Parker says. “Either he has been misled by his Minister Murray McCully or the Prime Minister is deliberately obfuscating… ...
    1 week ago
  • Independent investigation needed into claims scientists gagged
    Steven Joyce must launch an independent investigation into claims that scientists are being gagged, says Labour’s Science and Innovation spokesperson David Cunliffe. “When 40 percent of scientists say they are being gagged and can’t speak out on issues of public… ...
    1 week ago
  • Swamp kauri mining and exports should stop
    Seeing swamp kauri mining for the first time this week was a shock. Dark peaty soil had been stripped of its plant cover and giant excavators were digging into wet, swampy soil to unearth logs that had been buried for… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • MSD going down wasteful spending track
    The Ministry of Social Development is paying big salaries and forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars on management courses while at the same time looking to hand some services over to a multinational outsourcing company with an appalling track… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • South Auckland housing meeting highlights stark realities
    The stark realities of life for South Aucklanders in substandard Housing New Zealand and private rental homes were fully exposed at a South Auckland housing meeting today, Labour’s MP for Manukau East Jenny Salesa says. “Local people generously shared their… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The Pope, the scientists, and the diplomats: getting there on the climate ...
    The Pope’s Encyclical on the climate: ‘On Care for Our Common Home’, has finally been released. Evoking St Francis before him, the Pope reminds us that “our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life, and… ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party supports Gifted Kids Awareness Week 2015
    Providing high quality teaching that caters to the specific needs of every child is an enormous challenge, but there is no investment more rewarding for society. Gifted Awareness Week gives us a chance to think about how diverse the needs… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Truck sellers still getting away with rip-offs
    The Government has admitted its brand new lending rules are already inadequate, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesman David Shearer. “Gaping holes in the Responsible Lending Code – which came into effect this month -- mean the vulnerable will not be… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government Screws the Lid Down On Raw Milk Access
    The Government’s raw milk policy announced yesterday will make it more difficult for many consumers to access the quality product of their choice, and may even be setting up the raw milk sector to fail. The Government, in its paranoia… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago

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