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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 restructure and upheavals at Fairfax should not be used as an opportunity to cut journalists’ terms and conditions, Labour spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Businesses have to adapt to new technologies and consumer demands and there is… ...
    1 day ago
  • McCully excuses unravel in Saudi sheep scandal
    Murray McCully has misled New Zealanders, Parliament and his Cabinet colleagues on the real reasons for paying millions of dollars in the Saudi sheep scandal – it’s time for him to clean, says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David… ...
    1 day ago
  • Nats break health and education spending promises
    National has outstanding promises of almost $1 billion to be spent on health, education and agriculture from the Future Investment Fund but has only $536 million left in the fund, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “John Key and Bill… ...
    1 day ago
  • Manurewa youth leaders acknowledged
    The depth and breadth of leadership of youth throughout Manurewa, which has been recognized at the Youth Week Award ceremony held at Parliament this week, should make the community extremely proud, Manurewa Labour MP Louisa Wall says. “The 'Limitless Youth… ...
    1 day ago
  • Oi Auckland Transport: fare’s fair
    Auckland Transport should go back to the drawing board on its proposal to charge commuters for its park-and-rides, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “When we need to be getting people out of their cars and onto public transport, it’s… ...
    1 day ago
  • Is Nick Smith making it up as he goes along?
      Housing Minister Nick Smith must release the list of Crown land parcels which formed the basis of the Government’s Budget announcement, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “If the public is to have any faith the Government is not just… ...
    1 day ago
  • Norway moves first to dump coal investments
    The Green Party today called on the Government to secure cross-party support to sell its investments in coal mining companies.The Norwegian Parliament's finance committee agreed in a bipartisan motion yesterday to instruct the $1.2 trillion Government Pension Fund to sell… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 days ago
  • Fonterra payout $13b black hole over 2 years
    Fonterra’s dramatic cut to its forecast farmgate payout over this season and next will lead to a $13 billion black hole over two years, and shows the need for a plan to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour calls for select ctte inquiry into Rural Broadband Initiative
    Labour is calling for an immediate inquiry into the flailing $300 million rural broadband initiative, before companies and consumers are forced to pick up the tab for the new $150 million broadband tax, says Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran. “Rural… ...
    2 days ago
  • Public broadcasting takes big hit under National Government
    Public broadcasting funding has been cut by 25 per cent in real terms since the National Government took office in 2009, leading to the erosion of our once world-class news and current affairs culture, says Labour Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. … ...
    2 days ago
  • Hospital food plan hits another snag
    The Government has been left with egg on its face with Hawke’s Bay District Health Board today giving a plan to outsource hospital food services the thumbs down, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Doing away with local kitchens by… ...
    2 days ago
  • Hospital food plan hits another sang
    The Government has been left with egg on its face with Hawke’s Bay District Health Board today giving a plan to outsource hospital food services the thumbs down, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Doing away with local kitchens by… ...
    2 days ago
  • Wilkinson appointment wrong in principle
    The appointment of former Conservation Minister Hon Kate Wilkinson as an Environment Commissioner is wrong in principle, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker. “The doctrine of separation of powers requires judicial processes to remain separate and independent from the legislature… ...
    2 days ago
  • McCully doesn’t deny bribe in Saudi sheep scandal
    “In Parliament today I asked Murray McCully directly: Why is he the first Minister in history to back a multi-million dollar facilitation arrangement which in other jurisdictions is called a bribe? says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker.… ...
    2 days ago
  • National must back our future doctors
    National must support our future doctors and agree to the calls from the Medical Students’ Association and the Young Nats to lift the arbitrary 7 year cap on student loans for medical and dental students, Labour’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson David… ...
    2 days ago
  • Taxpayer the loser after Government folds
    Steven Joyce today admitted the main exhibition hall at the New Zealand International Convention Centre is 19 per cent smaller than what was described at the time other bidders were edged out of the process, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David… ...
    2 days ago
  • Govt’s lack of ambition for women
    Yesterday, the Government put out a media release entitled “Number of women leaders continues to grow”. It was to inform us that the percentage of women on state-appointed boards has increased to 41.7%, up from 41.1% in 2013. Well, woo-hoo… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Auditor-General exposes Key’s scapegoating of Council
    The National Government's blaming of Auckland Council for the city’s housing crisis has been exposed as scapegoating in the Office of the Auditor-General’s latest report, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Auditor-General says Auckland Council’s part in fixing the… ...
    3 days ago
  • Reform – not money – needed for meat sector
    The National Government continues to throw good money after bad at the meat industry instead of addressing the fundamental problem of its dysfunctional structure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The latest Primary Growth Partnership grant to the venison… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government cuts corners on school bus funding
    The safety of children – not cost cutting – should be the main objective behind the Government’s funding of school buses, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Buried in the detail of this year’s Budget are $19 million of funding… ...
    3 days ago
  • Women the losers under National’s cuts
    National’s poor performance in appointing women to state sector boards is set to get worse with funding cuts to the nomination service provided by the Ministry for Women, Labour’s Woman’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Minister for Women Louise Upston… ...
    3 days ago
  • Help sought by agencies now asked to help
    The organisation Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has tasked with setting up an emergency hotline for stranded Relationships Aotearoa clients has just lost a bid for a government contract to launch a new national helpline, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson… ...
    3 days ago
  • Wellington got loud again on climate
    On Monday night, in Wellington, I attended the last of the Government’s climate target consultation meetings. It was quite well attended with maybe 150 people, not bad for a second meeting with very little notice and, as far as I… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Final nail in coffin for Solid Energy workers
    Today’s confirmation of job losses at Solid Energy’s Stockton and Spring Creek mines shows the urgent need for new economic opportunities on the West Coast, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “Our economy can no longer rely on… ...
    3 days ago
  • Ramadi proves Iraq deployment high risk, low benefit
    The fall of Ramadi and the collapse of the Iraqi Army proves Labour was right to be concerned about the deployment of our troops to Iraq, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “The fall of Ramadi brings IS fighters within… ...
    3 days ago
  • English admits new taxes on the cards
    Eight months after pledging “no new taxes” at the election Bill English today admitted he would bring in more sneaky taxes along the lines of the border tax, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Not only did National bring in… ...
    3 days ago
  • What the Dickens is going on at SDHB?
    Problems at the financially-strapped Southern District Health Board appear to stretch to its HR department with information obtained by Labour showing it still records staff leave entitlements using manual book-keeping methods. “The Board’s draft 10-year plan document forecasts a cumulative… ...
    3 days ago
  • Teachers turn backs on new professional body
      The fact that just 56 per cent of nominations for the Education Council came from registered teachers shows the profession has turned its back on Hekia Parata’s new professional body, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Answers to written… ...
    3 days ago
  • No spade work done on big building plan
      Only a quarter of the 500 hectares of Crown land the Government wants to use for new homes is understood to be suitable for building on, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This was National’s bold new idea to… ...
    3 days ago
  • National: Seven KiwiSaver cuts in seven years
    National’s campaign of KiwiSaver cuts has reached seven in seven years as it dismantles KiwiSaver block by block, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “KiwiSaver is critical to establishing a savings culture in New Zealand but National has taken a jenga-style… ...
    3 days ago
  • Tolley’s actions contradict reassurances
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has serious questions to answer following the forced closure of Relationships Aotearoa just days after her reassurances she was looking at ways to keep the service operating, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.… ...
    4 days ago
  • SkyCity downsize another broken promise
    The downsized SkyCity Convention Centre does not deliver on the promised iconic world-class centre and shows the true extent of Steven Joyce’s incompetence, Labour Leader Andrew Little said today. “New Zealanders were promised an iconic world-class convention centre that would… ...
    4 days ago
  • Te Arawa partnership model a step closer
    Councils around New Zealand have an opportunity to improve their consultation with Iwi Māori by following Rotorua District Council’s Te Arawa Partnership Model, Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Rotorua District Council will today decide whether to adopt… ...
    4 days ago
  • Labour mourns Dame Dorothy Fraser
    Labour Leader Andrew Little said the party is today mourning the loss of the youngest person to join the Labour Party, Dame Dorothy Fraser, who went on to be a stalwart of the Dunedin community and tireless worker for others.… ...
    4 days ago
  • The ultimate scapegoat: PM blames fruit fly for new tax
    The Prime Minister has found the ultimate scapegoat for breaking his promise not to introduce a new tax – the Queensland fruit fly, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “John Key’s first policy upon taking office and assigning himself the… ...
    4 days ago
  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    6 days ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    6 days ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    7 days ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    1 week ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    1 week ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    1 week ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    1 week ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    1 week ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    1 week ago

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