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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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  • Government report on sexual & family violence a good first step
    Yesterday the Government released the cabinet paper on progress on the work programme of the Ministerial Group on Family Violence and Sexual Violence. Along with the Human Rights Commissioner and Women’s Refuge, I really welcome the report. I’m relieved that… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    9 hours ago
  • Prisoner voting disqualification and the Bill of Rights Act
    In 2010, National rammed the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill through Parliament. Paul Quinn’s Member’s Bill existed because Paul Quinn thought anyone who’d been imprisoned was a serious offender, and serious offenders had ‘forfeited’ their right to vote.… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    12 hours ago
  • Mainfreight ‘appalled’ by Government’s rail madness
    The Government has been given a serve by New Zealand-based international trucking and logistics firm Mainfreight which says it lacks a national transport strategy, and has treated rail badly, Labour's Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The company has told shareholders it… ...
    1 day ago
  • National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at...
    The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 day ago
  • All options need to be put on meat sector table
    Farmers must be given every assurance that all potential risks have been considered before Silver Fern Farms opens its door to foreign equity, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The ongoing saga involving the meat sector and amalgamation has… ...
    1 day ago
  • Flag the referendum if 50% or more don’t vote
    Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “John Key has already wasted more than $8 million on his vanity project… ...
    1 day ago
  • 90,000 cars reclassified in botched ACC ratings
    New figures obtained by Labour show the ACC Minister’s botched motor vehicle levy system has resulted in 90,000 vehicles having to be reclassified so far – at a cost of $6 million, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Nikki Kaye’s… ...
    2 days ago
  • Brutal health cuts confirmed, crucial services suffer
    Chronic under-funding by National has seen the health budget slashed by $1.7 billion in just five years, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. A report by Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, shows health funding has been cut in four of the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Meth ring under Serco’s nose
    The news that two Serco inmates have been arrested for helping to run a methamphetamine ring from prison should be the final straw and see their contract cancelled, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “National has stood by Serco despite… ...
    2 days ago
  • Ministers failing women and their own targets
    New figures showing just five Ministers have met the Government’s own reduced targets for appointing women to state sector boards is evidence National is failing Kiwi women, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “The Ministry for Women’s 2015 Gender… ...
    2 days ago
  • Charges up for some as funding up for grabs
    A proposal being considered by the Government would see some people having to pay more for health care and district health boards forced to fight amongst themselves to fund regional health services, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Information leaked… ...
    3 days ago
  • Stop experimenting on kids
    The trouble with the Charter school model is that it is a publicly funded experiment on children. The National Government has consistently put its desire to open charter schools ahead of the safety of the children in them, ignoring repeated… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 days ago
  • Bank puts the squeeze on mid Canterbury farmers
    News that an unnamed bank in Ashburton has put a receiver on notice over financially vulnerable farmers will send a chill through rural New Zealand, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government needs to work with  New Zealand’s banks… ...
    3 days ago
  • Key is trading away New Zealand land and homes
    John Key yesterday admitted what National dishonestly refused to confirm in Parliament last week – he is trading away New Zealand’s right to control who buys our homes and land, says Opposition leader Andrew Little. “The Prime Minister must now… ...
    4 days ago
  • Razor gang takes scalpel to health
    Plans by the Government to take a scalpel to democratically elected health boards are deceitful and underhand, coming just months after an election during which they were never signalled, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says “Leaked documents reveals a radical… ...
    4 days ago
  • Spin lines show a department in chaos
    Corrections Spin Doctors sending their place holder lines to journalists instead of responding to serious allegations shows the scale of chaos at the department over the Serco scandal, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “As more and more serious allegations… ...
    6 days ago
  • Court ruling shows law should never have been passed
    A High Court ruling that a law banning prisoners from voting is inconsistent with a properly functioning democracy should be a wake-up call for the Government, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. In an unprecedented ruling Justice Paul Heath has… ...
    6 days ago
  • Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation
    Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    6 days ago
  • Environmental Protection Agency appoints GE advocate as new CEO
    This week, the Environmental Protection Authority Amendment Bill passed its first reading in Parliament. The Bill puts protection of the environment into the core purpose of the Environmental Protection Authority. This month, Dr Allan Freeth, the former Chief Executive of… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    6 days ago
  • Charanpreet Dhaliwal death demands genuine health and safety reform
    The killing of a security guard on his first night on the job is exactly the kind of incident that National’s watered-down health and safety bill won’t prevent, says Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford. The coronial inquest into 22-year-old Charanpreet… ...
    6 days ago
  • Arbitrary sanctions hit children hardest
    Increasing numbers of single parents are being penalised under a regime that is overly focussed on sanctions rather than getting more people into work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Figures, obtained through Parliamentary questions show 3000 more sanctions,… ...
    6 days ago
  • Hekia just won’t face the facts
    Hekia Parata’s decision to keep troubled Whangaruru Charter school open despite being presented with a catalogue of failure defies belief, goes against official advice and breaks a Government promise to close these schools if they were failing, says Labour’s Education… ...
    6 days ago
  • No more silent witnesses
    Yesterday I attended the launch of a new initiative developed by and for Asian, Middle eastern and African youth to support young people to name and get support if there is domestic violence at home. The impact on children of… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    7 days ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    7 days ago
  • Single Use Plastic Bags campaign – Some wins and some green-washing
    As we near the end of Plastic Free July I’m nearing the conclusion of my Say No To Plastic Bag tour when I will have completed all 30 of my public meetings. The campaign was designed to work with community… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    7 days ago
  • Minister must take responsibility for problem gambling debacle
    The Government’s handling of the Problem Gambling Foundation’s axing in a cost-cutting exercise has been ham-fisted and harmful to some of the most vulnerable people in society, Associate Health Labour spokesperson David Clark says.“Today’s court ruling overturning the axing of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty
    The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman can’t ignore latest warnings
    Resident doctors have advised that a severe staffing shortage at North Shore Hospital is putting patients’ lives at risk, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “They say a mismatch between staffing levels and patient workloads at North Shore has… ...
    1 week ago
  • ACC must remove barriers to appeals
    The Government must prioritise removing barriers to justice for ACC claimants following a damning report by Acclaim Otago, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “ACC Minister Nikki Kaye must urgently scrap her flawed plan to remove claimant’s right to redress… ...
    1 week ago
  • Six months’ paid parental leave back on the agenda
    Six months’ paid parental leave is back on the agenda and a step closer to reality for Kiwi parents after Labour’s new Member’s Bill was pulled from today’s ballot, the Bill’s sponsor and Labour MP Sue Moroney says. “My Bill… ...
    1 week ago
  • Sole parents at risk of having no income
    New requirements for sole parents to undertake a reapplication process after a year is likely to mean a large number will face benefit cancellations, but not because they have obtained work, Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Increasing numbers… ...
    1 week ago
  • Juking the Welfare Stats Again
    Last week the government’s major initiative to combat child poverty (a paltry $25 increase) was exposed for what it is, a lie. The Government, through the Budget this year, claims to be engaging in the child poverty debate, but instead,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 week ago
  • OCR rate cut a result of flagging economy
    The Reserve Bank's decision to cut the Official Cash Rate to 3 per cent shows there is no encore for the so-called 'rock star' economy, says Labour's Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.   "Today's interest rate cut comes off the back… ...
    1 week ago
  • Reboot to an innovation economy, an Internet economy and a clean economy
    In my short 33 years on this planet we’ve seen phenomenal technological, economic and social change, and it’s realistic to expect the next 33 will see even more, even faster change. You can see it in the non-descript warehouse near… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    1 week ago
  • Bill that puts the environment into the EPA passes first hurdle
    A Bill that puts the environment squarely into legislation governing the Environmental Protection Authority passed its first reading today, says Meka Whaitiri.  “I introduced this member’s bill as the current law doesn’t actually make protecting the environment a goal of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s KiwiSaver deception exposed
    KiwiSaver statistics released today expose John Key's claim that the cutting of the kickstart payment "will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver” to be duplicitous, says Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “Official… ...
    1 week ago
  • Minimum Wage Amendment Bill to protect contractors
    All New Zealanders should be treated fairly at work. Currently, the law allows non-employment relationships to be used to get around the minimum wage. This is unfair, says Labour MP David Parker. “The Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill, a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raises bar to protect Kiwi farmland
    The Government’s rubber-stamping of every one of the nearly 400 applications from overseas investors to buy New Zealand farm land over the last three years proves tougher laws are needed, Labour MP Phil Goff says. “In the last term of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Costly flag referendum should be dumped
    John Key must ditch the flag referendum before any more taxpayer money is wasted, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Millions of dollars could be saved if the Prime Minister called a halt to this hugely expensive, and highly unpopular, vanity… ...
    1 week ago
  • Nats letting Serco off scot free
    Government members have prevented Parliament’s Law and Order select committee from getting answers out of a senior Serco director about the fight clubs being run at Mt Eden prisons, says Labour’s Corrections Spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “At today’s Law and Order… ...
    1 week ago
  • Charter school experiment turns into shambles
    The National Government’s charter school experiment has descended into chaos and it’s time for Hekia Parata to stop trying to cover up the full extent of the problems, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The Education Minister must release all… ...
    1 week ago
  • Disconnect between rates and income must be fixed
    Local Government New Zealand’s 10 Point Plan is a chance to stop the widening chasm between the rates some households are charged and their ability to pay, Labour’s Local Government spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. “There is a huge disconnect… ...
    1 week ago
  • Parole and ‘surviving the first year’
    “Intensive psychological treatment and early release to parole is far more effective at reducing reoffending among high risk prisoners than serving out the full prison sentence.” That’s reportedly the finding of Surviving the First Year, a recently-released study into Corrections’… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • Parole and ‘surviving the first year’
    “Intensive psychological treatment and early release to parole is far more effective at reducing reoffending among high risk prisoners than serving out the full prison sentence.” That’s reportedly the finding of Surviving the First Year, a recently-released study into Corrections’… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    1 week ago
  • If it’s good enough for Lake Taupō…
    Nick Smith supports helping farmers transition away from dairying and agrees we must set nitrogen caps that limit the number of animals on farms. He says this strategy is “world leading”. However we need action and pressure from him, on to… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • The importance of swamp kauri for climate research
    As early as 2010, international climate scientists were expressing concern at the rate of ancient swamp kauri extraction in Northland. Swamp kauri provides one of the best sources in the world for measuring climate fluctuations over the last 30,000 years.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt needs to heed warnings on med students
    The Government is being urged to act on advice it has received about the negative impact its seven year study cap will have on hundreds of medical students, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The 7EFTS lifetime limit unfairly disadvantages… ...
    1 week ago

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