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Spendthrift Key objects to cost of democracy

Written By: - Date published: 8:01 am, September 3rd, 2013 - 282 comments
Categories: privatisation, referendum - Tags:

Key’s big whine today is that the referendum on asset sales, which over 10% of Kiwis have requested as required by law, will be ‘extremely costly’ at $9m. This guy’s joking, right? Mr ’2-billion-of-tax-cuts-in-the-middle-of-a-recession’ is whining about $9m on democracy?

The Mighty River ads alone cost $6.5m. The Rio Tinto bribe was $30m.

All up, Key’s squandered well over a hundred million on asset sales so far. If he wants to save money, he should stop the sales. He’s got no moral mandate to continue with them with a referendum looming.

282 comments on “Spendthrift Key objects to cost of democracy”

  1. vto 1

    Key has become a mirror of Clark in her final days

    • Tracey 1.1

      I disagree. Clark became a mirror of the National Party’s concerted and expensive campaign image of her.

      labour was right in 2008 to run a campaign on Trust. Afterall as BLiP constantly points out (and Hager before him) Key and Joyce and Mccully and Hooten cant be trusted because they lie and deceive.

      • No, they were very, very wrong to run a campaign on trust. Nobody was ready for that message back then. If we had Helen Clark running a campaign on trust now, she’d probably win, but that doesn’t mean it was a good campaign strategy at the time they actually ran it.

    • burt 1.2

      He has indeed. He is becoming self serving and arrogant – perhaps the left will start calling him the best PM ever !

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    Hes setting us up to cancel the referendum.

    Why not ,democracy is a disposable commodity for National.

    They will do anything to try and stop the referendum from dominating a month in election year

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      They’re just going to do it in the middle of summer close to Christmas, so the news is buried.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Hes setting us up to cancel the referendum.

      He can’t. Now that the required 10% have requested it it must go ahead.

      Why not ,democracy is a disposable commodity for National.

      National absolutely hate democracy because it gives the people power over them and thus will do anything to get rid of it.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 2.2.1

        There is not ‘must’ for national when it comes to allowing people to vote.
        Easy to pass a mini law to stop it dead

        • Doing so would attract more attention than letting the referendum run, and they can play to the more moronic elements of their base by lamenting the cost of the referendum and how misguided it is given they campaigned on this and have their “mandate”. (Which is a ridiculous statement when people have been fairly polled on that issue and say they do not support the policy.)

  3. Tracey 3

    He has a point BUT he needs to present a Bill to repeal the referendum legislation at the same time to back his words.

    He campaigned on asset sales, albeit telling a few porkies along the way about spending it on schools and hospitals and paying down debt and 48% o the nation who voted voted for him.

    I am sure scorn will rail down upon me BUT the majority are not always right and not when the media and politicians are deliberately framing an argument contrary to facts. We saw this in the so-called anti smacking “debate”, or as I like to call it the repealling of s59a allowing a subjective defence for hitting your children hard.

    Key’s a wanker, but I agree that this is a waste of money. However, he only thinks that when it doesn’t suit his purposes. Present a Bill to repeal it Mr Key or STFU.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.1

      Well said. Referenda are a populist’s wet dream.

      • Molly 3.1.1

        Must be a lot of populists with wet sheets in Switzerland then.

        Although I don’t know how the referendum topics are chosen, or how they are presented.

        It would be interesting to know how well informed the general population is on topics, and whether this mechanism improves the overall political knowledge of the populace or not.

        • William 3.1.1.1

          From the page you linked to:
          “Swiss law says that any issue can be put to a referendum if it attains 100,000 signatures to do so.”

          As to how well informed the populace is, you might like to think about why it wasn’t until 1971 that women were given the right to vote in Swiss Federal elections! That’s not a typo, it really was 1971.

          Direct democracy through binding referendums is surely a crap system. As an indicator of public opinion they’re useful.

          Edit. Arrgh, I pasted the Wikipedia url into the example given inTS faq but somethings not working. The url is

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_Switzerland

          [Bunji: fixed link]

          • Tracey 3.1.1.1.1

            I believe they needed like 75% of vote to “give” women the vote, that’s why it took til 1971 in parts of switzerland. I dont completely understand their system despite reading up on it.

            • William 3.1.1.1.1.1

              That’s not the case now. The Federal Constitution (English translation) states ;

              quote

              Art. 142 Required majorities
              1
              Proposals that are submitted to the vote of the People are accepted if a majority of
              those who vote approve them.
              2
              Proposals that are submitted to the vote of the People and Cantons are accepted if a
              majority of those who vote and a majority of the Cantons approve them.
              3
              The result of a popular vote in a Canton determines the vote of the Canton.

              end quote
              http://www.admin.ch/org/polit/00083/index.html?lang=en

              Part 2 requires a double majority for some matters but that means a majority of voters plus a majority of Cantons.

              And 1971 was when Federal suffrage was achieved, it wasn’t until 1990 when the last Canton was forced to grant the vote!

              Even in 1959 the womens suffrage proposal only received 33.1% support so the problem at that time wasn’t the need to reach 75%. In 1971 it received 65.7%, still less than the 75% you mention, but it passed. I can’t find a reference to the historical situation but looking at all the referendum proposals between 1959 & 1971 there wasn’t one within that period to reduce the level of support needed to pass.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_Switzerland
              gives a history of the long drawn out road to getting the vote.

              ps thanks Bunji

          • AmaKiwi 3.1.1.1.2

            Yes, the Swiss have definitely been ruined by referendums.

            The Swiss have a superior record for human rights, education, social welfare, absence of corruption, environment, public transport, and four national languages (because they consist of four different ethnic groups who do NOT fight with each other). Zurich, Bern, Luzern, and Geneva are repeatedly voted among the most liveable cities in the world.

            Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world despite having no natural resources and no coastline. Their bonds pay virtually no interest because Switzerland consistently has huge trade and cash surpluses and therefore nearly zero probability of default.

            While WW1 and WW2 devastated all the countries bordering on Switzerland, they remained neutral, at peace, and suffered no losses. Their last war was when Napoleon’s forces invaded them in 1812. (They drove them out).

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.2.1

              then there’s the small matter of the Swiss being exceptionally useful financiers and bankers for the Germans leading up to and including WWII…

              • KJT

                Not just the Nazis, German Jews, and many others, parked their money there during the war.

                I suggest the money went there as a consequence of Switzerland being stable, peaceful, already prosperous, and not inclined to knee jerk changes in policy.

            • William 3.1.1.1.2.2

              Amakiwi wrote “The Swiss have a superior record for human rights…”

              Sheesh, don’t you regard women as human? They denied women the vote till 1971, that alone disproves your claim.

              I too used to believe Switzerland was a plucky little country that was neutral for all the best pacifist reasons, then I got to know a few Swiss nationals. They were all in agreement that the neutrality continued for purely pecuniary reasons. That’s the source of their wealth and they know it. Unfortunately for us there is only a need for one neutral money vault in the world. Despite the delusions of some of our bankers, that and our history mean we’ll never become The Switzerland of the South Pacific.

        • AmaKiwi 3.1.1.2

          Referendum topics arise in two ways. You can collect signatures to veto a bill parliament has passed. Or you can collect signatures on a topic you think should be legislated on.

          The general Swiss population is well informed on issues that concern them. If you can’t get people aroused about the subject of your proposed referendum, expect it to be defeated. The attitude of the public everywhere is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

          The attitude of too many NZ politicians is, “I’ve got three years to play God and the public be damned. They’ll toss me out in a few years whatever I do so I better make as many (ill-considered) changes as I can as fast as I can.”

          Politicians are risk takers. The general public are risk averse. That’s why no country has ever voted in a referendum to go to war.

    • burt 3.2

      Strange – suddenly, having never had a binding referendum in NZ ever – Key is now anti democratic…. One day, in a parallel universe partisans will look carefully at their leaders and also see how bad for democracy they have been.

      • Tracey 3.2.1

        sadly, there are too many unelected people behind the scenes with smoke and mirrors burt. In Mr Hooten’s case he gets regular spots in print and radio to peddle his brand of misinformation. Wat chance the public?

      • Lanthanide 3.2.2

        “Strange – suddenly, having never had a binding referendum in NZ ever ”

        Do you forget the recent electoral reform referendum, kicked off by National which was binding?

        • Draco T Bastard 3.2.2.1

          And which they’re now doing nothing about because they didn’t get what they wanted.

          • Lanthanide 3.2.2.1.1

            No, they did exactly as the referendum required: if the public voted for MMP, they would have a consultation process to consider improvements. There was never any requirement to implement the improvements.

            • Draco T Bastard 3.2.2.1.1.1

              Having a consultation process is an implication that the improvements would be implemented.

    • vto 3.3

      People active in political circles hate referendums, that much is clear. But they are heavily conflicted and so their view must be equally discounted.

      I say give the power back to the people and referendums are one way to do that. Sure, there are issues around conducting them correctly and framing the issues and facts in the correct way, but they are technical matters.

      Let the people decide.

      The people in Wellington live in bloody lala land.

      • Tracey 3.3.1

        I’m not active in political circles and what incentive is there to “correctly” frame them?

        Remember the one that made helping victims more and bring back hard labour one question? That’s ridiculous

        The people decide every 3 years and in between by expressing their views.

        I wont support the current referendum system it is beyond inherently flawed.

        And Key ought to be calling for its repeal… but he wont.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.3.1.1

          Classic example. Despite its moronic framing and odious author, Graham Capill’s referendum led to longer sentences, in direct opposition to international best practice.

          I measure the success of penal policy by the recidivism rate.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.3.1.1.1

            So we show that that decision has led to worse results and then let the people reverse that decision. Laws aren’t written in stone.

        • vto 3.3.1.2

          Tracey I am amazed that you don’t trust yourself to make better decisions about your life than some politician.

        • Polish Pride 3.3.1.3

          The people decide every 3 years and in between by expressing their views.

          You must be joking. I hope that you are not saying we have a working democracy because we get to vote one lot of muppets out should we choose to and another lot of muppets in. Oh and we get to give them our opinion in the meantime.
          At best we have an elected dictatorship.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.3.2

        +1

        Well said. Give people access to the information, let them see the results of their choices and they will make good decisions. Something we don’t get from elected representatives.

    • Hayden 3.4

      He campaigned on asset sales, albeit telling a few porkies along the way about spending it on schools and hospitals and paying down debt and 48% o the nation who voted voted for him.

      48% isn’t a majority; by the same reasoning 52% voted against asset sales, which would carry a referendum.

      Present a Bill to repeal it Mr Key

      Let’s hope so, although there’s a subset of the population who would cheer him on, you’d have to think it’d be the losing of the 2014 election (barring some exceptional stupidity from Labour).

      • weka 3.4.1

        “48% o the nation who voted voted for him.”

        No. Those people cast party votes for National and electorate votes for their local MP. This wasn’t a presidential election and we would do well to remember that. I’m sure there are some swing voters who voted National because of Key, but to say that 48% of voters did is just wrong.

        Further, how many people choose who they vote for on a single issue? Do you really expect lifetime National voters to change their vote to the left or NZF if they didn’t want assets sold? How many people vote National because that’s what they’ve always done and they don’t really question their believes about why?

        This is why referenda are important. They can show what people actually want on a specific issue in ways that general elections almost never can. CIR give the people a way of being involved in democracy and reminding politicians that they don’t own the country just because the blunt tool of general elections put them in charge for 3 years.

        • Tracey 3.4.1.1

          sorry, 48% of the nation voted for the national party’s “policy”.

          How many CIR’s have we had, and how many became law? How many became election issues in the following election and how many parties campaign on them?

          • weka 3.4.1.1.1

            Those are good questions, maybe someone will look it up.

            “sorry, 48% of the nation voted for the national party’s “policy”.”

            Not sure even that is true. People vote for lots of different reasons. How many people voted for NACT because they were going to sell the assets is unclear. Let’s put it another way. If NACT were not campaigning on asset sales how many of that 48% do you think would have voted for them?

            • Bill 3.4.1.1.1.1

              Russel Norman basically nailed that argument yesterday on Wilson’s 5pm spot. The election was about many issues, not just asset sales. The Conservative Party didn’t get 5% and campaigned against asset sales. 800 000 didn’t vote (hardly an endorsement)…and so on.

              • Tracey

                So people who voted National didnt care strongly enough about selling assets to NOT vote for them, so we need a referendum to make that clear?

                For the record, I accept that something like selling off state assets is a very important issue and worthy of a referendum. BUT aren’t non binding referendums just lip-service to democracy rather than real democracy, and in that sense on a par with our election process?

                • No, non-binding referenda are pretty appropriate in general, especially when they’re not on a well-defined issue. (even “don’t sell our assets” is kinda ill-defined, to be honest)

                  It could also be that a lot of people who opposed asset sales didn’t vote at all because they didn’t feel represented by any of the available parties, or for a variety of reasons.

                  And yes, we clearly DO need a referendum, to make it clear just how controversial these policies are, as it’s been getting no coverage whatsoever in the media.

            • Tracey 3.4.1.1.1.2

              So all party’s policy is up for review if someone wants to get the signatures?

              You are not suggesting that people who voted for National didnt know they wanted to sell assets and which ones though are you?

              • weka

                “So all party’s policy is up for review if someone wants to get the signatures?”

                That’s a very marginalising way to put it Tracey. It’s not ‘someone’, it takes alot of effort to get enough signatures to get a referendum, so, not it’s not like it can happen on any old issue. And no, all parties policies aren’t up for review, just the ones that are crucial to the wellbeing of the country. I don’t know where people get this idea that a government can do what the hell it wants for three years with no challenge to that. Otherwise we may as well get rid of things like select committees and submission processes and give the incoming govt carte blanche and be done with it. MMP was supposed to devolve democracy away from that one party state for three years thing. We should be moving towards processes that increase participation and co-operative representation. We are meant to be in a post-marjority rule society.

                “You are not suggesting that people who voted for National didnt know they wanted to sell assets and which ones though are you?”

                Pre-election, I’m sure some didn’t know, and many didn’t know the details. It’s easy for the comentariat to forget how many people are completely disengaged from politics.

      • Tracey 3.4.2

        it wouldnt carry a non binding referndum, if you see what I mean.

        I believe we have to remove the possibility of re-electioning, if you see what I mean.

        The referndum law needs to be tighter and far less flawed for me to support them being binding.

        I accept folks disagree.

        Yes, if he repealed the referendum law he would probably lose 2014 which is why his rhetoric almost always stops short of any actual action.

        His compete lack of leadership and decisiveness over Syria has been telling but largely lost in the last few days. IMO.

    • KJT 3.5

      On the balance of probabilities, if you disagree with the majority you are, most likely, wrong!

      Research on the subject has shown that BCIR get it right many times more often than decisions by politicians. And, “Even if it is wrong, it is our decision to make” NRT

      All the arguments against BCIR also apply to allowing voting, at all!

      Many who voted in the referendum against the “extension of police powers to harass poor people bill”, (Who more often need help, not condemnation) which is an equally valid name for the “anti-smacking bill”, like me, have no desire at all to hit their children, (and think family fist are nutters) but also objected to the OTT characterisation of someone who slaps their kid on the butt, as a child basher.

      The extremists on both sides tried to shut down any sensible debate.

      In fact, after the referendum, the bill was modified so that you can use mild, suitable, physical force to protect your child, or others, from danger, or for anything which would be otherwise illegal. Which are the only reasons you should be allowed to use physical force on anyone. I was happy with the bill we ended up with. Government did listen to the referendum. The public input resulted in much better law.

      Just because you, personally, objected to the result of a particular referendum, is not an argument against them.

      • Tracey 3.5.1

        How many people have been charged or harassed by the police under the guise of the s59 change?

        Repealling s59a did not include any reference to slapping a child on the behind as a child basher. That was rhetoric designed to make people support the referendum. Which is my point. Most people I spoke to during that “debate” had no idea what s59a was. What it said, how it had been interpreted int he past and how that would change in the future. That was the crucial knowledge people needed and which was largely withheld from them through rheotirc and diversion.

        A majority giving their opinion on something does not render the minority “wrong”. Respectfully you are confusing fact with opinion.

        • KJT 3.5.1.1

          Bullshit. Bradford herself said the intent was to make any smacking, at all, illegal.

          As for people being harassed under the law by police, it happens all the time.

          Including several I knew, who were/are much more in need of help, rather than criminalisation.

          One cop, one of the many decent police we are fortunate to have, used the law to get help and funding for a family desperate in need of it. Unfortunately we have a proportion of power hungry tinpot dictators in our police force also.

          And yes I agree that the minority may be right and the majority wrong, but what ethical means is there of deciding things which affect everyone, other than Democracy rule by majority vote.

          True leadership is being able to explain to the majority why it is the right thing to do to change their minds.

          Again. Just because you, personally, disagree with a single democratic decision doesn’t invalidate the principle that State decisions should be truly democratic.

        • QoT 3.5.1.2

          How many people have been charged or harassed by the police under the guise of the s59 change?

          I love this argument. You’re basically buying into the idea that if the police investigate an alleged crime and find none has been committed, this means the whole investigation was Persecuting Innocent Parents.

          Pardon me if I have no fucking problem with the cops investigating allegations of child abuse.

          As for actual charges? Last I saw, the Family First line was either backpedalling after they defended abusive fucks, or talking about parents belting their teenagers. Which is funny, since so many of the pro-hitting-children arguments are about how young kids may need a whack because you can’t reason with them like you can with older children.

      • Tracey 3.5.2

        “mild, suitable, physical force to protect your child, or others, from danger, or for anything which would be otherwise illegal. “

      • Craig Y 3.5.3

        Yeah, right. Sorry, as a gay man, I object to attacks against marriage equality within the United States that used referenda. I also object to the Swiss minaret ban and attacks on progressive income tax and taxation infrastructure within California that gutted social services there. They’re too bloody dangerous and they risk being hijacked by raving right populist nutbars like Family First, the Sensible Sentencing Trust ad nauseum, unless appropriate steps are taken.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.5.3.1

          And those appropriate steps would include:

          1.) Giving people the actual information
          2.) Banning the BS and hyperbole that we often see
          3.) Banning the use of leading and suggestive questions such as the one used by Family First for the so called smacking referendum.
          4.) Revisiting the legislation in a set time frame so that further research can be taken into account

        • felix 3.5.3.2

          So Craig, do you have any objections to referenda, as opposed to objecting to what you fear the results of certain specific ballots might be?

        • KJT 3.5.3.3

          You are aware of course, Craig, that it was “representative democracy” that recriminalised homosexuality in Russia, and “representative democracy” that gutted progressive taxation, social welfare and health care, and repealed glass steagal leading to the GFC at the federal level in the USA.

          As a member of a minority I think on balance you have much more to fear from authoritarian nut jobs in parliament, that have no real checks and balances on their almost absolute power.

          • Tracey 3.5.3.3.1

            Craig

            Do you believe a NZ government would enact legislation contrary to the UN Human Rights Convention and the like? Are you saying with binding refernda this is a possibility?

            I too would like to see an entrenched bill of rights, including the provisions of the TOW.

            • KJT 3.5.3.3.1.1

              But how are you going to decide what they are to be.

              BCIR??

              Parliament?
              This mob do not even think all children have a right to a moderately healthy start in life.

              UN conventions are set by binding referendums, of the member states.

      • You_Fool 3.5.4

        The law was clarified after the CIR – that reference was left in in any case. the repeal of S59 is a good example of what John Key won’t do with the GCSB bill – i.e. additional clarification in the bill to ensure that it is clear what is intended.

        The repeal of S59 never stopped the use of mild, suitable, physical force to protect your child, or others, from danger, or for anything which would be otherwise illegal, including stopping them acting up in the middle of the supermarket. What it made illegal was the use of force for correction (see department of corrections) – i.e. “Wait till you father gets home” type scenarios. It also moved the law into line with how juries & judges were actually deciding court cases.

    • Bearded Git 3.6

      47.3% voted National. This amounts to only 34.5% of registered voters.

      National must be sailing pretty close to breaking the law in the way they are criticising the referendum-this is a democratic process expressly provided for by parliament.

      Methinks it will backfire on them.

    • James 3.7

      48% of people who voted, not 48% of “the nation”. Out of more than 3 million registered voters, only 1 million voted for him – about 33%. Hardly a “mandate”. Or a man date. nearly 900,000 couldn’t be bothered voting at all.

      This is how National want it. As Russel Norman rightly pointed out at a recent anti-GCSB bill rally, National wants us feeling disenfranchised and disempowered. You can bet the vast majority of that non-voting 900,000 would go for a left wing party but they were so demoralised and apathetic they didn’t even bother.

      • Tracey 3.7.1

        for the purposes of referendums and elections who votes is all that counts.

      • johnm 3.7.2

        James
        +1

      • Polish Pride 3.7.3

        perhaps the 900,000 are disenfranchised voters who see the failings of the current system and that the problems they want solved never will be, because the system by its very design is simply incapable of solving them. To that end there is no point in voting and continuing to give validity to a seriously flawed system when doing so.

        • Nope, if you believe you have a better system, you should be forming or voting for a party that will bring it about. Until then you should be working within the system as best you can.

  4. Vagabundo 4

    Speaking of money spent by the government, how much did Warner Brothers leave our shores with? I remember it was somewhere around $120 million, but I can’t remember exactly how much it was.

    Or, hey, propping up the Americas Cup challenge with an extra $30million.

    For a government that likes to cry poverty, it sure is funny how they find money when it comes to throwing cash at corporates and their rich mates.

    • Tracey 4.1

      agreed. Also where is the government’s support for rally nz which brings in thousands of visitors and gets us worldwide television coverage? Or are motorsport fans not in its demographic?

      • Molly 4.1.1

        Auckland Council kicked in with that demographic, to the tune of $8.6 million for Pukekohe V8′s.

        And since Jenny hasn’t been around for a while, I’ll point out the obvious: that this is one of the more “head-in-the-sand” sports from the perspective of climate change.

        • Pasupial 4.1.1.1

          Jenny is on ban at the moment (I don’t think it is till after the election, so we may be hearing from her again soon). But yeah; motor-sport is one step away from watching an oil-well burn, and that doesn’t even address the noise pollution.

          As for referenda, I think that binding referenda should be saved for laws that are drafted sufficiently to get a reading in parliament. If there were to be indicative referenda during the course of a parliamentary term (with say; 1% of voters as threshold) that led to binding referenda as an optional part of election voting (which should be mandatory for at least the party tick), then I think we would have a much more effective referendum system.

          Let’s have a Referendum on Referenda!

          • Craig Y 4.1.1.1.1

            Let’s either repeal or substantially amend the CIR Act so it doesn’t potentially endanger human rights, civil liberties or Treaty rights, shall we? Then, it might be more useful instead of handing a dangerous tool to authoritarian populist raving right bigots.

          • KJT 4.1.1.1.2

            Lets just adopt an already working and workable system. The Swiss one.

            It would take a while to bed in, and expect some dodgy referendum subjects for starters, but it will make for much better laws long term, when every stupid knee jerk reaction by politicians can be subject to humiliating reversal.

        • Tracey 4.1.1.2

          sources molly?

          • Molly 4.1.1.2.1

            Sorry, Tracey.

            Should have linked – pissed off at the time when it came through our local news rag. Google result for Localist actually comes up with a higher cost:
            “ATEED will invest approximately $21 million per year for five years in the event. This will include a one off capital grant of $2.214 million towards the $6.6 million upgrade of Pukekohe Park and a $1 million annual sponsorship fee. V8 Supercars is underwriting the event, while the Ministry of Economic Development and venue owners Counties Racing Club also have a significant stake in the event.”

            When they were first discussing it – it was for four years at approx $8.6, but obviously somewhere along the lines it became a five year project.

            So it looks like I’m two million under. There was a lot of controversy at the time regarding the lack of information that was given to councillors.

            May article in the Herald about the returns for this investment.

    • KJT 4.2

      As the America’s cup resulted on 100′s of millions in jobs and income for the NZ economy, and lots of advertising for our boat building industry, it was one of Nationals few good investments.

      I agree however that a Government which is borrowing 300 million a week, to cover their unaffordable tax cuts for Hawaii holidays for millionaires, and spend more than 10 million a year on politicians perks, cannot really complain about the cost of democracy.

  5. Craig Y 5

    Look, I hate to dampen this self-congratulation, but consider this:
    (i) the Key administration could well translate the cost of this referendum into social and health services foregone;
    (ii) referenda are a piss-poor way of deciding complex issues and are prone to use against the centre-left by raving right nutbars (ie the pro-belting referendum by Family First);
    (iii) referenda can be used against human rights, civil liberties and Maori Treaty of Waitangi rights by unscrupulous neanderthal racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, misogynist and other idiot dropkicks;
    (iv) let’s have this one, and then repeal the CIR Act 1993, or else limit its potential effects by exempting human rights and civil liberties expressly from its coverage.

    • weka 5.1

      I’m not convinced that BCIR are the way to go yet (we’re not mature enough for that). But this is interesting

      “or else limit its potential effects by exempting human rights and civil liberties expressly from its coverage.”

      Where do you see the repeal of section 59 fitting into that?

      “referenda are a piss-poor way of deciding complex issues”

      But they could be used in conjunction with other processes. At the moment they’re one of the few tools we have unfortunately.

      • Craig Y 5.1.1

        Section 59 repeal was about children’s rights. And as far as I’m concerned, Weka, I damned well don’t intend to let the whingeing Maoribasher raving right anti-Treaty drongos use it against hard-won Maori Treaty gains. I’d far rather see a written constitution, and it will have to be one that entrenches the Treaty as far as I’m concerned. No other version is tolerable for me.

        • vto 5.1.1.1

          You sound like a blinkered extremist Craig Y with no room in your world for those of different opinions. And that is just not tolerable.

        • KJT 5.1.1.2

          What Craig Y really means is that no one is allowed to disagree with him, majority or not.

          In his world we are only allowed democracy so long as his criteria are fixed in concrete first.

          You are aware, of course, Craig, under our current arrangements, that a future Key, Collins or Joyce can just as easily repeal all minority rights legislation at whim, as fast as they just condemned another 100 thousand kids to poverty.

          • Tracey 5.1.1.2.1

            we have criteria for democracy now KJT. That criteria frames our elections and this referendum. Sure Crag and I disagree with you about what that criteria should be.

            • KJT 5.1.1.2.1.1

              We do not have democracy now.

              If we had democracy, 4 people in Parliament would not be selling off Meridian and MRP, when at least 80% of those interested enough to form an opinion, are against it.

              Just, like our politicians, you and Craig are saying “you can have democracy, but only if you make the decisions, we want”.

              You cannot say that and then claim we have democracy.

              That is NOT Democracy!

              • Tracey

                You can reframe my objection all you like to suit your world view but that doesn’t mean I am writing what you are attributing to me.

                If you go back to my second post you will see exactly what I object to. I object to paying $9m for a referendum that can/will be ignored. I would rather that went into food in schools or similar.I would like Key to propose to repeal the CIR if he objects (as he appears to).

                I have no fundamental objection to a referendum provided it has non flawed criteria.
                I dont trust the media or politicians to achieve that.

                To achieve the type of democracy you allude to immediately above, you would be referending EVERY issue before it were acted on or passed. Are you suggesting that? If that’s not what you mean, what criteria will you use to determine which issues do get implemented following a referendum?

                Do you accept that politicians (their backers) and the media manipulate issues to provoke a desired response from the electorate, regardless of whether it has a basis in fact, or has credible supporting evidence?

                • KJT

                  Have a look at how the Swiss do it.

                  Referenda only occur if there are enough people concerned about a new law, and hence signatures asking for them.

              • weka

                “We do not have democracy now.”

                Actually we do. It might be a poor form of democracy, but try comparing NZ to countries where people can’t vote for a government. It’s disrespectful to those people, and the people that have fought for democracy to say that we don’t have it. It also doesn’t help to change things to misrepresent them. By all means be criticial of the form we have, but let’s not pretend we have no say.

                • KJT

                  That is, respectfully, Crap!

                  Since when did we have a say?

                  I do not remember having a say when Muldoon introduced social welfare for sheep.

                  I do not remember having a say when Rogernomics was implemented. leading to 30 years of stagnation while other countries forged ahead.

                  I do not remember having a say when Richardson trampled on welfare recipients.

                  I do not remember having a say when Williamson removed my job.
                  Or the ERA act came in.

                  I do not remember having a say when the immigration department allowed millionaires in to raise land prices, and changed skilled immigrant quotas, when there were plenty of New Zealander’s available if they paid real wages, to keep wages down.

                  I do not remember having a say when our Government, and Australia started building concentration camps for refugees on Nauru Island. The people who we should allow in New Zealand, not millionaires who leave with the money at the first sign of a cold breeze, for both moral and practical reasons.

                  I do not remember having a say in economic policies which ensure 25 % of our children live in poverty.

                  I do not remember having a say as Key gives away even more of our wealth and increases our deficit, so he can have a prosperous retirement.

                  We are allowed the illusion of having a say, to keep us quiet.

                  Which is why attempts to implement real democracy are resisted tooth and nail by our dictators. Sadly supported by people on the left who should know better.

                  Who are happy to continue with our dysfunctional rotating dictatorship so long as they get their turn.

                  • weka

                    Of course you had a say in those things.

                    eg

                    “I do not remember having a say in economic policies which ensure 25 % of our children live in poverty.”

                    You had choices on how to vote at the last election. You can make submissions. You can talk to your local MP and/or the list MP assigned to your area from various parties. You can start a petition. You can lobby. You can join groups working to change those policies. You can work at the local level to raise political awareness of childhood poverty. You can join a political party and work within to help shape policy. You can write a blog. I’m sure there are other ways too.

                    Not ‘having a say’ is living in a country where you would be ostracised/put in prison/shot for doing the above things. Like I said, you are extremely disrespectful to all the people who live with that now, and those who have fought to enable democracy.

                    It’s true we don’t have a very good form of democracy, but you are ideologically blind if you think what we have is worth nothing.

                    “Which is why attempts to implement real democracy are resisted tooth and nail by our dictators. Sadly supported by people on the left who should know better.”

                    Just make sure you are not counting me as one of those people. Or maybe you have comprehension fail?

                    • KJT

                      Already had my job threatened, in the 80′s, for stepping out against Rogernomics.

                      One of the things that surprised me was they thought someone with as little power and influence as I had, was a threat worth attacking.

                      Shutting down political dissent in NZ has a long history.

                      Fortunately my immediate employer at the time was a US company. The manager, a Yankee, totally disagreed with my politics, but many Americans genuinely believe in “free speech”. One of the things I like about individual North Americans.

                      And more recently for comments on the 34 million plus, ripoff of Aucklanders, in the attempt to break the last vestages of trade unionism in NZ.

                      Thinking that political dissenters are free to say what they like, in NZ, is naive.

                    • weka

                      “Thinking that political dissenters are free to say what they like, in NZ, is naive.”

                      You’re preaching to the choir here dude, I’m a beneficiary and can’t even use my real name online, let alone risk something like political blogging.

                      But. I still get to vote. There are still many ways that I can participate in democratic processes here.

                      You say there is no democracy here, but that is patently not true. I say there is a poor form of democracy here, and we need to make it much much better.

                      btw, if we have no democracy, what about the democratic rights we are currently losing. Do they not exist?

              • Polish Pride

                +1

          • Craig Y 5.1.1.2.2

            Which is precisely why we need a written constitution. And would Key, Collins or Joyce do this through referendum, as Hitler did over the Saar and Sudetenland, or Napoleon III did with his crushing of French human rights and civil liberties at the end of the Second Republic in 1852? Sorry, KJT, history is a nuisance, isn’t it?

            • KJT 5.1.1.2.2.1

              That some referendum decisions turn out to be wrong, does not invalidate the principle.

              That the only legitimate form of State rule is democracy. Rule by the people. Not a club of politicians.

              Messy as it may be.

              Looking at your historical examples now. Referenda where a brownshirt stands behind you watching your vote is not democracy

        • Tracey 5.1.1.3

          plus 1

      • vto 5.1.2

        “we’re not mature enough for that”

        OMG weka that is incredible

        • Craig Y 5.1.2.1

          So what do you call the Conservative Party’s temper tantrums about Treaty rights, vto? Looks like political immaturity to me.

          • weka 5.1.2.1.1

            I was also thinking about things like badly worded referenda questions. And the number of people that still don’t undertand how MMP works.

            • Craig Y 5.1.2.1.1.1

              Moreover, what about issues like alcohol law reform? I think many of us would agree that a range of restrictions on alcohol availability might be justifiable. Try shoehorning all of them into a referendum question!

              • felix

                Ah, now I see what you mean.

                It’s not a suitable approach for every issue so therefore it’s of no use for any issue.

                Thanks for clearing that up.

                • Craig Y

                  It’s not a suitable approach for any issue that deserves more than a populist soundbyte from unelected authoritarian demagogues like McCoskrie, McVicar ad nauseum. Which is most of them.

                  • felix

                    Govt wants to sell energy assets.

                    Good idea/bad idea.

                    What’s the problem with referenda for such a straightforward simple yes/no question?

                    • Tracey

                      pretty sure it’s non binding felix, you cant shift the goalposts on that. IF it were binding is a slightly different argument. I know I am addressing my misgiving with the current CIR crietia and framing.

                    • felix

                      Sorry Tracey I don’t follow.

                      What’s the issue with it being non-binding?

                    • Tracey

                      If it is not binding then I would prefer the $9m goes to Hone’s food in schools programme.

                      You can still collect signatures, campaign and present a petition to parliament. That will raise your issue to the consciousness of Kiwis but we save the $9m. IF it is binding then of course, spend what it takes.

                    • felix

                      I’d rather it was spent on a giant waterpark at the end of my street.

                      So fucking what?

                    • Tracey

                      at your wits end aye felix???

                    • weka

                      Let me paraphrase for felix if I may:

                      “If it is not binding then I would prefer the $9m goes to Hone’s food in schools programme.”

                      How will you make NACT spend the money on that?

                      I really think you are missing the point majorly about the usefulness of the asset sales referendum

                    • felix

                      Half-wit’s end, perhaps. It makes no difference what you or I would rather spend nine million dollars on.

                      John Key would probably prefer to cancel next year’s election and use the money saved to move the cabinet room to Waikiki Beach. So what?

                      This particular 9 million is being spent on a loud voice for a large number of people, as provided for in legislation passed by a democratically elected parliament.

                      edit: yes weka exactly. It’s not like we have choice between this referendum and food in schools.

                    • Tracey

                      weka

                      I do understand those reasons.

                      I also hope there will be a very HIGH turnout for the referendum. I have concerns around the time and money required to mobilise electorate for an election and which parties and supporters can afford to do both in an election 12 month period.

                      Of course I cant make National spend it on anything. And it isn’t a choice between spend it on referendum or spend it on food in schools option. I understand that also.

                    • Tracey

                      I know ALL of that felix, which is why in my second post I suggested if Key is consistent he would use the urgency provisions he loves so much an repeal the legislation so it could never happen again.

                      he wont, i also know that.

                      but I stick by my belief that the current CIR is flawed. Some here consider that means I want it gone rather than improved, that’s their issue.

                  • weka

                    “It’s not a suitable approach for any issue that deserves more than a populist soundbyte from unelected authoritarian demagogues like McCoskrie, McVicar ad nauseum. Which is most of them.”

                    How about deciding to change from FPP to MMP?

                    • Craig Y

                      If I recall correctly, many elected parliamentarians supported that back in 1992-93, though, Weka.

                    • weka

                      And many opposed it. Plus the Business Roundtable weighed in against it with all their various influences. Are you suggesting that we would have gotten MMP without a referendum? Got anything to back up that idea?

                  • KJT

                    Why allow the public a vote on anything at all then. We can just leave it to Craig and Tracey, to decide for us.

                    • Tracey

                      You dont deal well with folks disagreeing with you do you KJT?

                      Let me simplify my view for you.

                      I dont want to waste $9m on a referendum that is non binding when the same raising of the electorates consciousness on the issue can be achieved by collecting signatures and presenting a petition to parliament.

                      You seem to be repeatedly portraying that as being anti democratic and me wanting only what I agree with. However that doesn’t make your portrayal right or accurate.

                    • weka

                      “I dont want to waste $9m on a referendum that is non binding when the same raising of the electorates consciousness on the issue can be achieved by collecting signatures and presenting a petition to parliament.”

                      That’s not true. In effect the signatures have been raised and presented to parliament. The referendum will go much further than that, and will generate weeks of publicity that you won’t get from a petition presentation.

                    • Tracey

                      Fair comment weka. I get that.

                    • Polish Pride

                      Tracey from reading many of KJTs comments and agreeing with almost every one to the letter It is not so much as not handling people disagreeing with him. I suspect it is more from immense frustration from knowing the failings of our system and possibly even how to fix the problems we as a society face but not really feeling like one has the ability to do anything about it, especially when there are so many people that haven’t yet reached those same conclusions.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I think many of us would agree that a range of restrictions on alcohol availability might be justifiable. Try shoehorning all of them into a referendum question!

                Why would we try to put them all into one question? If there are several questions to be answered then we ask several questions.

                • felix

                  Because that obvious course of action wouldn’t provide Craig with a very good example of unworkability.

                • Tracey

                  not currently. If I wanted more support for victims of crime I had to agree to bringing back hard labour. They put them together and gave us the possibility of yes or no.

                  I dont know about craig but how questions are framed, and how the public learn about the issues is my major bug-bear with current system.

          • felix 5.1.2.1.2

            Craig, the Conservative Party are perfectly at liberty to have whatever tantrums they like about treaty rights.

            As is anyone else about anything they like.

            • KJT 5.1.2.1.2.1

              The conservative party, or nuts like McCrosky have every right to try and persuade people to their point of view as you or I.

              If you cannot persuade a majority of the public that your ideas are right, then maybe they are not!

              • felix

                Or maybe they are, but everyone else doesn’t know it yet. Either way it’s not for Craig to determine on all of our behalf.

    • felix 5.2

      (i) lol!

      (ii) not a complex issue

      (iii) yep. believe it or not, democracy isn’t just for people who agree with you

      (iv) let’s put it to a vote

      • Craig Y 5.2.1

        There’s a difference between real democracy and facile populism. Vulnerable minorities require protection from aggressive and discriminatory majorities.

        • burt 5.2.1.1

          Craig Y

          I think you have missed that some people base their perception of the government on no more than the colour of the party logo.

          • felix 5.2.1.1.1

            Yes burt we’re all well aware of your proclivities. Now off you fuck it’s a nice day outside.

            • McFlock 5.2.1.1.1.1

              it is, actually. Sucks to be at work :)

            • Tracey 5.2.1.1.1.2

              “democracy isn’t just for people who agree with you”

              • felix

                I assume you’re implying that you’ve found some glaring contradiction between my egalitarian democratic principles and my firmly held belief that burt is a very dull fuckwit.

                Be a good sort and point out where the contradiction lies, would you?

        • felix 5.2.1.2

          Care to define the difference, Craig?

          See if you can do it without resorting to facile examples of populism you happen to disagree with.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.3

          All indications are that a lot of those vulnerable minorities would have got the needed protections a lot sooner had we put them to referendum. Representative government often lags behind what the people want.

    • Pasupial 5.3

      I’m fully for an entrenched constitution and Bill of Rights in Aotearoa/ New Zealand which would require a super-majority to amend. I even said as much to the recent(ish) Constitutional Review Panel (btw; does anyone have any idea when they’ll be making their review findings public?).

      Another good change to CIR would be if they required a majority of enrolled voters; rather than just those who bothered participating, to pass. So if there was an 80% turnout the referendum would need 62.5% to pass, and less than 50% turn-out would make that impossible.

      • Craig Y 5.3.1

        In terms of an entrenched constitution, it would have to include (i) the Treaty as a cornerstone and foundational document (ii)a robust and open-ended equality rights section. I just wish there were some way to embed social and economic rights within that framework as well. However, that is why we need a comprehensive welfare state, I guess.

    • KJT 5.4

      It is sad when those on the left oppose democracy.

      Don’t you think our ideas are good enough to pass the test of a majority vote.

      If polls and research are anything to go by, the majority favour, on the whole, socialist left wing policies

      • Craig Y 5.4.1

        As I said before, I support a written constitution exactly because I am also concerned at unfettered executive and legislative parliamentary sovereignty. Judicial contestability would be useful as a barrier to that. It works in Canada. Why not here?

        • KJT 5.4.1.1

          Not opposed to a written constitution, but how do we decide on the contents, and how do we keep Governments to it?

          What happens when clauses are overtaken by events and changes, such as the US “right to bear arms”?

          How do we entrench it?

          How do we make it legitimate in the eyes of most people?

          BCIR?

    • Draco T Bastard 5.5

      (iii) referenda can be used against human rights, civil liberties and Maori Treaty of Waitangi rights by unscrupulous neanderthal racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, misogynist and other idiot dropkicks;

      Referendum on rights needs to have their own rules. One of those rules would be that the question asked needs to pertain to the person answering it (rights are universal and so if you think that you should have that right then you think that everyone should have that right). For example the question of marriage equality could easily be solved with the question: Should you have the right to marry?

      • McFlock 5.5.1

        so referenda are fine as long as you remove the bone of contention from them?

        So what’s the point of them, then?

        • Draco T Bastard 5.5.1.1

          Um, what? I was specifically speaking about rights referenda there and used a single example.

          Another question would be:
          Do you have the right to do whatever you wish?

          Now, I believe that most people would say no to that question but there will be some that will answer yes so I’d pair it with a countervailing question:
          Should people have the right to affect you without your say so?

          What I’m trying to point out here is that referenda can also be used to protect people rights rather overturn them as a lot of people seem to think will happen if those rights are left to referenda. Such referenda just need to have a different process and format.

          • Tracey 5.5.1.1.1

            john stuart mill

          • McFlock 5.5.1.1.2

            The entire point about the same-sex right to marry debate is that some people think that it is not universal.

            Reducing the question to “should you have the right to marry” ignores the crux: whom can you marry, by right?

            And then there’s the point that you’re restricting what people can have referenda on, so it’s no longer direct democracy. It’s filtered via the referendum administrators. All you’ve done is give the illusion of participation.

            • Draco T Bastard 5.5.1.1.2.1

              Reducing the question to “should you have the right to marry” ignores the crux: whom can you marry, by right?

              BS, it shows the universality of the right to marriage. Those who think it isn’t universal will be upset to find that they don’t have the right to marry.

              And then there’s the point that you’re restricting what people can have referenda on,

              Can you show me where I did that?

              • McFlock
                And then there’s the point that you’re restricting what people can have referenda on,

                Can you show me where I did that?

                Certainly, I shall show you the most recent instance:

                BS, it shows the universality of the right to marriage.

                The question of same-sex marriage is whether that right is universal, regardless of gender of either or both parties. I’m sure we both think it is, but some people do not.

                Making the referendum on same-sex marriage semantically-restricted to “can I marry” removes the ability of the referendum to consider that question.

                Who decides whether a question is simply a policy issue that can be asked unedited, or a right that needs to be phrased in your prescribed way? Doesn’t the latter mean that if a petition for CIR is received that this arbiter decides involves a right, then the question of the petition would be altered beyond recognition? A petition for a referendum on “should same-sex marriage be banned?” becomes “should I be allowed to marry?”. They are very different questions.

                By presupposing the universality of marriage rights the question restricts people to saying whether a right to marriage exists or not – not whether it is universal. It becomes as farcical as asking whether beating a kid “as part of good parenting” should be made criminal – that question presupposes that beating can be part of good parenting. Anyone who disagrees with that is trapped in a logical quandary.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Making the referendum on same-sex marriage semantically-restricted to “can I marry” removes the ability of the referendum to consider that question.

                  It’s not up to society to determine who can marry. It’s up to society to determine of marriage laws exist or not. Once those laws exits then they must be applied universally, i.e, rights applied to everybody.

                  Who decides whether a question is simply a policy issue that can be asked unedited, or a right that needs to be phrased in your prescribed way?

                  The person submitting the petition.

                  By presupposing the universality of marriage rights the question restricts people to saying whether a right to marriage exists or not

                  Correct.

                  – not whether it is universal.

                  Incorrect. A right is always universal because if it isn’t then we end up with second and third class citizens.

                  • McFlock

                    So what’s stopping someone putting forward a petition for a referendum question “should same-sex marriage be banned?”?

                    And no, not all rights are universal: voting, for example.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      So what’s stopping someone putting forward a petition for a referendum question “should same-sex marriage be banned?”?

                      The fact that it wouldn’t fit the format for a human rights question.

                      And no, not all rights are universal: voting, for example.

                      /facepalm

                    • McFlock

                      I can marry an Australian. I can’t vote in the Australian elections, though.

                      If that’s too difficult, what about the right to freedom or freedom of association? Ever heard of a prison? Rights are heavily curtailed there (including voting, which I disagree with).

                      The fact that it wouldn’t fit the format for a human rights question.

                      Basically, you’ve started with the dubious philosophical assertion that all rights are universal, and then use that as a justification to remove the main bones of contention for most referenda that ever took place (because pretty much every referendum affects rights in some way).

                      So why even bother having referenda at all? Everything can be handled by the ministries and universities…

      • KJT 5.5.2

        “Representative democracy’ has been hijacked by those who work for a wealthy minority, have put 250 000 children into poverty, sold off income earning strategic assets, bought in draconian search and surveillance laws and allowed gross breaches of privacy by the State, restricted rights to dissent and demonstration, imprisoned more citizens per capita than States we regard as repressive, restricted free speech and destroyed worker rights.

        And you! worry about real democracy?

        • Draco T Bastard 5.5.2.1

          You’ve replied to my comment but what you say doesn’t appear to have any relationship to anything I’ve said.

        • Craig Y 5.5.2.2

          And CIRs haven’t?! What about California and government spending on social services there, thanks to its referenda addiction?

        • Polish Pride 5.5.2.3

          So what is your solution KJT?
          A solution that won’t be repealed once the next National government gets in I hope…..

          • KJT 5.5.2.3.1

            I think it is obvious what I would like to see.

            At least as much public say in issues as the Swiss have.

            I suspect most of the public agree, even if subconsciously.

            MMP, CIR and any other steps to limit the currently unlimited power of Government always gain majority support.

            The increasing number of non-voters show that many people no longer think that Parliament represents them in any meaningful way.

            Any steps towards democracy are good.

            Labour opening the leadership vote to the membership, The Greens consensus policy making process, CIR, are all steps towards greater democracy and public participation in decisions which affect all of us.

            Nationals surveillance society is a step in the wrong direction.

            I can handle people who disagree with me. That is their right.
            You are right though, that I get extremely frustrated with those who can’t see the immorality and wrongness of thinking the majority of people have no right to an equal say in making decisions which affect their lives.. It is wrong that 61 votes in parliament, can override the wishes of 3 million people.

            Unfortunately, under our current arrangements, there is nothing to stop any future bunch of dictators in parliament from reversing any steps towards democracy.
            In fact, National are reducing democratic participation as we speak, as well as the effectiveness of the courts ability to limit their power.

    • Polish Pride 5.6

      +1

  6. Rich 7

    I think people misunderstand the tactic here (partly because politicians can’t spell it out).

    The referendum isn’t intended to prevent asset sales – it’s to send a big message to voters that the Key government doesn’t give a fuck what they think.

    If Key decides to get out of the referendum by repealing the CIR Act with retrospective effect, that’s a double win – he’s sent the “fuck you, losers” message to the electorate and he’s removed a dumb piece of legislation mostly used by proletard child-beaters.

    • burt 7.1

      I think you misread Labour voters…. It seems that using retrospective measures to show complete disregard for the law, democracy and the voters is seen as a sign of power – Key will be called the best PM ever if he shows how he won’t be held accountable !

      • framu 7.1.1

        and theres the retrospective

        your a broken record burt

        • burt 7.1.1.1

          Try it like this framu ;-)

          <b>retrospective</b>

        • burt 7.1.1.2

          framu

          Seriously though, don’t you think it’s hysterical that a comment denigrating Key is making a reference to how bad it would be if he used retrospective measures to get what he wants while flipping the bird to democracy ?

          If this was seriously a bad thing to be doing – they why is anyone with half a brain still supporting any party that voted to flip the bird to democracy in 2006 ?

          • framu 7.1.1.2.1

            sure – but its a hypothetical posted on a blog discussing an issue which is quite different and arguably much more important and would bring vastly greater changes, than the govt changing financing rules that everyone was breaking.

            key point being – “everyone was breaking”

            so not so much partisanship, but a pox on all their houses. I dont agree with that bit of history either, but lets keep in mind that all parties were flouting the rules.

            plus you say the retrospective thing all, the, time – youve been doing it for years – its getting very, very old

            though thanks for the tip on correct tagging of retrospective :-)
            (how did you get the tags to show like that without it being read as html tags?)

            • burt 7.1.1.2.1.1

              key point being – “everyone was breaking”

              Right… Others did it too…

              Labour were warned before the election (By the Chief Electoral Office ….) that it would be deemed electioneering – they ignored that…

              So drive past a 50kph sign at 70kph – when you are stopped by the police say “I’m not the only one speeding” – see how far you get framu.

              Yeah we know – It’s not fair to make my team accountable when yours isn’t ….

              Baby !!!!!!

            • burt 7.1.1.2.1.2

              How did I get the tags to show like that….

              I typed it like this ( ignore the spaces …)

              ( & l t ; ) (Escape code for the ‘less than’ ) and ( & g t ; ) (escape code for greater than).

    • weka 7.2

      Rich, I think people here understand that the referendum isn’t binding, and that the purpose is to show the overwhelming numbers that oppose asset sales, and that this hopefully will influence voting at the next election.

  7. Craig Y 8

    It’s a short sighted tactic. Key could easily point out that the centre-left haven’t fully elaborated our alternative fiscal framework- and we haven’t. Negative campaigning against asset sales is only half the solution to the dilemma at hand. When are we going to see the other half? One hopes during the Labour leadership primaries.

  8. Craig Y 9

    Why do binding referenda junkies have such contempt for *representative* democracy, for that matter? At least our elected representatives are just that, unlike unelected pressure group demagogues like Messrs McCoskrie and McVicar, and if the problem is an unfettered executive or legislature, that is why we need an entrenched written constitution and judicial counterweight. Works perfectly well in Canada with their Charter of Rights and Freedoms (indigenous treaty incorporation excluded, sadly).

    • felix 9.1

      A desire for a written constitution isn’t actually an argument against referenda.

      • Craig Y 9.1.1

        It can however blunt the most malignant effects of destructive anti-minoritarian authoritarian referenda, fortunately.

        • felix 9.1.1.1

          Those effects being what, exactly?

          • KJT 9.1.1.1.1

            In fact minority rights, if polls, and research on the subject, are to be believed, including women’s suffrage, would have occurred in NZ much faster with BCIR.

            It was parliament that belatedly followed public opinion, after much dragging of chains, on minority rights, as on so many other things.

            • McFlock 9.1.1.1.1.1

              However, it can work the other way – dragging the chain on shit ideas that have a burst of public support or sympathy. I’m thinking in particular of crime legislation after someone pretty gets murdered.

              • KJT

                The time it takes to get referenda underway, and the fact that they are binding, works against knee jerk reactions.

                “Representative democracy” sic, however seems to be very keen on daft “tough on crime” legislation, probably because it is an issue which pulls the chain of the 10% swing voters in focus groups.

                Note that in California, referenda are now reversing some of their “tough on crime” legislation because it is not working. Can you imagine our politicians reversing any of their “tough on crime” legislation. Working or not!

                • McFlock

                  Did they get rid of the three strikes law that was a partial result of direct democracy?

                  And yes, legislators to occasionally get “less tough on crime”. Removal of hard labour and the death penalty come to mind.

                  • KJT

                    And was bought in by “Representative Democracy” in many other States. And NZ.

                    Your point is?

                    In fact word is that a referendum against the three strikes law has been mooted in California. And one de-criminalising Marijuana. If they haven’t happened already.

                    I am not right up to date on California news, as most US media outfits prefer to concentrate on Obama’s birth place and other Republican propaganda.

                    • McFlock

                      My point is that while you claim that several good things might have happened sooner because of direct democracy, this also applies to bad things. California’s just the poster-child for it, because they end up being pro-spending but anti taxation, pro-MJ but anti-same-sex marriage (proposition 8 was overturned by the courts in California, but the citizenry still voted to ban same-sex marriage), and so on.

                      Three strikes laws are interesting – the first two US states to adopt them in the 1990s both did so by direct democracy. Think up a catchy name and you’re halfway there.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      My point is that while you claim that several good things might have happened sooner because of direct democracy, this also applies to bad things.

                      Yep, mistakes happen but those same mistakes happen with representative democracy as well. Mistakes can be fixed.

                      California’s just the poster-child for it, because they end up being pro-spending but anti taxation,

                      And if the Californians had had real access to the information needed to make those decisions rather than the BS ideology that less taxes return greater tax amounts would they have made the same decisions?

                      How long do you think neo-liberalism would have lasted in NZ if the people had actually had a say? (Considering the protests of the 1980s I doubt it would have lasted until the 1990s)

                  • McFlock

                    Yep, mistakes happen but those same mistakes happen with representative democracy as well. Mistakes can be fixed.

                    That somewhat lowers the impression that direct democracy is any improvement over representative democracy.

                    And if the Californians had had real access to the information needed to make those decisions rather than the BS ideology that less taxes return greater tax amounts would they have made the same decisions?

                    Who edits that information? Who distributes it? How do you keep the Koch brothers out of it?
                    The same questions dog representative democracy, but at least representative democracy has the brakes on it.

                    How long do you think neo-liberalism would have lasted in NZ if the people had actually had a say? (Considering the protests of the 1980s I doubt it would have lasted until the 1990s)

                    How long do you think Te Reo would have been banned in schools?
                    How long before women got the vote?
                    How long before compulsory military training would have been repealed?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      That somewhat lowers the impression that direct democracy is any improvement over representative democracy.

                      Not really because, IMO, the true advantage of direct democracy is us being able to govern ourselves rather than being dictated to by a few.

                      Who edits that information? Who distributes it?

                      That’s what we have ministries and universities for.

                      How do you keep the Koch brothers out of it?

                      That’s a tricky question but I’m leaning towards if it can’t be backed by facts then it can’t be published.

                      but at least representative democracy has the brakes on it.

                      You missed what happened in NZ in the 1980s didn’t you?

                      How long do you think Te Reo would have been banned in schools?

                      Would it have been banned in schools?

                      How long before women got the vote?

                      At a guess, probably about the same time that it did. As I understand it, parliament didn’t want to pass it at the time. What happened is that a couple of people voted yes thinking that more were voting no (typical dishonest pandering to voters scenario).

                      How long before compulsory military training would have been repealed?

                      Probably a lot sooner. The majority of people don’t want to be in the military.

                    • McFlock

                      So the “ministries and universities” become arbiters of what people are permitted to say about policy questions? No conflict of interest there /sarc.

                      People would still be dictated by a few, it would just be less obvious.

                      Oh, and kids were once beaten for speaking Te Reo in schools. The question is whether it would have stopped earlier due to a referendum.

                      Oh, and people now don’t want to be in the army. But all people vote in a referendum, not just 18-22 year olds. And in 1970, the army was seen as a good way of giving kids discipline and skills. Hell, military or military-style “boot camps” for youths are still popular cards for some voters.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      So the “ministries and universities” become arbiters of what people are permitted to say about policy questions?

                      Where else are you going to get the facts from other than research? And nothing I said prevents private research – just that they have to back what they say with facts.

                    • McFlock

                      Facts as identified and authorised by “ministries and universities”.

                      Let’s have a referendum on 1080 poison, as overseen by DoC.

                    • KJT

                      How long do you think Te Reo would have been banned in schools?

                      It was a Maori MP, who requested Maori children learn English primarily in schools, supported by the rest of parliament, with the best of intentions, though, in hindsight, wrong.
                      Under BCIR it may never have happened at all. Note though; when I was at school you were hit for speaking in the classroom at all. The language you spoke was immaterial. Plenty of kids spoke Te Reo in the playground.

                      How long before women got the vote?

                      Indications are that, in NZ it would have happened a lot sooner. One of the many times where parliament has been years behind public opinion on human rights.

                      How long before compulsory military training would have been repealed?

                      Don’t know about that one

                      We can play this game all day, but it still doesn’t change the principle that rule by real democracy is the only morally legitimate form of Government.

                      “The worst form of Government, except for all the others”.

                    • McFlock

                      Tht implies that there is a demonstrable advantage/benefit of government by binding referenda of representatve democracy.

                      so far, I’ve seen none. Just a good possibility that we’ll end up with even more harsh mandatory minimum sentences and bans on minarets.

                    • KJT

                      I am baffled how anyone can look at the track record: of groupthink, rushed legislation, poor decision making, self interested corruption, fixing what ain’t broke, instability and uncertainty, from our rotating dictatorship, and shear incompetence of most of our political leaders and still advocate continuing to give them the power that we do.

                      Anyone who has done managerial studies can tell you that effective decision making is:
                      Discussed as widely as possible.
                      Made after consultation, consent and input from all that are affected.
                      Researched and brainstormed.
                      The effects quantified and studied beforehand.

                      And that top down changes are rarely effective or desirable.

                      Switzerland has had 200 years of stable, prosperous and peaceful existence under real democracy, while we lurch from one extreme to another, as each set of new brooms race to see how much they can fuck up in three years.

                    • KJT

                      Bans on minarets. LOL.

                      In much of NZ, church bells are banned or restricted.

                      For the same reason.

                      Few people want to be woken in the early morning by amplified caterwauling from a minaret. Which is their purpose, by the way. Or church bells at 6 am on a Sunday morning.

                      As for harsher sentences, BCIR would have made people think about the consequences of their vote.
                      We may have had some sensible public discussion instead of the politicians kow-towing to a noisy minority.
                      Obviously politicians think that harsher sentences resonate with swing voters.

                    • McFlock

                      Anyone who has done managerial studies can tell you that effective decision making is:
                      Discussed as widely as possible.
                      Made after consultation, consent and input from all that are affected.
                      Researched and brainstormed.
                      The effects quantified and studied beforehand.

                      And that top down changes are rarely effective or desirable.

                      Nowhere does that say that the decision is made by everyone involved, rather than the manager.

                      As for harsher sentences, BCIR would have made people think about the consequences of their vote.
                      We may have had some sensible public discussion instead of the politicians kow-towing to a noisy minority.

                      And you say this because our general elections are renowned for “sensible public discussion”? As was the FPP/MMP referendum, or any other referendum since? Yeah, right.

            • Craig Y 9.1.1.1.1.2

              Then why wasn’t that the case in Switzerland insofar as women’s enfranchisement there went?

          • Craig Y 9.1.1.1.2

            Hitler used referenda to annex the Saar and Ruhr back in the thirties. Napoleon III used referenda to rubberstamp his French coup d’etat in 1852. What about those examples?

            • Draco T Bastard 9.1.1.1.2.1

              Bush jr used lies to justify attacking an innocent country. In fact, such examples of representative democracies attacking other countries are prolific within the last century alone.

    • KJT 9.2

      Representative democracy is an oxymoron.

      Politicians have repeatedly shown they neither represent us or work in our best interests.

      Being graciously allowed to change the names of our dictators every three years is NOT Democracy. FFS.

      Our Government regards them selves as our bosses, not our representatives. If they were representatives then “theft as a servant” charges for asset sales would be appropriate.

  9. FYI – Remember this?

    RE: ASSET SALES: NO MAJORITY – NO MANDATE!

    ______________________________________________________________________________

    2 March 2013

    “”There is NO mandate for asset sales – Peter Dunne and United Future never campaigned for asset sales,” Penny Bright 2013 Auckland Mayoral Candidate.”

    WHERE IS THE ‘MANDATE’ FOR ASSET SALES????

    Yes – National did campaign for asset sales – albeit in a a not very ‘open and transparent’ way?

    You will note that their 2011 pre-election policy did NOT say – “National supports asset sales”, or “National supports the Mixed Ownership Model for key state assets”.

    http://www.national.org.nz/mixed-ownership.aspx

    THIS is the arguably rather sly way that National wiggled in their stated asset sale policy – prior to the 2011 election:

    http://www.national.org.nz/PDF_General/Future_Investment_Fund_policy.pdf

    “Building savings and investment

    National is increasing savings and creating jobs built on exports and productive investment.
    We’re getting on top of debt, and returning to surplus sooner.
    We will extend the successful mixed-ownership model – where the Government owns most of acompany, but offers a minority stake to investors – to four state-owned energy companies, and reduce the government’s stake in Air New Zealand.
    This will give Kiwis a chance to invest in large New Zealand companies.”

    The 2011 election results?

    National got 59 out of 121 MPs.

    The final vote on the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Act 2012, was 61 – 60

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Debates/Debates/e/8/e/50HansD_20120626_00000012-State-Owned-Enterprises-Amendment-Bill-Public.htm

    A party vote was called for on the question, That the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Bill be now read a third time.

    Ayes 61
    New Zealand National 59; ACT New Zealand 1; United Future 1.

    Noes 60
    New Zealand Labour 34; Green Party 14; New Zealand First 8; Maori Party 3; Mana 1.
    ___________________________________________________________________

    HOWEVER:

    ” UF (United Future) did not specifically campaign for the ‘mixed ownership model for the electricity companies and Air New Zealand’ because it was not UF (United Future)policy”

    [ Pete George - [United Future Dunedin North 2011 candidate[ (16,292) Says: February 15th, 2013 at 10:28 pm]
    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/02/a_lie.html/comment-page-1#comment-1097573

    In my considered opinion – the voting public of Ohariu were thus effectively misled by United Future and Peter Dunne on the issue of support for the ‘Mixed Ownership Model’ for State-Owned electricity assets and Air New Zealand.

    In my considered opinion, United Future and Peter Dunne SOLD OUT the voting public of Ohariu by voting in support of the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership) Amendment Act 2012.

    Had Peter Dunne kept faith with the voting public of Ohariu – the Public Finance (Mixed Ownership Model) Amendment Bill should have BEEN DEFEATED 60 – 61.

    I thus believe that I am absolutely correct in my statement that THERE IS NO MANDATE FOR ASSET SALES – given that this minority National Government (which DID campaign on asset sales) has only 59 out of 121 MPs.

    Do the maths folks!

    It ISN’T complicated?

    NO MAJORITY – NO MANDATE.

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’
    A Spokesperson for the ‘Switch Off Mercury Energy’ community group.
    http://www.facebook.com/SwitchOffMercuryEnergy?fref=ts

    2013 Auckland Mayoral candidate

    • Lanthanide 10.1

      “I thus believe that I am absolutely correct in my statement that THERE IS NO MANDATE FOR ASSET SALES – given that this minority National Government (which DID campaign on asset sales) has only 59 out of 121 MPs.

      Do the maths folks!

      It ISN’T complicated?

      NO MAJORITY – NO MANDATE.”

      I don’t believe the term “mandate” actually has a legal meaning in this context, so trying to argue whether someone does or doesn’t have a mandate is rather pointless, because people who are pro or anti a particular action will use that as a basis for arguing why a mandate does or doesn’t exist.

      So the next point, is that just because a political party didn’t campaign on an issue, doesn’t mean they can’t pass legislation on that issue.

      If that were the case, because only the Greens had an official policy of marriage equality, the bill would have been defeated in parliament because no one else had campaigned on it, and we wouldn’t now have the law.

      Clearly your position is untenable.

      • Tracey 10.1.1

        I hesitate to introduce this, but if labour had received 47% of the “popular” vote and ruled in coalition would not many here say they had this illusory “mandate” to NOT sell assets and thus wouldn’t need to listen to a referendum on the issue?

        • McFlock 10.1.1.1

          Well, some would. But 300,000 people tend to be a pretty effective counter-argument.

          If I remember discussions around S59 or the 1999 one (preTS, I believe, but still much debate over a glass or two), the emphasis was on attacking the question phrasing or talking glumly about how people in general are fucking morons, rather than arguing that the referendum shouldn’t happen.

          • Tracey 10.1.1.1.1

            In the end I think that $9m on a non binding referndum is probably a waste of money.

            People can still champion issues, make a petition and get coverage of it being presented to parliament without it going to a non binding referendum. I reiterate though, Key needs to immediately announce he will repeal this law. He wont.

            • McFlock 10.1.1.1.1.1

              The thing about a referendum is that it is a clear declaration by the electorate of where it stands. Petitions, polls, photo-ops cannot do that. A politician can say that only hippies and freaks signed a marijuana petition (and god knows their protests are more freak show than democratic statement), but a referendum isn’t so easily sidelined.

        • felix 10.1.1.2

          I’m not sure it makes much sense to talk about mandates in the negative.

          Does the government have an explicit mandate to not kick puppies? And if not, why aren’t they kicking them?

          • Tracey 10.1.1.2.1

            Ok, labour campaigned on not selling assets. Had they become government and a groundswell of opinion to sell assets arose and a petiton as presented and so forth, would not some here say

            “we don’t need it because Labour has a mandate to keep assets in NZers hands?”

            • felix 10.1.1.2.1.1

              I can’t answer ‘what would some people say’, I don’t claim to speak for anyone else.

              If you think there’s a large public sentiment for selling energy assets or feeding kids or building waterparks or whatever, then fill your boots.

  10. Sable 11

    Oh dear, the little emperor is displeased. Just goes to show this country is not yet a complete dictatorship
    in spite of Nationals best efforts.

  11. s y d 12

    maybe Mr Key could also introduce the “Prime Ministers Cleaners Scholarships”, 54k each should see quite a few apply.

    http://sunlive.co.nz/news/52265-comvita-chief-receives-pm-scholarship.html

    http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/pm%E2%80%99s-business-scholarships-announced-1

  12. Wayne (a different one) 13

    John Key quite openly and transparently campaigned on a platform of “Asset Sales” at the last election.

    He won the election by a majority over all other contenders – that folks is democracy and a mandate.

    And you conveniently forget Ms Clark overruled an 80% plus objection in a referendum and passed the “anti smacking bill.”

    So lets have a bit of balance & consistency on this site!

    • Hayden 13.1

      He won the election by a majority over all other contenders – that folks is democracy and a mandate.

      47% isn’t a majority.

      And you conveniently forget Ms Clark overruled an 80% plus objection in a referendum and passed the “anti smacking bill.”

      That particular referendum was held in 2009, while National were in power.

      Any further ignorance you’d like to display?

    • fender 13.2

      Yeah lets beat up kids financially and with fists.

      Did Key call other referendum a waste, or is he unbalanced and inconsistent.

    • framu 13.3

      oh FFS! Why does this have to be repeated to some people over and over again?

      1) national didnt win the election. We arent a FPP system you dunce

      2) elections arent single issue decisions – can you prove that each and every person who voted national was in support of asset sales? – the stats say otherwise

      3) “Ms Clark overruled an 80% plus objection in a referendum” – yes, a deliberately misleading ref that john key and the nats also rejected and they were in power, not labour!

      4) The coalition, not the most successful party, is the victor, and the only mandate any coalition has is to form the govt and attempt to govern. We arent a 3 year dictatorship and each and every policy still has to go through the democratic process. The ruling COALITION (not the party that got the most votes) only has a mandate to attempt to enact their policy platform. The public and the opposition have every right to attempt to influence, block, alter any policy as they see fit.

      5) the ruling coalition isnt the sole point of policy proposals during a govt term – if the opposition got a bill though that countered the ruling coalitions policy platform and it passed – that would be democracy as well as the biggest party breaking a promise. What do you, in your infinite wisdom suggest happens then? The will of the people via their representatives gets ignored because the campaigning pointed to a different outcome?

    • Tracey 13.4

      “And you conveniently forget Ms Clark overruled an 80% plus objection in a referendum and passed the “anti smacking bill.””

      You conveniently made up that Ms Clark overruled something which happened after she left politics in NZ.

      You agree that National ignored the results of the same referendum you refer to, yes?

      • KJT 13.4.1

        Well, Actually they didn’t ignore it. The bill was changed to allow “smacking” restraint, etc to prevent harm, to the child or others, or illegal acts. Which should be the only reasons you can use physical force on another person anyway.

        The referendum made for a much better thought out law than Bradfords original version, which would have meant open season by the police on parents. Even restraining a violent child would have been illegal under her version.

        That you do not agree with the result of a particular referendum is not a valid argument against BCIR. You could use the same argument against your “Representative Democracy”.

    • Sable 13.5

      Both creeps, end of story….

  13. James 14

    They read a letter on natrad this morning that made a good point: Asset sales are very difficult and very expensive to reverse. Possibly impossible – unless, such as is the case with our railways, the asset gets so run-down, decrepit and useless that it becomes affordable for the government to buy it back.

    On the other hand, anti-smacking legislation (inaccurate title, since all it did was give children the same rights as adults when it comes to assault and for the most part, the record stands on this one) is reversible. National could have come in and reversed that legislation – they didn’t.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      Asset sales are very difficult and very expensive to reverse. Possibly impossible

      Nope, all it requires is a law passed saying that we will buy them back at the price sold.

      • Lanthanide 14.1.1

        They don’t even have to pay for them, if they don’t want.

        The real problem comes in how other foreign powers react to such laws; domestically they can also cause a lot of upset as well, which (in the general case) can lead to overthrow of the government.

        So while there is technically no limit on government power, there is a practical limit on what they can actually do.

    • Tracey 14.2

      making bad law is one thing keeping it cos it’s too hard to change it is… interesting.

      assets as you point out can be bought back. If law is bad law change it.Deal with the practicalities of it as best you can but dont keep bad law

  14. Tracey 15

    Just for the record, to follow is what the 82% who voted against the s59 amendment were so upset with.

    It’s worth re-reading a few years after the fact

    “59 Parental control

    (1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—

    (a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

    (b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

    (c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

    (d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

    (2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

    (3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

    (4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”

    • QoT 15.1

      Tracey, no one can actually say what the 82% who ticked “yes” in the shittily-worded referendum were upset about. It was a shittily-worded referendum which didn’t even mention section 59.

    • KJT 15.2

      That is the law, as it stands ‘after’ the changes driven by the referendum.

      Not Bradfords initial bill.

  15. Consortium 16

    Okay seriously, how do we impeach Key and National?

    • Winston Smith 16.1

      Why?

      He tops the polls for preferred pm, his party is the most popular party in government and theres an election coming up

      • Pasupial 16.1.1

        Winny

        Impeachment is about; prosecuting crimes against the state, not; popularity in rigged polls. Key’s handling of; the GCSB, or asset sales, might provide sufficient grounds. Or maybe we could ask BliP how many times he’s lied to parliament?

        As much as I’d like to see our Hypnotoad in the hot-seat, the main way a NZ PM is removed is by their losing a leadership vote (which seems unlikely – but National do like to keep their machinations covert). The closest we have to Impeachment lies in the Reserve powers of the Governor General (which seems even more unlikely).

  16. Wayne (a different one) 17

    I stand corrected, but it is my understanding no government in the history of New Zealand has ever been elected with a 50% plus majority.

    So, how do we now address all the legislation inacted under those governments?

    That’s one hell of a lot of referenda – perhaps Wussell could print some money to pay for it, and that in-turn could also solve our unemployment situation – because there would be plenty of administration jobs going.

    A win-win for the country – now there’s some good old solid ‘Socialist’ policy for you.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 17.1

      You’re upset by the fact that going to be a referendum on asset sales, and by the likely outcome, and at the likely effect it will have in an election year, and you’ve no other way to express your fear than by lashing out, but we already knew that.

      Do you have anything to add to the topic, or are you going to keep up this funny little performance?

    • framu 17.2

      :So, how do we now address all the legislation inacted under those governments?:

      quite easily wayne – it all presumeably followed the democratic process.

      Now, whether we agree with the process or not, the process usually gets followed. And thats the key point – the mandate for a single policy comes from arguing each policy as a single entity and not just winning the debate, but winning all the “appeals” (in our case CIR) as well.

      It doesnt come from just winning the election – that way lies dictatorship

      in short – thats a bit of a red herring

      and stop using “wussel” – what are you? 12? 5? 3?

    • Draco T Bastard 17.3

      I stand corrected, but it is my understanding no government in the history of New Zealand has ever been elected with a 50% plus majority.

      Then you’d be wrong. There hasn’t been a government with a majority of voters voting for them since 1951 but before then they were quite frequent.

      So, how do we now address all the legislation inacted under those governments?

      The same way we always do – look at it and decide if it needs changing. Contrary to what the really bloody stupid conservatives think, laws don’t remain the same forever – they get changed as we learn more (unless a conservative government is in power in which case they’ll be busy taking us back to feudalism).

    • GregJ 17.4

      I stand corrected, but it is my understanding no government in the history of New Zealand has ever been elected with a 50% plus majority.

      You are wrong (and we don’t really elect Governments – we elect MP’s generally in Political Parties who then form Governments by exercising a majority in the house):

      1890 – Liberals (56.2%)
      1893 – Liberals (57.8%)
      1899 – Liberals (52.7%)
      1902 – Liberals (51.8%)
      1905 – Liberals (53.1%)
      1908 – Liberals (58.7%)
      1931 – United Reform Coalition (55.4%)
      1938 – Labour (55.8%)
      1946 – Labour (51.3%)
      1949 – National (51.9%)
      1951 – National (54.0%)

      Under MMP – Governments (NB. not Parties) have had 50% plus majorities – it is just a little more complex than FFP was generally. MMP has been better at having Governments that have a majority of the votes as well as the seats – its not perfect but better than what FFP delivered for its last 30 odd years.

      1999 – Labour/Alliance Minority Government + Partners = 51.64%
      (Coalition 46.48% + Greens 5.16 %)

      2005 – Labour/Progressive Minority Government + Partners = 55.85%
      (Coalition 42.26% + NZ First 5.72% + United Future 2.67% + Greens 5.30%)

      2008 – National Minority Government + Partners = 51.83%
      (National 44.93% + ACT 3.65% + Maori Party 2.39% + United Future 0.87%)

      2011 – National Minority Government + Partners = 51.83%
      (National 47.31% + ACT 1.07% + Maori Party 1.67% + United Future 0.60%)

      In 2002 you could make the argument that generally the government had a plurality of the vote as the Greens usually voted with the Government although they had no Confidence & Supply agreement in that Term:

      2002 – Labour/Progressive Minority Government + Partners = 49.65%
      (Coalition 42.96% + United Future 6.69%) + Greens 7% = 56.65%

      for the sake of completeness:

      1996 – National/New Zealand First Government = 47.22%
      (National 33.87% + NZ First 13.35%)

      It gets tricky when a Government has a very narrow majority as the distortion of allocating seats in the House comes into play (the distortion is not as bad as FFP became but it still exists). The salient point about the Asset Sales legislation is that it passed with 1 vote by MPs representing 48.98% of the electorate and only that distortion permitted its passage. When a clear majority of the public is opposed to something that is passed in such a way then it is not surprising that it becomes an issue – Referenda then become one way citizens can directly indicate their displeasure.

      (The GCSB legislation was the same although it passed by 2 votes as the Maori Party didn’t cast 1 vote despite being opposed to the Legislation).

      • GregJ 17.4.1

        Sorry:

        2011 – National Minority Government + Partners = 50.65%
        (National 47.31% + ACT 1.07% + Maori Party 1.67% + United Future 0.60%)

  17. captain hook 18

    the thing is if teevee were turned off every night at 9 o’clock and there was a new tax of 20c per gallon on gasoline then all NZ’s problems would be solved overnight.
    and seriously there is no law for impeachment in NZ.
    There is one in the US constitution but everyone on the constachewshun here trail is so busy putting up there own little rules for everyone else that anything of substance will be buried in the detritus of inanity.

  18. srylands 19

    Putting aside the debate over the relative merits of the referendum (which just seems like an extremely expensive public opinion poll with predictable results) the Government is hardly spendthrift. The operating allowances in all recent Budgets have been much smaller than those of the previous Government.

    http://www.treasury.govt.nz/budget/2013/fsr/06.htm

    The tax mix adjustments are simply part of the rebalancing effort to reward effort and reduce NZ’s very heavy reliance on income taxation, especially through high tax rates on higher income earners. This has been acheived while maintaining a comprehensive social welfare safety net. Hopefully over the next decade this can be continued wit ha progressive move to a flat income tax equal to the company tax rate at around 25 percent.

    Back to the referendum. It is actually a waste of money because it will acheive absolutely nothing. The result is predictable. The reaction of the Government is also predictable. So why not give that $9 million to the Red Cross or to DOC for possum control. Anything really.

    I also worry that the referendum makes us look foolish internationally.

    • vto 19.1

      give up srylands, you’re beloved treasury has, in conjunction with governments since 1984, led us to where we are now.

      time-s up, please leave the building.

    • GregJ 19.2

      I also worry that the referendum makes us look foolish internationally

      Rubbish – referenda are used widely internationally so why would the people of New Zealand holding a referendum on a Government policy be seen as foolish? It is hardly a spurious topic deciding on whether to sell state owned assets or not.

      Sufficient citizens have signed a petition as required by law to trigger a referendum on a topic where any objective viewer can see the government is at odds with the majority of public opinion – seems a perfectly reasonable and practical example of a functioning democracy.

      • srylands 19.2.1

        ” It is hardly a spurious topic deciding on whether to sell state owned assets or not.”

        It is not spurious, but internationally privatisation is considered business as usual in most OECD countries and many devloping countries. That a small partial privatisation programme would be subject to a referendum would I think be considered quite odd by many international observers (to the extent that anyone pays any attention to New Zealand).

        But more pratcially – we KNOW what the result of teh referndum will be now, and we KNOW that the Government will carry on regardless, so how is it a good use of $9 million?

        On CI referenda in NZ – didn’t the last Government ignore the results on both reducing the size of parliament and on parental corporal punishment ? (In fact the Greens openly said they would ignore the wishes of the public on the latter because the public were plain wrong. I would argue that the elctoral mandate for the MOM is more clear than the one that existed for the “anti smacking” law change.

        • Colonial Viper 19.2.1.1

          It is not spurious, but internationally privatisation is considered business as usual in most OECD countries and many devloping countries.

          I’m not surprised that rape and pillage of the public sector for private gain is now considered BAU. There’s been 30 years of it.

          • vto 19.2.1.1.1

            Yep, that very statement of srylands proves again the blinkered approach of so many. Unable to see that the plants growing in their garden are weeds and not some healthy vege at all.

            More independent thinkers are needed.

        • GregJ 19.2.1.2

          Ahh – I see you subtly shifting the ground there.

          Good – I’m glad you agree it is not spurious. So the petition has followed the process as laid out in the law and now the democratic process will unfold as it should.

          Just because privitisation may be regarded as BAU by some in the OECD does not mean that the citizens in NZ have to blindly go along with it – the government was only able to pass the policy by 1 vote and still the public continues to voice their opposition and the policy continues to be unpopular. As asset sales and privitizations are often highly political and frequently unpopular no one in the rest of the world will be surprised by a referendum on it.

          9 million dollars to allow the people to express their opinion on a subject where there is clear, continuing opposition to the government policy is the essence of good representative democracy. Money spent on ensuring a healthy & vibrant democracy is never ill spent. The hurdle to achieving a referendum is set high – once it is reached it should be carried out. There has been 4 CIRs in 20 years (fewer than one per parliamentary term) and 2 of those who conducted at the same time as a General Election- its hardly a landslide of referenda “wasting” public money. 9 million for good democracy – excellent value for money.

          The fact that the Government may choose to ignore it says more about the moral position & standing of the government than the people voting in the referendum. As a safety valve it also plays an important role it making sure the people feel their voice is being heard on issues which clearly are important – even if Governments or Parliament chooses to ignore that voice.

          Yes – you could argue the National Minority Government did ignore the results of the “anti-smacking” referendum and the Labour/Alliance Government didn’t act on the 1999 No.of MPs referendum although the Parliament did vote down Barbara Stewart’s 2006 Bill which would have effectively enacted such a change by 112 to 9 at its second reading (NZ First were the nine votes).

          Of course you know all this – its just that you realise that the result is likely to be a humiliation for the government you appear to support as it is a referendum directly about an unpopular government policy.

          • srylands 19.2.1.2.1

            I doubt the Government will find it humiliating.

            I find it worrying for New Zealand. Too many of the public are ignorant about the economy (and much else). The solution is the school system. As education rises over the next 30 years we would expect to see irrational opposition to policies like this reduce. Just like in China and India you see more rational behaviour as education rises.

            There is simply zero rationale for a Government to run a powerco. In future decades it will be looked back at with bemusement.

            • GregJ 19.2.1.2.1.1

              Ahhh – so now the “people” are too stupid and should just agree with the all-knowing masters then? Perhaps suitable “economic indoctrination” classes then – now I understand NAct’s desire for Charter Schools.

              I would argue that after 30 years of privitization, state downsizing and corporitisation that people are perfectly well aware of the economic arguments and impacts of those policies – they may not be ones that you experience, suffer or have to put up with – indeed you may well have profited from those policies at the expense of others but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand & reject the economic paradigm.

              There is plenty of rationale for Governments running power generation and supply (just as I can accept there is a rationale for them not – even if I don’t find that rationale politically or socially acceptable) and you can find respected economists who would make that argument as well. Power generation & supply run by government could because of any number of strategic reasons – economic, security, social (health) or environmental.

              Your “zero” rationale & the “people are ignorant” smacks of an attempt to shut down discussion because you know people are not buying into it anymore and don’t accept the “there is no alternative” mantra and “this is the economically sensible” dogma.

              • srylands

                “our “zero” rationale & the “people are ignorant” smacks of an attempt to shut down discussion because you know people are not buying into it anymore and don’t accept the “there is no alternative” mantra and “this is the economically sensible” dogma.”

                No I am not in favour of shutting down debate. My wife is vehemently anti asset sales and never lets me forget it.

                I am simply predicting that in 30, 40, 50 years society will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. Governments will not be running powercos.

                100 years ago we had a poll tax on chinese residents, and an overwhelming majority thought that was a fine idea. Attitudes shift. Between 1983 and 1988 there was a strong anti-privatisation movement in Australia. I can guarantee you would never muster enough support to get a street demo in Sydney to demonstrate against the NSW government’s power co sale. Of course many people still oppose the policy. But those with strong views against are a significant minority rather than a majority and it is definitely not a determining election issue. Asset sales do not feature highly on what worries people – one reason is that after 30 years most Australians are significant shareholders in ex GBEs via their mutual funds.

                • framu

                  “Asset sales do not feature highly on what worries people”

                  yeah thats just your opinion – world wide weve had 30 years of neoliberal voodoo bullshit, and even if a country wasnt in what we term “the west” they are still subjected to it

                  i think youll find privatising of publicly owned assets is a very concerning thing for people all round the world

                  problem is you think people who have less than you are yucky and covered in germs so im guessing they dont make it into the category of people for you

                  how long till you complain about someone being rude to your precious little self today?

                  • srylands

                    ““Asset sales do not feature highly on what worries people”

                    “yeah thats just your opinion ”

                    No it is not my opinion. It is fact.

                    Show me another jurisdiction in the OECD where privatisation features in the top 10 elction issues. Certainly not Australia.

                    Apart from NZ, where are you suggesting it is a major public policy issue?

                    • framu

                      im talking world wide genius. neoliberal policy affects the entire globe due to global economics

                      and why the fu*k should i supply you with evidence when you wont even put up any up yourself – you never do

                      you state all sorts of things, claim them as fact, supply no evidence and when challenged, shift the goal posts or focus on one tiny point that you feel you can argue – then once youve done that enough to piss people off you get all precious about people being rude

                      your a liar, bullshiter and derailer

                      i hope your getting paid for this ongoing crap – otherwise your a bigger idiot than i thought

                    • srylands

                      “your a liar, bullshiter and derailer”

                      More rudeness I see.

                    • framu

                      see there you go, didnt take you long did it.

                      you state all sorts of things, claim them as fact, supply no evidence and when challenged, shift the goal posts or focus on one tiny point that you feel you can argue – then once youve done that enough to piss people off you get all precious about people being rude

                      your chain of comments just played out exactly as i described them. Thanks for proving my accusation correct so darn quickly

              • framu

                srylands is a far from honest debater GregJ – i applaud your efforts but he/she/it will just avoid any rebuttal and focus on a tiny point or shift the goalposts in reply

                • srylands

                  “then once youve done that enough to piss people off you get all precious about people being rude”

                  I’m just kidding with you :-) I know lots of people have a thing about privatisation.

                  The funny thing is – it is not actually a big deal one way or the other. I would rather there were no SOEs but if they get held by the Government they still run as profitable businesses. If you took a survey of New Zealanders and asked them to tell you which pwercos were state owned and which were privately owned, how many would get them right? Most would just be guessing. Just like until the last couple of years most New Zealanders had never heard of MRP, or if they did they had no clue who owned it.

                  The whole asset sales fracas is manufactured hysteria.

                  • framu

                    “I’m just kidding with you”

                    ah – the gossman MO

                    piss of and stop wasting everyones time if thats how your going to play it

                    • srylands

                      Whoever gossman is?

                    • framu

                      hes a presence on the web who appears and says things he knows will generate a strong reaction – in other words a troll

                      he disappeared shortly after letting it slip that he was only in it for the wind up (thats the gossman MO)

                      im more than happy to debate differing points of view – the world would be boring if we all agreed with each other.

                      But no one likes someone engaging in troll behaviour, which youve just admitted to doing.

                • GregJ

                  Thanks @framu.

                  I am aware of @srylands style but I choose to engage on my terms – and I think it is important that we do engage to some extent. I don’t think srylands is a troll for example – I think his/her positions are pretty clear and I see what I perceive as fallacies in his/her position and point them out – which of course s/he is free to do in return. Also my ego doesn’t need to get the last word in – I think reasoned, rationale (if passionate) debate is possible with some on the other side of the fence and once the arguments are made can stand and fall on their own merit. I’ll challenge the obfuscations or factual errors but otherwise let the arguments stand and the debate wind its way down. I don’t necessarily believe I will change that persons point of view but it may encourage others to consider the alternatives or reinforce or validate their own thinking. (Actually to be honest I quite enjoyed the discussion ;) )

                  Incidentally I appear to have been channeling Brian Rudman!

                  I wish to state now I am not nor never have been Brian Rudman! :)

            • framu 19.2.1.2.1.2

              much like rodger douglas is looked back on witjh bemusement?

              of wait – a lot of the populace consider him quite differently dont they

              and i find your “if people just knew more they would agree with me” kinda cute in way.

              Shame it ignores the fact that neoliberalism prefers the populace to be kept in the dark

              If it was just an issue of openly and honestly educating people to an idea to get them on board then thats what we would see – yet the history and reality is quite different isnt it.

              Neoliberalism required a brutal murdering dictator to first give it a go, and has subsequently only ever been enacted by stealth or force.

              It has never been openly voted into power by an electorate, anywhere, ever.

              i think that tells us much more about it, those who promote it and what it achieves. Its nothing more than a destructive parasite that destroys its host in order to enrich a small elite. ANY system that funnels wealth and power to an elite is bad for society. The world rightly objected to this outcome when it was state based communism, we shouldnt support the same result just because the elite group has a different name under a different system.

              Do you really support the concentration of power and wealth into a smaller and smaller group srylands?

              PS: dont burble on about theory – im talking reality here

              • srylands

                “Do you really support the concentration of power and wealth into a smaller and smaller group srylands?”

                Asset sales do not do that. Right now you own NONE of Meridian. When did you last get invited to a shareholder meeting? The Crown owns it.

                In Australia the successful asset sales programme has deepened the share market. It is now 30 times the size of the NZX. Most Australians are now significant share investors in previously state owned assets via their super accounts. This is ALL Australian workers.

                You will never make workers prosperous by continuing to make them dependent on Government decisions to redistribute wealth and to create a large public sector running businesses like electricity. The world is simply not moving in that direction. New Zealand needs to get with the play. Not become a laughing stock.

                Luckily, good policies do prevail over time.

                • framu

                  why are you talking about asset sales? – im talking about neoliberalism. Not once in the comment your replying to are asset sales mentioned

                  either or comprehension skills are sub par or its deliberate

                  i pick deliberate

                  and as for your “you dont own it the state does” – you dont need a shareholding to have ownership in a public asset.

                  cretin

                  yes i am being rude to you – get bloody used to it

                • Jeremy

                  Are you going to address the question, or just ramble some more?

      • Craig 19.2.2

        Yeah, and what about vulnerable minorities? Civil liberties at a time of military conflict or widespread political unrest? Prisoners rights? Human rights and civil liberties in general? Sometimes, vulnerable minorities have to be protected against authoritarian, intolerant and violent majorities who might well use referenda to attack them.

        Moreover, I question the simplistic belief that this is necessarily some form of participatory democracy, because that is far from the case in the United States and its wretched initiatives and referenda. In practise, the troops are mobilised by well-heeled lobby groups for and against such propositions, which have big budgets and engage in adversarial attack advertising. How is that any recognisable form of popular or participatory democracy? Sounds more like yet more manipulative corporate capitalist public relations flackery to me.

  19. MrSmith 20

    What I find disappointing is some of the commentators (sheep) are falling (following) in behind the ‘Referenda is a waste of money’ line, I say bullshit, this money is well spent, it gets people engaged, apathy isn’t the answer.

    If Referenda is a round-about way of keeping us involved in our countries politics, then it’s money well spent and will save us a fortune long term.

    • GregJ 20.1

      Damn straight – money spent on having an engaged populace exercising their voice is the essence of a functioning, healthy democracy. Bring it on.

      • Alanz 20.1.1

        Yup. Money that is well spent and fosters healthy democracy.

        Thanks to Zetetic for this piece and the title could have read:

        “Spendthrift Key objects to INVESTMENT IN democracy”

  20. Swan 21

    I still can’t work out what this referendum is even going to tell us, the wording is so broad.

    • framu 21.1

      yes, so broad its quite specific

      “”Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?””

      so you could split hairs (which im picking you will) over the inclusion of Air NZ – but its pretty clear, even for the intellectually challenged

      • swan 21.1.1

        Yes the 49% of Air New Zealand is one issue.

        The solid energy inclusion is another. I will vote no in the referendum because I dont think we should be selling 49% of a near bankrupt company. But I fully support the current governments policies. I suspect there will be many others like me.

        • framu 21.1.1.1

          fair enough – but i would still say the wording is pretty clear – how we respond to that is of course anyones guess

        • felix 21.1.1.2

          swan, you say the wording isn’t clear.

          So what are the two or more ways it could be interpreted? I don’t see them, help me out.

          • swan 21.1.1.2.1

            No agreed the wording is clear. It is just quite broad. It asks if we support ALL of the sales (of 49% of each company). So if you dont support 49% of the sale of Air NZ (which would reduce the crown holding to a minority stake), or if you dont support selling solid energy as it is a basket case and we wont get any money for it, you will vote no. But that no vote will not indicate your general support or otherwise for the current governments partial privatisation scheme.

  21. Jim_Jam 22

    The PM was quoted by Radio New Zealand as saying

    “the referendum is an utter waste of money. “We’ve had a referendum,” he says, “it was called a general election, and National won that election on the back of this major policy plank with an overwhelming majority – the biggest result we’ve received in MMP history. So it isn’t like this is something that wasn’t fully debated.”

    The last time I voted I didn’t realise that I was giving them a mandate on all policies that were spouted out by the party and I also wasn’t aware that by voting in a party it was a mandate to then ignore the voice of the people until the next election and we could not have an opinion in between.

    Obviously enough people have said they do not agree so let the people have their say with a referendum. If Key and his henchmen then decide they want to ignore the people have a choice to vote them out or keep them in.

    My only concern is if New Zealanders will actually be bothered to vote. They will need a serious push to be bothered. I have some serious concerns about the apathy of New Zealand and politics.

    • framu 22.1

      ” National won that election on the back of this major policy plank with an overwhelming majority”

      also – why has no journalist gone – “no, thats not true PM and you know it”

      either the PM is a fucking idiot (and we all know hes not) or hes furiously framing for all hes worth

      • Jim_Jam 22.1.1

        It is the same for anything the media report on, none of them are demanding straight answers form any Minister.

        The same come back “but under Labour” or “when Labour was in Government” has been used as an answer since National took office yet no journalist has ever said excuse me you are ow in office, how about a real answer, they just let me keep on going with out pushing for some real comment on an issue and a real answer on how they will defend their decisions.

  22. Craig 23

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again- where is the necessary elaborated capital gains tax policy that we need to decisively win the argument on this issue?

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