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Conservative idiots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

65 comments on “Conservative idiots”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Referenda are a demagogue’s wet dream.

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

    • KJT 1.1

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

      Fixed it for ya.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

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

  2. Poission 2

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

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

    • Pasupial 2.1

      Poisson

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

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

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

      • lprent 2.1.1

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

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

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

        Like I can see National doing that.

        It isn’t going to happen.

        • KJT 2.1.1.1

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

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

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

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

    • Lanthanide 2.2

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

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

      • Draco T Bastard 2.2.1

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

  3. Gosman 3

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

    • SPC 3.1

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

    • lprent 3.2

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

      What support? I can’t see any support.

      • You_Fool 3.2.1

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

  4. Pasupial 4

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

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

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

    • You_Fool 4.1

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

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

      • Pasupial 4.1.1

        YF

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

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

        • KJT 4.1.1.1

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

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

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

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

          • Pasupial 4.1.1.1.1

            KJT

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

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

            • You_Fool 4.1.1.1.1.1

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

  5. SPC 5

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

  6. Clemgeopin 6

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

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

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

    • Tracey 6.1

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

    • alwyn 6.2

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

      • Clemgeopin 6.2.1

        I know what you mean!

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

    • KJT 6.3

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

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

      I wish.

      Fixed it for you. Again!

  7. NZJester 7

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

    • KJT 7.1

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

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

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

  8. Dialey 8

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

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

  9. deep throat 9

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

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

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

        • Pasupial 10.1.1.1

          DTB

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

    • KJT 10.2

      Agree. +1

  11. emergency mike 11

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

  12. DS 12

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

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

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

    • Daveosaurus 12.2

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

  13. Todd Ross 13

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

  14. vto 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • vto 14.1.1

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

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

      • Pasupial 14.1.2

        AG

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

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

        • KJT 14.1.2.1

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

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

  15. Jason george 15

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

    • KJT 15.1

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

      I think Craig will be disappointed on that one.

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

      • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1.1

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

        • vto 15.1.1.1

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

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

          • One Anonymous Bloke 15.1.1.1.1

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

            • vto 15.1.1.1.1.1

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

              • One Anonymous Bloke

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

  16. RJL 16

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

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

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

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

    • ghostwhowalksnz 16.1

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

  17. vto 17

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

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

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

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

    • One Anonymous Bloke 17.1

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

      • DS 17.1.1

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

  18. MrSmith 18

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

  19. Sable 19

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

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    The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has more than halved the number of fisheries observers in the East Coast North Island snapper trawl fishery (SNA1). This reduction in observer days, combined with major failures in an unproven and controversial video ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    2 days ago
  • ‘Exemplar’ Māori Land Court under siege
    TheMāori Land Court, hailed as an “exemplar” by the Ministry of Justice chief executive and Secretary, Andrew Bridgman is under siege by the Government through Māori land reforms and a Ministry restructure, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 days ago
  • He Poroporoaki ki a Te Awanuiārangi Black
    Kua hinga he whatukura o Tauranga Moana. Kua hinga rangatira o te iwi Māori. Ka tangi tonu ana te ngākau nā tāna wehe kei tua o te ārai. E rere haere ana ngā mihi aroha o mātou o Te Rōpū ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    2 days ago
  • CYF reforms ignoring whānau based solution
    When approximately 60 per cent of children in state care are Māori processes need to change in favour of whānau, hapū and iwi solutions, said Labour’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.  “Widespread concern about Government reforms of Child Youth and ...
    3 days ago
  • Hip and knees surgery takes a tumble
    The statistics for hip and knee electives under this Government make depressing reading, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Under the last Labour Government we achieved a 91 per cent growth in hip and knee elective surgery. Sadly under this ...
    3 days ago
  • Parata’s spin can’t hide cuts to early childhood education
    No amount of spin from Hekia Parata can hide the fact that per-child funding for early childhood education has been steadily decreasing under the National government, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “In the 2009/10 year early childhood services received ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats will jump at chance to vote for KiwiBuild Bill
    National will welcome the chance to vote for a real solution to the housing crisis after their many, many failed attempts, says Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. Kelvin Davis’s Housing Corporation (Affordable Housing Development) Amendment Bill was ...
    3 days ago
  • Million dollar houses put homeownership out of reach of middle New Zealand
    35% of New Zealanders now live in places where the average house costs over a million dollars, and it’s killing the Kiwi dream of owning your own place, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. Latest QV stats show that Queenstown ...
    3 days ago
  • Opportunity for political parties to back Kiwi-made and Kiwi jobs
    The First Reading in Parliament today of his Our Work, Our Future Bill is a chance for political parties to ensure the government buys Kiwi-made more often and backs Kiwi jobs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. The reading ...
    3 days ago
  • Solid Energy must open the drift
    Solid Energy is showing no moral spine and should not have any legal right to block re-entry into the Pike River drift, says Damien O’Connor MP for West Coast-Tasman.  “Todays failed meeting with  representatives from the state owned company is ...
    3 days ago
  • 20,000 at risk students “missing”
    A briefing to the Minister of Education reveals 20,000 at-risk students can’t be found, undermining claims by Hekia Parata that a new funding model would ensure additional funding reached students identified as at-risk, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 days ago
  • Crime continues to rise
    Overall crime is up five per cent and the Government just doesn’t seem to care, says Labour’s Police Spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    4 days ago
  • Treasury fritters $10 million on failed state house sell off
    The Treasury has wasted $10 million in two years on the National Government's flawed state house sell off programme, including nearly $5.5 million on consultants, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. "New Zealand needs more state housing than ever, with ...
    4 days ago
  • National slow to learn new trade lessons post TPPA
    Yesterday, the Minister for Trade misused economic data in order to try to make the case for more so-called ‘trade agreements’ like the TPPA which are actually deregulatory straitjackets in disguise. In welcoming a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    4 days ago
  • Skilled migrant wages plummeting under National
    Wages have plummeted for people with skilled migrant visas working in low-skilled occupations, driving down wages for workers in a number of industries, says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “Documents acquired by Labour under the Official Information Act reveal that ...
    4 days ago
  • Child abuse apology needed
    The Government's failure to act on recommendations from Judge Henwood, based on years of work by the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) will further undermine any faith victims may have put into the process, says Labour’s Children’s Spokesperson Jacinda ...
    4 days ago
  • Reserve Bank again highlights National’s housing failure
    National’s failure to deal with the housing crisis in New Zealand is once again being exposed by the Reserve Bank today, in a scathing assessment of the Government’s response, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson “Governor Wheeler is clearly worried ...
    4 days ago
  • Palm Oil Labelling: Possible Progress?
    On Friday, the Minister for Food Safety, along with her Australian colleagues finally looked at the issue of mandatory labelling of palm oil. We’ve been calling for mandatory labelling for years and we were hoping that the Ministers would agree ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    4 days ago
  • National: Fails to achieve
    The ineffectiveness of the National Government’s approach to schooling has been highlighted by the latest Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) report released overnight, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    4 days ago
  • Faster into Homes – a new pathway for first home buyers
    This week Parliament will select another members’ bill from the cookie tin (I kid you not, it really is a cookie tin) and I’ve just launched a new bill I’m hoping will get pulled – to help people get into ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    4 days ago
  • Selling off our state housing stock isn’t working for NZers
    I want to end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a warm, safe, dry home. This National Government has let down New Zealanders, especially the thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling with something so basic and important as housing. ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Government needs to ensure fair deal on EQC assessments
    Kiwis affected by earthquakes might not get a fair deal if the Government pushes ahead with secret plans to let private insurers take over the assessment of claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Under questioning from Labour the Government ...
    4 days ago
  • Key’s priorities the real ‘load of nonsense’
    The Prime Minister’s fixation with tax cuts, despite a failure to pay down any debt and growing pressure on public services is the real ‘load of nonsense’, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “We’re getting mixed messages from National. John ...
    5 days ago
  • Free Speech and Hate Speech
    Last week we were very concerned to hear that an Auckland imam, Dr Anwar Sahib, had been preaching divisive and derogatory messages about Jewish people and women during his sermons. It was a disturbing incident coming at the end of ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    5 days ago
  • Young Kiwis struggling under record mortgage debt
    The Government needs to step in and start building affordable homes for first homebuyers now more than ever, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    5 days ago
  • Tairāwhiti says No Stat Oil!
    Tairāwhiti says yes to a clean environment for our mokopuna today and for generations to come. Tairāwhiti are have a responsibility to uphold their mana motuhake over their land and their peoples and are calling on the Government to honour ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    5 days ago
  • Swimmable Rivers tour – Ōkahukura/Lucas Creek
    When Environment Minister Nick Smith said in Parliament that some waterways – like Auckland’s Lucas Creek – are not worth saving because no-one wants to swim in them, he forgot to ask the locals we met last week who have put ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Wellington business relief package needs flexibility
    The Government’s Wellington business support package is welcome news but needs to be implemented so that all affected businesses get the help they need, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson. “Wellington businesses will be pleased that the Government ...
    6 days ago
  • EQC’s staff cuts show disregard for quake victims
    The Earthquake Commission’s stubborn insistence on slashing its workforce and its operational funding by nearly half shows callous disregard for victims of the Kaikoura earthquake and the thousands of Cantabrians still waiting to resolve claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan ...
    6 days ago
  • Maori Land Court job losses must be delayed
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell must request that pending job losses at the Māori Land Court are put on hold until the Māori land reform process is resolved and the risk of losing centuries of collective institutional knowledge is ...
    6 days ago
  • Financial support needed for urgent earthquake strengthening
    The Government must provide urgent support to residents for important earthquake strengthening work so that it happens quickly, says Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP.  "I support the call from Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to bring forward work to strengthen the ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour welcomes equal pay
    Labour has long appreciated the value of women’s work and welcomes the Government’s decision to address pay equity for women, say’s Labour’s associate Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Sue Moroney. ...
    1 week ago
  • Surgeons’ letter a damning indictment
    A letter from Waikato Hospital’s orthopaedic surgeons claiming that hospital managers are stopping them from making follow-up checks on patients is a damning indictment of the health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s terrifying that one woman’s elective ...
    1 week ago
  • Out of touch Nats continue state house sell-off
    The Government should be focused on building houses for families to buy and more state houses for families in need, not flogging them off, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National’s state house sell-off does nothing to help people ...
    1 week ago
  • Joyce drags feet while Capital businesses suffer
     Wellington businesses affected by the earthquake are continuing to struggle while the Government drags its feet on getting a business assistance package up and running, says Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP.  “Steven Joyce needs to front up with an assistance ...
    1 week ago
  • Health and Safety Act fails to reduce work fatalities
    After the Pike River tragedy, New Zealanders realised that workplace health and safety culture needed to change. Last Saturday marked the 6th anniversary of the tragedy that killed 29 miners at the Pike River mine on the West Coast of ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 week ago
  • What is the point of education?
    The proposed Education (Update) Bill is the Government’s statement about what the point of education is, and what it means to people. This week we had a day of Select Committee hearings in Auckland on the Bill. It’s a huge ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Earthquake exposes training shortfall
    Kaikoura’s earthquakes have exposed the Government’s under investment in critical building and construction skills training, says Labour’s Building and Construction spokesperson Phil Twyford. “The Government needs to urgently ramp up the training of Kiwis in construction and engineering in the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More cops needed to get P off our streets
    National’s cuts to Police funding and drug enforcement officers has seen a surge in cheap P on our streets, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Who’s calling the shots? Bye bye surplus
    I would love to know who is calling the shots in the National government’s cabinet when it comes to deciding how best to spend taxpayers’ money.  On the evidence of the last few weeks, it definitely isn’t Finance Minister Bill ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 weeks ago
  • Urgent rethink needed on workplace safety
      An urgent rethink is needed on the Government’s new workplace safety laws with the number of deaths this year already at the same level as at the same time in the 2015 calendar year, says Labour’s Associate Workplace Safety ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rubble and rubbish: spending time in post-quake Kaikōura
    I visited Kaikoura over the weekend – basically to see how the community was coping with all the rubbish and rubble created by last week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and to see my brother Rob. I may have mentioned before that ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to pull the plug on state house sell-off
    The collapse of the planned sell-off of state houses in Horowhenua is an opportunity for the Government to call time on its troubled state house sell off policy, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Treasury sounds warning bell – but National’s not listening
    Today's long term fiscal outlook issued by The Treasury is a welcome wake-up call on the need to dramatically improve and diversify our economy and properly plan for the future, Grant Robertson, Labour’s Finance Spokesperson says. “Through our Future of Work ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Don’t believe the hype – debt has skyrocketed under National
    The reckless dangling of tax cuts by the National Government is all the more irresponsible when it is put alongside the failure to pay down debt or put money aside for future superannuation costs, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Our kids deserve better
    We don’t know how many children are affected by having learning support needs. I do know that far too many children are not getting the support they deserve for conditions like autism, dyslexia, and dyspraxia. When these conditions are not ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Talk of tax cuts is plain crazy
      John Key’s talk of tax cuts when the Government has $63 billion of debt, superannuation costs are rising by $1 billion a year and the cost of meeting another natural disaster, is just plain crazy, says Labour Leader Andrew ...
    2 weeks ago