Do petitions work?

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, June 24th, 2015 - 31 comments
Categories: labour, political parties, politicans, Politics, polls, referendum, uncategorized - Tags:

I don’t know the answer. However, although I haven’t voted Labour in the last 2 elections, I do receive their email-outs. Increasingly this means receiving a petition on one issue or another for my digital “signing” and submission.

I always make a point of writing something of my own to distinguish it and to help deflect the  assertions that real people aren’t submitting them, or not the numbers claimed.

I actually think this is a very clever innovation by the Labour Party because this Government has proven to be a weather vane lot, guided by polls.

Here is the “result” of one such petition notified today by David Clark

tracey, a year ago you signed our petition to save the Poisons Helpline. Well it’s been a long fight but together with other concerned Kiwis we’ve won!

The government has backed down from its plans to roll the poisons helpline into a generic call centre, and the National Poisons Centre at the University of Otago will continue to deliver the service.

This is great news! The experience overseas shows it’s much safer to keep poisons helplines separate and independent. When seconds count, experts matter.

I just want to thank you for taking part in this campaign. Without you and the thousands of other New Zealanders who stood up to protect the helpline things could have been a lot different.

By standing together we can make real change such as preserving this life saving service.

Thank you, tracey, for standing up on this important issue.


Dr. David Clark
Labour Associate Health Spokesperson
MP for Dunedin North

P.S. You can read more about the helpline being saved here and an op-ed from the time here.

The Labour Party petitions may not be the only reason that things are changed but they surely deserve some credit for having contributed to any re-thinks? It’s a way for people to let Labour know what is important to them and what is not.

There is one protesting the TPP here

31 comments on “Do petitions work?”

  1. Charles 1

    Nothing wrong with changing the World… one pixel at a time.

    • tracey 1.1

      Labour get criticised a lot, including by me. However this is a good way to connect with some folks and to get an idea of what matters to people. I would like to hear more about how Unions are working at grass roots with Labour to build relationships and assist with the vision that the LP has for the folks on the ground earning bugger all and working very hard.

  2. Save NZ 2

    Petitions are better than nothing.

    However will never replace direct action protest, satire, strikes and the like.

    It is those also that Labour and Greens needs to focus on. Feet on the Street and to for Labour to actually focus on the policies not hedge bets all the time.

    Ie against health privatisation in TPP but not against TPP? Unless Labour are against TPP but nobody knows because the don’t show up to street protests, don’t have a petition 100% against and the voters are just guessing cos of the the no show. Of course since TPP is secret, I guess by not being against TPP you are for secret deals that the public have zero say on.

    • tracey 2.1

      The green Party is undertaking a membership drive and some strategies to build just those grassroots movements. Replicating something of the strategy that got them 30% of the party vote in Wellington Central last election.

      The pettiton linked to in my post is aimed at the TPP.

      • Save NZ 2.1.1

        Hi Tracy

        I have already signed this and this is what I am referring to. Why does Labour only mention being against the health care part of TPP? What about the rest. To me National Lite. Why not have a petition saying we are against TPP because it is a government secret deal and we are 100% opposed.

        this is the txt

        Right now the government could be trading away your access to decent, affordable healthcare.

        New documents from the secret TPPA negotiations have been released online showing that foreign negotiators want to undermine our ability to bargain better deals on medicines.

        Under this proposal Pharmac, the agency that’s used to get more medicines, more cheaply, will lose its buying power. That means more expensive medicine and reduced access for all New Zealanders.

        We’re calling on John Key to guarantee that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement won’t affect Pharmac’s ability to provide medicines to New Zealanders.

        Will you sign the open letter?


        Step up Labour. Be clear. Because this petition certainly does not clear up the misunderstanding for me.

        To me it reads If John Key guarantees Pharmac then Labour are fine with the TPPA agreement going ahead.

        • tracey

          As you might know from my previous posts I wrote to David Cunliffe before the election and got a reply from Goff which was non committal and suggested Goff supported TPP but would tinker if he had to. This is an issue, imo, where LP shows it doesn’t want to upset the “traditional” economic applecart and look like it goes against National’s framing of the TPP.

          IF I had to vote on the TPP alone, Labour Party would not get my vote. The green Party would.

          • Save NZ

            Yep. I agree. At least the Greens are clear. But then I went to their website and they were going on about hearing aid petitions and child poverty petitions.

            They need to do better. TPP is a huge issue and I have nothing from the Greens.

            If you are worried about child poverty and hearing aids, wait till TPP comes in. Goodbye health and hello poverty – for 95% of the population.

            Get to the BIG issues.

            Step up Greens!

  3. cogito 3

    I’ve signed several petitions. They are a good idea…. sort of. However, personally, I want to see National GONE, not just softened a bit around the edges.

    What NZ needs are not well meaning petitions. NZ needs a strong and forceful opposition, and a population that is ready to stand up and make its voice heard on the streets, as is the case in eg the UK.

    Change is brought about by individuals standing side by side and marching for a cause, not by electronic signatures.

    The French were absolutely right when they wrote their national anthem –
    Aux armes citoyens
    Formez vos bataillons
    Marchons, marchons
    Qu’un sang impur
    Abreuve nos sillons

    It’s time for Kiwis to pluck up courage, unite and follow their lead.

  4. maui 4

    I signed up for one petition, then I think was put on Labour’s email list automatically and got emails at least once a week about various actions. I found it was too much and so I unsubscribed. It might be fine if you’re a passionate Labour supporter, but having a constant flow of their petitioning shoved into your inbox can be a bit off putting too.

    • tracey 4.1

      One of my concerns was when I tried to submit one petition it wouldn’t let me UNLESS I checked the box saying I would accept emails from Labour. That is a mistake, imo.

      • James 4.1.1

        Makes you wonder what their primary desire is ….. is it to effect change (in which case why not allow you without “signing up” to more labour info). – Or is it a medium to get more people on their mailing list.

      • weka 4.1.2

        hmmm, I thought they’d stopped doing that. When they first started they were signing people on automatically but I thought more recently there was an opt out button, or even an opt in one.

        • tracey

          I definitely hit submit on one last week and it wouldn’t go through. I tried several times (maybe from my phone?) but when i checked the box to receive emails it went through no trouble.

    • Save NZ 4.2


      The concern for me is that the issues are LITE. I want to sign the petitions because I agree with them but they just repeat the same issues again and again.

      I have a bigger dream for me and NZ than just 17 yo are protected for another year and rentals are warm and dry and John Key can guarantee Pharmac and the rest of the TPP is tickety boo with Labour.

      This is the past emails I have received from Labour from 5 June to now.

      Will you ask for Too many kids are falling out of the system at 17 – that’s too young to sign a lease or easily access services like a student allowance. It’s not right and together we’ll get the government to fix it. WIll you sign the petition and help get this critical change across the line? Click here to sign the petition.

      This week, I sent an open letter to John Key signed by 21,000 New Zealanders asking him to ensure that all rental homes are healthy enough to live in.

      This time tomorrow, I’ll be sending my open letter to John Key asking him to ensure that all rental homes in New Zealand are warm, dry and safe to live in.

      This week one of the most significant global organisations, the OECD, called for our government to ensure Kiwi homes are healthy and safe for our kids. It was another warning about the poor state of too many New Zealand homes which are cold, damp and unhealthy for our kids, families and the elderly.

      We’re calling on John Key to guarantee that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement won’t affect Pharmac’s ability to provide medicines to New Zealanders.

      The news that a state house could be so cold, damp, and unhealthy that it contributed to the death of two year old Emma-Lita Bourne was deeply upsetting. This isn’t supposed to happen in New Zealand.
      The government is considering the problem – but it doesn’t look like the solution they’re talking about will go far enough.
      Fixing this problem is really straightforward: every rental home in New Zealand should be well insulated and should have affordable, effective heating. We’ve written legislation that will do exactly that.

      My name is Kellie. At the age of 17, I was discharged from Child Youth, and Family. In New Zealand, every foster child gets discharged at this age unless certain strict exceptions apply.
      It was an horrific time. I felt unprepared and vulnerable – I had not completed High School and yet they decided I was capable of living on my own and being my own parent.

      Hundreds of New Zealand foster children are going to turn 17 this year and have the same thing happen to them. I don’t think that’s right.
      Right now, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley is looking into changing the law to increase the age of child protection. If enough of us tell her to change it she will have to do the right thing.
      Will you join thousands of Kiwis and sign the petition to raise the age of child protection?

      • maui 4.2.1

        I agree with the having a decent standard of rental accommodation, I think that’s very important to sort out. The other petitions dance around the core issues though, they might lack some buy in there.

      • tracey 4.2.2

        I don’t sign all of the Save. I pick and choose. I have my suspicions about what they are trying to do and the compulsory sign up to their emails if you want to sign the petition is part of that.

        Also, it’s constant which can water down the issues BUT different issues appeal to different people.

  5. Save NZ 5

    Considering the current scandals..

    Sheepgate, Campbell Live, Immigration, pretty much everything discussed on The Standard and TDB but not mention from the Greens or Labour in their petitions.

    Dear I say, out of touch with many voters?

    • tracey 5.1

      In fairness the LP has tackled the sheepgate thing front on in press and in parliament

      • adam 5.1.1

        Plus the Greens and NZ first. They do appear to be a rather coherent opposition at the moment.

  6. Save NZ 6

    They don’t even call on John Key to resign for all his lies. Now that would be a popular petition!

  7. Grant I 7

    On the one hand, petitions are a good way of putting an issue in front of the public and getting them to engage with it and discuss it. But with so many online petitions now people seem to sign them and feel like they’ve done something and that’s enough. There’s nothing easier to do politically than sign a petition, is there? Recently I had a discussion with someone about the euthanasia debate. The first thing they said was that they had signed the petition in support and now it was up to politicians to do something. My hopes are not high that politicians will do anything! So petitions can be useful I guess but I’m sure most are ignored by those in power.

  8. Save NZ 8

    From the Greens in last month – 2 on climate change, one on stingy budget aimed at under 40 year olds (what about the rest of us), one on introducing new leader.

    Nothing on the current political scandals of National, nothing on TPPA which most of the public are against.

    19 June
    Yesterday something incredible happened. Pope Francis – spiritual leader for the world’s one billion Catholics – used a powerful speech to urge all of humanity to act on climate change.

    In his first ever Encyclical (a formal papal letter), the Pope issued a compelling reminder that “our common home” is worth saving; that caring for it is a moral imperative, both for the sake of the environment and for the world’s poor.

    If you agree with Pope Francis, then join the campaign to stop climate change.

    30 May

    I’m James Shaw. I want you to be one of the first to know that I have just been elected as the new Green Party male Co-leader.

    26 May

    There’s just one week left to have your say on New Zealand’s climate change target. Please take a minute today to fill in a quick online submission.

    At around 5,000 submissions so far, we’re halfway to reaching our target of 10,000. With your help, we can double that this week. Don’t let the government use the lack of submissions as an excuse not to protect our climate.

    Over the last two weeks, hundreds of people across the country have dropped everything to turn out to the Government’s consultation meetings, despite the shockingly short notice. And what an impression this movement has made. In three cities, organisers were forced to make last minute venue changes to make room for us all.

    21 May

    Today John Key could have chosen kids.

    He could have backed all the young New Zealanders out there doing it tough.

    But instead the Prime Minister chose to give the bare minimum of help to our poorest kids and abandon the hopes of our younger generations.

    This stingy Budget is not for our kids and it’s not for those under 40 – the abandoned generations.

    • tracey 8.1

      The Green Party tries hard to stay out of personal attacks etc. They do comment on braoder integrity etc but stick to issues they care to focus on rather than divert into attacks on the “man” not the “bal”. It may be a weakness but it is also something that helps kee them above the lowest common denominator behaviour

  9. Macro 9

    There was the petition on “Clean up our Polluted Rivers” which Catherine Delahunty presented to Parliament with over 8000 signatures this week. Hopefully people had the opportunity to sign.
    Then there is the petition on micro beads which are increasingly used in clothing, and almost everything else, to give it “body”. These was out in the first few washes and are going into our oceans and becoming another environmental problem.
    I sign almost all the on-line petitions from Action Stations, and SomeofUs, AAVAZ etc.

  10. Open Mike 10

    I don’t always sign the suggested petitions, but have been aware that this Government rules by polling. For a change, and some disciplined decision making, Labour has to be a convincing alternative in 2017. Small steps!

  11. b waghorn 11

    I had miss givings about the share amount that come out from labour and action station but I’ve come to like it . I don’t sign them all and as it’s only a click to delete them they are not a issue really.
    Anything that gets people engaged in politics is good in my view.

  12. esoteric pineapples 12

    My 87 year-old mother signed the Save Campbell Live petition and now gets other emails sent to her. She’s learned other things from these that she is not hearing in the main stream media so these petitions should also be seen as a form of alternative media as well as serving their primary purpose.

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