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No credible argument against referendum

Written By: - Date published: 11:15 am, May 18th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, democracy under attack - Tags: , , ,

This morning Radio NZ ran a report on the increasing grassroots opposition to the Government’s supercity plans. In the interview that followed it Rodney Hide was asked why the Government won’t let Aucklanders have the final say on the proposal through a referendum.

His answer? The tired, discredited old line that it’s “not just a single yes or no” question and the whole issue is too complicated to put to a referendum.

That’s pretty weak. No one’s saying the consultation process Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party are asking for should be done by referendum. The proposal is that the final outcome of the consultation should be put to a democratic vote.

That is a single yes or no question – “Do you support the super-city that the Government proposes?” – and it would provide some basic accountability on the Government to come up with a proposal that Aucklanders can support.

There is no credible democratic argument against holding a referendum on the supercity. The only reason Rodney Hide and John Key don’t want one is because they know the way they’re currently behaving the result will be a resounding “No”.


32 comments on “No credible argument against referendum”

  1. wtl 1

    Indeed, I was disappointed the interviewer didn’t press the question when Hide gave that answer. I think our best chance now is to demand a referendum in our submissions on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, making it clear that there is no valid reason for denying this. I know the “Tamaki Makaurau Reorganisation Bill” has been passed, but surely a clause could be added to the second bill to repeal the first depending on the results of a referendum. Not that I think they will listen, but at least they will have to deliberately ignore these submissions.

  2. My own issue isn’t with a amalgamation per se. I’m in favour of that. What i reject is the gutting of democracy in the revised Auckland. That is the real issue here IMHO. Hide and National very clearly see democrqacy as the enemy – from the Auckland dictatorship law, to the RMA gutting to the intended referendum to get rid of MMP. Every measure is intended to allow people to be dictated to.

    This makes an absolute hollow farce of their defence of democracy and freedom against the Nanny State before the election…..though anyone who really knows National knows that was crap then just as it has been proven to be crap now. National are usually the ultimate “we know best” party. Their handling of Auckland is classic in that regard.

    labour wanted kids to eat healthy lunches. National wants to gut your democracy.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Capitalism requires dictatorship as it’s designed to have a few rich people and everyone else living at subsistence level or less. If everyone had a say then the laws that maintain that imbalance would be done away with and capitalism would fail.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Lockwood is guaranteeing that the SuperCity will have lower rates. Wonder if that’s a personal guarantee and if he will cough up with the extra when it ends up costing more to run.

    • Ianmac 3.1

      It could be that Lockwood is right. The Rates may not rise. They may even fall. Why? Because instead of paying rates why not privatise waste, water, sewerage, so that they become user-pays. Simple. I can see it so clearly says Lockwodd.

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    He may have to stop going to public meetings shortly then, he’s getting too old to be climbing out of toilet windows.

  5. Pat 5

    Labour are hoping the Supercity and the Waterview connection are the “big” issues that will turn the tide against National.

    Yet it’s funny that out of the blue come two issues that are going to gain big popular traction, as they affect everyone in NZ. Save Our Bread, and Save Our Pigs. Labour are going to have problems working out which side they take on these issues, and they can’t exactly ignore them and bang on about Supercity and Waterview instead.

    Easy points for the Nats here. Is Annette King going to defend folic acid additives in the face of National scrapping the legislation (which they will surely do). Is Goff going to defend the status quo on pig farms if the Nats advocate chnages?

    • Pascal's bookie 5.1

      Pat, if you think ‘folic acid in/not in bread’ is a story with more legs than the supercity, then I’m not sure what to say.

      Other than “got a plan B?”.

      • Pat 5.1.1

        PB – have you forgotten “shower heads” already? Watch and learn, my friend. Most people don’t share a love affair with their local council as you would have us believe. But f*cK with their bread and all hell will break loose.

        • Pascal's bookie

          The dynamics of the story are different though Pat. It’ll be more like the reversal of the school lunch thing, a two day wonder.

          King might put out one press release, but it’s hardly something Labour will be dying in a ditch over. Where do the legs come from? It might make the bottom half of the front page if it’s a slow news day.

          Supercity will be in the news untill at least the next local body elections, and will have all sorts of personal hooks. water supply, libraries, roading, rubbish, parks, rates, urban/rural divide, museums etc, and so on. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

        • gobsmacked

          OK, let’s define “hell”, Pat.

          Predict a number, for a protest or public meeting on folic acid.

          • Pat

            I have never, ever, been to a protest or public meeting (and I live in Hobsonville!) I suggest I might be in the majority.

            Bread and Pigs are emotional, touchy feely topics. You might bore your mates senseless at BBQ’s with discussions on rates and rubbish collections, but with Bread and Pigs almost everyone will have an opinion. Because when it comes to bacon & eggs on toast, it affects them personally.

          • Anita


            Having an opinion is not enough to bring about change.

            How do you think the BBQ talk from “almost everyone” is going to translate into action?

            BTW I’ve talked to a wide variety of “ordinary” people today and a number mentioned the pigs, none had any plan to do anything about it (except one who said he was going to read the label on bacon in future (?!)), not a single one mentioned bread or folic acid.

    • Anita 5.2

      I think we can be pretty sure that National won’t make adequate changes to the Animal Welfare Code. Some window dressing, sure, but nothing that will make out pig or poultry farming practices humane.

      • Pat 5.2.1

        They will make changes if it gets legs. And having such a popular “kiwi bloke” like Mike King as a front man gives it an instant mainstream endorsement, and makes it hard for the Nats to brush it under the carpet.

    • Jasper 5.3

      Waterview and Supershitty will give Labour traction in Mt Albert that’s for certain. Melissa Lee was the gift that kept on giving till she got the STFU order from on high.

      What’s concerning is that Hide has already started making moves towards amalgamation in Wellington with discussions and proposals to combine Upper and Lower Hutt districts to coincide with the police doing same.

      Again this will be without reference on consultation with the good denizens of the Hutt Valley.

      So “Yes” I say Pat, Labour will definitely be able to get a lot of mileage out of this SS Bolshevik Nact are going to be rolling out nationwide before their time is up in 2011.

      Do it hard, do it fast.

  6. Pat 6

    Plus pig farmers aren’t a big lobby group like dairy, sheep or beef farmers (in terms of numbers of farmers affected). So politcially they are safe for the Nats to force changes upon.

    • Anita 6.1

      If pig farmers are not an effective lobby group how has this practice been explicitly permitted for so long? There have been plenty of people in government for a long time who have known about these practices.

      • Pat 6.1.1

        Because protestors (generally) are seen as fringe nutters, which in the past are difficult for the general public to identify with, so the message often gets lost in translation. Mike King now gives the protest a popular figure head and a mainstream legitamacy. And he has ready access to the media.

        • Anita

          That protestors are seen as fringe nutters isn’t a reasonable explanation for why the governments (of the last many decades) haven’t addressed this issue even tho they have known about it.

          • Pat

            A simple case of Out of sight, Out of mind. The only opposition has been the likes of SAFE who have broken into pig farms covertly. Once the general public is forced to confront reality by someone they relate to, then it is more likely to gain traction and become a political issue. Especially if one or more political parties keep pushing it along. Hence my original post as to what Labour and National will do with this.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    Pat (2.13):

    Your basic point is valid – that non-political matters engage people. But I think you’ve picked the wrong ones. We’ll see.

    As for the council issue, local government is tedious in the abstract, and absolutely relevant in practice. Nobody cares about Committee X, Sub-Section 13, Clause 4 (b) …

    But everyone cares about their rubbish and rates. Especially if the latter goes up.

    • Kevin Welsh 7.1

      To be fair to Pat

      “Around the BBQ” discussions worked for ‘time for a change’.

      Captcha: militiamen organise 🙂

  8. Maynard J 8

    Labour did sweet F.A. about it too, didn’t they? So I don’t think it will be a big issue, or one that can damage labour/help national. National opposes any changes and they’re doing what Labour did. National makes changes and Labour will not oppose them: hardly a story there.

    Pat, it’s an interesting story (or two), but it won’t have much impact on anything political unless national get Lee, Worth or Bennett to take the issue up.

    • Anita 8.1

      Indeed, Labour has been just as appallingly submissive to the farming lobbies when it comes to animal welfare as National.

  9. Hoolian 9

    The answer to this is the same as to why Labour didn’t go to a referendum on the Electoral Finance Act.

    • gobsmacked 9.1

      Because they want to lose the next election?

    • r0b 9.2

      I wasn’t aware that the local government act requirement for a referendum when messing with local councils applied to electoral law Hoolian.

      And even if Labour had done wrong in the past, do two wrongs make a right? Would that be your argument? Good luck trying it on with 1.4 Million pissed off Aucklanders…

      • bilbo 9.2.1

        r0b I may be reading things wrong but I don’t think most Aucklanders give a flying one about a referendum…… most want one simple question answered.

        Will the move to a combined regional council lead to lower rates … if not why on earth do we need it ?

        It beggars belief that the tosspots in Wellington have been unable to put some reliable figures around this proposal for Aucklanders,North Shoreians, Westies, Manukauites to consider.

        • Maynard J

          Sorry bilbo but the ‘tosspot from Wellington’ you need to talk to is actally a Little Dictator from Epsom. Labour was nice and costed it at $750 each (akl ratepayers) to pay for the transition. There are strong doubts as to whether it will save anything though.

          • bilbo

            I think you misunderstand – the cost of rates going forward .. i.e. our rates cost let’s say 3k per annum now what will they cost in two years time under the combined council in tens years time etc.

  10. r0b 10

    It beggars belief that the tosspots in Wellington have been unable to put some reliable figures around this proposal for Aucklanders

    Well there for once we are in agreement.

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