Written By: - Date published: 10:42 am, November 30th, 2013 - 28 comments
Categories: activism, assets, democracy under attack, greens, labour, national, newspapers, privatisation, referendum, spin - Tags: colin craig, grey power
Today’s NZ Herald editorial willfully distorts the facts behind the Citizens Initiated Referendum on asset sales. It so doing, it’s main focus serves to discredit the referendum, encourage people not to vote, and thus implicitly supports the Key government’s asset sales programme.
It does all this while smearing the Greens, and generally working to discredit the Green Party. The NZ Herald editorial is willfully distorting the facts when it says:
But this one is different in one respect. Previous referendums were initiated by groups outside Parliament, they were genuine citizens’ initiatives.
This one was initiated by the Green Party.
It willfully ignores all the others involved in initiating the referendum, especially ignores Roy Reid, in order to spin a story against the Greens and in favour of the government.
The Greens had as much to do with initiating the referendum as the Labour Party, Greenpeace unions and various other citizens. The petition was organised by the Keep Our Assets Coalition, which included, a “coalition of groups including the Green Party, Grey Power, Council of Trade Unions (CTU), Labour Party, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), Greenpeace and others”.
The whole thing was led by Roy Reid, president of Grey Power. An NZ Herald article of September this year says:
A referendum will be held on asset sales after confirmation that a petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act gained the support of 10 per cent of eligible electors.
The petition, organised by the Keep Our Assets coalition and led by Grey Power president Roy Reid, asked: “Do you support the Government selling up to 49 per cent of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”
The petition was presented to parliament in Roy Reid’s name. The Parliamentary record shows,
Mary Harris, Clerk of the House of Representatives, received a proposal on 8 March 2012 to promote an indicative referendum petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 (the CIR Act). The proposal was from Roy Reid, and the wording of the question proposed to be put to voters in an indicative referendum was:
“Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”
The editorial integrates smears against the Green Party with the whole process of referenda, thus attempting to remove one process by which citizens are given the opportunity to express their views on significant issues.
Not only that, the Greens used some of their parliamentary funding to pay people to circulate the petition. All this because they failed to get their way in the House. They have discredited – not to say corrupted – the citizens’ initiative, reducing it to a second serve for privileged players.
Discrediting the system might not worry the Greens very much. They’ve been happy when governments ignored referendum results that would have reduced the number of seats in the House, imposed hard labour on violent criminals and, most recently, reversed the anti-smacking law.
When the inconsistency of their position on the smacking referendum result was pointed out this week, the Greens argued the Government was right to ignore that one because there had been broad parliamentary support for the anti-smacking bill. They clearly miss the point of non-binding citizens-initiated referendums.
They are designed precisely for issues where a considerable body of public opinion feels it has not been heard with sufficient force in Parliament or any other forum. It would be hard for the most inveterate opponents of asset sales to argue their view hasn’t been represented with enough force in Parliament and the media.
The Greens broke no laws or parliamentary regulations ….. oh, and the side swipe at the (so-called) “anti-smacking” Bill ….
… who initiated the referendum against that again? Ah, yes, someone with $450,000 to spare; someone with a lot of money who has since stood for local body elections, was a candidate in the 2011 parliamentary elections, and is planning to stand in next year’s parliamentary election: Chemtrails Craig.
So, according to the NZ Herald, it’s not anti-democratic for a wannabe politician with more money than most citizens to organised a referendum, but it is undemocratic for a coalition of groups (made up of a diverse range of citizens and led by a citizens’ group) to work together, to initiate a referendum.
NZ Herald editor/s, continuing to spin, and distort facts by selective reporting and omissions of the full facts, in favour of the National government.