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Two Referendums Too Many

Written By: - Date published: 1:32 pm, November 16th, 2019 - 50 comments
Categories: campaigning, death with dignity, election 2020, leadership, Politics, quality of life, referendum - Tags: ,

It is official, we’ll have to cope with two referendums at the General Election (GE) next year. One will be asking us whether cannabis for recreational use should be legalised and the other whether voluntary euthanasia should be allowed.

One argument against having these referendums at the same as the GE is that voters might be overwhelmed by the information overload. This may suck away much-needed oxygen from the larger question as to how the country should be governed and what the core political issues are.

Both referendums are for contentious issues that can and do evoke strong emotive reactions in people. Emotions can be easily manipulated. All signs are pointing to an even dirtier election campaign than before. If true, I think it is likely that the referendums will be used as wedges to drive voters into a certain direction.

Personally, I am disappointed that our current representatives in Parliament could not or would not deal with these issues at this time but decided to defer and lob it back to us in order to get a (firm or firmer?) ‘mandate’. As we know, the Devil is in the detail so what you think you ‘order’ and will like might actually ‘taste’ like a dog’s breakfast once it gets dished up in front of you.

I do worry that both the cannabis and euthanasia questions will be even more politicised for political gain and benefit. They will be used to attract media attention and hog the media limelight. They will be used to gain the favour of voters.

I don’t think this will make for good decisions all in the name of democracy. It is almost (?) inevitable that we will associate our thinking and decision about euthanasia, for example, with certain politicians and certain political parties. Euthanasia is a highly personal issue and goes to the core of one’s personal values, morals, and religious views, if any. I want to minimise the State’s power to dictate or restrict how and when I die. I say power because I don’t consent to handing them this authority. However, this is my personal opinion and I fully accept that there about four million other opinions in NZ. Thus, it is a non-partisan issue but it will be, and already is, polarising and dividing opinions.

It will be fascinating to see the election campaigns unfold and arguably National has been ‘campaigning’ since the day their right to lead the Government was ‘stolen’ from them. It will be frustrating to deal with the aftermath.

50 comments on “Two Referendums Too Many ”

  1. Sabine 1

    both issues are labours to loose, but then they also deserve to loose.

    they had a mandate, they had/have coalition partners, and if now they are too craven, too lazy, too cowardly, too political and too stale and pale to take a risk then they deserve to be kicked back to the opposition bench or even better into retirement.

    No gummibears……the coalition in a nutshell.

    • Formerly Ross 1.1

      I think you mean "lose", and I'm not sure that Labour had a mandate to do anything. Maybe if the vast majority of voters had voted for Labour, you might have a point. Having said that, I suspect many voters know right now which way they'll vote when it comes to the two referendums. The issues have been in the public arena for a long time.

      By the way, the assisted dying bill was put forward by David Seymour, not by the Government.

      • Sabine 1.1.1

        lose indeed.

        Mandate to do better then National. a broad coalition to change for the better…etc etc etc. A mandate. At least that is what National would say.

        Edit: For both bills Labour could have done better or say be more at the forefront rather then just kicking hte ball elsewhere. as for the Hologram, every stopped clock is correct at least one time a day (depending if you go for 24 hours or AM/PM – then of course its twice aday) 🙂

        But my point is that Labour has been fairly wishiy washy on these issues, and without labour there is no coalition. So yeah, both issues are Labours to lose irrespective of who advances the bills.

      • The Chairman 1.1.2

        I suspect many voters know right now which way they'll vote when it comes to the two referendums. The issues have been in the public arena for a long time.

        Indeed.

        As a voter I find the sentiment that we (voters) are being overloaded (due to a mere two referendums) condescending. Ten national referendums were held in Switzerland in 2018.

        • Incognito 1.1.2.1

          Of course, you would find it condescending because you have missed the point of the post, which I just explained to Ken too.

          I remember John Key wanted to turn NZ into an Asia-Pacific Switzerland but we still ain’t Swiss and don’t have their experience with referendums.

          • The Chairman 1.1.2.1.1

            One doesn't require experience with referendums to know what policy one supports or not.

            • Incognito 1.1.2.1.1.1

              You compared NZ with Switzerland and I say this is a false equivalence.

              Besides, you missed the point of the post.

    • solkta 1.2

      Why do you blame Labour when it was NZF who said they would not support either without a referendum?

      • Sabine 1.2.1

        i blame Labour for not being forceful enough. for not standing up properly, but hiding behind .NZfirst. ( i think they would call it plausible deniability)

        For letting this girl from the Greens stand there give an interview about 'no gummibears' with nary a comment.

        For not standing up for criminal reform – whishy washy bullshit Andrew Little sprouted a long time ago – anything came of that or is that too in the too hard complicated not sexy basket?

        For allowing people to die on synthetic cannabis without ever promoting a meaningful reform and legislation that would change the life of many.

        For having watched Helen Kelly become a criminal, for knowing someone broke the law to get Helen Kelly a product that is illegal, for not shaming Peter Fucking Dunne for not 'allowing' Helen Kelly a medication that worked for her, all cause "illegal'.

        You want me to continue to list up all the ways that Labour has shown how craven, lazy, cowardly, and downright amoral to the point of deadly they are in their inaction around this issue?

        And for what its worth, i fully expect the Nomates Party to come with the one idea that could win them this or any other election should the need be. Namely the legalisation, regulation, and lisencing of MJ. And i fully expect Judith Oravida and Paula Benefit, Soimon et al. to be among the first to invest in said companies that would then be created. A bit like Mr. Boehner – ex speaker of the House Republican – did.

        • solkta 1.2.1.1

          There is no way NZF would have allowed this without a referendum.

          For letting this girl from the Greens

          I think at 25 she gets to be a woman.

          For having watched Helen Kelly become a criminal

          They were not the government then.

          And for what its worth, i fully expect the Nomates Party to come with the one idea that could win them this or any other election should the need be. Namely the legalisation, regulation, and lisencing of MJ.

          Uhhh, ok see ya i'm going back to planet earth.

          • Sabine 1.2.1.1.1

            NZfirst would be pounding sand without Labour.

            True that, i have no idea about her age, she just struck me as really really young, and I am somewhat old.

            Nope, but they were in opposition and did fuck all. And she did make herself a criminal, and they watched it go down, they watched the humiliation of her having to procrastinate infront of Peter Fucking Dunne (no mates tool, proponent of synthetic cannabis – to the profit of his son, to the detriment of many families) and they did Fuck all. And that is the truth.

            Whats good for the republican in the US is certainly good for their apprentices here in NZ.

            • Sacha 1.2.1.1.1.1

              Wisdom is not always correlated with age. I hope you get to see Chloe in action in person sometime, and that you find the maturity by then to appreciate it.

  2. Formerly Ross 2

    voters might be overwhelmed by the information overload

    Overwhelmed? Yeah all those complex and sophisticated policies that will be announced by the National Party are going to do my head in. How will voters cope?! 🙂

    The problem won’t be too much information, it’ll be too little.

  3. Climaction 3

    Unbelievable really that this government, apparently so committed to reducing emissions, can’t enact two policies that will have immediate benefit to the environment. Sequestering carbon in marijuana plants, which will also reduce alcohol intake, reducing the transportation of liquids to supply alcohol demand. And removing emission generating Humans from the planet who do not want to be here.
    the lack of policy cohesion is nonsensical

  4. Bruce 4

    A governments role I feel is often to protect a minority and with pot they have failed. The law is wrong, it is based on fallacy long proved to be wrong, it is govts role to a knowledge their mistake and fix it. People are different and different things work for different people, but they all seem to seek and use some way of altering their mental state for what ever reason. Alcohol seems to suit a lot of people and they are the majority and I hear many of them say it's suits me why open the door to more.

    The misstruths are still belived by many , I'm sure most will remember the monkeys that that were brain damaged from pot, but how many know that the damage was from lack of oxygen because they were pumped with so much smoke.

    The referendum is a cop out gutless politicians to scared to lose their cushy job protecting a wrongly persecuted minority.

    .

    • greywarshark 4.1

      +1 bruce

    • Dukeofurl 4.3

      "protecting a wrongly persecuted minority."

      Get over your self. You have just as absurd claims as Judith Collins claiming to be a person of colour ( none!).

      Dont appropriate real persecuted minorities , just dont.

      The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act passed on Aug 12th which covers Class A drug users ' not just stoners Class C'

      To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that there is a discretion to prosecute for an offence against subsection (1)(a), and a prosecution should not be brought unless it is required in the public interest.

      When considering whether a prosecution is required in the public interest, in addition to any other relevant matters, consideration should be given to whether a health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial to the public interest.

      http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2019/0042/latest/whole.html#LMS167550

      • Bruce 4.3.1

        What would you know your a duke but for a simpleperson spending 9 mths in a in a concrete box with some very nasty people for smoking home grown pot in my own home it certainly didnt feel like a walk in a park. Discretion bullshit these laws are to break the smart mouth, unfortunately I'm one, bet you've never had to throw through away your last avacardo for the week because the guy next to you had his throat cut and sprayed it with his blood, yea I'm a snowflake very easily upset . Don't start telling me how to feel.

  5. Dukeofurl 5

    Trust Claire Robinson , Professor of Politics/Marketing at Massey to be always pleading Nationals side of a story.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/403285/voters-may-be-overwhelmed-by-both-referendums-and-election-analyst

    Why did RNZ hide her credentials behind a lowly 'analyst' label ?

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/117468406/labour-and-the-referendums-of-dread

    And again in Stuff , Luke Malpass , concern trolling labour who was their expat kiwi bought back from Australia and previous NZ Initiative ( Business Round table) writer as his previous background as their media editor

    https://nzinitiative.org.nz/reports-and-media/media/luke-malpass-on-the-governments-job-performance/

    • Sabine 5.1

      is this a case of

      "i love the poorly educated voters"

    • Nic the NZer 5.2

      One would think a small number of interesting referendums would have a small positive impact on turnout. To me this would seem like a good way to decide on these issues and encourage participation at once.

  6. Stuart Munro. 6

    The opportunity is not entirely gone, for Labour, and for other parties, to choose a well-reasoned position on issues that will still be defanged by the referenda. They don't need enormous funding commitments, and having delegated the decision to the public, their perspective cannot be mistaken for an autocratic imposition.

    Don't think they will though – more poll than principle driven.

    • Incognito 6.1

      I don’t think it is an “autocratic imposition” if they make decisions (policies) on our behalf when they have been dutifully elected by us to do so. In other words, we have given them the mandate and authority to do a job. Unfortunately, the authority of Parliament rests on a well-functioning democratic and political process in the interest of all. In my view, this has been eroding, and not only in NZ. I can see only two likely outcomes: an authoritarian system or an unruly society, which could well revert into an authoritarian one. Neither bode well for the future.

      Your last sentence nicely paraphrases the OP.

      • Stuart Munro. 6.1.1

        Autocracy is often a positional perception – not truly subjective, but nevertheless not readily apparent to those making decisions.

        Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses

        Merely securing a simple majority is not license to do any damned thing one pleases.

        I’ve seen a lot of what I perceive as erosion too.

  7. Anne 7

    I do worry that both the cannabis and euthanasia questions will be even more politicised for political gain and benefit. They will be used to attract media attention and hog the media limelight. They will be used to gain the favour of voters.

    That is exactly what is going to happen.

    Once again the stupidity of the parliamentarians in general is in focus.

    Remember they voted to lower the drinking age to 18 on the fictitious ground that if they can go to war at 18 then they can vote at 18. Talk about turning the clock back to WW1 and WW2! There is no comparison between the two and look what we have now… binge drinking at the age of 14/15 and 16 and the consequences of that:

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12285754

    • millsy 7.1

      Was there much of a consultation period back then? I didn't follow things as much back then as I do now, so cannot really remember if there was much debate about the drinking age. Or am I just spoiled by the Internet?

      • Anne 7.1.1

        Your'e right millsy there was little consultation, but when the intention to lower the drinking age became known the majority of the public were up in arms.The main cause for concern was that it would mean teenagers would start drinking at an even earlier age. When the age was 20, it was well known most teenagers were drinking by the age of 18. However, the MPs of the day in their collective wisdom (?) chose to ignore majority concerns and ploughed on with their determination to lower the age to 18.

        Time has shown the public on that occasion were right, and the MPs were wrong.

        • greywarshark 7.1.1.1

          There was also the ease of obtaining booze from supermarkets. There are identity and age checks – to 25 years I think, but the stuff is there amongst the food, so innocuous. Then there are the RTDs (Ready to Drinks – mixed cocktails Vodka and Orange, Bloody Mary etc.) The man who introduced this stuff played innocent – I never knew the young ones would take to them. Then the government decided their alcohol level was too high, so knowing that the youngsters were hooked on them which so distressed him, he complied with legislation and brought the alcohol down to just under the legal level which was still high. So age alone is not sufficient to stop the addictive spread.

          Official statement about RTDs (couldn't see date):

          For the purposes of this VIC [Voluntary Industry Code] an RTD is defined as: i.a spirit-based alcoholic beverage mixed/diluted to an Alcohol by Volume (abv) range of 4% up to 14% (above which products become liqueurs as per S73,75 of the Customs & Excise Act 1996);

          2014 Now down to 7% alcohol per can.

          RTDs with less punch hitting shelves

          https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11181109

    • Sabine 7.2

      why because before they did not drink at 14/15? i dont' understand that.

      Drinking at that age is illegal either way?

      and yes, if they can get shot to pieces, work full time, be parents, own property, have a mortgage and they are all considered old enough at 18 for these things, then they should ahve a right to drink.

      Btw, a lot of the binge drinking is done by adults older then 21 and a lot of the not drinking at all is done by people younger then 21.

      But why not advocate for the banning and classifying of alcohol as a Class A considering all that harm it does?

      • weka 7.2.1

        I could get into pubs without too much difficulty when I was 17 (legal age 20). It seems reasonable to assume that with the age at 18, I would have gotten in at 15. That probably applies to bottle stores too.

        I'm not necessarily against lowering the age, but lowering the age while we're still a pisshead culture was asking for trouble. Just like lowering the voting age without doing civics education is likely to be an issue.

        • Sabine 7.2.1.1

          . Just like lowering the voting age without doing civics education is likely to be an issue

          i have more faith and trust in anyone under 18 then most people over 40 when it comes to 'civic' education. The kids are alright, its their parents/grandparents who fuck it up consistently by voting not for the greater good but for tax cuts and for keeping people whom they don't approve of in their place.

          Seriously the young people on this planet are not the one that are issues, we however do them no favour and to boot we seem to be very happy to criminalise them for many things that are bs, like smoking weed, growing a plant or selling a tinny. But then adults invest into prison for profits and thus the kids need to pay the bills, other wise there be no profit.

          • weka 7.2.1.1.1

            the ones with the vote already aren't voting much, so not sure how that works.

            One would hope that each generation is more on to it than the last, but only an insane culture treats its older people as useless, and as far as I can tell that's pretty much restricted to Western industrialised nations. The idea that older people don't being specific benefits because of experience and time is at odds with human evolution.

            I don't buy the young/good, old/bad any more than I buy the reverse. And every generation gets more conservative as it ages, again because evolution enabled the best chances at collective survival. We are in an abnormal time, and dismissing older people is part of that.

      • Anne 7.2.2

        I wasn't talking about other age groups Sabine. I was talking about youth. And of course not all of them are drinkers whatever their age.

        I've been led to believe that the worst binge drinkers a women in their 50s. Whether that is true I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.

        • Dukeofurl 7.2.2.1

          probably the women over 50+ are the group with biggest increase in numbers.

          The total amount drunk per head is reducing , but thats because of migration is changing demographics and asian women are more likely to not drink or very little.

          Mean while the top quintile of binge and heavy drinkers is drinking more, thats where all the problems are – and the money made by the so called 'hospo industry'

        • Sabine 7.2.2.2

          I am talking about youth, and frankly the youth that i know does not binge drink. They are literally not rich enough to actually go out and on the piss nor to go out and buy that much.

          Mind they are also not rich enough to own cars, or rent flats.

          Maybe that is the reason everyone binge drinks. It makes living in misery easier.

          Who knows, but as i said, if booze is so bad then we should hold a referendum to getting it banned. No more drink driving, no more drink bashing your partners head in, no more drink belligerent discourse etc etc and all those women over 50 will just take up knitting again.

          Or legalise weed and see that people actually drink less in order to self medicate or to fall asleep.

  8. weka 8

    Afaik, a referendum on the End of Life Bill was mandatory because it was part of the NZF and Labour's coalition agreement.

  9. Graeme 9

    Don't see what the fuss is about.

    We managed the MMP referenda, two of them, and had alcohol vote as well, with the choice between Continuance, State Purchase and Control and Prohibition.

    New Zealanders like to have their say, and if they have something to vote for they will. I think it will go just fine, the turnout will be quite good, and the Country will have spoken.

    • Ad 9.1

      I don't favour Members of Parliament abnegating their responsibility to consider and pass/fail legislation, and putting it back on us citizens.

      The Select Committee process is both sufficiently scrutinized and sufficiently political to enable facts to hold up and the lies to be swept away like crap with a high pressure hose after milking. With the public dealing with the campaigns one way or the other, there's simply no evaluation mechanism other than the media.

      I don’t trust the media to be policy-neutral on either marijuana or euthanasia.

      The 2013 Asset Sales Referendum was really hard work, strongly in favour of not selling our state assets, and the government completely ignored our strong majority will.

      Brexit should also be a massive warning to those who propose binding referenda. Because raw propaganda and lies won the day, lies that have gone on to dominate and destabilize both the UK parliament and the entire country for years.

      We see so many elections – including our own – in which massive advertising misinformation campaigns distort broad civic will at the very end. The Advertising Complaints Authority never even tries to uphold complaints in time to counter the effects of lies on voting results. The same could definitely happen here.

      I will have no enthusiasm for campaigning in 2020 when I will have to defend these two horseshit policies door-to-door.

      • Dukeofurl 9.1.1

        " will have no enthusiasm for campaigning in 2020 when I will have to defend these two horseshit policies door-to-door. "

        Why . For EOLC ,Will any of the main parties apart for NZF ( whos long time policy it was) and Seymour have a formal position that they campaign on?

        • Ad 9.1.1.1

          Well, the Greens agree with both of them.

          And for Labour it's Cabinet-bound.

          So on both counts, of course yes, and it's yes for all three parties.

      • Anne 9.1.2

        I don't favour Members of Parliament abnegating their responsibility to consider and pass/fail legislation, and putting it back on us citizens.

        It is in fact putting their own self interest ahead of their responsibilities to the public as a whole. It makes a mockery of their postulations that they… want to serve the public and make NZ a better place for everyone. I'm not saying there are not politicians who are genuine in their desire to work for the public good but lets be honest… they are a minority. angry

  10. Ken 10

    I think most people are quite capable of considering cannabis, euthanasia and who they want to vote for at the same time.

    • Incognito 10.1

      You seem to have missed or to disagree with the point, which is that these issues will be and already are political footballs used for political point scoring. On top of that, MSM in their endless effort for advertising revenue, are likely to muddy the waters further with endless ‘opinion’ pieces in which the same fearmongering will be repeated ad nauseam. Most people can walk and chew gum but it becomes more difficult when somebody is blasting you with loud obnoxious music and blinding you stroboscope laser lights, metaphorically speaking.

  11. adam 11

    This would not be a problem if we removed money from politics.

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