Asset Sales Referendum Doomed – Fix Law First

Media Release 10 May 2012
Family First NZ says that the asset sales referendum being launched by Labour and the Greens today is doomed to fail because the current law says any result is non-binding on the government. 

“From experience with the anti-smacking referendum – which resulted in an overwhelming rejection of the law yet the government being able to simply ignore the electorate’s wishes – the stage is set for a huge amount of effort with this latest referendum and nothing to show at the end of it,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Because they are non-binding, this immediately de-motivates people who may feel strongly on the issue.” 

“Labour and the Greens should first be seeking to change the law so that referendums are binding on the Government. Otherwise they will be simply whistling in the wind.” 

“If important family issues can pass the very high threshold of almost 300,000 valid signatures and then, for example, a greater-than-2/3’rds majority after the public debate, then parliament should be bound by the result. Unfortunately politicians have been able to simply ignore the views of NZ’ers on issues such as law and order, parenting, and the number of MP’s,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

“Government accountability should be able to happen regularly and on individual issues – not just once every three years.” 

(An independent poll of 1,000 people in 2011 found 2:1 support in favour of binding referenda. 53% favoured making CIR binding on Parliament, with 28% against and 19% unsure or refusing to say. Family First NZ supports binding referendums with a lower 5% petition requirement and a 2/3rds majority when voting.)

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