Labour still campaigning against it’s own flag policy

Labour (led by Trevor Mallard) is effectively actively campaigning against it’s own 2014 policy on flag change which states “review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement”.

Actually their campaigning has been ineffective.

The Select Committee considering submissions on the flag change process has ruled against changing the order of the referendum questions – see Order of flag referendum questions won’t change.

Some wanting to change the referendum questions oppose changing the flag so want to reduce any chance of a change.

The Labour Party seem confused – or are blatantly playing politics despite their own stated flag policy which supports reviewing the flag design. They have actively campaigned to reduce the chances of their policy being followed.

From NZ Herald: Select Committee rejects calls for one-off flag referendum

Labour’s Trevor Mallard had put in a petition signed by more than 30,000 people who believed the first referendum should ask people if they wanted change.

The Labour Party put in a minority report saying it was “strongly opposed” to the bill because of the order of the wording.

Labour MPs argued that a clear vote on change in the first referendum could save up to $6.8 million in the costs of a second referendum. The majority report rejected that, saying the Electoral Commission advice was that it would only save $2.27 million net, given costs already incurred.

This looks like opposition for the sake of opposing something proposed by John Key, giving give anti-John Key campaigning more priority than their policy, which states:

Labour’s policies in Internal Affairs will seek to enhance knowledge, appreciation and pride in New Zealand’s identity…

Labour will

  • review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement.

That’s exactly what is currently happening, but Labour are campaigning against the recommended process and on the Select Committee will put in a minority report saying it was “strongly opposed” to the bill because of the order of the wording.

From Vote Positive, Party vote Labour, Policy 2014:

The New Zealand Flag

Labour will:

review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement.

We believe that the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public. We would however support the ability of the RSA and similar organisations to continue to fly the current flag if they so wish. New Zealand changed its national anthem from ‘God Save the Queen’ on a gradual, optional basis and that process worked.

Contrary to this Labour are trying to prevent the public from reviewing the design of the New Zealand flag.

By promoting a “do you want to change the flag” referendum before public consultation on any alternate designs Labour appear to be campaigning against their own flag policy.

Has their flag policy changed since last year? Or are they just being politically petty in trying to hobble a John Key initiative?

Labour leader Andrew Little answered an NBR Q&A on flag change during the leadership contest last year.

Should NZ change its flag:

What’s your personal opinion?

Should there be a referendum?

If you want the flag changed, what’s your favourite design?

Yes, my personal opinion is we should have something more relevant to an independent, small Asia/Pacific nation. I think a referendum is a suitable way to deal with an issue that can be very polarising. I don’t like the idea of the silver fern on a black background. The elements I would like to see in a flag are the Southern Cross, blue for the sea, green for the land and mountains, and a reference to our Maori heritage.

So why is Trevor Mallard leading a campaign against a sensible flag change process?

Claire Trevett looked at this last month in No room for political spite in flag debate.

This is where Labour comes in, apparently determined to sabotage the process. Labour is a relatively pro-republic party in which most MPs favour a change of flag. Despite that, it has set about political point-scoring, even if doing so undermines the very process that might result in that flag change.

Their primary objection is the order of the questions in the referendums. They argue New Zealanders should first be asked whether they want a change – and have a second referendum only if the majority want change.

Labour claims it is an effort to save money. What codswallop. Labour’s objections are an effort to rain on the Prime Minister’s parade and get headlines.

The Ministry of Justice advised against putting the change question first. That was because for many people not entrenched in either camp, the final decision will depend on what the alternative is.

Had the Government gone against that advice, Labour would probably now be accusing it of penny pinching over a matter of national identity. Labour’s approach is rather selfish and short-sighted and if it has the effect of tainting the entire process, the party might rue it.

Labour has also taken to feeding the perception that it is a “vanity project” for John Key. This primarily comes down to sour grapes. Labour wants a new flag. But they don’t want Key to be the one whose name is linked to it. They want it for themselves.

Questioning referendums is one thing, but trying to influence people’s votes out of puerile political spite is a different matter. It may be true that Key is keen on a legacy, but it should be irrelevant. The referendums are on the flag, not on the political parties or personalities.

The referendums are a treacherous enough process. The officials’ advice also pointed to the risk of “tactical voting”, in which those opposed to change vote for the least appealing option – so the current flag had a better chance of winning.

The referendum process is now before a select committee and the Flag Consideration Panel has started its work of consulting about an alternative. This is the first chance New Zealanders have had to vote on the flag. The politicians would do New Zealand a favour by simply shutting up and letting the public get on with it for themselves.

But still Labour are “apparently determined to sabotage the process”.

Or at least Mallard is leading opposition to the process. Despite Little supposedly being leader. and despite it being Labour policy.

Order of flag referendum questions won’t change

The Select Committee considering the process for the referendum on the flag has rejected most requests for changes to the process, and have declined changing the order of the referendum questions.

Many submitters wanted the first referendum to ask us whether we wanted the flagged changed or not first.

Party politics also seems to have influenced some campaigning to change the question order. Labour is effectively campaigning against one of it’s stated policies (see next post).

NZ Herald reports: Select Committee rejects calls for one-off flag referendum

Many submitters had asked for the first of the two referendums, due to be held later this year, to ask whether voters wanted a new flag rather than wait until the second referendum when the new flag will go up against the most popular alternative.

However, the majority on the committee chose to stick with the current order, saying it agreed with the advice of officials that to change the order would bias it in favour of the current flag because voters would not know what the alternative was.

Some people will be genuinely disappointed in that decision – I think it’s the right decision – but from what I’ve seen many wanting the question order changed oppose any flag change so promote what is most likely to prevent change rather what is best practice for referendums on it.

“The only significant amendment is to include a ‘regulated period’ for advertising for the referendum to ensure that MPs do not use taxpayer funds or resources to campaign on the flag.

There are no limits on advertising spending.

The $26 million flag process has been criticised as a waste of money after low attendance at public meetings.

The Flag Consideration Panel has defended that, saying there has been intense debate on social media about the issue and almost 5000 possible designs submitted.

The deadline for flag designs from the public is 16 July and the panel will select a shortlist of four after that.

The first referendum will be in November and December, and voters can rank their preferred choices of the alternatives.

So despite attempts to change the process it will go ahead largely as planned.

Binding referendum an awful option for euthanasia

Tracey Martin said on The Nation that she didn’t have a position of euthanasia and didn’t think Parliament should vote on it, and that it should go to a binding referendum.

I think euthanasia would be one of the worst things to be decided by a binding referendum.

This issue is complex and has very serious implications. It needs a very thorough investigation into all aspects of it and then MPs should do what they are elected to do, represent all of us responsibly.

It would be possible to get popular support for “euthanasia should be a personal choice in consultation with a person’s doctor” in a referendum, and it would be highly irresponsible of Parliament to allow something like that.

Referendums are fine for things like flags, but not for protecting a small vulnerable minority.

A binding referendum would be an awful option for euthanasia.

Martin is either severely misguided suggesting a public vote – or she is trying to avoid stating a position on euthanasia. Possinble both.

RSA reponse to criticism of their flag campaign

The RSA are confident they have ” the NZ public behind us” in their campaign to retain the current New Zealand flag – but not confident enough to risk the people actually deciding via a sound democratic process. After posting RSA opposes flag change, opposes democratic process I tweeted:

Sad to see @RSA_National actively campaigning against democratic process.

The RSA responded:

We’re all for democratic discussion. We think Govt should hold 1 referendum to ask NZ if they want a change.

They want one referendum because they think that will get them the result they want. Fair enough. But why do they not want to explore possible alternatives to the flag and give people a choice between the best of the rest and the current flag? Presumably because they don’t want change. They want to minimise choice to improve the chances of retaining what they want. I also tweeted:

And unless it can be substantiated claiming just “one or two” in the @RSA_National support flag change insults members.

@RSA_National responded:

Sorry – not our intent. But we are confident we have the support of our membership and the NZ public behind us.

Being ‘confident’ is not any sort of measure. They haven’t offered any substantiation. I replied:

I don’t know how you can claim the support of the public. By what measure?

They haven’t responded. But someone else did. @SarahRoseNZ:

Poll ’14 72%!= No @Yahoo 10,000 voted last month 77% = No! Any ?’s Pete #NZFlag

When I asked how current the Colmar Brunton poll was she said:

Jan last year= no. Don’t shoot messenger. MOST NZ’rs say NO FLAG CHANGE! #NZFlag

That’s over a year ago. I’m sure there will be more polls. And there should be a couple of referendums. I also asked if the Yahoo poll was scientific. No response to that. Some questions for those who don’t want a flag change and who claim that there is strong public support to retain the current flag.

  • What do you fear from exploring possible flag alternatives?
  • What do you fear from having a referendum to let people choose between the current flag and the best of the rest?

If you support the democratic process and you’re confident your choice has overwhelming public support you should be happy with the two referendum process. If you are right that will prove public support is on your side and it is likely to lock in the current flag for the foreseeable future. That would be a win-win for you.

What’s the problem?

Deciding whether to change the flag without knowing what the alternative is would be like deciding to get married without knowing who to.

RSA opposes flag change, opposes democratic process

The chief executive of the RSA, David Moger, appears to be leading a campaign against changing the New Zealand flag, and also against the referendum process being used to see if the New Zealand people want a flag change or not.

And he has made some very dubious claims. 3 News reports Flag change opposed by RSA.

The Royal New Zealand RSA says it will fervently oppose changing the New Zealand flag when it appears before a parliamentary committee considering the issue.

RSA chief executive David Moger says the debate is insensitive as it coincides with commemorations of the centenary of the nation’s involvement in World War I.

The timing was dumb.

The RSA would prefer the centenary of Anzac Day be commemorated this month without the distraction of the flag issue.

But Moger is choosing to promte the distraction now.

“For many who’ve served, our current flag is symbolic of the sacred oath they made to protect the peace and security of New Zealand.

“Our men and women made terrible personal sacrifices and we honour their courage and commitment every time our current flag is flown.”

That’s laying on thick with emphasis on the importance of the flag, with no substantiation, and he has excluded any mention of the silver fern. And it’s the fern that is on my Grandfather’s grave, and on my uncle’s grace in Italy – see Silver fern is NZ history.

The RSA has previously expressed its concern about changing the New Zealand flag.

It’s now calling on others to join it in expressing support for the current flag in representation to the committee and local MPs.

In a hard fought for democracy they are free to campaign however they like.

Mr Moger says two referendums are unnecessary and it’s the RSA’s responsibility to lead the charge on behalf of its members and the hundreds of Kiwis who’ve contacted RSAs around the country saying they don’t want the flag to be changed and don’t understand why it’s become such a priority.

Yesterday on TV3 Moger was interviewed by Paul Henry who also strongly opposes a flag change. So Henry didn’t challenge some very dubious claims and exaggerations.

Henry: When we talked about your members, do you have consensus among your members with regard to the flag?

Moger: Oh a very very strong one. Of course with an organisation like ours with over a hundred thousand members there will be one or two who want to see a change and that’s fine, but the vast vast majority, not only of our members but also people who have written to us and contacted us over the recent weeks and months have said “what’s the point of this, why are we doing it, keep the flag” and encouraging us to get into the fight and make sure that we retain the current flag.

I suggested via Twitter that unless it can be substantiated claiming just “one or two” in the @RSA_National support flag change insults members.

Sorry – not our intent. But we are confident we have the support of our membership and the NZ public behind us.

They sound confident. But they don’t provide numbers for their support levels and they are opposing the best way of determining what the public want, a referendum process.

They sound like they oppose democratic process when they don’t want a possible outcome.

Henry: What is it you’re calling for in your submission?

Moger: So we’re asking for people to write to their MPs, and to say please don’t vote for this bill. We have a chance to change it, we have chance to get some common sense into the process, let’s make that change now so we’re asking New Zealanders to write their MP and go to our website and there’s al the process there and some sample letters people can use.

So the RSA is campaigning for MPs to vote against the most democratic process New Zealand people have available, two referendums.

Henry supported this – because he opposes a flag change. And the online item included a link to “the RSA website for more information” – promoting an anti-democratic campaign. This is headlined Fight For Our Flag and states:

We see it as our responsibility, on behalf of all like-minded New Zealanders, to champion our current flag and challenge the costly referendum process established to select an alternative.

They seem to oppose the democratic process. But further down the page they have a bit of a different angle.

Our position on the referendum is clear. If we are to have a referendum at all it should be a simple yes or no to our existing flag.

That still suggests they prefer no referendum (no democratic vote) but if there is to be any vote the process should favour an outcome they want.

Also via Twitter is a dubious claim of support.

Various polls show overwhelming support for flag, incl @CampbellLiveNZ poll where 84% say we don’t need new flag

A self selecting media driven poll is just about the worst sort of support to be promoting. And they oppose the most definitive sort of poll, two referendums.

It’s understandable that a majority in the RSA would oppose a flag change.

It’s concerning that the RSA is actively campaigning against democracy in action.

An awkward aspect of the RSA anti-change campaign – David Moger sounds like he wasn’t born in New Zealand. I wouldn’t normally question this, and (presumably) as a New Zealander he has as much right voice his opinion as anyone on the flag, but on something as fundamental as the flag his non-New Zealand heritage could be flavouring his staunch opposition.

Loony Labour line on flag questions

Labour is following a loony line on the flag referendum questions and have chosen to oppose the Flag Bill.

NZ Herald: Labour to oppose flag bill

Labour will oppose a bill setting up the two referendums deciding the fate of the flag because of a sticking point over the order of the questions.

The Flag Referendums Bill is expected to get its first reading in Parliament soon and has enough support to pass its first stage without Labour, although the Maori Party and the Greens have only committed to support it through to select committee so far.

The bill sets out the process and questions for the two referendums – expected to cost $26 million. The first will be later this year and ask voters to choose between four options for a new flag. The second will pit the most popular new flag design against the current flag and ask voters to pick one.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said voters should be asked whether they wanted to change the flag in the first referendum. “There should be a yes/no vote at the beginning of the process so that if the majority of New Zealanders don’t want change we don’t spend a fortune on an unnecessary second referendum.”

That may just be a misguided approach, or it could be an attempt to diminish the debate.

From what I’ve seen online those who want a “do you want to change the flag?” question first are opposed to change so want to avoid a chosen alternative from competing against the current flag.

If the first referendum had two questions, a yes/no to change plus a choice of an alternative it is likely confuse people and to distort the result.

It would be odd voting against change and for an alternative at the same time.

If someone didn’t want change they would vote on that question but are likely to not care about the alternative choice.

Therefore if the yes to change vote won then the selection of an alternative would be at risk of being inaccurate.

And the yes/no vote would depend on which alternative was up against the current flag so the two questions can’t be asked at the same time.

Some people are likely to oppose changing to one alternative but may be happy to change to a different alternative.

The only way of dealing with this sensibly is to first select the most popular alternative, and then choose whether you want to change to that or stay with the current flag.

And that’s the plan.

Act leader David Seymour said he would support it and could see the sense in deciding on what the alternative flag would be before deciding whether to vote for a change.

The Maori and Green parties have decided to vote for the Bill to get to the Select Committee stage. That allows it to be more fully discussed and considered.

Labour seem to be taking an opposing position just to oppose a Government proposal.  So they are against a sound democratic selection process.

Seems loony opposition to me.

Colin Craig on binding referendums

Making Citizens Initiated Referenda binding is a bottom line policy for the Conservative Party. Colin Craig has stated:

Binding Referenda is a bottom line for our party. 

If another party wishes to have our support they will need to agree to an amendment of the existing CIR legislation.

Although other parties might not like the idea much, if it is a choice between government or not I expect them to be receptive to the idea.
Unless politicians have to agree to binding CIR to be government (i.e. forced on them) it won’t happen in my view.

Craig believes implementing the policy – specifically to make Citizens Initiated Referenda binding – will only require ‘a couple of  amendment to the existing law’.

There’s no need to write new legislation, it’s already there, we just need to make a couple of amendments.

I had the chance to put a question on referenda to Craig as a part of a 3 News ‘Ask Me Anything’ online.

Question: A change to binding referenda is a major constitutional change. What are the details on how this would be implemented, and would the adoption of it be subject to a referendum?

Craig’s response:

We of course have already written into our law referendum, both those that are Government initiated and those that are citizen’s initiated, and we want to see a change to the Citizen’s Initiated Referenda.

The policy’s already there. Essentially it’s an amendment to change it to what National originally proposed. When they originally introduced that law it was going to be binding on Government.

Very optimistically, and foolishly as it turns out, at the time they decided “Ah we don’t need to make it binding because after all politicians won’t ignore a clear majority”.

Well, five out of five have been ignored. Clearly the politicians are not getting the message that the people do have a right from time to time to tell them what to do. Once every four years, we’re hardly overusing it after all.

So really all we’re looking to do is to amend it, to take it back to the original wording submitted and was an election promise of the National Party.

Now, whether or not that then needs to go to a referendum or not is an interesting question.

I think New Zealanders would support it, and because it is a change I guess to our electoral system, but not one that hasn’t  discussed or promised or voted on in an election before it may be that we end up there.

Other things about it, number one we think there needs to be a two thirds majority of those who vote to make it binding.

In other words a fifty fifty, hey let’s face it that’s what you elect politicians for, but where it’s a clear wish of the public we think politicians need to be constrained.

Other than that there’s already legislation in place about spending limits and time frames and everything else.

There’s no need to write new legislation, it’s already there, we just need to make a couple of amendments.

The last thing I’d do, is I’d make sure all questions are proposed simply. If you want to ask three questions about law and order for example lets have three different questions, not all run into one.

A video of this and answers to some other questions is here.

New Zealand has had non-binding Citizens Initiated Referenda since the passing of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993.

Citizens Initiated Referenda
Under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993, non-binding referendums can be held on any subject. There are seven steps in the process. These steps are:

  1. The Clerk advertises the proposed question. The Act allows 28 days for submissions and three months in total for the determination of the final wording of the question.
  2. The Clerk, after consulting with the promoter and any other person, determines the final wording of the question.
  3. The organiser gathers the signatures of at least ten percent of registered electors and delivers the petition to the Clerk within 12 months of the publication of the determination. The petition lapses if it is not delivered within this time.
  4. The petition is checked for compliance. If all is correct the Speaker presents the petition to the House of Representatives. If there are insufficient signatures, the Clerk certifies that the petition has lapsed. The promoter may re-submit the petition with additional signatures within two months of certification that it has lapsed.
  5. The Governor-General sets a date for the referendum within one month from the date of presentation. The referendum must be held within a year of the date of presentation unless 75% of all members of the House vote to defer it.
  6. The referendum is held and the result is declared. The result is indicative only and is not binding on the Government.


At the heart of the democratic system is the principle of the citizens initiated referendum. It’s when a single issue is thought to be so important, all voters are asked to make their opinion heard.
Pure democracy.

Getting it and keeping it – it’s why wars get started.
In New Zealand since MMP started five such referendums have been held. Each and every time the wishes of the people were crystal clear. Each and every time the results were ignored by successive Labour and National Governments.

They’ve ignored what you think on anti-smacking; on tougher penalties for criminals, and asset sales.

When an overwhelming majority of us voted to have less politicians, guess what happened? That’s right. They ignored that too. Call us old fashioned, but this sort of arrogance needs to stop.

What really worries us is this: what else are they looking to ignore?
To think they won’t is madness.

There are also a number of references to referendums in ‘Ask Colin’ on the Conservative Party website. Note that these are past comments and may not be part of the policy bottom line or may not be part of official policy.

Who governs New Zealand?
Do we have a government Of The People, By The People, For The People

We have a form of democracy in NZ but as successive governments have simply ignored referendum results I do not believe we can say it is a “healthy” or “fully functional” democracy.  The Conservative Party intends to change this so that referendum are binding where a substantial majority of votes cast are in favour of a proposal. This begins a shift back toward “for the people by the people”.

Amy Brooke has been vocal in suggesting the Conservative Party plagiarized her 100-Days campaign for binding referenda, without acknowledgement.
Can you please comment.

Firstly the “100 Day referendum” is different from “Binding Citizens Initiated referendum”.  In our Policy we support binding Citizens Initiated referendum (2/3rds binding) but not 100 days. 

Binding Citizens Initiated Referendum would enable citizens to consider the 100 days option but it would be up to the people. 

Secondly, setting aside the misunderstanding of our policy, could I also point out that “100 days” is a Swiss initiative, and they should be accorded credit for it.

I certainly encourage all campaigners for greater democracy in New Zealand. Whether or not we have the same solution, it’s still about more power to the people.

Would you have a referendum on the death penalty and make it binding.

We intend to make Citizens Initiated Referendum binding. If enough people want the death penalty, then that is their right to hold a referendum, and we would therefore be bound by the result, whatever that may be.

What is your opinion on List mps becoming senior cabinet ministers?

This question raises the concern I think many of us have about accountability.

A list MP can get to parliament without representing a specific electorate and then become influential, perhaps making decisions that their electorate (if they had one) would never support. The real problem we have is that electorate MP’s are already doing exactly that anyway.

My view is that MPs, regardless of whether list or electorate, should not be able to by-pass the will of the people. This is the reason that we promote binding referendum as an essential part of our democracy, to stop the hijack of our great country by self-serving  (or special interest serving) politicians.

Would the Conservative Party honour the results of previous referenda, in which the vast majority of NZer’s rejected Govt. legislation, such as the homosexual law reform, civil union bill, same sex marriage legislation, the anti-smacking bill, and the decision to keep the number of MP’s at about 120?  Would our party be bold enough to reverse such iniquitous legislation imposed against the majority voice? 

Yes we would honour referendum results. Of the list you mention both the anti-smacking bill and reduction of the number of MP’s had referenda. In both cases an overwhelming number of votes supporting the proposal and were simply ignored.

This sounds like the Conservatives would “honour the results of previous referenda“. If so this is highly questionable, the people of today may think differently to the people of five or fifteen years ago. And the wording of some of the referendums has been to inadequate and vague to base any legislation changes on.

Your party is advocating binding citizen referenda. This is significant structural change to our democracy, and a policy that may have unforeseeable consequences. Do you think this is a genuinely conservative policy? Wouldn’t a more conservative approach be not to tinker with the system? I feel like the more conservative approach would be to elect conservative leaders, rather than turn decision-making over to the public. 

Conservative political thought holds dear the need for accountability and restraint of power. In most constitutional democracies this is in part achieved by an upper house and further includes in many cases binding initiatives (Referenda). Sadly New Zealand has neither. 

Binding Citizens initiated Referenda provides an easy and cost effective safeguard that is currently missing to restrain the power of NZ politicians. 

Given that referenda are already legislated for, we need only amend existing law to achieve this. It is not a significant structure change, but simply an improvement to law that we already have.

It is important to note that the threshold (to both get a referenda 5% and pass it [67%]), limits the frequency and likely success of referendum. Decision making is not taken away from government except where they do not have at least 33% support for a policy, and I am very happy ( as any conservative should be) to see government restrained in such cases.

Should Parliament return to 100 MPs, what would be the ideal proportionate amount of List MPs and Electorate MPs for the Conservatives?

I don’t think the conservative party has an ideal split of seats but in my view: Yes the parliament should consist of 99 MP’s as directed by the referendum that achieved 82% support from the public.  To make this work best we should scrap the Maori seats and list seat MP’s should be assigned to help in each region. Electorate seats probably need to be about 60% of the total so adjustment for the proportional vote doesn’t create an overhang.

A referendum to reduce the number of MPs to 99 was held along with the 1999 General Election with 81.47% voting for the proposal.

My question on CIR and your thoughts on would you push to adopt the Swiss System in this respect seems to have got binned? Disappointed.Matt Napier. 

We hold the Swiss system in high regard and the Swiss ambassador is not a guest speaker at this years conference by accident.

At this time our policy is to bring in binding Citizens Initiated referendum. With this in place we will have 2 of the 3 referendum options available to the Swiss.  The last of the 3 is the 100 days option which I like the idea and I will happily promote consideration of in the future.

As regards us taking a baby step (i.e. Binding referendum with 67% threshold) I believe we need to present policy that is achievable. Frankly I do not think that we could achieve support from other parties for referendum on a 50.1% basis. The higher threshold removes problems around the question wording and differentiates us from the one or two examples of bad referendum results. Yes there are only one or two however they are often used as a broad excuse to oppose binding referendum. The Californian spending initiative is the most commonly used example.

1. Why was a two thirds majority vote (67%) seen as a pass mark rather than a bare majority (50%    1)?
(If I don’t have the details right I apologise.)

2. Will the Conservative Party as least consider the blocking referendum method available to Swiss voters? (New legislation is put on hold for 90 -100 days and a referendum can be held to pass or block it if a certain number of voters sign up for such a referendum within the time limit.)

Surely prevention is better than cure! 

At this time our policy is to bring in binding Citizens Initiated referendum. 

With this in place we will have 2 of the 3 referendum options available to the Swiss.  The last of the 3 is the 100 days option which I like the idea of, and I will happily promote consideration of in the future.

As regards to us taking a baby step (i.e. Binding referendum with 67% threshold) I believe we need to present policy that is achievable. Frankly I do not think that we could achieve support from other parties for referendum on a 50.1% basis. The higher threshold removes problems around the question wording and differentiates us from the one or two examples of bad referendum results. Yes there are only one or two however they are often used as a broad excuse to oppose binding referendum. The Californian spending initiative is the most commonly used example.

The policy is about steps that make sense towards a much more democratic nation.

If you are elected to Parliament, and a member’s bill is put forward to ban abortion, how would you vote? If a referendum showed a majority of people were in favour of gay marriage, and a bill was put to Parliament to ban gay marriage, would you support the bill? How would you have voted on Homosexual Law Reform? 

Controversial topics here.
On the last two I would have supported a referendum. It’s my view that once you pass the decision making over to the voters then politicians have no right to overrule that decision.  
However if the people were denied the right to vote I would still have consulted my electorate and voted in accordance with their wishes. After all I am a paid representative for them so that is surely the right thing to do.

If a bill proposed a ban on abortion I would be surprised. There is an attempt to introduce such a law in Poland at the moment but even in a country that is 97% catholic it is struggling to get through.  Practically I can’t see how it can work. 
I think we can make some real changes for the better (of both woman and child) in this area and so I would probably talk with the private member and see if we couldn’t work on something a bit more practical like “free and informed consent” such as they have in Western Europe for example.

There is an article I wrote for Kiwiblog posted on this site that answers these type of questions more fully. Look here:

How do you plan to have Parliament support your idea of a binding referendum, particularly on marriage equality if an overwhelming number of those in Parliament would oppose overturning the Marriage Amendment Act with a referendum. Peter’s called for a referendum and he received next to no support in Parliament.

Binding Referenda is a bottom line for our party. As you know the Conservative Party is polling exceptionally well for a party outside Parliament, and if we get the necessary support, we will be needed to help form a government at next years election. If another party wishes to have our support they will need to agree to an amendment of the existing CIR legislation.

Part of this amendment is that a referendum with a result 67% or more in favour is binding on government.

Although other parties might not like the idea much, if it is a choice between government or not I expect them to be receptive to the idea. After all  they only need 1/3 support of voters and they can continue to govern as they see fit, so we are not asking for something that is too hard really. 

Unless politicians have to agree to binding CIR to be government (i.e. forced on them) it won’t happen in my view.

In response to a general question/statement of support:

The Conservative Party has  been growing consistently since we launched just before the last election and expect to do well next year. It will depend on the voters, but with their support we will make referendums binding in future. This will enable the people to overrule the government when it gets it wrong, a sorely needed step as politicians have proven they cannot be trusted. (Law and Order, Number of MPs, Anti smacking � and the list goes on)

Hey Colin so the marriage equality bill has just passed, im guttered like many of New  Zealanders. Whats the conservative partys reaction to this and what actions are you going to take, for lack of a better word.

Firstly my reaction is anger that once again the politicians have got it wrong. If New Zealanders had voted last night the answer would have been “no”.  We have constantly seen the will of the people ignored (Law and Order, Number of MPs, Anti-smacking and so on). Many New Zealanders have a sense of anger and disappointment combined, especially those who expected the National party to focus on the economy, not social change.

In terms of our plan of action this has not changed. It is and has always been our commitment to make referenda binding, so that we the people can stop the government making decisions against our wishes. The day when New Zealanders will finally have the chance to vote is election day next year. Provided we get enough support, we will put this issue to the voters as a binding referendum.

My husband and I have been happily married for nearly 13 years, and have been blessed with two children.  Our family and our marriage covenant is very sacred and very precious to us.  This proposed law goes against what we hold precious and what we believe.  Why are we not permitted to have our say seeing as this issue is about something that affects us so deeply?  How can we get a referendum?

Dear KDH and the many many others who have contacted me about a referendum on the protection of marriage and where to from here if the bill passes.

1.       Firstly I share your frustration at not being heard on this matter. The  advocates for the redefinition of marriage have constantly claimed that the redefinition does no harm but this is simply not true. We are seeing a forced cultural change. This change is doing at least 3 things:

a      Legally affirming that homosexual “marriages” are the same as a heterosexual marriages.

b     Legally (by the change to adoption practice) recognising that a same sex couple are an equally good parenting choice as a Mum and Dad.

c.     Removing gender distinction (“bride” and “bridegroom” removed from marriage forms, “Husband” and “wife” removed from various legislation including the Adoption Act). We call this “Gender Neutralisation.”

2.       In my view recognising and celebrating the difference between men and women is both intelligent and culturally preferable. The gender balance of a man and a woman working together in marriage and in parenting is a unique and  ideal foundation on which to build society. Same sex  relationships may be entered into by a small few  but we should not pretend they are the same thing.

3.       The Conservative Party has called for a Government Initiated Referendum (GIR) on this issue, but this has been rejected by a majority of MPs. This was a somewhat cynical rejection as most of the same MPs are supporting a referendum on state asset sales – surely a double standard.

4.       The only way forward now (assuming the bill passes into law) would be a Citizens Initiated Referendum (CIR). Unfortunately CIR are not binding in this country and both National and Labour Prime Ministers have made it clear they will reject CIR outcomes. (example: Helen Clarke on Law and Order and John Key on Smacking). Until we achieve our goal of referendum being binding we have no way to force a change.

5.       Once the Conservative Party is in parliament it is our objective to make CIR binding. If we achieve this then we have an opportunity to challenge the redefinition of marriage by referendum. I would certainly support/promote such a referendum.

Should Waitangi Day be abolished and replaced with a new national day [New Zealand Day]?

I am not sure changing the name of the day helps fix that. It’s one of those things that can ideally be proposed and put to the people of the country as a referendum if there is a enough support.

Some sort of statements on the Maori Grievance Industry and the proposed new Constitution would be particularly welcome given the alarm these two issues are causing to many of us. 

We have already taken a position on Maori seats. We agree with the Royal commission on MMP and therefore there should not be separate Maori seats. They predicted that separate seats would lead to racial division.  However as any change to the electoral system requires voters mandate the correct way to change this is to hold a referendum. I doubt if this was left to politicians it would ever happen.

We have already taken a position on a new Constitution. There should be no work on, or adoption of a new constitution, without a mandate from the people of the country. There is no such mandate so tax payers money should be nowhere near this issue. Those lobbying for a new constitution should do all the work at their own cost and then propose it with  a Citizens Initiated Referendum (if they could get enough support).

The Royal Commission on the Electoral System reported on electoral reform on 1986. This was instrumental in the change to MMP in 1993 but it recommended against citizens initiated referendums.


  1. The Commission unanimously recommended the adoption of mixed member proportional, with a threshold of 4% and that a referendum be held before or at the 1987 election.
  2. They also recommended that the Māori seats be abolished, with Māori parties instead receiving representation if they did not pass the threshold.
  3. That the number of MPs raise to 120 (although they considered 140 would be ideal, they realised that it would receive too much public backlash).
  4. The term of Parliament be raised to four years.
  5. The Commission recommended that citizens initiated referendums not be implemented. However, they were in 1993.



Final asset sale referendum results

The final result shows only minor changes.

Citizens Initiated Referendum 2013

Final Result

17 December 2013
The Electoral Commission has released the final result for the Citizens Initiated Referendum on the question:
“Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power,
Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”
Votes Number of Votes
Percentage of Total
Valid Votes
Yes 442,985 32.4%
 No 920,188 67.3%
Informal 4,167 0.3%
Total Valid 1,367,340 100%
The number of invalid votes cast was 1,585.Voter turnout is 45.07%. Turnout is calculated by taking the total votes cast of 1,368,925 (being total
valid and invalid votes) as a percentage of the total number of voters enrolled as at 21 November 2013 (3,037,405).

Referendum Results by Electorate

Final Government response to referendum: 100 per cent don’t give a s**t

Labour and Greens pledge binding CIR

Labour leader David Cunliffe and Green co-leader Russel Norman have pledged to abide by any results of Citizen Initiated Referenda.  They said this is consistent with their stance on demanding that National abide by the will of the people expressed in the asset sale referendum.

When pointed out that this would align them with the Crazy Colin Craig Party and that it could make Parliament a farce they said the principle was too important to be concerned about that.

Cunliffe and Norman said that if any petition for a CIR opposed any bills put forward by a Labour-Green government they would put the bill on hold for 12 months pending the result of the petition and if a referendum was initiated they would wait for the outcome of that before putting the bill to debate and votes in Parliament.


Asset sales referendum ra-ra ho-hum

The assets sales referendum results is quite predictable, with about two thirds voting no. This is similar to opinion poll results.

Green and Labour party campaigners were targeting a No vote in excess of those who voted for National in 2011 but didn’t make that so their self congratulations have been ra-ra ho-hum.

David Cunliffe: The people have spoken – National must listen

The people of New Zealand have spoken and voted overwhelmingly against asset sales – it is now time for John Key to listen to them, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.

“Kiwis have clamoured to have their voice heard on asset sales. More than 310,000 thousand backed the petition and now 1.3 million have voted. Over 67 per cent or almost 900,000 have said no to asset sales.

“The numbers are clear. Kiwis don’t want their assets sold. John Key must listen and call off the Genesis sale now. National’s claimed mandate to sell the assets has now disappeared.

Russel Norman:

The Opposition is calling it an overwhelming victory, while the Government says it’s nothing more than a costly stunt that’s ended in disappointment.

The cake was cut at the Green’s party well before result was announced – which came at about 8pm.

“This sends a very clear message to John Key to stop the asset sales madness,” says Green Party co-leader Russell Norman.

– Asset sales referendum results announced

Being non-binding it was always known to be a futile exercise beyond political point scoring and extended taxpayer funded campaiging.

Key numbers:

  • 2/3 voted No
  • 3/5 assets part sold
  • 1/5 assets unsaleable
  • 1/5 assets – sale subject to financial conditions

National have said they will go ahead with the Genesis float. I have always said that selling too much in one market sector in an election term time frame was flawed.


Citizens Initiated Referendum 2013

Preliminary Result

13 December 2013
The Electoral Commission has released the preliminary result for the Citizens Initiated Referendum on the question:
“Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power,
Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?”
The preliminary result is based on the number of votes counted as at 7pm, Friday 13 December 2013.
The final result will be available by 5pm, Tuesday 17 December 2013.
Votes Number of Votes
Percentage of Total
Valid Votes
For the response Yes 432,950 32.50%
For the response No 895,322 67.20%
Informal Votes 4,068 0.31%
Total Valid Votes 1,332,340 100.00%
The number of invalid votes cast was 1,062.

Voter turnout is 43.9%. Turnout is calculated by taking the total votes cast of 1,333,402 (being total
valid and invalid votes) as a percentage of the total number of voters enrolled as at 21 November 2013 (3,037,405).

Preliminary Results by Electorate

Preliminary Results in Excel Format

Preliminary Results in PDF Format bb


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