Green MP Kevin Hague supports the asset sales petition/referendum but opposes having a referendum on the marriage equality bill. Do Greens think that democratic processes can be used selectively to suit their preferences?
The Green and Labour parties are currently pushing the anti asset sale petition/CIR for all it’s worth (actually for all the taxpayers are worth, they’re using our money, but that’s another story).
MPs from both parties are demanding that the asset share floats are halted until the results of the referendum are known, and then the Government should scrap the share floats as opponents are confident the referendum result will be favourable to their argument (and to their politicking strategy).
It is obvious the referendum (presuming it will go ahead) would be ignored and will be too late anyway, asset shares will have already been sold.
It has often been pointed out that these same Green and Labour parties (and other parties) ignored the last referendum, on smacking.
Voter turnout was 56.1%. While 87.4% of votes answered ‘no’, the question drew widespread criticism from the public, parliament, and even the prime minister John Key for being a loaded question and for the use of the value-judgement ‘good’.
I thought the question was poor too, I could have justified answering either Yes or No depending on how I looked at the question. Because the referendum question didn’t directly address the Bill it could be (and was) easily ignored.
There have also been calls for a referendum on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill.
Some want it to be a Government initiated referendum and it be made binding. It is a conscience vote in Parliament so there is some justification for this.
Others say that if ‘the people’ want a referendum they should start a petition. Like the others this would take massive effort and resources and take far too long.
There is not going to be a gay marriage referendum, but if there was should Parliament abide by the result? There are valid questions about whether the majority should be able to impose possibly discriminatory will on a minority.
All bills are not equal
Obviously all bills have different aspects to them.
The Asset bill is Government policy that was a major issue in the last election.It has been debated on strictly party lines, Government (National, Act and UnitedFuture) versus Opposition.
The Marriage bill was a private members bill so has only been debated since the election, and is a conscience vote, with mixed support and opposition from National and Labour MPs (Greens have all agreed with it but they tend to block vote anyway).
Green support for referenda is not equal
Green MP Kevin Hague commented on the issue of a marriage referendum on his facebook page:
Maybe 1% of submitters to the Select Committee thought there should be a referendum on marriage equality. As we get into the final stages of the parliamentary process these referendum calls have become stronger.
There are two reasons for this: one group of MPs believes their supporters are mostly opposed to the legislation, so want to be able to vote against without having to use homophobic or irrational arguments, while another group is opposed to the legislation for homophobic or irrational reasons, and sees a referendum as a means of delay.
There’s some irony here, as some views on the asset referendum go along the lines of “while another group is opposed to the legislation for political reasons, and sees a referendum as a means of delay”.
The very idea of a referendum is ridiculous. The concept of the ‘majority’ voting on minorites rights is disturbing. There are elected members for this purpose.
Also ironic, claiming “very idea of a referendum is ridiculous“. There is some merit to this argument, but it assumes what the ‘majority’ would say.
Yes, there are elected representatives for this purpose, that’s our model of representative democracy.
Also, comparing a referendum of the sale of assets to a referendum on marriage equality is ridiculous. Every New Zealander owns these assets, no one but me and my partner own my relationship.
Kevin Hague agreed:
Very well put Joshua!
Comparing referenda on different issues is ridiculous? Or is this a case of supporting a referendum that you think will benefit you and opposing a referendum that you fear might give you a result you don’t like?
Seems like selective support of democracy – when it suits.
Green’s past opposition to taking notice of referenda (smacking) and current mixed support – for the asset referendum anmd against one for marriage – raises questions about their commitment to democratic processes.
Would Greens commit to abiding by the result of any future Citizen Initiated Referendum?
Or would they select which referenda suit them to support?
I think this is an important question – particularly when the Greens openly express pride about being a party run on sound democratic principles.
Question for Greens
Would Greens support the will of the majority in any future CIR, or will they decide which referenda are ridiculous on a case by case basis?