Asset petition – democratic farce

As reported at Stuff the asset sale petition looks like achieving it’s target:

New Zealanders will have their say on asset sales this year after a petition to force a referendum reached the 300,000 signatures needed, campaigners say.

Since April, a coalition including Grey Power, the Council of Trade Unions, the Green Party and Labour have been collecting signatures for the petition.

They need 10 per cent of all registered voters, or approximately 310,000 people, to sign to force a referendum.

Grey Power national president Roy Reid said the group had collected more than 340,000 signatures, allowing for a percentage of signatures that did not meet the requirements under the Citizen Initiated Referendum Act.

After checking the figures at the end of 2012, Mr Reid was confident they now had the numbers to push through the referendum.

The last CIR on smacking resulted in 85% opposition being ignored by politicians.  This referendum will be as easy to ignore. The first float or two may well have happened before the referendumk is held.

This will make the whole CIR option even more farcical than it has been.

It’s not democracy

The asset sale petition is an insult to people’s democracy. The CIR system has been hijacked off citizens by political parties and groups with politcal agendas (Grey Power and unions). The Green Party in particular have been using parliamentary resources and funding to run what is effectivekly a poitical campaign.

The Green Party prides itself on it’s internal democratic systems. On an internal level the Greens practice democracy well.

But external to their own party the Greens have become adept at misusing democracy to promote their own agendas, as is evident by their hijacking of CIR.

Greens use flaws in democracatic processes to try to impose their own minority views on the majority. But they are not alone, other parties do this too.

The biggest problem with democracy in New Zealand is not the systems we have, it’s how they are abused and manipulated by political parties.

CIR and MMP are designed by politicians and misused by politicians.

But there’s no easy solution to this. Most people and groups of people proposing “people’s democracy” initiatives don’t actually think in terms of making things more democratic, they are blinded by their own agendas and want to manipulate democracy to achieve their own goals.

I don’t think politicians will give up their power and their hold on the democratic processes easily.

So I think the only way of people taking ownership of democracy is to set up small scale democractic systems, prove them and then grow them, where the only agenda is finding the best balance of democracy and leadership/governance.

“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?”


  1. No I don’t support the asset sales. I’ve replied in a post below to the various blogs saying they’re a good idea or ‘our democracy is broken’ now the referendum is happening.


    Full reply and links here:

  2. Steve W

     /  January 5, 2013

    It’s a sad fact that most of the CIR questions to date have been based on widespread public ignorance….and revealed widespread public ignorance.

    If anything, the referenda demonstrated clearly that most voters haven’t got a blind clue how things REALLY work.

    I was ambivalent about citizens initiated referenda in the early 90s…but three of questions that actually made it to the vote were utterly pathetic and should never have seen the light of day.

    Any referendum issue should have to pass a “Is this a dumb-ass question based on minconceptions and prejudice?” test.

    The harsher sentencing, size of parliament and Section 59 questions would have been dismissed.