Labour-Green-Conservative coalition?

Colin Craig says he will work with any parties on common policies.

One of Craig’s biggest policies is to have binding referenda. And he wants to roll back the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Craig also opposes the asset sales. It would follow that should the upcoming referendum vote against asset sales then Craig would support the Greens in rolling back the asset sales. And rolling back the convention centre?

We could end up with a Conservative-Labour-Green government, especially if the CCCP get’s in at the expense of NZ First – if they can work out their clash on the smacking law.

Craig will at least promote binding referenda so we can have Government by party political agenda petitions and referenda.


Craig wants binding referenda and smacking

Colin Craig is suddenly getting a lot of media attention. He is getting the chance to state policy positions. Time will tell whether this exposure enhances Conservative chances or if it raises concerns.

Craig was asked on TV3’s Firstline…

“Are there some absolutes you would go to National with and say ‘We’re not coming on board unless you give us this?’”

He replied…

“One of the things we’ve always been very clear about is when you’ve got a strong result in a referendum, we don’t think in a democracy the government should just be able to throw it out. That’s something I do think needs changing.”

Not an absolute position. It appears to be targeting voters who want some ballot power, but it’s hard to see Parliament agreeing to binding referenda. Seeking support for a futile cause.

Craig used the smacking referendum as an example of the will of the people being ignored.

87.4% voted against a parent hitting a child “as part of good parental correction” being made a criminal offence, but National reached a deal with Labour that saw the legislation passed.

Smacking has been one of the driving forces behind Craig’s push for political power. Again this is seeking support from people who still feel strongly about the ‘anti-smacking’ legislation but it’s hard to see other parties wanting to revisit this.

The legislation certainly annoyed many people but that’s history and it’s been nothing like the societal catastrophe some predicted. It’s an issue that might attract a few votes but it’s hard to see it swinging an election, nor interesting the next Parliament.

Following the Craig line Conservatives would want to reverse the asset sales if the upcoming referendum supported rolling back the sales, but that would make a farce of parliamentary process.

Craig is using attention seeking issues to build support, but it will be more difficult to look like a credible coalition partner with do-able policies.

Better options than referenda?

There was a big discussion on Whale Oil yesterday on government and on the Conservative Party, including on one of Colin Craig’s key policies – binding referenda.

Whale was anti referenda, anti Craig, anti Conservative Party, anti MMP. He is into old school politics, wanting one party rule (the party he prefers of course). He was also anti me:

There is no old school or even new school, just politics. It is blouses like you Pete who think there is another way, and it is people like me who run over the top of you.

But I agree with one thing he said.

The answer isn’t to change the system, it is to use the system more effectively.

I got involved in politics to look for better ways to do democracy. I had favoured more direct democracy including more use of referenda. But I now think referenda have limited benefits and a number of problems.

I think our use of binding referenda about right, having them occasionally on constitutional issues like MMP.

But our system of Citizen’s Initiated Referenda is a farce – designed by politicians to be ineffective and they can ignore them anyway. There are significant problems with referenda.

The petition/referendum system takes far too long. The current asset sales petition has taken over a year, and the referendum hasn’t been scheduled yet. That will take a few more months. In the meantime the Mixed Ownership Model legislation has passed through Parliament and the first share float has just taken place.

Referenda are far too simplistic for complex legislation, one or several Yes/No questions are often inadequate.

And it isn’t a good idea to have referenda – majority determination of legislation – for things that affect minority rights. It would be possible for the majority to disadvantage minorities.

Systems of representative democracy have become the dominant way of doing democracy for a reason – it is the most effective and practical way of doing democracy.

We elect representatives (MPs) and parties to do the decision making.

Our legislative process revolves around MP votes in Parliament, but it includes an opportunity for public input via submissions during the select committee stage. This is an important aspect but has limited use. The number of submitters is not a democratic measure, opposition to bills is often organised by parties or special interest groups who can inflate the number of submitters on one side of the argument.

But the public wants to have more say in what our Parliament decides. I think we should have more say.

If Committee submissions are too limited and referenda are too lengthy and limited how do we achieve this?

The Craig/Conservative bottom line of binding referenda is very unlikely to be accepted by either National or Labour, nor by Parliament – MPs tend to vote against reducing their power. And if it was put to Parliament it would take years to be agreed to and implemented.

And who would decide what went to referenda? Anyone wanting to oppose legislation they didn’t like would try to have it go to a referendum.

I think there is a much better way, a much quicker way – quicker to implement and quicker to operate.

I have a good idea on what I think could work, what would be more effective at giving us, the public, a better say in our politics and our legislation.

It would work with the current system. And it would be designed and used by the people, not by politicians (who generally try to increase their own power and reduce the power of the people they represent).

But I’d like to find out what other people think.

How can we, the people, use our current democratic system better? What do you think?