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Referendum File 1: The Logic of the Campaign for Democracy

4 comments | 12:23 am | top |

Larry Baldock of The Kiwi Party
The StarStuddedSuperStep blog will be following the progress of the Campaign for Democracy, bringing updates to our readers and visitors. Background to the campaign, details on those behind it, and further information will be presented in future Referendum Files. Our readers from New Zealand will be aware of the apparantly unsuccessful citizens initiated referendum to overturn the Anti-Smacking Law. The man behind the petition for that referendum, Larry Baldock has responded to the outcome of that referendum, with a new petition for a citizens initiated referendum on the question,

“Should Parliament be required to pass legislation that implements the majority result of a citizens initiated referendum where that result supports a law change?”

The implications of this question will be discussed in later posts, but there's a quick summary.

On 28 Jan 2009, an ally of the Campaign for Democracy, Better Democracy NZ published an article in which they reproduced a letter from Larry Baldock to his supporters. An excerpt from the letter follows,

The results were very encouraging with 500 signing the petition in 3 hrs on their way in to the BBB event. Considering there has been very little publicity as yet about the new petition we found that approx 7-8 out of ten were prepared to sign...

The letter states that 7-8 out of ten people were prepared to sign. I can't challenge this figure as I have no first-hand knowledge of what took place, however I can say that, having collected approximately 10,000 signatures myself on the last petition, that 75% is a very high ratio. Whether this figure relates to the number of people who made contact with the campaigners, and subsequently signed, or the number of people walking past who came over and signed, it is still an unusually high ratio - particularly given the lack of publicity, as Baldock commented.

...The conversation generally went like this.

Campaigner: "Will you sign our petition Sir/Maam?"
Passer by: "What's it about?"
Campaigner: "Making referenda binding upon parliament. Do you remember the anti-smacking referendum last year when 87% said no and Parliament has ignored it?"
Passer by: "Sure do. It was ridiculous. What's the point of having a referendum if they are going to ignore it!"
Campaigner: "Exactly, that's why we must now collect signatures for another one to make Parliament listen."
Passer by: "Sure I agree with that, where do I sign?"

The example of the typical conversation outlined in the letter is astounding. The passer by asks, "What's the point of having a referendum if they are going to ignore it!", to which the campaigner agrees and then encourages them to go ahead and take part in the referendum anyway. There is no progression of logic here, simply a desire to rectify the government's shameful rejection of the results of the last non-binding referendum - by having another non-binding referendum.

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Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Ha ha ha…making referendums binding has to be one of the stupidest & self-destructive idea’s going – no wonder Larry ‘Pursuing Justice in a Sinful World’ Baldock is involved.

Here’s my ideas for some citizen initiated referendums which would, with little doubt, gain a majority of Kiwi’s support (a.) No Tax on Alcohol (b.) One more week statutory holiday for all workers (c.) Free doctors visits.

Imagine any government having to pay and implement these?

Then we have the issue of politicians like Larry Baldock abusing the referendum process by using the signatory details on the petition as some kind of mailing-list for his parties fringe-views.

You are ‘pushing it up hill’ to suggest any citizen initiated referendum should be binding.

It’s laughable but to aid the so-called democratic process, I myself will shortly have petition forms in all N.Z Public Bars calling for the Government to reduce tax on beer to zero.

Can I count on you and Larry’s signatures?



9:44 am, January 29, 2010 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You cannot automatically assume that binding referenda are bad and will lead to bad governance of NZ. I'm pretty sure that Switzerland has binding referenda and they function pretty well. I don't know how their system works but possibly if we modified ours to be more like theirs we would be able to have functional (and not destructive) direct democracy.


12:16 pm, January 29, 2010 
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Alex, globally referenda are abused by self-interest groups and in Switzerland the public apathy for them saw only 36 per cent of voters turn-out in the latest poll. Swiss politics is also very feudal and hard to compare with N.Z .Included in that last Swiss vote was a ban on Muslim minarets and something about taxation aviation fuel!!Why should the public get a say on tax on aviation fuel? So the last referendum in Switzerland was a prime example how the process has been hijacked by small self-interest groups who have no other way of obtaining their narrow political goals through the mainstream political system. Larry Baldock is politically impotent and grasping at straws to re-invent a system he can use to his advantage. Again I suggest if I ran a ‘binding referendum’ to take tax off beer – I would easily gain a majority. My next referendum after that would be to place all business’s in New Zealand on a level playing field – by taxing Churches.

Have a great day.


1:47 pm, January 29, 2010 
Blogger Joshua said...

Just adding to what Canterbury Athiests said about Switzerland; they actually don't have binding referendum like Larry Baldock wants to have here. They have a very unique system which I will not explain here (but maybe will in a blog post later :)) because as CA said too different (although I wouldn't describe them as 'Feudal' ;p)

Wow does Larry Baldock really think that the government will implement a non-binding referenda making CIE's binding? What a silly idea!

2:25 am, January 31, 2010 

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