Better Democracy NZ is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation.

Our mission is to foster the improvement of New Zealand's democratic system and encourage the use of direct democracy through the

Veto, Citizens' Initiated and Recall referendum.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

Referendum system inadequate

Press release by Steve Baron - Better Democracy NZ


Press release:

by Steve Baron - Better Democracy NZ

Referendum system inadequate

“Politicians can be justified in their concerns about the referendum process, particularly in respect to the wording.” says Steve Baron, the Founder of Better Democracy NZ and co-editor of the book People Power.

“Many referendums in the past have been ambiguous, misleading, biased and confusing.” says Mr Baron, whose organisation has in the past recommended a professional Referendum Panel comprising of three retired High Court judges to approve the wording of any referendum question.

Mr Baron says, “There should be consultation with the referendum Initiator, but the Referendum Panel should have the final say if all parties cannot agree. The Referendum Panel should also approve the wording of a Referendum Pamphlet and Referendum website which should state the arguments for and against the referendum in a constructive and informative manner.”

“If politicians are going to take referendums seriously, and consider such an option, they should also be considering the right of citizens to have their will enforced, and make all referendums binding. If they are not binding they are not worth the paper they are written on.” says Mr Baron.

Better Democracy NZ has also been promoting that signature numbers required to trigger a referendum be reduced to 100,000 instead of the current 10 percent which is approximately 300,000. They would also like all conscience votes in parliament abolished, with a mandatory referendum instead, as well as a referendum on any constitutional type changes. “The conscience of the general public is just as important as the conscience of MPs.” says Mr Baron.




maxim said...

When we are able to truly empower our communities and put an end to the BS that is being shared as consensus reality. We will find that there is another path where humans move as equals where each voice is important and has its special moment to add value to the sharing. The details are really a side issue as the changes supported by this real empowerment will allow the creation / emergence of the community we all hold collectively in our awakened hearts to share. Beyond the need for one to be better than the other and cope in a top down heirarchy of insanity.

The choice of referenda will emerge from a healthy dialogue process and social media and other web two tools will facilitate this. We have a tool ready to support this action.

A web centric digital book allows the individual to have their say at any time during the night or day and for the initiators of the referenda to share all (360 degree) arguements or facts pertinent and to coordinate individual imput/feedback or simple yes /no /more dialogue please responses.

There is no simple path from here to there; except that we commit to it and find it is supported by the flow of history as all matters are transformed within the alchemical moment where the future is co-created in the NOW by all ONES expressinbg the creative urge to merge again within the life force; VITAL LIFE will lead the way into the new ways for sustainable living and humans empowered to reach their full potential. Realizing once again that UNITY is at the heart of comUNITY.

It is a time of major transformation as the trance of his story changes and rearranges to become our story (Ahh Men).

Power to the people in deed and action is the way to HEALING the Nation.

Rusty Kane said...

Letter to the Editor TDN

Referendums not in Favour...
Non-binding referendums waste of time and money.

The NPDC rejection of the concept of non-binding referendum on major projects has favour with the thinking of the Mt Albert community. Although I was a candidate I didn't physically campaign wanting only to make political comment. at the by-election, our parties press release that citizen binding referendums be binding on the Government was soundly rejected. My own provincial view and press release that the money spent on Auckland's roads be redirected to the provinces where it was needed, was also soundly rejected. On that view it was no surprise we come last with only five votes. Auckland has never much been in favour of supported anything south of the Bombay Hills. But the referendum view was a bit of a surprise. As the country has been calling for referendums on major issues for years. It is pretty convincing to me from these results if only Mt Albert's that the public agree with the NPDC that the people are happy for the statuesque of electing representatives to make the decisions for them, without their input and need of citizens initiated referendum. If their representatives get it wrong they can blame them. not themselves then punish them come next election. But I still say without favour that without binding referendums the Government will not listen or take head of the majorities wishes. The $9 million spent on the non-binding citizens initiated referendum on the anti-smacking law is just a waste of money and time, when its not binding on the Government. John Key has already stated the Government is unlikely to change the child-discipline law regardless of the result of the $9 million referendum. So why have it.

Rusty Kane

Rumpole said...

It was disappointing to read in the Christchurch Press that John Key has already decided to ignore the forthcoming referendum on the anti smacking legislation on the grounds that the wording was some how inadequate and in his opinion the legislation was working to his satisfaction. This shows the arrogance and unwillingness of politicians to accept democratic decisions unless they either agree with them or they suit their purposes. The government can of course offer a referendum with a suitably worded question so by not doing exposes their agenda - we know best. The big danger is if the result is overwhelmingly for change and the turnout is high - do you then continue to ignore the clamour and move on - Helen did this with a result she certainly didn't like or do you accept the decision, change the law and then be branded weak - at this point it is less credible to claim bending to the democratic will. John Key needs to learn the law of unintended consequences in politics which I am sure he saw in the commercial world or risk being a one term government with much promise but accident prone and failing to learn from mistakes - Mt Albert springs to mind.

Dominic Baron said...

The mind-boggling arrogance of Key has provoked me to write the following two letters to Editors:

Letter 1 - sent yesterday:

John AhmedinaKey is a faithful disciple of his Iranian Master: the ‘smack’ of firm government requires total disrespect of the people’s will. He goes still further by stating in advance that he will ignore the result of the referendum.

In so doing he is already acknowledging that the referendum will result in a hefty “No” vote so he makes a point of emphasising its purely ‘consultative’ nature.

John AhmedinaKey, like Helen AhmedinaClark before him, has dictatorial powers. These were not conferred upon him by us, the people, but by the disreputable, moth-eaten thing that calls itself “parliament”. That thing has usurped the sovereignty of the people for too long. We must fumigate it.

Realising how contemptible is its claim to “sovereignty” over us it has thrown us the absurdity of “consultative” referendums. In Switzerland *all* referendums are, by definition, binding. Why else have them?

Yet even this weak apology for a referendum is a tiny glimmer of real democracy. Whichever way we vote, let us all fan this little flame into something much greater.

End of Letter 1.

Letter 2 - sent today:

The question is *not* ambiguous.

Let me take you through it:

As a good parent, do you consider smacking your child is:

A) a criminal action? Then vote “YES”;
B) not a criminal action? Then vote “NO”;
C) not sure or can’t be bothered? Then don’t vote.

So what is the real agenda behind these heavy-handed and large scale attempts to obfuscate the issue? Quite simply: the élites are scared of and detest the whole notion of referendums and want to destroy them.

The moth-eaten and corrupt political establishment, in a moment of weak conscience, saw that a sop was needed to dupe the people into believing that they could have some real input into the laws being foisted upon them. Thus they constructed the half-baked concept of “consultative” referendums: the referendum you have when you’re not really having a referendum.

In Switzerland, *all* referendums are binding. That is firmly written into their democratic constitution. Why else have them?

It is precisely because of the dictatorial arrogance openly demonstrated by John Key and Helen Clark before him that this referendum is taking on a significance that reaches well beyond the obvious issue of parental disciplinary rights to the fight for real democracy.

End of Letter 2.

Steve Baron said...

John Key is no more arrogantand dictatorial than Prime Ministers before him. On Radio bFM Helen Clarke was asked, What about the 20,000 New Zealanders who marched against GE?". Her response was, "I don't care if every New Zealander marches, we campaigned for GE in the election and won, end of story."

When they get elected they believe they have a mandate to do whatever they want whenever they want. They fail to realise that even though someone may have voted for them, it is a bundled package and there is no choice between public policies they promote.

A person may be the most avid Labour supporter but be totally against GE.

The only way the public can have a real input into specific public policy, when governments become out of step with what the majority wants, is through binding referendums.