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.


Thursday, 3 September 2009

The ‘government’ and the ‘parliament’ have rebelled against the people of New Zealand

Last month, August 2009, the ‘government’ of New Zealand, aided and abetted by its ‘parliament’, rebelled against the people of New Zealand.

Last month, August 2009, the ‘government’ of New Zealand, aided and abetted by its ‘parliament’, rebelled against the people of New Zealand.

The ‘government’ and the ‘parliament’ wilfully disobeyed the clearly expressed will of the people and refused to reverse out legislation that they had been told repeatedly by opinion poll after opinion poll and by an overwhelming number of submissions to one of their ‘select committees’, was vehemently opposed by some 80% of the people of New Zealand.

The progress of New Zealand society towards democracy has been seriously damaged by this event, and the refusal of the 122 citizens who claim membership of their ‘parliament’ to obey the will of over 1,200,000 citizens in the referendum represents a tragic ‘coup’ against the democratic aspirations of our nation.

The same people who denounce what has happened in Fiji see nothing wrong in openly defying the mass of the people of this country. So what are we to do?



A Greyling said...

I accused the Prime Minister that he knew before hand what his response on the outcome of this 'referendum' would be, and asked him why did he still squander the tax payers money in these difficult financial times.The answer from his office was: "It was no Binding Referendum, only a Citizens Initiated Referendum,and to eliminate costs the Labour Party could have held the Referendum previously.The government believes the law is working!They believe....

PGTips91 said...

Not only have they ignored the will of the people as expressed in the outcome of the referendum, but they actively sought to subvert the entire process.

The role of the Government in a referendum is to ensure that both sides of the question are put fairly and to foster public discussion of the issue, so that a proper decision, representing the will of the people, can be arrived at.

Instead, all Government agencies weighed in on the side of the 'Yes' vote, no attempt to lay out the issues was made and all attempts to have a public discussion were undermined, even by the Prime Minister himself!

This is a travesty, not only of the referendum process but of democracy itself.

Only one thing remains, and that is to vote accordingly at the next election. We need not only a change of Government but a Government of change! To rail against stupid laws, while in opposition, and then to defend them while in power, is either hypocrisy or the highest order or crass stupidity!

We also need to keep up the call for binding referenda, too, as otherwise the whole idea of referenda is likely to come into disrepute.


Anonymous said...

It is unlikely that MPs will listen to anything short of losing their position and the problem is the alternative - there is no party in parliament apart possibly from ACT that support the idea of binding referenda. But it is perhaps worth having another go with a referendum question that states that S59 be reinstated and that binding referenda with the power of recall become law in NZ. If this fails to produce the desired result then a new party committed to this policy is the only feasible way to change things short of mass assassination of parliament.

Helen said...

We very obviously do not have a democracy in New Zealand as we do not have a Government who listens to the wishes of the people and acts on them. National will be a one-term Government as many people are very angry and won't forget at the ballot box. We need a Don Brash-type leader desperately.

Steve Baron said...

In response to A Greyling, and in fairness to the prime minister, he did not waste taxpayer money on the smacking referendum. The CIR Act allows citizens to trigger a referendum by collecting the required number of signatures. Once this is done the process proceeds regardless of what any politician wants. The referendum process is run by Elections NZ, a government department. The previous Labour government may possibly have been able to organise it to be run in conjunction with the last election but that would have taken the focus of the referendum away. It may have been lost in the general election process. Although 9 million might seem like a lot of money to the average New Zealander, it is a pee in the ocean compared against other government spending and probably doesn't even come close to the cost of MP perks. It was a small price to pay for democracy, if you can call it democracy? Especially when arrogant politicians ignore it

Steve Baron said...

PGTips raises a very important point. There should have been a proper debate, being lead by politicians, regarding the referendum. There should have been a balanced official referendum pamphlet and referendum website to inform voters and give both sides of the argument in a balanced way. I phoned the Elections office and asked for information to be sent, all I received was a brochure telling me when and where to vote. But this is what happens when the government knows they can ignore a referendum. They treat the process with contempt.

As for voting accordingly at the next election... who might that be?

Steve Baron said...

Last night I attended an ACT Party dinner in Hamilton where Sir Roger Douglas and John Boscawen were speaking. I saw it as an opportunity to raise the issue of binding referendums with them. It was a pleasant evening and both men were interesting company. I had the chance to put my case for binding referendums but Sir Roger was very quick to raise the worn out arguments against binding referendums. Even after I enlightened him and exposed his flimsy arguments his comment was, "Well good luck to you" with a wry grin on his face. Boscawen referred to the latest referendum as an affront to democracy but he couldn't bring himself to support binding referendums either. They all seek power, power to implement "their" form of democracy and "their" policies. They feign democracy when it suits them but they really don't think we should have much say in the matter.

Ashley said...

Don't blame the government, blame the silent majority who are happy to write about it or complain about it to their friends and their job is done. If you want something done there are sacrificies to be made. If there was just one day strike in protest in every city by everyone who works, Mr Key will listen, if not next time make it 2 days. You will soon the results. Shame the silent majority do not want to move their backside.

Dominic Baron said...

Thanks for all of your supportive comments, folks. I especially appreciate Steve Baron making this forum available for these discussions.

I think that for all of us the issue in the referendum remains important because it represents the heartfelt desire of most New Zealanders for the ‘government’ to get its nose out of our family responsibilities. But now I believe that the importance of that issue is dwarfed by the larger one of how we can achieve democracy.

Clearly, the 55% of the electorate who took part in voting felt that it was important. I especially include the 12% or so who voted “Yes”, for it is even more important to recognise that when, eventually (!), we achieve democracy and have binding referendums, the results *must* be respected by those of us who vote on the losing side. It is in this context that I wish that I could see and hear from people who voted “Yes” even some slight show of support for the right of the will of the democratically expressed majority to be respected by the ‘government’.

I state openly that if the vote had gone the other way I would have supported that result without any rancour. I have already said in these columns that I openly support the decriminalisation of the possession and consumption of cannabis by citizens over the age of 18, but I would expect such a proposal to be put to a binding referendum, and I know that, at least the first time round, it would be soundly defeated.

Meanwhile here are some of my thoughts on some of the consequences that flow from the ignominious trouncing of democracy that we have just suffered:

1. A warning to the Courts and Police.
The Police are of the people and belong to the people. They do not belong to ‘parliament’. Many of them will have voted “no”. We therefore strongly advise them not to attempt to enforce a ‘law’ that has, in effect, been set aside by the will of the people as expressed in the August 2009 referendum. Any enforcement of this void ‘law’ will be not only morally reprehensible but also in contempt of the will of the people.

2. A warning to the ‘members of parliament’.
By your action in imposing this ‘law’ against the vigourously expressed opposition of the very people whom you claim to ‘represent’, you have committed a grave contempt against the people of New Zealand. By so doing you have irrevocably injured your own reputations and that of the assembly you were elected to.

3. A warning to the ‘government’.
You have committed an open act of dictatorship no different from those regularly committed with impunity by unsavoury régimes the world over. By this action you have forfeited the respect of at least 50% of the electorate. You refuse to learn the lesson that in order to lead one must first obey. You refused to obey our explicit command therefore you are unworthy to make any claim to lead us. Any ‘law’ that you attempt to impose upon the people that openly flouts the will of the people will be ignored.

Steve Baron said...

It is indeed encouraging to see the comments here on the blog but how many of you have even bothered to email each and every MP? It's a simple click of your mouse at our website and you can email all MP's at once. link text

Dominic Baron said...

You're quite right Steve, and I have done some, but not just recently. I fear they now have filters which simply discard those emails that come from sources that they want to exclude. Your very useful facility on your web-site may now be in their filtering systems for all we know!

Anonymous said...

And we all say that Fiji is NOT a democratic country , we now also on this same path to dictatorship.
I Wonder when we will be removed from the commonwealth.

Anonymous said...

withdraw your commercial energy. dont pay fines, dont pay tax, dont pay rates...until your servants start abiding by the bosses directives...its happening in australia and the tax dept are working at keeping it out of the papers..hell stop paying your mortgage...the debt belongs to the creator of the liability instrument...the bankers

Rusty Kane said...

So what are we to do? you ask. If we want a better democracy in NZ the only thing left is revolution a peoples revolt.

Laurie Fleming said...

Oh bollocks. We palpably do have a democracy. We also have a system for a non-binding referendum - and it does mean non-binding.

If the question weren't such a convoluted one, so similar to "Have you stopped beating your wife?", and if the promoters had told the truth about the contents of the law prior and post the change, and the technically unnecessary last clause to the change been made better known, I for one would have been more likely to have voted.

The law, prior to the change, gave parents a defence only after they had been prosecuted. That law was anachronistic and prejudicial against children. My dog had more legal defence than any child. The law after the change did not make criminals of parents. That is a lie. If you think it did, remember this that every law student learns very early on: De minimis non curat lex. The law does not concern itself with trifles. The police will not prosecute people for a light smack. But they will if the child is beaten. Or pushed to the ground. Or slapped around the head. The difference is that parents no longer can use parental discipline as a defence.

That is what the law was intended to stop. That is what was not promoted by any of the political parties (including the Greens - they could have been better with their PR). So any referendum that asked if we should be able to continue to beat children (emotive language, I know, but this has caused a lot of emotion) is not one which a governing party should be obliged to follow.

If there were an upswell in a return to capital punishment, a referendum canted to a particular answer showing a similar result, I would be appalled if the law should be changed to that people could be killed by the state.

Dominic Baron said...

Laurie, I respect your views even though they are diametrically the opposite of mine. Why cannot you and the tiny minority who share your views respect the majority's opinion? This *is* now the basic issue, and it *is* indeed one of democracy. You assert: "We palpably do have a democracy." I vehemently assert that we do not.

What we do have is a an 18th century 'Westminster-style' political system that was imposed by force of arms. We, the people of New Zealand, have not yet granted ourselves our first democratic constitution. Our sovereignty has been, and continues to be, usurped by an entity over which we have no control and which treats us with contempt. The behaviour of the 'government' and the 'parliament' towards the clearly expressed will of the majority amply demonstrates that contempt. Naturally, that contempt is reciprocated... with interest.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling that a lot of people like Laurie would support binding referendums, so long as the result went the way they wanted. If it doesn't then it should not be binding. So in other words, majority rule is ok when it suits them.

Aidan Work said...

Those who think that New Zealand has a democratic political system are totally clueless.There is one word the best describes New Zealand's political system - 'Wankocracy'.

Jim Bolger lied to the people about the M.M.P. political system when he was promoting it back in 1993.

He claimed that it would curb corruption,when that hasn't been the case,as the political parties themselves have used the M.M.P. system to appoint lowlife scum to nearly half the seats in Parliament.

Bolger also claimed that M.M.P. would bring greater democracy,yet the people have been disempowered,especially in relation to both moral issues & constitutional issues.

The time for referenda to be made binding is long overdue,as is the abolition of separate Maori seats,& imposing term limits for all M.P.s.

The people of Wanganui voted in referenda in 2006 & early this year against any change to the spelling of Wanganui's name.The New Zealand Geographic Board have issued a ruling that is totally racist,extremely undemocratic,immoral,abominable,& unconstitutional recommending that the spelling of Wanganui's name be changed to 'Whanganui',which the people of Wanganui voted overwhelmingly 'No' to.

The New Zealand Geographic Board's decision has caused anger in Wanganui.I have emailed His Worship,the Mayor of Wanganui,to advise him that he took the correct course of action by holding referenda to gauge support,& respecting the result.

I have also sent a mass email to all the M.P.s to express my anger that the will of the people of Wanganui has been totally ignored,& that no amount of bullying by both M.P.s & the quango that is the New Zealand Geographic Board will ever change the minds of the people of Wanganui.

By voting in 2 referenda,the people of Wanganui have spoken,& they also voted for protecting the heritage of every true native of Wanganui,including myself.

The New Zealand Geographic Board's decision is nothing less than a personal insult,as I retain very strong family ties to Wanganui.

Wanganui's culture,language,& distinctive regional identity is not for sale! The people have spoken!

The time to bury both the M.M.P. political system & apartheid into the dustbin of history is long overdue!

We need constitutional & democratic change,albeit,with the monarchy's power being increased & strengthened.