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Controling the Govt with Citizen Initiated Referendum

Controling the Govt with Citizen Initiated Referendum

Currently, we have the right to call for a referendum, but it requires the signatures of at least 10% of the eligible voters, which is almost an impossible task, and at the end of it, the Govt can simply dismiss it, making the whole process a futile effort. As well, it cost $500 to file a petition. Each of these requirements is an obstacle put there to discourage referenda. I would like the requirements to be modified as follows: - 1. Percentage of eligible voters to be no more than 2%, which is about 70,000 signatures. 2. The results to be binding on the Govt. 3. The cost, $500, to be waived if the petition has at least the minimum number of signatures. We must have a way of calling the Govt to account, before significant and irrevocable decisions are made. I find it bizarre that a few members of Govt can, for example, decide to sell our national assets, or negotiate an international deal, in secret, without reference to the people. The Govt seems to regard NZ as their own private company, and that we, the people, should keep out and not interfere.

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    • John Gibson
      commented 2016-12-10 20:09:57 +1300
      Socrates was condemned to death by a “democratic” vote. Not sure that referendums will help us make the “hard” changes we need to make?
    • John Gibson
      tagged this with low priority 2016-12-10 20:09:57 +1300
    • Dennis Ingram
      commented 2016-12-03 18:08:14 +1300
      I think some way of adding more direct democracy is a great idea, but we need to be careful. We only need to look at the recent Facebook “echo chamber” effect to see the danger. Maybe electronic referenda (cheap and easy through the web) that require government to take them to a public vote at each general election if there is enough support. That provide a check to avoid hasty decisions. Government could step up by using government departments to research issues and parliament to debate them. That way, by the time the time to vote rolls around we are all well-informed.
    • Dennis Ingram
      tagged this with interesting 2016-12-03 18:08:14 +1300
    • Dennis Ingram
      tagged this with important 2016-12-03 18:08:14 +1300
    • Matt Walkington
      tagged this with essential 2016-12-02 15:57:34 +1300
    • Tim O'Donnell
      commented 2016-12-01 20:39:04 +1300
      First I’m not a politician. Second I’m pretty sure it says in my comment that the cost would be too high & probably too often. All on the whim of a small bunch of people that only need to dislike the government of the time, the government they didn’t choose so won’t accept. It also says I would also be interested in it being binding. Please READ the comment properly before responding. NZ is also 6x larger than Switzerland & more spread out with half the population to pay for it
    • Gene Dalefield
      tagged this with interesting 2016-11-30 16:10:42 +1300
    • Alan Dawn
      commented 2016-11-30 09:51:35 +1300
      I’ve been told Switzerland is also a very conservative country and they’ll have a referendum to decide if they want to make a decision. I agree with James that clear policy and accountability are more useful tools.
    • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
      commented 2016-11-29 09:09:36 +1300
      I thought that Brexit would have taught us the danger of binding referenda in the modern age with fake news, low voter turn out, and short term thinking. Perhaps there are things that better suit referenda. Nice idea, but we need to check in the details to ensure there’s no fish hooks.
    • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
      tagged this with dislike 2016-11-29 09:09:36 +1300
    • Phil Marshall
      commented 2016-11-29 01:20:46 +1300
      Ted. A law requires a simple parliamentary majority whereas a constitutional amendment must be passed by more than a simple majority, either by parliament or referendum. Once you have a constitution in place, it provides a significant check as a law can be challenged on the basis that it is unconstitutional.
    • James Reardon
      commented 2016-11-28 14:34:50 +1300
      So you want Athenian democracy? Great care required, I think there are more than enough examples of government by populism running nations off the track at the moment, granted that referenda do require some due process . That is not to say that there should not be more voter influence on policy, which is hopefully what’s happening here but we have to think carefully about whether politicians are our elected representatives or just our delegates. For me the crux is that politicians are held to account to the detail of the policy they are representing. We the voters then choose our allegiances based on those policies. Of course, modern two party politics is extremely light on policy detail, and the big parties know that voters are swayed more by socio-economic allegiance and personality politics than balanced evaluation of policy. I suspect part of the stimulus for Gareth to kick off TOP is the prediction that there is going to be a backlash among at least some of the electorate to the growing focus on personality and rhetoric, and accountability to clear and evidenced-based policy is the obvious answer to offer those disaffected voters. To me, all of the legitimate concerns raised like selling off of state assets could and should be addressed through clear policy and accountability to them before costly and time-consuming referenda.
    • James Reardon
      tagged this with dislike 2016-11-28 14:34:50 +1300
    • James Reardon
      tagged this with interesting 2016-11-28 14:34:50 +1300
    • Ted Brown
      commented 2016-11-28 11:42:50 +1300
      I would be very interested to know why Tim has categorised the Binding Referendum suggestion as “Dislike”, unless of course if he is a politician. Few, if any, politicians like to be called to account for their actions or decisions. But if he is not a politician then the reason for the rejection must be elsewhere. Could it perhaps be cost, disruption of the business of Govt., influence of minority groups, or something else? Switzerland has on average 4 referenda a year and they are still one of the most prosperous country in the world, by GDP/capita. Disruption is certainly a possibility, especially if the people of the country disagree with the Govt”s proposal. The influence of minority groups could be controlled by suitably adjusting the percentage of eligible voters, or by requiring more than 50% majority of voters to reject the proposal. Maybe Tim will tell us why he does not like Referenda. I certainly would be interested.
    • Ted Brown
      commented 2016-11-28 10:26:57 +1300
      I don’t really understand the implications of your suggestion. What is the difference between a law by act of parliament and an entry in a constitution?
    • Phil Marshall
      commented 2016-11-27 22:05:37 +1300
      I agree on the need for more checks and balances – and would add to the list sending troops to war. I would rather checks and balances through a Constitution, however, which is discussed under another suggestion.
    • Alan Dawn
      commented 2016-11-27 19:05:14 +1300
      Yes, there needs to be some sort of system to make parliament more accountable, but this proposal invites fringe groups to push their agenda without accountability. I accept the idea that results should be binding, but let’s make that a 75% positive threshold. The cost is insignificant per signature on a petition, so make the filing fee closer to the cost.
    • Alan Dawn
      tagged this with interesting 2016-11-27 19:05:13 +1300
    • John Rusk
      commented 2016-11-27 17:26:34 +1300
      We’d need to look at the evidence from places like California, which have tried this.
    • Jerry Cerveny
      commented 2016-11-27 16:30:52 +1300
      This is the Swiss system and the benchmark. The Government is only a temporary custodian of the peoples Government, the people decide what they want the Government to do and the Government only executes the will of the people.
    • Jerry Cerveny
      tagged this with essential 2016-11-27 16:30:52 +1300
    • Tim O'Donnell
      commented 2016-11-27 15:13:35 +1300
      If this happened you would get many idiots abusing the system every time they didn’t like something. A referendum isn’t free, it costs the country a lot of money each time & it’s likely most wouldn’t come into effect because only a small minority would need to disagree to initiate. The government is elected by the people to represent us. If you left it as is & said it should be binding if 60% vote for it I might be inclinded to agree
    • Tim O'Donnell
      tagged this with dislike 2016-11-27 15:13:34 +1300
    • Ted Brown
      published this page in Suggestions 2016-11-27 11:44:08 +1300