2013 Citizens Initiated Referendum

Andrew Stephens, Monday the 7th of October, 2013

The This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format. bouncy orange condom man visited my mailbox today.

I electman really love the concept of Citizens Initiated Referenda but they have never lived up to their promise. I can't think of one that was not muddleheaded even if I agreed with the general concept.

Here is this year's effort:

Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?

This is another one of those run-on questions so beloved by petitioners. In their effort get the result they want they have conflated several concepts. With this wording even those who support selling 100% of the power companies along with KiwiRail, the Post Office, and the Chatham Islands but not Air New Zealand should really vote no. A simple "Do you wish the government to stop selling assets?" would have served up a clearer message.

But this referendum is not designed to change the government's policyas if they could. By making people who actually support the asset salesthey exist answer in the affirmative, the result will become a reed with which to whip the government. Turnout, not helped by the mouthful of a question, will be low so the opposition will be able to say that the asset sales are only supported by 15% (or whatever) of the population. Never mind that only another 20% (or whatever) bothered to vote noUpdate: the final results were 32% for, 67% against, with a voter turnout of 47%..

There is another point, and sadly here I have to agree with David Farrar here. Ugh, I feel so dirty, but I will carry on.

For those who haven't been paying attention, the last 2 elections went something like this:

2008:

NATIONAL: Vote for us. We think it would be just swell to sell some juicy assets but we promise hold off a while.

NZ ELECTORATE: Sounds good to us, have a plurality.

2011:

NATIONAL: Vote for us again. By the way, we are going to sell of a bunch of stuff including those plump, luscious power companies. So tasty, so ripe, all that gooey revenue, mmmmmmmm.... Oops, where was I? Oh yeah, selling things off just like we said. About 49% should do it.

NZ ELECTORATE: Sweet as, have an extra seat.

The electorate has already voted twice to sell assets, it was a big issue in both of the last two elections and nobody can act surprised about the government's direction.

There is another general election next year. Objections should be raised then.