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NZ Cannabis Referendum – #2: Ardern supports Little’s lies. Incompetence or something worse?


This tweet from Chris Bishop caught my eye

This is the second in a series of posts about this issue and related matters. It would seem that Jacinda Ardern is further compounding the brazen misinformation put about by Andrew Little when he claimed according to a report from Jane Patterson at RNZ

Cabinet ministers have agreed the referendum will be binding, based on agreement by all three governing parties.

“The voters’ choice will be binding because all of the parties that make up the current government have committed to abide by the outcome,” Justice Minister Andrew Little said.

Now this is not binding at all.

Henry Cooke as part of a longer piece, which I commend people to read, explains it thus

There are two different types of referendums. “Indicative” referendums give the Government a steer on what the public think of an issue, while allowing them to completely ignore the steer if they see fit. This often happens with “citizen-initated” referendums in New Zealand, such as the asset sales referendum. The other type of referendums are “binding” ones, where the Government of the day are compelled to enact the result of the referendum. 

Little and the Government have argued that this referendum is “binding” because every party in the Government has committed to honouring the result by passing the draft legislation.

This does not conform with what basically anyone else describes as “binding” – including his own justice ministry.

Here’s the problem. The referendum is being held at the 2020 election, which means the new Parliament elected at that election will be the ones considering whether or not to pass the draft legislation.

That Government could well be made up of the same parties as it is now. But it could well not be. Even if it is made up of the exact same parties, Little himself has not ruled out making minor changes to the law as it goes through Select Committee. And the National Party has not ruled out just ignoring the referendum result altogether if it comes to Government.

The way to avoid this situation would have been to pass a bill enacting the law changes now, but include a clause that means it only has power if the referendum returns a “yes” vote. This is called a “self-executing referendum” and is how the referendums on MMP and the flag were designed. 

A “self-executing” referendum was the preference of the Green Party during negotiations. It is also the only type of referendum the Justice Ministry itself describes as “binding” – as noted in a briefing handed to the justice minister in May of 2018.

Little makes the argument that because no current Parliament can bind a future Parliament the difference isn’t really material – a new Government would always have the opportunity to ignore the referendum result if keen.

But this ignores the reality of Parliamentary politics. It is very easy to not do something – to not go through the months-long process of passing a law on the recommendation of a referendum. It is much more work to actively repeal a bill already activated by a law change.

Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little are exposing themselves as at best devious and manipulative with their brazen disregard for the truth, or maybe they assume that we, the people are gullible fools who will fall for Ardern and her lies yet again. Put colloquially maybe Ardern believes her own PR,ie she walks on water.

I make the point as I did in my earlier post

This claim on the referendum being binding is an appalling attempt to influence the next election. It presumes that by running the cannabis referendum in tandem with the election and with so far, only Labour, Greens and NZ First, committing to accepting the referendum result – although as yet nobody knows what the legislation will look like – people will turn out for one of the parties in the unholy troika if they vote for legalisation in order to ensure that the legislation passes.

Yet the draft legislation will be just that draft.

At this time Stuff seems to be more honest about this than the politicians who are being extremely manipulative and seeking to attack National for wanting to know exactly what the electorate will be voting on.

It seems to me that to suggest Incompetence is to be too kind to Ardern and Little,this smacks of cynical voter manipulation.

Trust us, Let’s Do This will not cut it.

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