United Future news and views with Judy Turner MP
\ Straight talk…
On Wednesday night I unsuccessfully moved an amendment during the Committee stage of the Private Members Bill in the name of Sue Bradford to amend Section 59 of the Crimes Act (known as the smacking bill) to prevent the bill becoming law after its Third Reading if it passed with less than 60% support.
This received full caucus support from United Future as we have, for the last few years, taken a clear policy position on reforms we believe need to happen to the role of referendums within our democratic system.
United Future policy is that if any bill that is largely voted on by conscience passes with less than a 60% majority, that it should be put to a public referendum at the next election, and the referendum is binding if there is a 60% voter turn out and that the issue receives 60% support. We chose the 60% threshold after receiving a letter from the former Governor General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, concerned that the Prostitution Bill had passed by one abstention and that in his opinion all conscience votes should be required to meet a 60% threshold.
The National Party agreed with the Greens and said it would undermine Parliament’s sovereignty. Yet surely in a democracy, government should be “of the people, for the people and by the people”. The people are sovereign. The people don’t answer to Parliament, rather Parliament answers to the people.
NZ First who claim to support binding citizen initiated referendum wouldn’t support it because they didn’t agree with the 60% thresholds. I find it hard to understand how in an MMP environment they haven’t learnt to support options that clearly lean in the direction of their own policy.
I was particularly disappointed that most of the MPs opposing this bill did not support my amendment, even though they claim to be representing the large numbers of the public that are opposed.
“Democracy is the name we give people when we need them”
Marquis de Flers
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