June 17, 2009
Green Party MP Sue Bradford this morning launched a Member’s Bill aimed at ending the use of confused questions in Citizens Initiated Referenda.
“Many New Zealanders have been shocked this week to discover the actual wording of the referendum question proposed by opponents of the law change that helps keep children safe from violence,” said Ms Bradford.
“The Green Party believes it is high time we ended the practice of allowing referenda petitions containing ambiguous questions to be put forward.
“My Citizens Initiated Referenda (Wording of Question) Amendment Bill will be placed in the parliamentary member’s ballot this Thursday 18 June, if one is held.
“The Bill requires the Clerk of the House to only allow referendum questions which are not ambiguous, complex, leading or misleading.
“If a person proposing a referendum question has their wording turned down, they will still have the option of reformulating their question until it meets the new criteria.
“Given comments by Prime Minister John Key yesterday that he thinks stricter rules around referenda questions should be introduced, I am also hopeful that even if my Bill is not drawn from the ballot this week, the Government may pick it up,” said Ms Bradford.
“I believe there would be cross party support for such an amendment.
“There are people who will be confused by the referendum and choose not to vote. There are also people who support the current law but don’t want to engage in a badly-worded and misleading referendum.
“However, I still believe the strongest statement we can make to demonstrate our commitment to protecting our children from violence is to vote ‘yes’ in the postal referendum.”
* The Bill is available at: http://www.greens.org.nz/node/21356