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Thought Police on the beat again

Comments by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton that they see no future for referenda are anti-democratic, says Opposition Justice Spokesman Tony Ryall.

“This is yet another excuse for the Labour/Alliance Government not to take any notice of the Withers’ referendum. They should just come clean and admit that they don’t intend to be tough on violent offenders.

“Referenda are an important part of our democracy. They are a safety valve outside of the three-year electoral cycle.

“Ms Clark simply isn’t interested in the views of people who don’t agree with her.

“Ms Clark may as well just tell Norm Withers that the hard work he put in to get his referendum on tougher sentences was a waste of time. The people who gather enough signatures to have a referendum are ordinary New Zealanders who feel passionately about an issue. They put the work in because they want to improve the system for others.

“National believes that New Zealanders should have a referendum on MMP as of right. Is this yet another attempt by the Government to wriggle out this right?

“Does this mean that Michael Cullen’s suggested referendum on superannuation is now out the window?

“The fact that this Government refuses to act on the referenda held at the last election is no reason to eliminate referenda from our system.

“Ms Clark and Mr Anderton are on dangerous ground dismissing the views of New Zealanders as irrelevant,” Mr Ryall said.


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