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Planning underway for postal referendum

Planning underway for postal referendum

Justice Minister Annette King has confirmed that planning has begun to hold a postal referendum related to Section 59 of the Crimes Amendment Act.

The office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives confirmed today that a petition on the question --- "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?" --- had been signed by sufficient registered electors to proceed to a referendum.

Ms King says that the decision on numbers had certainly "not been unexpected, and the electoral system has been gearing up to handle this. The advice to me has been that it should be a postal referendum, and my latest advice is that it will take until about mid next year to organise such a referendum properly. I will be taking a paper to Cabinet for a decision soon now that it has been confirmed that the petition has been successful in attracting enough signatures."

Ms King said she was, of course, aware that the National Party supports holding a referendum simultaneously with the general election.

"No one should be surprised by National's double position --- it voted, with Labour, in support of the so-called anti-smacking amendment, but it wants a referendum on it as well. The last thing National wants is voter clarity.

"A poll this week showed that most voters, including many National voters, do not believe National can be trusted heading into the election. The more New Zealanders are confused, the better it will be for National. As far as National is concerned, confusion is good."

Ms King says the Chief Electoral Officer had provided very clear advice to her recommending a postal ballot be held.

"The referenda held at the same time as the 1999 General Election caused confusion, congestion in polling places, and significantly delayed the preliminary results, and the Chief Electoral Officer has advised me the same problems would occur this year if the referendum was held at the same time as the General Election," she said.

"The Justice and Electoral Select Committee Report into the 1999 General Election also recommended that serious consideration be given to holding stand alone referenda by postal vote, instead of holding referenda at general elections. In addition, the Referenda (Postal Voting) Act was passed to provide a simple and cost-effective means of conducting referenda. The National Party also voted for this, but it seems they have forgotten they did so.

"None of this matters to National. It is more than happy to use children as

pawns in its political game. The less attention there is on National's

policies, record and trustworthiness, the better as far as John Key is



  • Briefing note to the Minister dated 17 March 2008.

  • ENDS

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