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Test of Democracy In Parliament Today

MEDIA RELEASE
27 August 2008

Test of Democracy In Parliament Today

Family First NZ says that there will be a test in Parliament today of whether NZ is a democracy that represents the voice of NZ’ers.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland is seeking the leave of the House for a debate on a motion that the House recommends to the Government that that anti-smacking referendum be held at the same time as the General Election. (Under section 22AA (5) of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993, a Referendum can be scheduled for polling day if the “House of Representatives passes a resolution requiring the indicative referendum to be held on the polling day for the general election.”A postal vote can also close on Election day.)

“That is an ordinary 50% majority vote in the House,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “We are therefore calling on all politicians to acknowledge the voice of 310,000 signatories to the petition and require that the Referendum be held at the most obvious and effective time of the upcoming election.”

In a recent online poll by TVNZ, 81% of the 4624 voters said that the referendum should be held at the same time as the election.

“The excuses presented in the Cabinet briefing paper simply don’t stack up,” says Mr McCoskrie. “The paper acknowledges that better organisation such as separate ballot boxes and colour coding would solve many of the problems experienced in 1999.”

“It is also an insult to voters to suggest that voters would be confused by an extra question in the ballot box. Voters have been able to grasp the far more difficult MMP voting process,”

Family First NZ is also disappointed that the Deputy Prime Minister Dr Michael Cullen yesterday refused to allow acknowledgement of the huge effort put in by organisers of the two petitions on this issue which obtained more than 600,000 signatures. (The second petition fell just short of the required numbers).

“Democracy is defined as being where the people have a voice through their elected representatives. Today will be a test of whether we do live in a democracy,”says Mr McCoskrie.

ENDS

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