Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Referendum dangers highlighted by Royal Commission

Minister: Dangers of referendum highlighted by Royal Commission

Calls for a referendum to be held on the Civil Union Bill appears to be exactly the situation a Royal Commission warned against, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope.

Mr Benson-Pope says the use of referenda was considered in 1986 in the Report of the Royal Commission on the Electoral System – Towards a Better Democracy.

The Royal Commission concluded that referenda, whether binding or not, should not be more frequently used in New Zealand to provide a more direct public input into the general legislative and executive processes of Government.

The Commission noted a major concern that the use of referenda "can pose very real threats to minority rights and interests”.

Mr Benson-Pope says this was because referenda could be used for the expression of intolerance and employed by those seeking to manipulate public prejudices.

"The Civil Union Bill is human rights legislation and civil unions are about ending discrimination. The idea that the majority of society could decide the human rights of other people though a referendum is clearly not appropriate."

Mr Benson-Pope noted that the Civil Union Bill and its companion the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill flow from the requirements for the Government to comply with the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993. Neither of these Acts were the subject of referenda.

The last Government referendum, held in 1997 on superannuation, cost approximately $9.5 million.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Australia’s Election

Australia’s new PM Anthony Albanese faces an obvious dilemma, barely before he gets his feet under the desk. Australia is the world’s leading exporter of coal. Will the new Labor government prioritise the jobs for Queensland/NSW workers in its mining-dependent communities - or will Labor start to get serious about climate change, and risk the inevitable political backlash from making a major shift into renewables..?


Government: New Zealand To Stay At Orange For Now
With New Zealand expecting to see Omicron cases rise during the winter, the Orange setting remains appropriate for managing this stage of the outbreak, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today... More>>

Australian Election: Prime Minister Congratulates Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated Anthony Albanese and the Australian Labor Party on winning the Australian Federal election, and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison... More>>

Government: Helps Supermarket Shoppers Get A Fair Deal
Urgent Budget night legislation to stop major supermarkets blocking competitors from accessing land for new stores has been introduced today, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Dr David Clark said... More>>

Government: Independent Panel Appointed To Review Electoral Law
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi today announced appointments to the independent panel that will lead a review of New Zealand’s electoral law. “This panel, appointed by an independent panel of experts... More>>

Trade: Prime Minister To Visit United States
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is leading a trade mission to the United States this week as part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19... More>>

National: Jacqui Dean To Retire From Parliament In 2023

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean has announced that she will not be seeking re-election at the 2023 election. “I have advised the President and Leader of the National Party that I have decided not to put my name forward... More>>




InfoPages News Channels