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Successful petition triggers a citizens initiated referendum

Successful petition triggers a citizens initiated referendum

A citizens initiated referendum about the sale of some State assets can proceed, as the petition calling for the referendum has now been certified as correct and meeting the threshold required by the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. This is the fifth petition under the Act to proceed to a referendum.

The petition of Roy Reid asks that an indicative referendum be held on the following question: Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?

It is expected that the Speaker will present the petition to the House of Representatives on 3 September. The Government will have a month to decide on a date for holding the referendum or to specify that it is to be a postal referendum. The date of the referendum must itself be within 12 months of the petition’s presentation to the House, unless 75 percent of members of the House agree to postpone it for up to a further year.

For a petition to result in a citizens initiated referendum, it must be signed by at least 10 percent of those eligible to vote at the date the petition is delivered. The Electoral Commission advised that 308,753 valid signatures were required for this petition to meet the threshold required by the Act.

The Clerk of the House of Representatives had the signatures counted, after which a sample of them was taken using a methodology provided by the Government Statistician. The sample was checked by the Electoral Commission to identify how many signatories were eligible voters. The Government Statistician analysed those results, and is confident that the petition has succeeded in meeting the threshold. It is estimated that 327,224 eligible voters have signed the petition, about 18,500 more than required.

Citizens initiated referendums are not binding on the Government. Whatever the result of a referendum, it is up to the Government to decide what action to take.


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