What is a Binding Citizens’ Initiated Referendum?

It’s when an individual or group feel so strongly about an issue, that they get enough signatures from New Zealanders to force the government to put the issue to a General vote. The result of which must be implemented by the government.

What sort of Issues?

Usually, it would be when parliament passes a law that the general population disagree with. Eg Sale of state assets, Anti-smacking law. Ideally Binding Citizens’ Initiated Referenda would take the place of the so called “Conscience votes” in parliament.

How often would they take place and how much would they cost?

The idea is that if the government knew that the population could overturn their decision, then they wouldn’t pass laws people didn’t want. If however a referendum was required, it would ideally take place with a general or local body election so costs would be a minimum.

Referendum are binding now , aren’t they?

No. The only binding referenda was the flag referendum which the Prime Minister called without getting public support. All Citizens Initiated Referenda so far have been non-binding and successive governments have ignored them all, even with over 80% support!!

Is it really that big a deal?

We think so. New Zealand is meant to be a democracy, however it is more like an elected dictatorship as once a government is elected it can (and does) do anything it wants. It is definitely not a representative democracy and since we only get to vote on one day in every three years, is 1 in 1095 really a democracy?

Full details on the policy can be seen on our Democracy policy.