Colin Craig hints binding referenda a bottom line for coalition with National
"Maybe referenda could become binding if supported by more than say 75% of the electorate ... I'm concerned that the wording of a moot could unfairly determine the outcome"Featured comment
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig has indicated his party will make binding referendums one of its bottom-lines if it enters coalition negotiations with National after the 2014 election.
Asked on TV3's Firstline, "Are there some absolutes you would go to National with and say ‘We’re not coming on board unless you give us this?’”, Mr Craig replied “One of the things we’ve always been very clear about is when you’ve got a strong result in a referendum, we don’t think in a democracy the government should just be able to throw it out. That’s something I do think needs changing.”
There have been four questions put to the popular ballot since the Citizens' Initiated Referenda Act (1993) was passed. All four have seen a decisive result, and all four have been ignored by successive National and Labour governments.
The next referendum, on asset sales, will take place via a postal vote November 22 to December 13 - although the government has already indicated it considers it has a mandate for partial floats, given its policy was on the table at the last election.
This morning, Mr Craig used the smacking referendum as an example of the will of the people being ignored. 87.4% voted against a parent hitting a child "as part of good parental correction" being made a criminal offence, but National reached a deal with Labour that saw the legislation passed.
The Conservative Party leader also said New Zealanders were "tired" of Treaty negotiations and settlements, and wanted the process wrapped up - a stance that puts him in conflict with one of National's current governing partners, The Maori Party. However, Mr Craig stopped short of making it a bottom-line policy in coalition negotiations.
Mr Craig indicated he would take a pragmatic stance overall, saying "It’s not a get what you want scenario, it’s a work with someone else scenario.”
A new 3News Poll shows National on 46.3%, which would deliver the party 60 seats - not enough to govern.
The poll has The Conservatives, on 2.7%, enough for four seats if Mr Craig wins the new seat set to be created in Auckland in the wake of the Census (the party got 2.65% of the vote at the 2011 election).
Some pundits have picked the seat will be created in fast-growing West Habour - which happens to also be an emerging power base for the Conservatives after Christine Rankin one a local board seat at the Auckland local body elections.
NBR political editor Rob Hosking says Mr Craig has several factors on his side, including his wealth, Auckland base, and relative youth.
"Against Mr Craig are a certain awkwardness and lack of mongrel and a general air of not quite believing what he is saying. His pitch seems to lack an emotional core: there is an air of calculation and a feeling he has spotted a potentially lucrative political niche rather than being driven by genuine conviction," writes Hosking - who goes on to explain why these drawbacks will play into National's hands.