NZ governments have a proud history of ignoring referenda results

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the marijuana referendum will be non-binding

Labour is teeing up a referendum on legalising pot, as promised to the Greens as part of their confidence and supply agreement.

The referendum date is unknown, bar that it will be some time in 2019 or 2020.

But Justice Minister Andrew Little and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have both said it will be non-binding.

That's a key point.

Governments of both stripes have mostly ignored the results of non-binding referenda, be it on fire service cutbacks, smacking, the number of MPs or asset sales.

So, before advocates on either side of the cannabis debate get too excited, they should consider the stats below (the flag referendum, which was binding, has been left out).

Referenda results 

1995
"Should the number of professional firefighters employed fulltime in the New Zealand Fire Service be reduced below the number employed on January 1, 1995?"
Yes: 79,475 (12.18%)
No: 572,919 (87.82%)

1999
Should the size of the House of Representatives be reduced from 120 members to 99 members?" 
Yes: 1,678,054 (81.5%)
No: 381,984 (18.5%)

1999
"Should there be a reform of our justice system placing greater emphasis on the needs of victims, providing restitution and compensation for them and imposing minimum sentences and hard labour for all serious violent offences?"
Yes:  1,886,705 (91.8%)
No: 169,699 (8.2%)

2009
"Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"
Yes:  201,541 (11.98%)
No: 1,470,755 (87.40%)
 
The last election also saw a legislatively required government-initiated referendum:
2011
"Should New Zealand keep the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system?"
Keep: 1,267,955  (57.77%)
Change: 926,819  (42.23%)
 
2013
"Do you support the government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power,
Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?"

Yes: 442,985 (32.4%)
No: 920,188 (67.3%)
Informal Votes 4,167 (0.3%)

 

 

Source: electionresults.org.nz; balance to 100% is invalid or informal votes.


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7 Comments & Questions

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It's beginning to look like we boo booed on the 2011 one, judging by the way things have turned out after the last election. If another referendum was held tomorrow I for one would vote to go back to FPP.

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I actually quite like MMP, but it does need reform in order to put the power in the hands of voters (who MPs supposedly represent) and out of the party leaders.

Rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and returning to FPTP, I would scrap the party lists and, instead, implement an "alternative MP" system. So if a party needs 5 seats to ensure proportionality then, instead of choosing the top 5 off a list, the MPs are chosen in order of the "highest losers". They then become the "alternative MP for XXX seat" and can represent at least a good proportion of their electorate.

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It is arguable, just as the different course of historical development of Britain, and that it was an Island, mean that the brexit vote was justified. The votes and arguments for Britain to exit Europe were far more intelligent than the referenda votes in New Zealand which are the votes of people who are lost cause, haven't got a clue and indicate the evolutionary process has failed and that supposed educational and market reforms here have not produced a more intelligent, flexible and adaptable population capable of modern forms of work or participation in a modern pleasure leisure society. They are votes demand the recreation of an economy of a simple society of manual work and tight social order and want revenge on the intelligent and anyone who has opted out.
The votes actually indicate that most of the population and electorate ( while only a minority of the population participated in these votes- I believe they indicate the views of at least 50% based on polling) are actually not intelligent enough to participate in either the legal or electoral process or to the sort of jobs most of them are now in which are well beyond their capability. I first became interested in journalism in the early 1980s because of my concern with featherbedded employment in the railways and defence forces of people without the mind, skills or height to do the jobs and work with modern technology efficiently..

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The problem with referendums is that they have to be quite binary. So 2013's referendum on asset sales I had to vote "no" as I didn't support limiting the sale at 49%; I thought that they should sell 100%.

Similarly I voted to support MMP; but feel that it does need significant change to make sure that the power to elect your MP sits with the electorate and not party leaders.

On the smacking referendum I voted "no"; but it really does depend on the definition of good - and, importantly, who defines it.

Referendums are good for democracy; but, given the binary nature of what are often confusing questions, you can't read too much into the results.

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Surely this is a lot cause. its true STV and Tory ignorance got the NK Hard ex Brit Bank Clerk Celia whatever elected to wreck Wellington and impose the stazi police state but its difficult to see the Cannabis Skunk option being a favourite of you average luvie. i mean they failed to get the party pills K2 option for rapid mental destruction in long enough to do the required damage in the Provinces . Most nations favour the Heroin/ Opiod option to rapidly dispose of the proletariat and peasantry. Ultimately they will do the job and provide the required entertainment by staging World war Three here- with Russia ( possibly China) seizing the North Island while the USA will probably stage an invasion of the South island if the dairy farmers dont sabotage it, by in their total stupidy beleiving the chinese are their friends. Right like Judith Collins. right.

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"But Justice Minister Andrew Little and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have both said it will be non-binding".
They've said no such thing - the article linked to in support of this claim only quotes Jacinda saying it's early days. If the author Chris Keall has quotations to back up this claim they should be included in the article.

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If these things are non binding, then save the millions and don't have them. Oh I was forgetting myself this is NZ land of the long white waste all the money.

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