Labour and the Greens are trying mightily to get the signatures they need to force a referedum on partial asset sales. But as Pete George asks at Your NZ, who's actually doing the initiating? He blogs:
The Green Party are promoting a petition for an asset sales referendum. They – and other groups in the Keep Our Assets coalition including the Labour Party – are using the Citizen Initiated Referenda process to continue campaigning they began during the last election.
It’s easy to make an assumption as per Wikipedia “The Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 allows for citizens to propose a referendum“, that a CIR is a means of citizens petitioning MPs in parliament. So why are political parties (and MPs) so heavily involved in this petition?
Of course MPs are citizens too – but they have their own ways of influencing parliament, they are Members of Parliament.
Greens and Labour had said that they were only a part of a citizen based coalition, but they seem to be more open about their involvement now.
The latest Green Party newsletter says:
Over the winter months, the Green Party and our coalition partners have collected over 240,000 signatures on the Keep Our Assets petition.We. We. We. That shows clearly it’s a significant Green Party campaign.
That’s an outstanding victory in itself, but we now need to finish the job off.
Today we launched The Spring Collection, our month long push to get the last remaining signatures to force a referendum to stop the asset sales.
We need your help one last time.
And David Shearer’s weekly newsletter is along similar lines:
Your MPs will be out working in our regions and local communities next week, with Parliament taking a break from sitting. It’s a chance for us to make another big push to get the signatures we need for the asset sales petition.Us. We.
Both parties have taken clear ownership of the petition. It seems like a case of political parties hijacking a means for citizens to influence parliament.
It is an established fact that the Greens have spent public money on what is essentially a political stunt. And they were at it again yesterday, with a re-launch, in cahoots with Labour.
It must be worrying for both Labour and the Greens that only 240,000 people have signed their petition after months of publicity. After all, check out the party vote figures in the diagram below from last year's General Election:
Less people have signed the PPIR petition than voted for the Greens in November. Add in Labour's party vote (614,937), plus those of NZ First, the Maori Party and the Mana Party, all of whom voted against the empowering legislation, and the petition strike-rate is around 25%.
And they'll need at least a 10% tolerance over and above the 310,000. We have heard plenty of reports of teenagers as young as 13 signing the petition, of duplicate signatures, and of those (not including ourselves, we might add) with a mischievious streak signing with all manner of false names. The petition will need a thorough audit before it is accepted.
So let's drop the pretence of this being anything other than party political propaganda. Patently, this is an opportunist attempt by Labour and the Greens in particular to hi-jack the CIR process. Pete George calls it as it is; Citizen Initiated Referendum my asset.