This is a huge blow to the credibility of Labour and the Greens. Already one left-leaning Twitter user we follow is making piss-up/brewery references. The early estimate from the Office of the Clerk is that there are 100,747 bogus signatures, duplicates, or signatures unable to be verified on the electoral roll.
So much for Labour and the Greens' claim that they had nearly 400,000 signatures. More than a quarter of them have proved to be false.
Labour and the Greens now have two months to collect the necessary numbers. But the horse has bolted, and Mighty River Power shares will be listed on Friday, even after Labour and the Greens's last-ditch attempt to undermine the value of the shares.
The piss-up/brewery analogy is a good one, but we'd lean on a more recent one. We wonder if Gareth Hughes will need to call out during an interview "Hey Clint; are we pleased about coming up 16,000 signatures short?".
UPDATE: Here is the media release from the Office of the Clerk:
CIR Petition of Roy Reid
CIR Petition of Roy ReidPetition of Roy Reid under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 asking if an indicative referendum should 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?”
The Clerk of the House of Representatives Mary Harris has today certified that this petition has lapsed because she cannot be satisfied that the threshold required by the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993 has been met. The Clerk has been assisted in reaching this conclusion by advice from the Government Statistician.
Before a citizens initiated referendum can be held, the Act requires the Clerk to be satisfied that the petition has been signed by 10% of eligible electors as at the date the petition was delivered to her. The petition was delivered on 12 March 2013.
Advice received from the Electoral Commission indicated that 308,753 valid signatures were required for the petition to meet the threshold required by the Act.
Upon receiving the petition the Office of the Clerk undertook a counting and sampling process. Once the signatures had been counted, a sample of signatures was taken using a methodology provided by the Government Statistician. The sample was then checked by the Electoral Commission to identify how many signatories were eligible electors as at 12 March. Some signatories could not be found on the electoral roll, either because they were not enrolled or because the identifying information they supplied was insufficient or illegible. Some duplicate signatures were also identified.
The results from checking the sample were then analysed by the Government Statistician, who is confident that the petition has not succeeded in meeting the threshold. It is short by approximately 16,500 valid signatures.
The Act provides that if the promoter wishes to resubmit the petition he has two months from today to collect additional signatures.