This post has been rather overtaken by other far funnier events since I drafted it. But dammit I did proper research and everything so read the damn thing, then go back to the far funnier posts at The Civilian, Dim Post, and Scoop.
So, following the glorious third reading of the marriage equality bill, Colin Craig had dire warnings for our Parliament:
“The day of reckoning on the redefinition of marriage is still to come,” says Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig.
“Last night was not a vote of the people of New Zealand. If it had been, the answer would have been no.”
And he has precedent to back him up:
“We have seen the public vote disregarded on law and order, on the number of MP’s and on the Anti-Smacking Bill. Parliament’s unwillingness to even put the marriage issue to the people sadly comes as no surprise.”
Let’s take a look at just how convincing his precedents are.
Laura Norder & 99 bottles of MPs on the wall
In 1999 we the people voted on two referenda which served to illustrate a lot of the problems with citizens’ initiated referenda.
In one of the few unambiguously-worded referenda put to the NZ people, 81.5% of voters supported reducing the number of MPs in Parliament to 99.
In one of the stupidest referenda put to the NZ people, designed primarily to give people like the Nonsensical Sentencing Trust material for unjustified panic-mongering press releases for the next decade and a half, 91.78% of people voted yes to:
“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?”
Restitution, focus on the victims, AND harsher sentencing and hard labour. That’s a clear-cut result if I ever saw one.
The referenda were held on election day and subsequently completely ignored by the incoming Labour/Alliance government. (NZ First MP Barbara Stewart did later put up a bill in 2006 on the number-of-MPs issue, which was shot down in Select Committee because it made no sense.)
Three years later, in 2002, the people’s vengeance was swift. Of the 120 MPs who had callously ignored the voice of the people:
- 57 retained their electorate seats
- 27 retained their list seats
- 4 MPs inherited seats from their party’s previous MP
- 5 MPs switched from list to electorate or vice versa
Quite interestingly (now I’ve slogged through all that), only four electorates actually changed party hands at all, and the government did not change (though some might argue that was proof of God’s wrath, or United Future getting the balance of power was God’s wrath, etc.)
And in today’s Parliament? 21 of those terrible evil wrath-of-God-to-descend-upon-them class-of-1999 MPs still hold the same seats. (3 were list MPs and gained seats).
As you can see, the carnage wreaked upon our Parliament as vengeance for the denied wishes of the electorate was massive and bloody.
Punching Larry Baldock in the face
In 2009 a truly dreadful referendum question was posed to the New Zealand public:
“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
… which is no way loaded.
This of course followed on from the passage of the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, meaning child abusers and other people who think hitting kids is neat-o could no longer get off scot-free for whipping teenagers with riding crops.
That Bill, introduced by Sue Bradford, was passed by the slimmest of slim margins: one hundred and thirteen to eight.
87.4% of voters (on 56% turnout, as it was a postal ballot) voted “No” on the referendum, which even John Key agreed was pretty meaningless.
Once again, Parliament ignored The Will Of The People. Result?
Of the MPs who voted in favour of not letting child abusers pretend their violence against minors was totes justified because they were being a brat:
- 48 electorate MPs were re-elected
- 27 list MPs returned on the list
Of the eight who voted against,
- Rodney Hide was re-elected in Epsom and dragged Heather Roy and a few more Actoids back in with him
- Everyone else fucked off
Gordon Copeland – who rage-quit from United Future over the issue – magically failed to gain any traction from it and was not re-elected to Parliament. His righteous, God-fearing Kiwi Party folded before the 2011 election.
But John Key, humble Member of Parliament for Helensville, may have suffered the greatest indignities, for through God’s loving wrath he was elevated to the office of Prime Minister and forced to appear on Letterman.
Now, there’s also the tiny trifling fact that the 2008 election was a bit of a smashing one , eliminating NZ First (temporarily), crushing United Future, resurrecting ACT, and seeing a bit of a swing towards National. So I guess the issue of smacking kids (and having fewer MPs and being tough on victim compensation or whatever) might not have been the number one thing on people’s minds.
Conclusion? Given Parliament’s callous disregard for the Will Of The People on stuff dating back to ’99, God has a heck of a lot of reckoning to get through before we need to worry about his marriage-equality-related vengeance. And even Colin Craig has already gotten bored enough with this particular travesty of democracy to get distracted by a satirical news site making fun of him.
So we’re probably going to be OK.
Via frogblog. Let’s make this Citizens’ Initiated Referendum happen, people! (Not the snappiest of catch-cries but it will do.)
Over this weekend 24-25 November, the Keep Our Assets coalition is mounting a major nationwide collection drive to reach the signature target needed to force a Citizens Initiated Referendum on the Government’s proposed state asset sales.
Great list of suggestions for alternative questions in our upcoming “child discipline” referendum over at The Dim Post. I’m a particular fan of:
Should a smack as part of good parental driving out of devils be considered a criminal offense in New Zealand?
And the commenter who extensively cited Lewis Carroll gets ALL the e-cookies.
So far the leaders of our two major political parties have variously indicated that they agree the question is stupid (but seem to have determinedly avoided pointing out that this is due to our CIR procedures being rubbish in this regard) and probably won’t vote.
Well, I’m going to vote. Because the people who put forward questions like this are not overly swayed by facts. If only 80,000 people actually fill in their ballots correctly and 75% are no-votes, which of those numbers are we going to hear about? The pathetic turnout or the “75% of people think section 59 should be put back into effect!” spin?
Voting yes, for me, isn’t just about supporting a law that is working or making a stand against all violence in New Zealand families. And it’s not just a way of saying “fuck off” to Bob McCoskrie and his ilk (though that’s a bonus). It’s a way of showing them hey, you do NOT speak for the majority of New Zealanders, you do NOT speak for “normal” or “mainstream” or “middle” New Zealand, your ideas are BAD and you should FEEL bad.