Binding Citizen's Initiated Referenda
"Everyday, good, hard-working, caring people, passionate about their cause/s, and concerned about the government's policies constructively
reducing their freedoms, and adversely affecting their lives, their families, friends, and New Zealander's generally, take precious time and effort to "fight the good fight"
- and routinely lose - not because they aren't right, or lack support, but because they are missing a vital piece of democracy - the requirement for Citizen Initiated Referenda to be BINDING on Govt!"
Nothing makes this so plain and obvious as when the people of NZ who after returning 80% or more in favour of making a change, or rejecting a policy, e.g. anti-smacking law - are ignored, and rejected by the politicians whom they are supposed to represent! Remember, "by the people, of the people, and for the people..?"
Why do they do it? (ignore our referendums) - because they CAN!
Why is this relevant to you? Well I'm assuming you are reading this post because you are interested and have concerns about things govt. brings into law that you feel aren't right and to the detriment of New Zealand generally, and because by changing the Citizen Initiated Referenda that we already have to Binding (BCIR) the govt. CAN'T to rule as an elected dictatorship under the guise of "representative democracy". Let's facethe fact that the govt is all about their party power, not people power!
They talk of democracy, but are "democracy deniers" in their actions.
In other words, you stand a much greater chance of winning your cause! As well as leaving a permanent truly democratic tool to champion future important causes, and remove bad law by repeal (via BCIR) already brought in for party political expediency!
OK - well, now for some good news, we have a "sleeping giant" and an opportunity at our disposal, and I am involved because it is my purpose to bring this solution to light, and gain as much support right across the board as possible, to make the introduction of BCIR a reality at the next election, once it's in, the power to bring, change or defeat laws, is yours - and the govt obeys the people who employ them!
The "sleeping giant" -
- Recently an obscure interest group based around home gardening, Ooooby (out of our own backyards) garnered 14,000 signatures in a very short amount of time in response to proposed Food Bill legislation that they felt was bad law, and they were dissapointed they didn't have more by that time - they were shooting for 50,000! The significance of this is that: That's a huge amount of power if directed in the right place - my electorate of Hamilton West was gained by National's Tim MacIndoe by a total of just over 16000 votes, to the loss of Labour's Martin Gallagher by just 14,500 votes - organisation of just a couple of thousand votes can make or break a politician's outcome. If Ooooby's signatures were upon a Binding CIR instead of an online petition, the govt couldn't ignore it, it would translate into law, and the outcomes would be profound in support of the people.
- I have chosen to use Ooooby as a recent example, but just think of the many interest groups up and down NZ in all sorts of areas, imagine if those votes were multiplied and translated via BCIR! The organisations like ClimateRealists are there, they have tireless, unsung hero volunteers, many hundreds or thousands of concerned members - with a vote, and then there's the people they influence... All you are missing is galvanising this power through direct democracy.
- What is required is a political party with BCIR as part of its "Constitution"; a non-negotiable policy to make it part of a coalition or for confidence & supply to either major party seeking power to govern. That party arrived just prior to the last election, and gained 5th place with 3.75% of the National vote within eight weeks from a "standing start", gaining more votes than ACT, Maori Party & United Future combined!
At the next election the gap between Labour/National will be far closer than last time - BOTH will need all the support they can from all the smaller parties, and particularly the minor parties with bigger shares of the votes, will be NECESSARY to gain power.
If the party that has BCIR as a non-negotiable policy, gains 10% or better, they can indeed become "King-maker" and use that power to bring (force) real democracy into law through making our existing Citizen Initiated Referendums - BINDING on Govt!
That would mean that the Govt couldn't stop you from raising a binding referendum on the ETS(for example). Getting the message out to support it remains your job, but when people KNOW their vote WILL COUNT in making/breaking a law - the "supposed" stupid, apathetic public will be lining up to sign...
You may say: " well that's all well and good Steve, but I'm a staunch, Green/Labour/Maori/National/ACT or whatever party supporter - and they don't support BCIR - what then?" Good question - I'd put it to you to set that aside for ONE election, and consider the wisdom of supporting the party who brings BCIR into law, because the reality is that once it's there - it can be used for your benefit, and all New Zealanders benefit thereafter, regardless of what party you support in the future.
I'd also put it to you as another "reality check" that continuing with the status quo works in favour of the politicians' party power, who are far more likely to continue to introduce bad law, like the ETS, due to International, Big Corporate, and other influences, along with appeasing the minor parties under the MMP political "game" - despite what you may think, and all the good work many New Zealanders do in opposition.
Which group would you trust to make a good decision - the wider public, each with a "one person, one vote" widely distributed power, or a small group of elite politicians with all the power, and subject to lobbying/influence...? I know which group I'd go with..
As soon as you start mentioning BCIR you will hear a "standard" series of "flawed" arguments against it, created I suggest by those with power, who don't want to share it. Here are some of them:
- The people can't be trusted to make the right decisions.(wrong)
- The people can be corrupted by by moneyed interests (as if politicians can't..!)
- Legislation is often too complex for the people to make an intelligent decision (we're just not smart enough to understand all this stuff)
- Referendums would be too expensive and time consuming (wrong)
- What we already have is a democracy and works well, so why change? (wrong, obviously)
- Every pet concern or project would go to referendum, causing massive overtime and unnecessary expense.(incorrect)
- People would vote in all kinds of crazy stuff. Iincorrect. Some may try but the majority overwhelmingly reject them based on actual evidence)
All of these can be easily exposed and defeated as "flawed" arguments. I would encourage you to visit www.betterdemocracy.co.nz to learn more.
Also this link to summarise BCIR objectives: http://www.betterdemocracy.co.nz/objectives.php
One more final "reality check": if ANY of the arguments against BCIR held any water at all - wouldn't the evidence (those countries practising it) demonstrably show bad outcomes?
Switzerland has been running BCIR very successfully for 140 years - here are some of the outcomes the "dumb" Swiss public realised...
- They enjoy some of the highest living standards/robust economy in the World.
- They chose NOT to join the EURO...
- They chose not to join the United Nations..
- They enjoy some of the World's most efficient local council services, delivering high standards of services - for comparitively much less cost!
- Rejected GE crops
The truth is it works very, very well, because it is an effective check & balance against unbridled power given to a few politicians, who would for other reasons commit us against our will to other agendas, and continue to legislate away our rights and freedoms.
Our opportunity exists, the time is now, will you help?
I look forward to assisting those of you who may choose to help us make BCIR a reality by working towards it in the next couple of years, and respect those of you who may choose otherwise.