the referendum process
In order to vote NO in the upcoming Referendum on the anti-smacking law, you must be enrolled to vote.
You can also check or update your enrolment status online.
The referendum will not be binding, which means that even if most people vote no, the Government doesn't have to listen to us. However, it will still send a powerful message to our representatives in Parliament that the people of New Zealand are not happy with this new law.
The full procedure for having the question approved is a lengthy and detailed one. It is outlined in the Ministry of Justice pamphlet ďCitizen Initiated ReferendaĒ, which says...
Question and Petition Form Approval
The (Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives) advertises the proposed question in the Gazette and major daily newspapers. The public then has at least 28 days to make written comments to the Clerk on the wording of the proposed question.
The Clerk will determine the wording of the question to be asked in the petition by:
- considering your written proposal
- considering the publicís comments
- considering any other relevant matters
- consulting you and other people
The Clerk has three months to determine the wording of the question. The wording of the question needs to:
- show clearly the referendumís purpose and effect
- ensure that only one of two answers can be given to the question (for example, yes or no).
Once the wording is determined, the Clerk also approves the petition form to be used to collect signatures. Supplying these approved petition forms is your responsibility. The Clerk will then advertise in the Gazette and major daily newspapers:
- that you are the promoter of the petition
- that you are approved to use the determined wording of the referendum question and the approved petition form.
- the determined wording of the referendum question.
You may now promote the petition and collect signatures, which can only be on the approved petition form.
As you can see, the whole process of getting a question approved is long and detailed. It involves public notification over a month which is where the groups like Plunket, Barnados, Families Commission and EPOCH could have objected to the wording Ė but didnít!)
The bottom line is Ė the people who donít like the wording donít like the answer they come to! They realise that they donít actually agree with the law as it stands Ė ironic really! They just canít bring themselves to admit it.
Click here for the online brochure explaining the referendum process.
How many people signed?
The Clerk of Parliament confirmed on 22 August 2008 that 310,000 signatures had been presented. Significantly, this was 25,000 more signatures than was required, demonstrating what an important issue this is to New Zealand families.
This is the fourth petition under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act (1993) to succeed in bringing about a referendum. Many petitions fail to gather the required number of signatures.
Weren't there two petitions?
The petition on smacking was promoted alongside another petition started by Larry Baldock, calling for the Government to address the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child-abuse. However this petition gained more than 270,000 signatures, falling just short of triggering a referendum on this question.