No Right Turn says there is no time for referendum, and he's wrong
Note: see update at bottom of this post
Helen Clark has said it is unlikely that the smacking petition will have its referendum at the election, whereas No Right Turn says it is impossible. He's wrong. John Key says it is:
about democracy, the right of people to be heard and it's the absolute height of arrogance that the prime minister is going to use a technicality within the law to circumvent people's rights to express their views on the issue.
Hes right. Larry Baldock says there is plenty of time to organise a referendum at the election.
Here's how the process works. The clerk of the House has up to two months to certify the petition, have the speaker present it to the house. Then the Governor General has to set a date within a month. So the latest a date can be set, assuming the petition is valid, is 23 September. The earliest is the day it is certified, which could be next month. So by September 23 the Governor General would want to know the election date.
Then if it the referendum is to be held on Election Day the Governor General must issue a writ up to 60 days in advance. That writ must state the last date for return of that writ, being any day up to the the final day of the 60 day period. [And on this point, No Right Turn , where I got some of this information form, is incorrect when he states that "if the referendum is to be held on election day, that must be done 60 days in advance".]
The process can take five months; but it doesn't have to. The last date the election can be held is November 15, although I recon it will be earlier. So if the election date is announced by 23 September (just under eight weeks before the final available election date), there will be plenty of time to organise an election day referendum.
But the Government can be petty and delay the election announcement til after September 23, while announcing a referendum date for next year on September 23 with the excuse that we don't know the election date so we can't therefore announce an election day referendum.[Clarification: But read this .]
If there's enough time to organise an election, there's enough time to organise a referendum. To set and maintain a date after the election would be the kind of petty politics that No Right Turn apparently approves of - and that approval surprises me, given his views on democracy.
UPDATE: I see No Right Turn has done a correction in line with the above. I have also linked a clarification. NRT maintains the process takes four months. That's not the issue. The issue is the announcement of an election date. If the election date is announced on or before September 23, the referendum date can be announced for exactly the same date. Helen Clark can announce an election date today if she wants to - she can certainly signify that a referendum is to be held at the election once the petition is declared valid, so authorities have more time to prepare.