Bill Will Make Referenda Cheaper, Faster And More Convenient

  • Tony Ryall

"The Referenda (Postal Voting) Bill, introduced into the House today, will make it easier for New Zealanders to have their say. It will also save time and taxpayers' money," Justice Minister, Tony Ryall, has said.

"The new bill will allow governments, by Orders in Council, to choose to conduct government and citizens initiated indicative referenda by postal vote," said Mr Ryall.

"Under present law new legislation is needed each time a government wishes to hold a government initiated indicative referendum. In addition, citizens initiated indicative referenda can only be conducted by the ballot box.

"These restrictions have proved expensive and sometimes a wasteful use of resources. We can do things cheaper and better.

"For example, the Compulsory Retirement Savings Scheme postal vote referendum cost taxpayers $3.6 million and attracted a voter turn out of 80 percent.

"This compares with the ballot box referendum on the restructuring of the Fire Service which cost $8.7 million and attracted a voter turn out of just 27 percent.

"People will have three weeks to cast their votes in a postal referendum. District Court Judges and Justices of the Peace will be appointed to supervise the processing of the voting papers," said Mr Ryall.

Legally binding referenda will continue to require specific legislation to be passed before each referendum is held.