Law reform: Kiwi-style III – a meta-referendum?

In a previous post, I documented the Kiwi kerfuffle over the smacking of children, the fallout from a 2007 law change. I noted that there had recently been a referendum put to the electorate on the issue, with a clear majority of those who responded indicating a level of dissatisfaction with the law. However, the government has seemingly decided to rule out further changes to the law. It has instead announced a review to ensure the law is working properly, with the focus being on ensuring the police exercise their discretion properly – that is, go after those who abuse children, while overlooking smacking by good parents.

Not surprisingly, one of the main advocates of the smacking referendum is unimpressed with the outcome. The people have spoken; the government appears to be ignoring (or largely ignoring) what they have said. The next step? Another referendum asking the folowing qustion: ‘Should Citizens Initiated Referendum seeking to repeal or amend a law be binding?’

In other words, a referendum about referenda; more specifically (assuming it goes ahead), a non-binding referendum on whether referenda should be binding. Brilliant. I would suggest, in order to keep with the spirit of the loaded wording of the original smacking referendum, that the wording be: ‘Should a Citizens Initiated Referendum seeking to change the law as part of good democratic governance be binding?’

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