That ridiculous referendum

Well, look what turned up in my letterbox yesterday…

smack_ec

I was at a loss to understand how such a poorly worded referendum question could be approved. There are three obvious flaws in this referendum question:

  • It is a leading question, in that it predisposes the reader to a particular response. People find it diffficult to associate “good” with “criminal”, so the wording itself encourages people to respond “No”.
  • It is a misleading question. It implies that giving a child a smack is likely to result in a parent becoming a criminal. The evidence is that it is not.
  • It is an ambiguous question. The term “smack” is not defined in law, so the question will mean different things to different people.

So I took a look at the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act, under which this referendum has been proposed.

The Act provides that “The Clerk of the House of Representatives shall determine the wording of the precise question to be put to voters in the proposed indicative referendum”. But it gives the Clerk no guidance as to how the referendum question should be worded, and it seems that in this instance the wording proposed by Larry Baldock has been blindly accepted. Hence, it seems, a question that is deliberately designed to elicit a particular response can slip through the system.

It really is appallingly drafted legislation that can allow $9 million to be spent on a referendum question as biased and confusing as this one is.

As for how to vote, and despite the wording of this ridiculous referendum question, I’ll be taking my lead from the people at The Yes Vote:

  • A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to retain a law that is working well.
  • A ‘yes’ vote is a vote to protect children from assault.
  • A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for positive parenting.
  • A ‘yes’ vote is supported by Barnardos, Plunket, Save the Children, Unicef and many other respected child-focussed organisations.

Update: I see Danyl is taking the piss on the referendum as only Danyl can over at The Dim Post.

$15 an hour – sign the petition

Yesterday the Unite Union launched a petition for a Citizens Initiated Referendum on immediately increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and eventually increasing it to 66% of the average wage.

Now I’m normally no great fan of Citizens Initiated Referenda – largely because it seems too easy to get leading or misleading questions, like that in Larry Baldock’s silly smacking one, approved.

But Unite’s one to increase the minimum wage is worth supporting. An adult in a full time job should have a reasonable standard of living without getting into debt or relying on charity or income support. $15 an hour – $600 a week – is a good start.

Unlike superannuation or benefits the minimum wage is not automatically increased each year. By making it 66% of the average wage (the same as the married rate for superannuation) it will keep the lowest paid New Zealand workers out of poverty.

If you want to help gather signatures for the petition you can download petition forms here.

Meanwhile, Melissa Lee seems to have made a fool of herself (yet again) at the Unite Union’s candidate forum. Lee quipped “I think I am currently on $2 an hour”.

Actually, she is on $131,000 a year, plus expenses. I doubt workers on the current minimum wage of $26,000 a year (if they work 40 hours a week) would have been very impressed.