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Friday, August 21

Referendum results unlikely to give clarity

Green Party MP Sue Bradford expects it will be difficult to draw conclusions from tonight’s physical discipline referendum because of the flawed questions it asks.

“From the number of ballots returned already, it is clear this is an issue that many New Zealanders care about passionately,” Ms Bradford said. “

I am not keen to make any predictions on the result, except to say that I believe the number of spoiled ballot papers returned may be comparatively high.

“Feedback I've received from the public over the last few weeks tells me a lot of people feel pretty angry at the confused nature of the referendum question and the waste of $9 million worth of taxpayers’ money this represents.

“For some, their response has been to write political – if not downright rude - remarks on their ballot papers. “I am also aware of many people who - like all nine Green MPs - are voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum.

“The ‘Yes’ vote is a vote for keeping the law as it is, providing children with the same legal protection from violence as adults. “Even a large ‘No’ vote tonight won’t be a clear mandate to Government to act in any particular way.

“The referendum question is so flawed with its mixed and ambiguous messaging that I am aware of even strong supporters of the s59 law change who have voted ‘no’. “I would have a much greater respect for the referendum result if it was based on a clearer question. “Whatever the outcome, the Government has said it will continue to support the law.

“I look forward to the full review of the new law which the Ministry of Social Development will carry out. Results will be available in 2010. “It is just a pity the referendum has taken place before the results of that review are known, rather than after.

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