Question Time today opened with Don Brash asking Michael Cullen (as Acting Prime Minister)
When will the Appropriation (Parliamentary Expenditure Validation) Bill passed by the House last week come into force?
Cullen's answer was "tomorrow". Given that the commencement clause of the bill states that it will come into force "on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent", this suggests that it has already been signed into law, or will be so very shortly. As anyone with any knowledge of New Zealand's constitution (as opposed to the 40,000-odd supporters of monarchical fiction) knew it would be.
Blair Mulholland, the petititon's organiser, is now turning to an indicitive referendum under the Citizen's Initiated Referenda Act 1993. Unfortunately, his proposed question illustrates all the problems with that act and the style of referenda we have pursued so far in this country. Rather than asking the electorate whether they approve of motherhood and apple pie (or rather, hate politicians, which amounts to the same thing), he'd be better off drafting some legislation and presenting a question along the lines of "that the [attached bill] be enacted by Parliament". That would at least strip them of one excuse - vagueness - for not doing so.
A referendum petititon needs the valid signatures of 10% of registered electors - about 250,000 people - in order to force a poll. That's a big ask, and certainly far more difficult than getting 40,000 people to click a link on the internet.
Meanwhile the irony of seeing ACT people who supported the Douglas blitzkrieg suddenly turning to referenda as a vital check on government power is inescapable.
Update (25/10/06): I've since been reliably informed that the Assent has now been granted. The bill had apparently already been conveyed to Government House when Culen spoke. So, it's law. That for your monarchical veto!