Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The Attorney-General has just tabled a report in parliament declaring Keith Locke's Head of State Referenda Bill to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act.

I have not seen the report itself yet, but I have been told that the problem is with s32 of the bill, which requires that

The referendum roll used for the second referendum must be the same as that used for the first referendum, without any updating or modification.
This is clearly inconsistent with the right to vote affirmed in the BORA, and I'm surprised Locke put it in. At the same time, its also easily fixable - just delete the clause. And if the bill makes it to select committee, I'd expect them to do just that.

Update: The report is up here [PDF]. I was wrong - it doesn't focus on the right to vote (which, as I should have remembered, is narrowly focused on general elections), but instead on the right to be free of discrimination. By requiring that the rolls be identical, the bill discriminates against those who turn 18 between the two referenda on the basis of their age. Interestingly, the report highlights Article 25 of the ICCPR in stressing the disadvantage caused - which is odd given that the Attorney-General completely ignored it in the case of ECan.