Andrew Dickens: Will Kiwis be informed enough for 2020's referenda?

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Thu, 14 Nov 2019, 4:00PM
The public will be voting on two pieces of legislation next year. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Dickens: Will Kiwis be informed enough for 2020's referenda?

Author
Andrew Dickens,
Publish Date
Thu, 14 Nov 2019, 4:00PM

I’m worried that too many New Zealanders will not be informed enough for the raft of referendums coming our way next year

I was listening to Kerre McIvor’s talkback today on the End Of Life Choice Bill. One caller phoned and asked if doctors will be forced to euthanize their patients if they request it or not.  Kerre then read out the relevant part of the legislation that says a health practitioner can opt out of the application process at any time.

Now this was good informative radio from Kerre but you have to worry a little. This legislation has been through three readings in the house and extensive debate in the media and yet very basic aspects of the process are still widely unknown.

It made me wonder what sort of education programme we will have on what we’re voting for, because the devil is always in the details. 

You may broadly agree with the idea of patient led assisted dying but you might not agree with the number of people on the panels that assess the application, or the type of patients who are eligible to enter in the process, or a host of other factors.

Regarding the cannabis referendum, you may believe that limited personal use should be legal but you don’t want pot shops on the high street

So to make a proper informed decision on the referendums next election day, we will need thorough education as to what we’re voting for or against.

Does this mean the government will be distributing hard copies of the proposed legislation to every registered voter in the land?

They may have to because the euthanasia and cannabis referendums are so charged and emotional that we will be subjected to a storm of misinformation and dirty tactics by all sides to try and swing the undecided and the uninformed their way.

So while it’s good that we’re actually voting for something that has been fleshed out and debated – I mean look at Brexit where many voters had no idea of the full implications – it’s also going to be a rugged 12 months.

My only recommendation is to get the legislation. It’s all free on line. Read it, make your own mind up, don’t let anyone tell you how to vote and don’t vote with your heart. Vote with your head and your heart.

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