24 Nov 2009

Key not rushing to meet referendum protesters

6:09 am on 24 November 2009

Prime Minister John Key has stopped short of saying he will meet with the organisers of the weekend protest march on the child discipline referendum.

The march, which drew about 1,000 people, was originally planned as a response to the Government's lack of action on the August referendum, in which 87% of those who voted said they did not support the current child discipline law.

But the scope of the march was broadened to demand action on the 1999 referendums on law and order and reducing the number of MPs, and the organisers subsequently contacted Mr Key asking for a meeting at which they would make the case for referendums to be binding.

Mr Key says it is unlikely he could see them before Wednesday when he leaves for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting.

He says he will not meet with them at all if all they want to do is try to change his mind on the law.

Government respect sought by organiser

March organiser Colin Craig says the vast majority of people who voted in the referendum have been ignored and he is going to Parliament this week to find out why.

He says he wants the Government to listen to the outcome of referendums and recognise that an 80% vote should be binding.

"I want to see the Government of New Zealand listen to large votes from the people," he says. "I think that any government that respects the people will see 80% is binding, whether it's law or not."

Mr Craig, who spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars organising Saturday's march, says that though the turnout fell short of what was expected, it was still worth it. He is promising more protest action.

Members of lobby groups Family First and the Sensible Sentencing Trust took part in the march.