7 May 2013

Assets petition short of signatures for referendum

7:01 pm on 7 May 2013

A petition on asset sales has failed to gather enough signatures to force a referendum.

The Keep Our Assets coalition gathered 392,000 signatures to try to stop the sale of state-owned energy companies going ahead.

Before a citizens' initiated referendum can be held, the Clerk of the House must confirm that the petition has been signed by 10% of eligible electors. About 308,000 valid signatures are required.

The Clerk, Mary Harris, found that almost 100,000 signatures are not valid - some could not be found on the electoral roll and some were duplicates.

The coalition will need to find an extra 16,500 valid signatures in the next two months to force the referendum.

Prime Minister John Key says Labour and the Green parties have rorted the system by presenting a petition that has thousands of bogus signatures.

"That's been the modus operandi of Labour and the Greens the whole way through this process; that they haven't really cared about the rules. They've now presented a petition where one in four people on it either don't exist, or aren't registered to actually sign the petition.

"They should withdraw the petition now - give up, pack up their tent and admit that they actually tried to mislead the New Zealand public."

However, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says getting the extra signatures will be no problem.

"If you've ever been involved in a voluntary effort like this with thousands and thousands of volunteers inevitably, there are double-ups on the street, inevitably, people aren't on the electoral roll and all of that kind of stuff. 292,000 valid signatures - we only need another 16,500."

Keep Our Assets coalition spokesperson Roy Reid said it is happy there is only a small number of signatures left to collect, and on the second go the referendum will happen.