Democracy is precious and must be protected so future generations can enjoy the same rights and freedoms previous generations, at great cost, fought to protect.
Our elected representatives are under a clear obligation to speak for their constituents in Parliament, to represent the will of the people and make laws in the people’s best interest.
Today, we are seeing the ways in which New Zealand’s democracy has failed us. The Bill of Rights has been repeatedly trampled on, and laws are regularly passed under urgency without consultation. Extreme actions in decision-making that affects all our lives have been undertaken by a single leader without the participation of other elected representatives.
The dominance of today’s political parties continues to erode our democracy. Current politicians put the interests of their parties over those of their constituents so that when laws the public overwhelmingly opposes are passed, there is nothing they can do to redress the balance except wait three years and try to vote for better representation.
Funding from foreign sources has visibly corrupted decision-making within our government. This is made worse by the disproportionate influence of international organisations like the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), with whom successive governments have signed us up to treaties. These actions have not required Parliament to vote, but have simply been put in place and quietly introduced. The objectives and goals of the UN Agendas 21 and 2030 are particularly questionable.
Advance NZ proposes a fundamental reset of our democracy. We propose a significant overhaul whereby power is stripped from a handful of politicians and placed back where it belongs — in the hands of the people of New Zealand.
Our proposals to implement direct democracy will act as a brake on the dominance of politicians, and ensure the views of the people take precedence.
We will ensure the fundamental and founding documents that are at the heart of our democracy are given the weight they deserve. Never again will a Prime Minister be able to single-handedly issue dictates that destroy the rights and freedoms of the people.
We will also undertake a complete overhaul of our nation’s exposure to foreign interference. This will rid the political system of foreign funding sources, enable us to review all international agreements to determine if they are in our best interests, and to implement a flexible foreign strategy that protects the land and people of New Zealand.
Policy in brief
- Establish a Royal Commission to recommend an entrenched written Constitution and Bill of Rights, subject to voter approval, that protects the people’s rights and freedoms, and includes our nation’s founding documents.
- Hold a new referendum on the MMP electoral system at the 2023 Election.
- Remove the foreign funding loophole by banning all corporate donations, and only allow for donations from people who are eligible to vote.
- Ensure greater funding transparency with all donations over $500 disclosed.
- Examine all agreements with overseas entities and discard those that do not serve New Zealand.
- Implement Direct Democracy, which will reform the Citizen’s Initiated Referendum Act and introduce new legislation to make referendums binding.
- Implement a Direct Democracy Parliament that cannot override the will of the people.
Advance NZ’s plan
Strengthen our Rights and freedoms
- Protect our Bill of Rights to enshrine the basic freedoms that the people of New Zealand expect.
- Protect freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom from unwanted medical procedures, and freedom of choice when it comes to the health choices we make for ourselves and our families.
- Establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to monitor proposals and progress as New Zealand moves to adopt an entrenched written constitution.
- The members of the Royal Commission shall be distinguished New Zealanders from all walks of life, representing Maori, the cultural sectors, age and economic sectors, environmental interests, academia, and the business community.
- The Royal Commission will hold intensive consultation with the people of New Zealand, and build upon our founding documents — including Te Tiriti and the Declaration of Independence/Bill of Rights — to produce a new Constitution tailored to the present and future of our beautiful country.
- Any proposed constitution would be adopted or rejected by the vote of the people of New Zealand
- Suspend the China Free Trade Agreement pending a full investigation into China’s foreign interference activities in our democracy.
- Appoint a panel of security and foreign policy experts to prepare a Foreign Interference Resilience Strategy for all foreign interactions of the New Zealand Government (including local government).
- Conduct a full review of every United Nations agreement signed by past governments.
- Withdraw from any agreement where New Zealand’s sovereignty or democracy has been given away in a manner that is not in the best interests of the people of New Zealand.
- Realign our foreign policy towards our more traditional trading partners.
Electoral Law Reforms
- Hold a fresh referendum on the MMP electoral system at the 2023 General Election.
- Legislate a “no vote, no donation” rule by removing the foreign funding loophole so corporate donations are banned, and only donations from natural persons eligible to vote are allowed.
- Require all donations over $500 to be disclosed publicly on an annual basis, and require all donations over $1,500 to be disclosed publicly within 20 working days.
- Legislate a ban on all political fundraising trusts.
Implementing Direct Democracy
We will implement Direct Democracy at all levels of government to ensure lawmaking is in the best interests of the people, and is done with their consent.
Direct Democracy results in the government passing fewer laws that lack widespread support. Political parties have to work more closely to gain agreement on laws that are able to be passed unchallenged. Parliament will then more closely represent the will of the people.
An MP or a citizen may initiate a referendum on an act currently being debated — by asking for a threshold number of votes (50,000) from the people. If there are enough votes, the referendum will be triggered. There is a time limit of 100 days from the passing of a bill for this process to be completed.
A citizens’ initiative may bring a new matter to a referendum if the required public support can be found. This enables the people of New Zealand to require parliament to address pressing issues they would otherwise ignore.
As Direct Democracy becomes part of our culture, the understanding of government processes and the factors that shape our country will become part of our culture, empowering all the people. We will:
- Reform the Citizens Initiated Referendum (CIR) law to make all CIR binding where two-thirds of valid votes in a CIR support a proposed policy change.
- Require Parliament to enact legislation to implement a successful CIR within 12 months of the result being declared.
- Enact a Veto Referendum mechanism whereby citizens can, within 100 days, initiate a referendum to veto any Act of Parliament that has been passed.
- Set the required number of signatures to initiate a CIR to five percent of eligible voters, and a VR at 50,000 eligible voters.
- Bring these tools to the regional and local levels, giving the people the ability to initiate referendums on local topics.
- Make use of Parliamentary Initiated Referendums more frequently in instances where Parliament puts contentious law changes to a referendum before the law comes into force.
- Enact a Recall Referendum mechanism whereby the seats of electorate MPs and local government elected officials can be declared vacant by voters where 5 percent of eligible voters petition for a recall that a majority supports.
- Establish a process to enable petition signatures for a CIR to be collected online as well as in paper form.