The government’s announcement this week that the referendum on legalising cannabis will involve a simple yes or no answer on a draft bill raised questions about whether the result really will be binding.
Justice Minister Andrew Little says it is binding, because all the parties in the coalition have agreed to pass the legislation if the answer is “yes”.
A headline in the Dominion Post said “Cannabis poll won’t be binding” and made the point that a government made up of different parties could refuse to pass it or change it.
Mr Little’s stance depends on the government being re-elected, which may be a very safe bet but isn’t a certainty.
He says National should make the same commitment, so that should the government change the referendum result will be honoured.
National won’t commit itself to anything before it sees the draft bill, which is a fair position to take. If it wants to keep its options open it might not commit to passing it after it has seen the proposed legislation, or say it will only pass it with significant amendments.