Government advisors have recommended that changes be made to its Referendum Framework Bill after the Legislative Design and Advisory Committee (LDAC) criticised it as being against free and fair elections.
The LDAC raised concerns that the Executive would have the power to frame the questions to be put in front of voters at election time without any Parliamentary input.
How a question is framed makes all the difference and if the Government Executive can write whatever they like without input from Parliament then they can frame questions sympathetic to their desire to decriminalise and then legalise cannabis. They can ensure in other words that the questions are imbalanced and designed to result in a positive outcome for their Cannabis agenda.
The Committee were strong in their criticism saying that in its current form the Referendum Framework Bill will bring into question the neutrality and impartiality of free and fair elections and that it contains ‘Henry the Eighth’ type powers.
The Law Society has also rung alarm bells stating that it compromises public engagement and representative democracy.
“The Government should heed this critical advice, withdraw the Bill and introduce a new Bill that sets out detailed wording and process specifically for the cannabis referendum.”Press Release: National Party
The LDAC’s concerns can be found here.