By Eric Crampton 15/11/2018


Kiwis so-inclined can petition their Parliament for legislative change. But they cannot petition Parliament to maintain the status quo.

Victoria University’s Chris Eichbaum wants the government to ban private fireworks displays.

I kinda like fireworks, so I submitted a petition asking the government to maintain the current rules. I started from Chris’s petition, added the word ‘not’ in a couple spots, listed some of the ways that fireworks are awesome, and submitted it.

A few days later, I got a very apologetic phone call from the Clerk’s Office saying that it’s only possible to petition Parliament to change a law, not to leave a law as it is. He was exceptionally helpful, listing all the things people could do if government did move to legislate in response to the petition – I already know them, but some folks don’t, so that was nice.

And then I got the official email rejecting the petition.

High numbers in support of a petition signal something about the strength of support for the petition, but tell you nothing about the strength of opposition. I suppose it’s nice that those opposing petitions don’t need to rally the troops to counter-petition every darn thing, but when a government cites the number of letters from school-kids in support of a policy as reason for doing things…