Another Referendum – Another Rushed Agenda

It was hardly amusing to hear a media house recently report on Prime Minister Christie’s confirmation that he plans to hold a Constitutional referendum in November – less than two months from now. The news report said “but this time, it won’t be rushed…”. Won’t be rushed?

This is already the middle of September. Parliament doesn’t re-convene until October. In order for a Constitutional referendum to be put to the public for a vote, the question(s) must be presented to Parliament and must pass both the House and Senate by at least a 2/3 majority vote. So no matter when the referendum is ultimately put to the people, it would only be at the most a few weeks’ space of time between the House and Senate vote and whenever the public’s vote is called in November.

Trying to educate an entire nation on changes to the nation’s Supreme Law in only a couple of weeks – without the ballot questions even being known yet – and this process (being handled just like the January opinion poll on numbers) “won’t be rushed”?

The Constitution is not a comic strip or candy crush – nothing about changing our Supreme Law should ever be subject to levity or a couple weeks’ rush.

Plus, there are other more urgent Bills for national education that the government is already late in tabling, the most important of which being its Bill on Value Added Tax – which it said it would table before the House’s summer recess but failed to do so.

It must also table a repeal of the Electricity Act, in order to facilitate its planned privatization of BEC which the Prime Minister says he plans to wrap up by year’s end. This is already mid-September. October-November-December = year’s end. Not a word has been said yet about the specific legislation planned to enable this abrupt change to BEC.

It does not serve our nation well to rush amendments to our Supreme Law. Proper consultation and thorough education takes time. The government rushed the public to the polls just nine months ago for what it called a “referendum” on gaming – and we see how that turned out.

This schizoid approach to governance is further fomenting the atmosphere of confusion, frustration and angst that is teeming in our country. Rushing the public to the polls on such a serious matter of Constitutional amendments amidst this kind of atmosphere is not in the nation’s best interests.

Sharon Turner