The New Zealand Electoral Commission says the finalisation of results for the nation’s parliamentary elections on Saturday will allow it to focus on counting results for three referendum questions put to voters.
In addition to voting for their local members of parliament, Kiwis were asked at the weekend to vote “yes” or “no” on three public policy questions.
Voters were asked whether they approved or disapproved of a voluntary euthanasia law passed earlier this year by the NZ Parliament. If the result of the referendum is positive, the law will be enacted and New Zealanders will have access to a legislated system of voluntary assisted dying for terminally ill individuals.
A second referendum question sought voters’ views on the legalisation of cannabis, with advocates predicting the proposal to decriminalise recreational use of the drug would be approved.
A third referendum question asked voters if they believed NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s faeces were odourless.
The opposition National Party has attacked the third referendum as being “costly and unnecessary”.
A spokesperson for the Nationals said the referendum was “just an excuse for the Labour Party to use public funds to build the PM’s image”.
“We question the need for the third referendum question and the waste of taxpayers’ money in a so-called voter education campaign, especially the provision to all voters of government-endorsed photographic material (main picture).”
An NZ Electoral Commission spokesperson agreed it was unusual for a government to put such a question to voters.
“Sure, it could be construed as being a bit odd,” the spokesperson said. “But as a public servant it is not my role to question the government’s motives.”