The government has taken the least expensive option for the referendum on the partial float of a few state owned assets.
The citizens initiated referendum on the Mixed Ownership Model will be held as a postal vote in November and December this year after a petition regarding the Mixed Ownership Model was signed by 10 per cent of eligible voters.
The referendum will ask whether New Zealanders support the Government’s sale of up to 49 per cent of Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.
Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Government is required to hold the referendum by September 2014, which will be overseen by the Electoral Commission.
“We want to hold this referendum as soon as practicably possible and completing it before the traditional holiday period begins will help us get maximum voter participation,” Ms Collins says.
The voting period will open on Friday, 22 November and will close three weeks later on Friday, 13 December.
The referendum roll will close on Friday, 25 October, but voters will be able to enrol on the supplementary roll up until Thursday, 21 November.
The Electoral Commission has estimated the cost of the postal referendum at $9 million – including $2.85 million for public information and advertising.
The Commission is expected to deliver a preliminary result after voting closes and a final result will be delivered as soon as possible thereafter.
The result of the referendum is not binding on the Government.
This politicians’ initiated referendum is a very expensive publicity exercise for the opposition.
Grey Power, which initially fronted the petition, lost any credibility on the issue when it signed up to discounts for its members with a private company.
Meanwhile, the share offer for up to 49% of Meridian energy began this morning with strong demand.
The Prime Minister says there has already been “strong” early demand for Meridian Energy shares by retail investors, ahead of the offer opening today.
Close to half of the Meridian Energy share offer has been pre-committed to New Zealand retail investors after Kiwi sharebrokers were invited last week to submit bids for shares on behalf of interested clients. . .
The partial float will be done and dusted with the money banked before the referendum begins.