Someone wanted to sign the petition the other day and I had problems explaining the wording:
Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?
I agreed with them that the wording asks the person who supports keeping assets to cast a negative vote against the question and that this is counter-intuitive. This person was not going to sign until they understood - and I don't blame them for seeking clarification - after all the logo says "keep our assets" but the question is termed as supporting the sale. This wording is far from ideal and I'm surprised it was put this way. Perhaps there was an element of cynicism that a right winger supporting privatisation would also vote 'No' because they want more than 49% sold? For whatever reason, and despite the exemplary brevity, the text is lacking.
If you want people to support something you would be better off asking them to vote positively in favour of the proposition rather than against it. There must be reasons for the wording (like the difficulty of adequately representing the status of the already partially privatised and publicly listed Air NZ on the same basis as the wholly-owned state companies), but it looks like a basic error to have gone negative.
I suggest the following wording may improve the question:
Do you support the Government keeping full ownership of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and retaining all the Government held shareholding in Air New Zealand?
That's certainly more positive and a bit clearer than confusing people by mentioning percentages and defining the question purely in terms of National's specific programme (which people may not know and do not need to know to exercise an opinion).
And as for whingeing from the right about the use of parliamentary service funding for the referendum: considering some of the campaign rorts that are acceptable under the parliamentary service rules the advocacy for a democratic measure like a petition for a referendum does not appear inconsistent with that sort of funding.
Keep Our Assets Facebook page.