The Referendums Framework Bill which has been introduced to Parliament by Justice Minister Andrew Little provides a single set of legislative provisions to govern the conduct of referendums held alongside the 2020 General Election.
Mr Little says the bill provides the necessary legislative framework to govern the conduct of a referendum on legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis which the Government has committed to holding at the General Election.
The bill is time-limited, with clause 3 stating it is repealed on the close of 1 July 2022, and therefore applies only to referendums held on the same day as the 2020 General Election. It would come into force the day after receiving the Royal assent.
A referendum may be conducted under the bill if it is declared by an Order in Council or an Act to be a referendum for the purposes of the bill. Clause 10 would ensure the changes proposed in the Electoral Amendment Bill apply to any qualifying referendum.
Subpart 2 of the bill sets out the provisions for conduct of the referendum relating to officials, polling places and who may vote.
The explanatory note to the bill says it reproduces the same legislative framework for the conduct of referendums as will apply to the conduct of the General Election.
Part 3 of the bill also replicates the regulatory regime that applies to third-party promoters in respect of election advertisements, to apply to any promoters of referendum advertisements.
Promoter statements will be required on all referendum advertisements following promulgation of an Order in Council or enactment of legislation declaring a referendum to be a referendum for the purposes of the bill.