The Referendums Framework Bill had its third reading in Parliament on 3 December 2019. The bill was introduced on 29 July 2019 by Minister for Justice Andrew Little.
The bill provides a single set of legislative provisions to govern the conduct of referendums held alongside the 2020 General Election. A referendum may be conducted under this bill only if it is declared by an Order in Council (Part 2 – clause 8) to be a referendum for the purposes of the bill or declared by an Act to be a referendum for the purposes of the bill.
The bill is time-limited, and is repealed on the close of 1 July 2022 (clause 3) and therefore applies only to referendums held on polling day of the 2020 General Election (clause 9). It would come into force the day after receiving the Royal assent.
Clause 10 would ensure the provisions of the Electoral act 1993 and any modifications under that Act 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 (clause 12, clause 13).
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 from the date that the provision of the enactment declaring a referendum to be a referendum for the purposes of the bill until the close of the day before polling day (clause 52).
The Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.