The politics of 2020 - what to expect

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

It is set to be a big year of politics in New Zealand, with an election and two referendums leaving major decisions up to the public. 

Simon Bridges and Jacinda Ardern.

The election is likely to be announced soon, probably to be held in September or October. 

Along with selecting their preferred party and electoral candidate, voters will have the added task of deciding on legalising cannabis and euthanasia or remaining with the status quo. 

The two referendums:

Cannabis legalisation

Voters will be asked: "Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?" and they will have to give a yes or no answer.

draft copy of the bill  has been released outlining how the proposed new law could work.

If it were to pass, the purchase age and the legal age of use would be 20. People would be able to grow a small amount themselves - two plants per person with a maximum of four plants per household.

Licensed premises would be allowed to sell cannabis, but it could only be consumed on site or in a private residence. Consumption in public places would be prohibited, and online or remote sales of cannabis would not be allowed.

There would be a ban on advertising of cannabis products, although limited marketing will be allowed.

Euthanasia legalisation 

Euthanasia legislation passed its third reading in Parliament last November - meaning a referendum on the End of Life Choice Bill would be held at this year's election. 

If the public votes 'yes' to legalise euthanasia, the End of Life Choice Act would come into force 12 months after the official results are released. If it is voted down by the public, the bill will be repealed.

If passed, a person would be eligible for euthanasia if they suffer from a terminal illness and are likely to die within six months, if they are in an advanced state of irreversible physical decline and are also experiencing unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved. They also need to be competent to make an informed decision.  

A person would not be eligible for euthanasia if the only reason given is old age, having a disability or having a mental illness or disorder.

Other political events

Abortion law reform

Abortion law reform passed its first reading in Parliament in August, with 94 in favour and 23 against. It is currently sitting in the Select Committee stage before it will move to its second reading. The Select Committee report is due February 14, 2020. 

Budget 2020

The yearly budget held in May outlines the major funding decisions by the Government. In election-year budgets, the term 'lolly scramble' is often batted around, in terms of large spending decisions, or tax cuts, as a way to entice voters. 

Royal Commission of Inquiry into March 15 Christchurch terrorist attack 

After 51 people died in the attack, the Prime Minister launched the Royal Commission of Inquiry , set to begin on April 30, 2020.

A Royal Commission is reserved for the most serious issues of public importance

Inquiry into Operation Burnham

The inquiry is set to report back to the Attorney-General by March 31, 2020.

A possible free trade deal with Britain 

Britain is set to leave the EU on January 31, with FTAs of great importance for the UK once the split is complete. 

UK Trade Secretary Liz Truss met with New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker in September and said: "New Zealand is a huge priority in terms of the UK delivering our new free trade agenda."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern  publicly cemented New Zealand's desire for a trade agreement  with Britain earlier in 2019, no matter the outcome of Brexit.