29 Jul 2019

Parliamentary Bill enables cannabis referendum process

6:55 pm on 29 July 2019

A bill enabling a referendum on whether to legalise cannabis to be held with the 2020 General Election has been introduced to Parliament today.

A cannabis worker displays fresh cannabis flower buds that have been trimmed for market in Gardena, California.

The Bill includes rules around referendum advertising. Photo: AP

The government committed to holding the referendum as part of its confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the Referendums Framework Bill focused on the mechanical aspects of holding a referendum with next year's election.

"The voting process is a vital feature of our democracy. By ensuring the same rules apply, as far as practicable, to both the general election and any referendum in 2020, the Government is working to safeguard this important process," Mr Little said.

The Bill also includes rules around referendum advertising, which are similar to those used to regulate election advertising.

The question on the ballot paper will be decided by Order in Council.

"Advertising will be a key influencer in the public debate, providing information for voters.

"Therefore, it is important that these rules provide a balance between freedom of expression and transparency, so that voters know who is behind any advertising campaign", Mr Little said.

There is also a possibility of a referendum on ACT leader David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill also being held in 2020.

"The government has therefore developed the Referendums Framework Bill so it can be used for any such referendum.

"This provides greater clarity for the public and the Electoral Commission in 2020, by ensuring that the same framework and rules will apply" Mr Little said.

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