Public 'more competent than MPs' to vote on abortion - Winston Peters

Winston Peters is adamant there is no animosity between himself and fellow MP Tracey Martin. 

The New Zealand First leader appeared to surprise Martin by insisting on a referendum for abortion law reform. 

Martin has been working on legislation to take abortion out of the Crimes Act for eight months with Justice Minister Andrew Little. "At no time" did her party's caucus tell her they wanted a referendum on the controversial issue, she said on Thursday.

But on Tuesday, her colleague Darroch Ball requested NZ First put forward a supplementary paper to insert a referendum clause into the legislation.

"He received majority support - this is how democracy works," Martin said. 

Peters afterwards said his party's founding principle is using referendum on such issues.

"The fact is we're always going to go to the final caucus to make up our mind. So why is everybody getting hysterical when we've made up our mind and said we'd like the public to decide this because they're more competent than these Members of Parliament?"

The Bill passed its first reading on Thursday night 94-23.



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