The target of 310,000 signatures has been reached - or so we are told.
The coalition of interest groups and political parties seeking a citizens' initiated referendum on the National Government's plans to partially privatise the state-owned energy generators has yet to submit its petition to the Clerk of the House for checking.
Even if this final hurdle is cleared, the petitioners will still have to find their way around a much more daunting obstacle: the Government's mandate.
That the Government has a mandate to sell off 49 per cent of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian and Solid Energy is hotly contested by the four organisations petitioning for a referendum.
Grey Power, the Council of Trade Unions, Labour and the Greens all deny the legitimacy of the Government claiming a specific electoral mandate for its partial privatisation programme. According to the petitioners, the voters have, at best, given the Government a general mandate.
To claim a specific mandate, they say, it must first ask the electorate a specific question - hence the need for a referendum.
This argument would carry more weight if the National Party's main challenger in the 2011 general election, the Labour Party, hadn't specified National's privatisation plans as the best reason for voting it out of office.
"No asset sales" was Labour's most coherent slogan in 2011. That only 27.4 per cent of the voters were prepared to back its flagship policy with their ballots strongly suggests that privatisation was not the electoral game-changer Labour's focus groups had suggested.
It will come as no surprise to regular readers that we agree wholeheartedly with Chris Trotter on the issue of National's mandate for partial privatisation of four State-Owned Enterprises. A mandate was explicitly sought, and duly delivered.
Chris Trotter goes further however:
The Greens were much less willing than Labour to give the privatisation issue such critical electoral salience. They promised New Zealanders "a richer future", of which the retention of state assets was certainly an important, but not essential, feature.
How, then, can the Greens argue that National's claim to a specific electoral mandate is illegitimate when their own policy pitch was so general?
If National isn't entitled to claim a specific mandate for asset sales, then, by the same logic, the Greens cannot claim one against them.
The same applies to all the other political parties offering manifestoes in which, inter alia, the Government's plans to partially privatise the state's energy companies were opposed.
It's simply not fair to aggregate the Greens' 11.6 per cent, NZ First's 6.5 per cent, the Maori Party's 1.4 per cent, Mana's 1 per cent and the Conservative Party's 2.6 per cent of the party vote with Labour's 27.4 per cent, to claim a minimum anti-asset sales bloc of 50.5 per cent.
Opposition to asset sales was not deemed important enough to preclude a confidence and supply agreement between National and the Maori Party.
Nor would it have been had the Conservatives crossed the 5 per cent threshold.
National, of course, has no need to aggregate percentages for its partial privatisation programme as desperately as its opponents.
With 47.3 per cent of the party vote, the governing party came within an ace of securing an absolute majority of the votes cast.
It would have been an outstanding tally even under the old first-past-the-post electoral system, but coming within 2.8 per cent of an outright majority under our mixed-member-proportional system was close to miraculous.
Any political party racking up such a total is entitled to claim a very strong electoral mandate for all its policies.
National's claim to a specific mandate for its asset sales programme is, accordingly, very strong. The policy was announced nearly a year before the election and was subjected to the intense scrutiny of not only the parliamentary opposition, but also the news media and a broad cross-section of civil society.
The 2011 election was no 1980s or 1990s exercise in duplicity and fraud. The public understood that a vote for National was a vote to privatise 49 per cent of Solid Energy, Meridian, Genesis and Mighty River Power. Nearly half voted for the Government anyway.
If Prime Minister John Key's Government doesn't have a mandate to proceed with its privatisation policy, the word no longer has any political meaning.
New Zealand's representative system of government entrusts the administration of the nation to the political party, or parties, which alone or in combination command a majority in the House of Representatives.
National and its allies played by these rules and won. Their performance referendum is scheduled for 2014, and it's binding.
Trotter is absolutely right. The 2011 General Election was fought, won and lost on the issue of asset sales. National leads a coalition government, having received its highest-ever MMP party vote. In contrast, Labour's party vote was its worst since the first MMP election in 1996.
And Chris Trotter is not the only leftie who is honest enough to admit that John Key has a mandate for partial privatisation. Back in September last year, Matt McCarten made this startling admission:
As Labour had run on an anti-privatisation platform, Key could legitimately claim, after his poll victory, that he had a mandate to sell.
The partial privatisation programme was the defining issue between the Government and the Opposition.
There you have it. Two of the Left's heaviest hitters in the media accept that National has a mandate to proceed with the policies they set before the electorate in 2011. And neither McCarten nor Trotter are merely centre-Left; both are from the far reaches of the far Left, and vehemently opposed to anything a centre-Right government does.
Chris Trotter is honest enough and pragmatic enough to get it. A referendum on asset sales will be like pissing into the wind, and will achieve absolutely nothing. Re-litigating the 2011 General Election result is at best futile, and at worst undemocratic. John Key and his fellow MP's will stand or fall on their record when the country goes to the polls in late 2014, and not a moment before. All the posturing by Labour and the Greens has been just that; political posturing, accompanied by white noise, and the attitude of bad losers.