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Have your say . . . Hot issues and voting are on the agenda this year, including the 2019 local government elections in September. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

There will be plenty of topics up for debate and chances to vote this year.

Abortion law reform, legalisation of cannabis and the right to euthanasia will all be hot topics in 2019 – and another round of local government elections will be held.

While the Government announced in December that there would be a public vote on legalising cannabis for personal use, the official binding referendum will not be held until the 2020 general election.

However, there will plenty of opportunity for South Canterbury residents to vote this year, when another round of local body elections are held.

Local body election documents will be sent out between September 20 and 25, so people can post their votes back to the electoral officers as soon as they have voted.

Residents across South Canterbury will be able to vote for the seven members on the South Canterbury District Health Board, as well as two South Canterbury representatives on Environment Canterbury.

The 2019 election will be the first chance Canterbury residents have to vote for the full council since the regional council was sacked in 2010 by the then-National Government and replaced with commissioners.

the Timaru District will be able to vote for their mayoral preference on the Timaru District Council, while those in the Timaru Ward will elect six councillors, people living in Geraldine will vote in one Geraldine Ward member for the council and residents in the Pleasant Point-Temuka Ward will also vote in two councillors to represent their area.

The six members on the Geraldine Community Board will also be voted in, as will five members on the Pleasant Point and Temuka community boards.

Elections will also be held for the seats on the Fairlie, Tekapo and Twizel community boards.

Residents in the Mackenzie will vote for representation on the Mackenzie District Council, while Waimate residents will do the same for the Waimate District Council.

Voting will close at noon on October 12.

The End of Life Choice Bill is also another issue up for debate this year.

More than 35,000 submissions were received by the Justice select committee over the euthanasia Bill by late last year.

The committee is expected to report back to Parliament by March 27 and a second reading of the Bill will occur in April.

The Government has also been looking at potential changes to the country’s abortion laws.

The Law Commission, at the request of Justice Minister Andrew Little, provided three options in October last year about changing New Zealand’s abortion laws, to move abortion out of the Crimes Act to be treated as a health issue.

The first option would remove all specific regulation of abortion so it would be treated like other health services, which are governed by general health laws and professional guidance.

The other two models would require an appropriately qualified health practitioner to be satisfied the abortion is appropriate, either in all cases (option 2) or only for abortions performed after 22 weeks gestation (option 3).