Smacking Law Referendum Likely

January 27th, 2008 at 11:49 am by David Farrar

The SST reports that it looks likely that opponents of the anti-smacking law will gain the 300,000 signatures they need to trigger a Citizens Initiated Referendum.

They have to do it by 1 March 2008. Now just because on paper they have over 10% of the eligible voters, doesn’t mean they automatically succeed. A proportion of the signatures are always found to be invalid.

The Government will have a dilemma over the timing of any referendum. The Clerk of the House has two months, or until the end of April to determine the the petition has enough signatures. Then the Government sets a date within 12 months.

Now the most logical thing to do is include it with the general election, which will be only six months off.  But Labour may not want people voting on the anti-smacking law at the same time as they vote for a party. So they may try to hold the referendum earlier.

But this will cost significantly more money to have it as a separate election.  So Labour would be accused of wasting taxpayer money for its own electoral purposes.  The ballpark estimate is this increases the cost from around $1.5 million to $10 million.  Will the Govt has a convincing reasons for spending an extra $8.5 million rather than just have the referendum with the election?

No tag for this post.

92 Responses to “Smacking Law Referendum Likely”

  1. Yvette (2,823 comments) says:

    Didn’t all but about three Parliamentarians vote this bill through, so how does it particularly reflect badly on Labour to hold a referendum with the Election?

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  2. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Yvette – if you ran a poll on “who was to blame for the anti-smacking Bill, it would be a 50/50 split between Clark and Bradford IMHO – which is why neither Labour nor the Greens will want a referendum anywhere near the election. But, of course, it makes sense both financially and in terms of participation, for the two to be held in tandem.

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  3. Adam Smith (890 comments) says:

    Can someone explain why the Family First ads in the papers with no disclosure of authorisation and the clear inference of do not vote for Bradford and thus the Greens do not breach the EFA?

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  4. BeShakey (405 comments) says:

    Inventory – it’d be interesting to see a poll on this. It clearly hasn’t hurt National in a big way, but I would have thought there would be some socially conservative National voters who would feel fairly betrayed by them on this. Perhaps it’s the fact they don’t really have anywhere to go in terms of alternative parties.
    The other important question is what will the likely response be to a positive referendum result? Given the huge majority with which this passed they would risk looking pretty stupid if they then overturned it. One way of avoiding this would be if the required review came back with a negative assessment. Of course that doesn’t require a referendum.

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  5. dave (988 comments) says:

    What if Baldock and co want to deliver the petition to the clerk in July rather than in March? That will give the Clerk until September to vet the signatures and give Baldock time to get even more signatures. Then the Petition can be presented to the House in September to avoid a pre election referendum. The Governor General can then set the date for polling day .

    This date must be set within a month but has to be within 12 months. So it could legally be after the election. So if the Government would prefer to have it before the election rather than on polling day, Baldock can delay delivery of the petition but he runs the risk of a negative vetting or having it after the election rather than on polling day – by which time National would have changed the law

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  6. Frank. (607 comments) says:

    Why not include as well referendums”To Kill the Bill (i.e. That is of course is The EFA); A written constitution and a proposed republic.

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  7. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    Damned if they do and damned if they don’t. You have to love it! Oh what a tangle web they weave when Ls practice to deceive.

    Everyone spread the word lets get it up to 400K by March.

    Next on the agenda should be Life =Life from the SST hopefully.

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  8. radvad (767 comments) says:

    http://lindsaymitchell.blogspot.com/

    Well worth a read.

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  9. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    I think its great – it will make the election well worth voting in because its going to get really nasty from now on.

    Does anyone know if you can add to the petition over the net ??

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  10. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    Adam asked: “Can someone explain why the Family First ads in the papers with no disclosure of authorisation and the clear inference of do not vote for Bradford and thus the Greens do not breach the EFA?”

    Are you a Greens supporter? I see no inference not to vote for Bradford or the Greens. Me thinks you need to start thinging about the smacking issue and not about the EFA. They are quite separate.

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  11. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    thinking=thinging!

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  12. Ross Nixon (559 comments) says:

    You can’t sign the petition on the internet. It’s one of those print the PDF file and then sign it petitions.
    PDF here: http://www.unityforliberty.net.nz/documents/CirPetition.pdf
    Description here: http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/index.cfm/SIGN_THE_PETITIONS

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  13. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Adam Smith – I haven’t seen the Family First ads, however, it seems likely that they fall within the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act, rather than the Electoral Act or the Electoral Finance Act.

    Under section 41 of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act, advertisements relating to a Citizens Initiated Referendum (or a Citizens Initiated Referendum Petition) must carry the name of the person who authorised the advertisements and their home or business address.

    Dave – you have 12 months after your petition application is accepted and notified to get the required signatures (and if it is rejected because of ineligible signatures, etc. a further two months to get more). I would guess that the promoters of this petition were allowed to start collecting signatures in March last year, so need to be done by March this year.

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  14. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Thanks Ross –
    Printed and signed. Post tomorrow.

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  15. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    I’ve just has a quick look at the Family First ad – there is no mention of the Greens. There is, however, a good quote of Sue Bradford saying that the anti-smacking bill was “never intended” to solve the problem of child abuse. So why did Bradford and others go up and down the country referring to NZ’s horrendous record of child abuse, while promoting the bill? Sue Bradford is intellectually dishonest and untrustworthy. Time will tell how many voters support such traits.

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  16. dave (988 comments) says:

    That will give the Clerk until September to vet the signatures and give Baldock time to get even more signatures.[snip] (and if it is rejected because of ineligible signatures, etc. a further two months to get more).
    What i meant was that if the petition was rejected because of ineligible signatures, they`ll have some backup signatures to add in its place – isnt that allowed under the Act provided it is done in a subsequent two month period?

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  17. Murray M (455 comments) says:

    My gut feeling is that $8.5M is about to be pissed up against the wall, after all it’s not as if it’s their money they are spending. Then again, if this disgusting law is repealed it might just be worth it. Sue Bradford is a fucktard.

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  18. gee90 (90 comments) says:

    ” … by which time National would have changed the law.”

    If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

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  19. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Can someone explain to me whether the government is 100% obliged to hold a referendum?
    If not, won’t they just argue that people can ‘vote with their consciences’ during the election, and then regulate anti s59 commentary under the EFA during the campaign?

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  20. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Lee C. Yes they are. The Citizens Initiated Referenda Act sets out a process by which people can force the holding of referendums.

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  21. Adam Smith (890 comments) says:

    Graeme Edgeler Says

    Graeme thank you for your comment. My question was prompted as there is no authorisation that I can see in the ad in the Sunday Star Times, no is it promoting the referendum, it is an attack ad on the law and by the contextual juxtaposition on Sue Bradford.

    Ross, I am not a Green, but that does not mean I have to agree with religious fundamentalists and bigots such as many who support repeal of the Smacking law appear to be, nor with the Neanderthals who seem to comprise the bedrock support of the Sensible Sentencing Trust so-called. Just because legislation is flawed does not mean that these groups have a monopoly on the options for reform. Indeed, I think a number of their ‘reforms’ will make matters worse.

    Re the attack on Bradford, I think that is a fair inference given the prominence to the quote from her coupled with text of the balance of the ad.

    I hold no brief for Bradford, but she has been and continues to be an effective MP for her beliefs. There are very few National MPs with her abilities or effectiveness. If there are, they are invisible.

    Further, I think that much of this Sentencing Trust and Families First stuff can and will be used by Labour and the Greens to taint National by association. Indeed, I know many will not agree, but there are many economic conservatives who are socially liberal. We do not all subscribe to hang, shoot and flog’em.

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  22. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    “Ross, I am not a Green, but that does not mean I have to agree with religious fundamentalists and bigots such as many who support repeal of the Smacking law appear to be, nor with the Neanderthals who seem to comprise the bedrock support of the Sensible Sentencing Trust so-called. Just because legislation is flawed does not mean that these groups have a monopoly on the options for reform. Indeed, I think a number of their ‘reforms’ will make matters worse.”

    Thank you Adam for that inadvertant insight into the main thrusts of the pro-s59 campaign once the Referendum is announced: – it will simply be the EB/wacko fundamentalists under-the-bed argument we were exposed to ad-nauseum over the EFB all over again. It will raise the question, in the electorate’s minds – if I may tentatively phrase it thus:
    “For Chrissakes! Does the Government actually have any sane arguments to put forward in favour of its policies?”

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  23. Grant Michael McKenna (1,160 comments) says:

    I cannot see an exception in the Electoral Finance Act for actions undertaken in terms of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act. It may well be that Family First is in breech of the law, which if it is serves only to show how ill-defined the EFA is.

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  24. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    And I had to have a giggle at the headline on the Slumday Smear-Whine’s thundering editorial today: Beware extremists with loaded questions.
    [Read it @ http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaystartimes/4375565a22678.html )

    Indeed-y — and that very sentiment is a big part of the reason why my sub to the SST lapsed a very long time ago.

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  25. BeShakey (405 comments) says:

    “Why not include as well referendums”To Kill the Bill (i.e. That is of course is The EFA); A written constitution and a proposed republic.”

    There isn’t anything to stop you trying to collect signatures for that. However, you can’t add to the current one. One reason being the question is supposed to only be on one issue (so you would also have to have seperate ones for ‘Kill the Bill’, a constitution and (probably) a republic). Another reason being that those who signed the petition did it for the smacking referendum, it isn’t legitimate to then add something else and use the same signatures.

    “What i meant was that if the petition was rejected because of ineligible signatures, they`ll have some backup signatures to add in its place – isnt that allowed under the Act provided it is done in a subsequent two month period?”

    I don’t think they are likely to have ‘backup signatures’ in the sense of having some they don’t submit. It’s inevitable that some signatures will be ruled out, and if that pushes them back below the limit they can go and gather more (with a time limit extension)

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  26. bwakile (757 comments) says:

    Bradford only has the opportunity to be an ” effective MP for her beliefs” through the privilege of MMP.
    Let the Greens gain representation through an electorate seat and maybe ordinary “fundamentalist” NZers will cut her some slack. In the mean time bring on 4.9%.

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  27. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Adam “…there are many economic conservatives who are socially liberal.”

    I agree although you have to pick the issues that tag applies to. For example I think a lot of economic conservatives would deplore Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. OTOH, I think that same group might also regard the S.59 reform as PC psychobabble bullshit.

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  28. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Lee C.:

    Actually I wish both the most vocal, self-righteous and downright hysterical folks on sides of the argument would take a nice long drink of Fuckupachino. And that’s why I’d never sign the referendum petition — because I have exactly zero confidence that the media (including the righteous nannas of the SST) and activists (on both sides) would make a second round any less offensively stupid than the first.

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  29. Adam Smith (890 comments) says:

    Lee C

    My inadvertent insight was not inadvertent. I am concerned that a number of those who oppose the S59 law and other laws hold in a number of respects deeply unattractive views and are socially illiberal.

    The suggested remedies by some, eg the Sensible Sentencing Trust in some instances by their supporters make Attila the Hun seem positively benign.

    As I said just because one is against something does not mean one automatically agrees with everything others who are also against the same thing believe.

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  30. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    Grant – there was an exception to the definition of election advertisement for advertising related to Citizens Initiated Referendums in the Electoral Finance Bill; however it was removed when the third limb of the definition (“taking a position on a proposition associated with a political party”) was deleted.

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  31. Adam Smith (890 comments) says:

    bwaikle

    Whether you like it or not Bradford is an MP. There was a majority for MMP in the referendum which changed the system. Though I confess I find few who will now admit to voting for MMP, though many people back then welcomed the change, including many National voters. These, though may be the same voters who thought Winnie the Pooh would never be a problem or attract significant support.

    She stood for a party with a platform and she has not hidden her views. She has been a competent representative of her constituency in that respect. You obviously do not like the 5% rule, but it does mean that on aggregate some MPs enter Parliament on the list and represent views you personally disagree with. That is the price of democracy. She is the legitimate representative of those who voted Green in their party vote.

    BTW I did not say ordinary NZers were fundamentalists, you did. I said that many of those seeking repeal of the S59 law were. I read widely at the time the law was progressing through Parliament and listened to a number of public discussions. Many of those against were clearly from the Christian Right and saw their right to chastise their children as ‘god given’. To my mind they are fundamentalists.

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  32. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Adam Smith wrote:
    Whether you like it or not Bradford is an MP. There was a majority for MMP in the referendum which changed the system.

    And one might think that a civil society depends on citizens who respect the rule of law and the institutions its functioning depends — not just those you happen to approve of. A majoriatarian, parliamentary democracy throws up an endless profusion of outcomes I dislike very much indeed — including the presence of the Greens in Parliament, full stop. Democrazy’s a bitch, ay?

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  33. milo (525 comments) says:

    “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?” NO! “Should a smack as part of bad parental correction be a criminal offence? YES!

    The inclusion of good in the question makes it, like all Citizen’s Initiated Referendums, self-serving, pointless, and unintelligible.

    You might as well ask “Should innocent people be sent to jail?”

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  34. bwakile (757 comments) says:

    thanks Adam
    MMP has given the Greens the ability to punch above their weight.

    The meeting I attended to hear Bradford argue her case was full of ordinary NZers that all opposed her point of view. Bradford’s view was set in concrete and I would be happy to give her a fundamentalist label.

    Christian values have served us pretty well as a society.

    Given the choice of living in a Green utopia or a Christian utopia I would choose Christian every time.

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  35. Adam Smith (890 comments) says:

    Personally I would avoid either utopia, as undoubtedly it would reflect what one or a group would regard as their ideal. The prospect of either is horrendous carrying with it Orwellian visions of mind control.

    With all it’s imperfections I will take what we have, in preference to some mythical place.

    Incidentally Sir Thomas More who first coined the word, was a devout Catholic and there are some who think he was being satirical.

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  36. GNZ (228 comments) says:

    Craig,

    > take a nice long drink of Fuckupachino.

    more or less what I was thinking too.

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  37. R.nz (8 comments) says:

    One aspect of National’s support for s59, as I remember it, was an attempt to distance the party from moral conservatives it would rather not be associated with – particularly following the Exclusive Brethren saga and the perceptions that established, characterising a left-right polarisation.

    It’s as if this ‘Family First’ campaign seeks a return to that polarisation, whipping up resentment against a overly meddling and intrusive government, or rather, a meddling and intrusive left wing faction. And the SST editorial seems to take up that view:

    ” “If there is evidence that New Zealand parents are…then I will act to change the law,” he says. It’s a fair bet that Key will find heaps of such “evidence”.

    The SST subscribes to the polarisation – as if Key will only be satisfied “the new law was operating in the way National had expected” so long as it’s politically expedient. Just read the article’s title.

    I’m very much hoping that National doesn’t fall for this. Rise above it.

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  38. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    milo – I think the point (or at least one of the points) behind the wording and the inclusion of the phrase “good parental correction” is that the amendment of section 59 last year did make the use of a smack as part of good parental correction illegal.

    And they don’t think it should have been made illegal.

    And it seems you agree.

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  39. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    Labour could always set up “The Dept of children’s correction” and staff it full of x-union members and teachers. DB-P would be a starter I’m sure, he could get around the smacking laws by simply saying “nonsense” and bursting into tears.

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  40. Shakespeare (1 comment) says:

    I’m interested that when it comes to attacking the intrusive, meddling politicians, Labour and the Greens are more or less lumped together.

    Chris Trotter did this in his ‘pro-Goff’ column the other day, holding s59 as demonstrative of Helen Clark’s ‘madness':

    “Those whom the Gods seek to destroy they first make mad.” For what else was Helen Clark’s dogged defence of Sue Bradford’s “anti-smacking” legislation – if not sheer political madness?”

    She has failed, he asserts, to learn from the public response to moral issues of her second term – civil unions in particular.

    The Civil Union legislation was led by a Labour MP. s59 was led by a Green Party MP. While Labour should take some responsibility for its successful passage, should it have ownership of the section thrust upon? It wasn’t a Labour MP! Nonetheless, Labour is made to suffer. National supported the legislation too remember, even if only after compromise!

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  41. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    Labour don’t have to do a damn thing. It should be obvious by now that they will ignore law and convention to do as they please.

    300,000 signatures, 300million signatures, Helen will just brush them all aside with the comment that these people are “misguided”.

    Case closed.

    haha, who voted this woman in again? Not me. Have fun NZ.

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  42. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Liarbore and the melons are so concerned about the “abuse of children”, given the mindless violence from children that is inflicted on those older then themselves I wonder when it will dawn on these pratts that just maybe they have it all wrong.

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  43. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,070 comments) says:

    It’s a nasty dilemma for the National Party – if they decide to support the referendum then they get to wail on the government on the issue all through election year, on the other hand it does mean lining up with a bunch of wild-eyed zealots who are crusading for the right to beat up their kids.

    I’m picking the Nats will stay right out of this one – it can only lose them votes in the centre and the religious right will never vote for the Labour Party anyway. No politician in their right mind would campaign on this issue (enter Gordon Copeland . . .)

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  44. SK (37 comments) says:

    Milo, is the wording of the question in the petition that important? Doesn’t the Clerk of the House have the final say as to what the question is in the referendum?

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  45. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Danyl:

    Totally agree – don’t think this is a fight National needs to get into, though I’m sure Labour is going to try the whole smear by association tack however weak.

    I know I’ve had this argument time and time again with some of the more *cough* ideologically purist Kiwibloggers, but Key and National don’t do themselves, or the chances of a center-right National-lead government this time next year, any favours by opportunistically jumping on every bandwagon that comes along. And sorry for the reality check, but National is going to have to win a few votes from people whose default position isn’t that Hullun Klark and the Liarbore Dykeocracy are Satan’s bitches.

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  46. Richard Hurst (859 comments) says:

    Unfortunatly for the Nats, being the main opposition party means its very hard for them to abstain on some issues without appearing weak. For minor partys its easy to abstain from issues and be active on the ones that match their party agenda, they can pick and chose, National can’t. They have to appear as the govt in waiting so they have to have a positon on most things. However your right, the bible bashers will never vote for Labour anyway so if National do stick by their past vote for the section59 change, then its really not going to hurt them. I mean really- Copeland, Destiny…? Even the most anal christian would realise what a wasted vote that would be!

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  47. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    SK – the Clerk of the House does have the final say over the wording of the question. He (it was a he at the time) already has – the question is approved before people are asked whether they want the question to be a referendum.

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  48. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Thomas More used a term ‘Eutopia’ which equates to ‘no-place’ it was a popular device of Elizabethan and Tudor England when the world was being discovered and maps being drawn on scant information. It featured as an aspect ot The Tempest I think, realising the Tudors’ yearning for a place free from persecution for your beliefs. – ‘Utopia’ is a mistaken adoption of the original – it is a term which suggests a ‘good place’ ‘Dystopia’ suggests a bad place.
    1984 Brave New World etc were actually ‘Dystopias’ ie dysfunctional places. The term Utopia has been hijacked and misused as a satirical term, based on a misunderstanding of Moore’s original greek term (i think which people mistook for the latin) and the idea that words with ‘eu’ at the front equate to goodness or hapiness.; when ‘Dystopia’ would be a better description
    Now if you are asking me if NZ is a utopian or dystopian system, I think my needle would veer ever so slightly into the Dystopic end of the scale..

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  49. GerryandthePM (328 comments) says:

    Shakespeare, the s.59 Bill was introduced by a Green MP, Sue Bradford,but part way through Clark made it a Government Bill. Presumably support was given in a trade-off arrangement, but then Labour MPs had to be “whipped” to ensure its passage, hence the Goverment Bill status.

    John Key, at the time the Bill was passed, said a National Government would repeal the law if it was used to criminalise otherwise law-abiding parents. Consequently National has no need to be involved with the petition for a referendum, or the referendum itself.

    The Labour Cabinet Minister who smacked his child in a West Auckland supermarket was the first instance of the new law being used to warn parents of their obligations under this law, without prosecution.

    Referenda are non-binding in New Zealand, and this Government will dismiss any result it does not like, regardless of the clarity of the will of the people.

    As the two major parties have a demonstrated position on the matter, this appears to be a futile exercise (other than circumventing the provisions of the EFA).

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  50. Grant Michael McKenna (1,160 comments) says:

    At the evening meal it was suggested that the smacking referendum would be a smack-down for Labour. I offer this to any sub-editors who may be reading…

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  51. Rocket Boy (163 comments) says:

    I’m with Milo, the two questions that are proposed for the referedum are so loaded and nonsensical as to be redundant.

    Who wouldn’t answer ‘NO’ to: Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

    And ‘Yes’ to: Should the Government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in New Zealand?

    And the government would (correctly) argue that this is the situation right now. So what is the point of the referendum?? Dumb, dumb dumb.

    Why don’t they ask a real question like: ‘Should a parent have the right to use whatever force they deem to be necessary to discipline their children’ or ‘Do children deserve to have the same protection in law as adults’ then we might get a real debate.

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  52. francis (712 comments) says:

    unfortunately, rb, a smack as part of any parental effort at correction is a crime.

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  53. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    Rocket Boy you seem unaware that the debate has never been about “whatever force might be necessary” but rather it’s about whether a parent should have a right to use reasonable force.

    I haven’t BTW noticed a reduction in the child abuse stats since it was introduced. Have you?

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  54. Craig Ranapia (1,915 comments) says:

    Unfortunatly for the Nats, being the main opposition party means its very hard for them to abstain on some issues without appearing weak.

    I’d argue that your thesis is arse-backward — National and Labour don’t have to be all over everything. It’s the smaller parties that need ‘free media’ more — and in one sense, it doesn’t matter if you come across as a blithering idiot, as long as your name is in front of the public.

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  55. Rocket Boy (163 comments) says:

    Reid, what was the debate about? Section 59 was removed which had given parents a defence for the use of (excessive) force toward their children. Seemed like a sensible and commonsense measure that was blown out of all proportion by both sides of the ‘argument’.

    Have I noticed a reduction in child abuse stats? No, too early to say, but I have also not noticed our courts full of cases against parents who have smacked their children.

    And Francis the amendment that National had added to the bill, for their support, stopped a smack being a criminal defence.

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  56. 1984 (89 comments) says:

    RB you suggest ‘Do children deserve to have the same protection in law as adults’ .

    I suggest you have a few beers and then go throw a temper tantrum in your local twn centre. See what ‘reasonable force’ turns up to suppress the tantrum. Try laying an assault charge against them and get back to us.

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  57. Kimble (4,440 comments) says:

    “Section 59 was removed which had given parents a defence for the use of (excessive) force toward their children.”

    That isnt what it did at all. If you dont know what Section 59 was, then you are way out of your depth here.

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  58. francis (712 comments) says:

    kimble’s right, rb

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  59. francis (712 comments) says:

    and for a look at national’s amendment, which you also have wrong, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7iT3yejKe8 the actual language of the amendment is shown before John’s statement to the press.

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  60. milo (525 comments) says:

    Graeme, SK,

    I think this is important. To make sense, a Citizen’s Initiated Referedum should ask a question that could be enacted in legislation. Now “good” is a value laden adjective. If you can find “good” (as an adjective, not a noun), anywhere in the current statutes, you can shave my head and paint my bum blue.

    … so just to be clear: I don’t support smacking. However, I said “YES” to smacking as part of good parental discipline because I thought it was a tautology .. after all, it’s bound to be fine if it’s “good” discipline.

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  61. Rocket Boy (163 comments) says:

    ‘That isnt what it did at all. If you dont know what Section 59 was, then you are way out of your depth here.’ Gosh really??

    From the Herald May 2007:

    The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill removes from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of “reasonable force” to correct a child, meaning there will be no justification for the use of force for that purpose. The legislation also carries an amendment agreed earlier by Prime Minister Helen Clark and National leader John Key that says the police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent where the offence is considered to be inconsequential.

    Seems pretty clear to me what it was all about, you know something the rest of us (and the Herald) don’t know??

    1984 – all I have suggested is alternative questions that might mean something in a referendum, rather than the woolly loaded questions proposed, you might want to enter into the spirit of the discussion and suggest some alternatives yourself (as might Kimble & Francis) rather than the ‘you don’t know what you are talking about line of argument’.

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  62. francis (712 comments) says:

    it is too late to change the wording, first, and second, every allegation of smacking must be investigated as a crime with unguided prosecutorial discretion left to individual officers and prosecutors. if one thinks that parenting has room for smacking of any kind, one is on the side of the 80% of people who opposed the bill. If one thinks that no parenting should include smacking, one should not quibble about the language of the referendum because one must oppose its goal regardless of language.

    “good” doesn’t have any weight, however “woolly” it might be.

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  63. 1984 (89 comments) says:

    Ok RB lets try “Do we need a policeman, authorised to use reasonable force, to attend every incident when a three year old won’t stay on the naughty spot?”

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  64. Rocket Boy (163 comments) says:

    1984 – Sounds to me like you need for a few more discipline techniques that don’t involve force. Ever wondered how a teacher can control a class of 20+ five year olds and not smack any of them?

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  65. Richard Hurst (859 comments) says:

    Craig .R , I’m sure you’d agree the minor party’s each have their little area of specialty and campaign principally in those areas, although both NZFirst and United Future both mostly seem to rely on the personality of their leaders to get them through. National or Labour being board based party’s have to be prepared to take a position on any issue. Being the govt or the main opposition party means they always have the media go to them for comment on any issue, no matter how obscure.
    What’s the Maori party and Greens policy on Portfolio Investment Equities and Tax? Don’t know? Neither do I because they don’t have one and I doubt either the Greens or the Maori party will ever develop any but Labour and National do and environmental and Maori policies as well. They have to cover everything. Not to have a position on any issue runs the risk of appearing unconcerned, uninformed, weak and on the back foot compared to the opposing party. The minor issue based party’s can dip in and out and present themselves as the first go-to guy on their particular specialty whenever something comes out, say on climate change (Greens) or the latest Maori social statistics (Maori party) etc.

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  66. 1984 (89 comments) says:

    You’re talking to a father of 5, who are very rarely smacked, I think I know plenty about discipline. I also know dumb law when I see it.

    I think you’ll also find that the teacher’s association has had to back away from its no touching policy.

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  67. Fletch (6,408 comments) says:

    I hope we do get the referendum. This year has already seen a huge number of crimes (including murder) committed by younger and younger people. The violent acts committed in Sweden (who banned smacking in the 80s) by young people has seemed to skyrocket.

    At least two studies in Sweden were initiated in the 1990s because of societal concerns about increasing youth violence. One rationale for one study was that “There is also much evidence that our [Swedish] society has a growing propensity for violence” (Statistics Sweden, 1996, p. 5). Another study’s rationale began, “Since the mid-1980s, the
    Swedish public has been increasingly concerned about juvenile violence” including “football hooliganism, excessive celebrations on Midsummer eve, acts of violence with racist and xenophobic motives, squatters’ actions, street fights between politically opposed groups, violence at school, and recurrent juvenile tumults at the end of summer vacations, between gangs
    of Swedish or immigrant background, and skinheads and groups of young female ‘kickers’ . . . In light of this, it seems difficult to deny that the Swedish society in recent years has been hit by a wave of juvenile violence” (von Hofer, 1995, p. 1). Juvenile violence clearly appeared to be
    increasing during the 1990s according to Swedish social scientists, warranting studies to understand it.

    I can only see it getting worse here. Thanks Sue, for stuffing up our country; you really don’t have a clue.

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  68. tim barclay (886 comments) says:

    This year we have so far 10- homicides. Yes 10!!!! Almost one every SECOND day. Does this mean we will have 150!!! homicides this year.

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  69. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    Because, like my little boy is 18months old and I love him to bits. But if he keeps going up the track at the back of the house next to that big bunch of cutty grass,(which I am sure at some stage he will fall into) I am going to seriously smack his arse. ie a light tap and a louder voice.
    Now ‘seriously smack his arse’ does not involve laying into him with a broom handle, or putting him in a tumble dryer, or leaving him to cry for days with a broken arm like some animals might.
    I am not going to starve him or leave him in his own faeces, or farm him out to the neighbours for paid sex. I am not going to have him grow up in a tinny-house, or encourage him to join a gang, or end up in prison ‘like dad did’, nor am i going to whack him round the head to ‘toughen him up for life on the streets.’ I didn’t give him an unusual name so that everyone would know his dad was ‘down with the ‘hood’ nor have I allowed him to sleep in a windy or wet place because I lack the basic f**n common sense to make sure he is looked after. I have not left him in a car for 24 hours to die while I partied with my homies, nor have I left him with an abusive grandparent while I hooked up with my latest ‘boo’.
    In short, I am just the kind of person who normally would obey the law, no matter how stupid it is, because that is what decentpeople do isn’t it? They work hard and keep their heads down and riase their kids as well as they can. But not this Law, because it is a stupid law.
    Unlike the low-life shit-stains who abuse, kill, maim, deprive and fuck up their kids because they don’t have the intellegence or desire to do any differently. Do you seriously think the kind of f**d-up animal who sexes his kid, or thrashes it with a blunt instrument, will see the light, and stop’ ooh I’d better not do that because the law says I shouldn’t!” Pass me the f88n Tui!
    That’s the thing though, isn’t it? The ‘do-gooders’ appear to be under the impression that societies ‘f**k-ups’ just need the ‘overdue break’ or a ‘change of societal attitude’ to make them into model citizens.
    In short, if anyone tries to tell me how to treat my own child, they can take a long piss up a short rope, because I have that one covered, thank you very much. There is no way in God’s green earth that I am going to allow my kid to grow up to be an underachieving, spoiled, confused dead-beat because it has been decreed I should by Parliament. By the way, if I did rack up to hospital with my kid covered in lacerations because he fell into the cutty-grass, and I told the nurse, I ‘told him and told him’ not to do it, do you think I will get a ‘Sue Bradford Medal for Good Parenting’?
    Hey that’s a really good idea, why don’t they run with it for the next election – you could link it to a couple of extra bucks a week on the WFF payout. Capital idea! Champers all round!
    Then look at the latest – as a result of s59 less people are fostering kids. That’s right folks, the most needy, vulnerable and deprived kids in our society are no 75% less likely to be placed in a loving, disciplined environment – because the Law has turned ‘parenting’ into a high-risk pursuit.
    God what pompous wankers some of our representatives are. If brains were explosives they wouldn’t have enough to blow their own hats off..

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  70. NZTed (38 comments) says:

    Clark & co will do whatever they like: be it a law change to remove the legal requirement to hold a referendum, scheduling it after the election, or just plain ignoring it al la:

    Clark – “I think we’d all agree it is not in the public interest to waste tax payers money voting about a the views of an extreme religious cult”

    Cullen – “We made it law, your can’t change it. Eat that.”

    Bradford – “I’m dishgushted we liff in a society where 300,000 adults want to abuse their chooldren. They shuld be ashamed ov themselves”

    Key – “Pop, squeak, patter patter, flip flop flip flop”

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  71. Jum (137 comments) says:

    Lee C

    You haven’t answered the obvious questions
    How heavy are you?
    What is your hand swing like?
    Do you know when to stop?
    How angry were you at the time?
    Did your father hit you?
    Did it humiliate you?
    Did you ever want to hurt an animal?
    Did you ever want to take revenge on someone smaller than you?

    Why is it so hard for you to understand that, by making people think twice about the fact they may get into trouble for hitting a child, the repeal of Section 59 is useful.

    We would have to be severely thick to imagine the repeal would stop the vicious child beaters. That was never the aim. They have to be brought to justice by you and me. They are the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff cases, just like the emergency ward for car accidents and heart attacks is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff stuff.

    If extreme violence and a simple telling off by parents can be separated out and everyone is put on notice to think before they act, what is wrong with that?

    We would have to agree that if nothing is done to make people think about hitting children, then people will continue to hit children and not consider alternative measures.

    If we always do what we’ve always done we will always get what we’ve always got (taken off a school newsletter).

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  72. clintheine (1,571 comments) says:

    Yeah yeah, the smacking bill has decreed in black and white that all parents are potential abusers and possible violent offenders. There is no middle ground, you tap,pat,hit your kids you are going to be snitched on by your neighbours/friends/unionist teachers and be faced with half a dozen cops on your front door.

    None of the other stuff matters, Bradford, Clark and co are anti family – repealing this law will be one less step away from the statist extremism we are faced with in NZ.

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  73. Duxton (654 comments) says:

    Jum: “If we always do what we’ve always done we will always get what we’ve always got (taken off a school newsletter).”

    That statement doesn’t make sense. You can’t get something that you’ve already got. If you already have it (ie, you’ve always got it), you cannot then get it.

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  74. Simeon (142 comments) says:

    Help get a referendum on this law by signing the petition.

    Go to http://www.unityforliberty.net.nz/petition.html and print it then sign it and send it.

    And get your mates to sign it too.

    Good on ya.

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  75. farfetched (23 comments) says:

    RB:
    “Ever wondered how a teacher can control a class of 20+ five year olds and not smack any of them?”

    If you had ever seen the inside of a classroom in the economically and intellectually impoverished communities this bill was IMHO “intended” to “fix” you’d be aware that more often than not they can’t.

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  76. goodgod (1,348 comments) says:

    “…Why is it so hard for you to understand that, by making people think twice about the fact they may get into trouble for hitting a child, the repeal of Section 59 is useful…”

    Why is it so hard for you to understand that, by making people think twice about the fact they may get into trouble for publishing a political opinon, the EFA is useful.

    oh whoops. It’s that hypocrisy raising it’s head again. Prohibiton works when the “them” say so, but not when the “us” say so.

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  77. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Apologies for off -topic, but Don’t Vote Labour has n=been nobbled by the Electoral Commission

    http://keepingstock.blogspot.com/2008/01/efa-gets-its-first-victim.html

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  78. Bogusnews (474 comments) says:

    I often hear this nonsense about how teachers can control a class room of 20 kids. Anyone who listens to talkback and then hears the legions of frustrated teachers calling in saying that at least half their time is spent trying to control the kids before they can actually teach them, would not say teachers have then all under their thumbs.

    The Herald read this completely wrong. They often trotted out this nonsense that the bill would not change anything. They obviously did not know S59 at all.

    All I know is, we banned corporal punishment in schools, the next year, expulsions increased by 34%, within four years by 112%. The supposed advantages we were meant to get (better behaved, less violent kids) have never eventuated.

    I don’t see much evidence that the removal of corporal punishment has helped our teachers or kids. Forcing it onto parents then is pretty odd.

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  79. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Agreed Bogusnews – our youth culture has no boundaries and children are growing up without knowing that actions carry consequences. How else can anyone explain the arrest of a 14yo and a 16yo for two seperate murders in the last three days, and another 14yo being held in custody for a serious assault?

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  80. catwoman (123 comments) says:

    The only thing that REALLY puts me off this piece of legislation is its champion – BRADFORD.

    Did anyone hear her statement when she suggested having a national holiday for Sir Ed. She said having a national holiday “would not cost anything”.

    DUMBARSE……………….!!!

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  81. Scott (1,805 comments) says:

    I’d like to see section 59 restored in all its entirety — for both parents and schools. As the last few bloggers have quite rightly mentioned since corporal punishment was abolished in schools the behaviour of children has steadily got worse. Assaults upon teachers are now commonplace. And rather than being caned and the matter dealt with children are now suspended and expelled in record numbers.

    Our children need more discipline — not less. Otherwise they grow up to be an undisciplined rabble that do not respect their parents — and do not respect anyone else. Those who believe in the innate goodness of human nature are quite simply wrong. Quite simply our children must have clear boundaries, consequences and discipline.

    By saying we cannot physically punish our kids the government is simply allowing our children to run wild. We will reap the consequences shortly if we do not rediscover the basic truths of human nature.

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  82. Bogusnews (474 comments) says:

    Totally agree Scott.

    There is something about this legislation that many people (who probably don’t have children I suspect, although have no evidence of this) that touches a very deep part of people.

    Apart from the fact that removing corporal punishment has been a disaster in schools, what really pissed me off was this:

    It is estimated I will spend up to $200K on each of my kids during their lifetime. This bill means that some faceless, nameless govt noddy (and unfortunately well meaning but totally misguided public), who will never spend a cent on them, is now allowed to dictate to me how I have to raise them.

    Am I alone in the world when I say this is disgraceful?

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  83. Bogusnews (474 comments) says:

    I meant to say something deeply touching about this legislation that people who don’t have kids don’t understand.

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  84. Simeon (142 comments) says:

    Remember to sign the petition to force the referendum on this bad law.

    Go to http://www.unityforliberty.net.nz/petition.html and print it then sign it and send it.

    And get your mates to sign it too.

    Good on ya.

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  85. freethinker (691 comments) says:

    Craig R
    Not often I disagree with you but 300,000 signatures cannot be ignored or consigned to wacky christian fundamentalists. If the referendum goes ahead and people choose to vote a particular way then that may be because they do not have the opportunity to vote on the substituted issue, it s called freedom which is steadily being eroded.

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  86. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    Sigh. So many issues on which Kiwis SHOULD toss their government out, so little attention span on the part of a frightening proportion of the voting public.

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  87. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    As long as its not business as usual after the election I am happy to support a middle of the road election campaign.

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  88. Adam Smith (890 comments) says:

    What is this obsession with the right to physically chastise your children?

    Especially why work with these nutty fundamentalist churches?

    There are so many real issues which need to be addressed without this constant drivel on the right to beat your children. Weird.

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  89. Ruth (178 comments) says:

    These people welcome the state into our bedrooms re other issues – like homosexuality and abortion.

    That’s the religious right for you – love your fetus – hate your kid.

    As I posted on Blog For Choice Day – – When those in the forced birth and forced pregnancy movement start caring about a life after it’s out of the womb, maybe then they’ll have some credibility on this issue. But if past precedent still holds, the only time so many of those who favour forced birth squawk about life after the womb is in backing the death penalty, or supporting the ‘right’ to clout a child at whim.

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  90. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    So a referendum would be a waste of time then? I mean it might produce a result wherein you get to choose how to best raise your kids, and I get to choose how best to raise mine?
    Yes, that’s right, a referendum would be a complete waste of everyones’ time. Can’t imagine how they managed to get so many signatures. God New Zealanders are stupid, aren’t they?
    Stupid people shold not be allowed to have an opinion if this is how they abuse them. Especially if they are religious as well.
    They are probably only stupid and religious because they were beaten as children – it stands to reason. They should learn how to hand over the decision-making to clever, non-religious people who are left wing, f88n proles.

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  91. Chuck Bird (4,895 comments) says:

    Family First was an active player at the last election, and it has found an ideal vehicle to drive through the next one.

    This is a quote from the Sunday Star-Times editorial. The Sunday Star-Times accuses Family First of using emotive language. So the nameless editorial writer does not just respond with emotive language but out and out slander of Family First.

    Family First did not exist before the last election. I will forward this post through to the Sunday Star-Times and see if they will say whether it was gross incompetence or dishonestly that lead them to print something that was totally untrue about Family First.

    I would like them to explain what other untruths are in the editorial. I know Bob McCoskrie and he is a good man. He is big enough to admit if he is wrong. Unlike the Prime Minister he is not a liar. I quote Dear Leader below before the last election. If she had not told that blatant lie she might not have been re-elected.

    Helen Clark: A lot of people aren’t comfortable with beatings but they don’t want to see, you know, stressed and harassed parents, you know, pulled in by the police because they, they smacked a child.
    Bob MCroskie: So you do not want to see smacking banned?
    Helen Clark: Absolutely not, I think you are trying to defy human nature.
    — Helen Elizabeth Clark

    I am not religious let alone a religious extremist. Nonetheless am working with ordinary Christians who strongly oppose this attack on good parents.

    For a number of years I was a member of Skeptics NZ. I do not think that many of the members were Christians. One of the members gave a talk on smacking and showed us some studies with references that showed reasonable physical discipline was in no way harmful.

    That should put as lie to the assertion that the only people opposing this extreme legislation are religious fanatics.

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  92. Mr Dennis (348 comments) says:

    Ruth:
    It is the pro-abortionists who are inconsistent on this one I am afraid.

    At the moment, we are allowed to murder our children in the most grotesque fashion before they are born, and a teenage girl can even do this without telling her parents. Once they are born we aren’t even allowed to restrain them physically to put them in time out.

    How is this not ridiculous? Why does the child have no rights one minute and suddenly heaps of rights the next, just because they happen to have moved from one location (inside the womb) to another?

    It is much more consistent to say you cannot murder them either before or after birth, and can use physical force when necessary while raising them safely.

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