The Government’s response

August 25th, 2009 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

announced yesterday three initiatives in response to the . Taking each in turn:

The Police and Ministry of Social Development chief executive lead a review of Police and Child, Youth & Family policies and procedures, including the referral process between the two agencies, to identify any changes that are necessary or desirable to ensure good parents are treated as Parliament intended.  The Commissioner of Police and Ministry of Social Development chief executive will seek an independent person to assist in the conduct of the review and will report back by 1 December 2009.

I think this is useful and desirable. I’d guess that more parents are worried about over-zealous action by CYFS, than they are about actually being prosecuted and convicted for a light smack.

Bring forward the delivery of the report from the Ministry of Social Development chief executive on data and trends and the effect of the law change from the end of the year to late September/early October. The Minister of Social Development will table the report in the House.

As MSD are doing the review, I will be amazed if it amounts to much. But yes useful to have it done earlier.

Invite Police to continue to report on a six-monthly or annual basis for the next three years on the operation of the law, and invite Police to include data on cases where parents or caregivers say the force used on the child was reasonable in the circumstances.

This is useful, as it may lead to a situation where a conclusion can be reached on whether the law is working or not. Now that I think that is the correct test, but it is the test laid down by the PM.

“Cabinet has agreed that if future Police data indicates a worrying trend, the law will be changed to ensure that good New Zealand parents are not criminalised for lightly ,” says Mr Key.

I regard “criminalised” as meaning are in breach of the law, not merely that they are not charged or convicted. And the law is very specific that smacking for correctional purposes is absolutely illegal.

The problem we have is that the Government’s test of “Is the law working” is not the test, that many others have. Their test is “Is this a good law”.

So why is the Government, or more specifically the PM, applying the “Is the law working” test? Why doesn’t he just agree to change the law?

Well the simple answer is he does not want to break his word, and that is not a bad thing. Since the compromise the test he promised was “Is the law working” and while I think that is the wrong test, that is what he promised.

So the PM has to balance up keeping his word, with responding to a clear public vote they do not like the law.

If the public are unhappy with no law change, there are a number of ways this could show itself. National could lose support to ACT who want the law changed. This is not a concern to National. Most of the smart people in National want ACT to be higher in the polls than 1%. Losing support to ACT doesn’t change the Government.

It is hard to see Labour picking up support from National on this issue. Labour are still blamed by most for the law, and Labour have little relevance at the moment for most people.

The nightmare scenario is Winston. His caucus had a conscience vote on this issue and Peters voted against. Could Winston use this to campaign in 2011 that National and Labour are the same, and if he gets back in he will force whomever is in Government to scrap the law. In those circumstances Phil Goff would scrap the law to have Winston make him PM.

Colin Espiner blogs on this issue, and he implores John Key to “hold the line”. I suspect Colin’s view is that of almost the entire gallery. I really do wish someone from the gallery could tell me what the problem is with the Borrows amendment. After all Colin says:

I’ve smacked my child, and I don’t want to be prosecuted for it. But I like the law, because it stops child beaters who bash their kids with lengths of hose pipe from getting away with it.

The Borrows amendment would mean Colin is not breaking the law when he smacked his child (assuming it was for correctional purposes) and it would also stop someone hitting their kid with a length of hose pipe.

Is Colin aware that the current law does not explicitly forbid hitting your kid with a length of hose pipe? If done for non-correctional purposes, it may be found to be reasonable force. While the Borrows amendment would rule that out in all circumstances.

It seems to me (and I admit I have a position on this subject) that what most Kiwis are telling the Government is that they don’t want to be told how to discipline their kids.

Yet they are. The Bradford law is explicit. It says you can not use any force at all for correctional purposes. It says you can use undefined reasonable force for good parenting, for preventing disruptive behaviour but not for correction. And that is exactly telling parents how to discipline their kids.

David Beatson blogs at Pundit and concludes:

Third, he should be prepared to consider an amendment to that might satisfy all parties – one stating clearly that legal parental correction does not include the use of force that results in a child suffering any form of physical injury or sustained distress.

That is basically the Borrows amendment. But despite it giving children greater protection in most areas, it is not acceptable to the 12%. You can not get a compromise that everyone will accept – there is too much gulf between the 88% and the 12%.

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85 Responses to “The Government’s response”

  1. 3-coil (1,220 comments) says:

    If John Key is such a smart guy, why is he making this so complicated for himself?

    A quick response (Borrows amendment? or something similar – the 88% mandate is clearly there) and the whole debate is neutered – but he seems determined to go out of his way to cock this one up.

    [DPF: The amendment would take nine months or so to get through Parliament. The problem for Key is how does he support the amendment without being seen to break his word that he would only change the law if it was not working. Now I think that is the wrong test - but it is the test he promised to apply]

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  2. andrei (2,652 comments) says:

    More “beltway” out of touchness – if John Key thinks he can triangulate his way out of this and gain political advantage it just shows he is a PC wimp.

    A lot of New Zealander’s are angry over this – the message to the inhabitants of Wellington ivory towers was stay the fuck out of our lives.

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  3. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Key’s approach seems pretty sensible IMHO. Acknowledges the result but not ready to lead the country down a knee-jerk conservative/christian path.

    CYFS as they are at present is an army of childless 20-year-old girls with Social Work Degrees, apparently accountable to no-one, with all the powers in the world to haul perfectly good parents into the local Police Station for questioning.

    Perhaps if CYFS was a department of the Police, rather than a law unto itself, they would be more focussed on the real work?

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  4. Madeleine (230 comments) says:

    This is not reassuring at all.

    If I find myself before a court or investigated by the police or a state agency it is the black letter of the law I should be able to reach for to know whether I stand on the side of guilt or innocence not a media release or ministry review or some report or a promise from John Key.

    While a law stands on the books that can be interpreted either way and that law can reach into such a vast number of homes, promises from a government that may find itself sitting in the opposition benches one day are never going to equate to reassurance as to what the law really means.

    This response is unnaceptable.

    The state has a duty to ensure that the law is clear enough for the citizens to be able to understand it; if it is not then it is not just to demand their obedience to it.

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  5. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    People are getting angrier.

    I’ve not seen such an outcry for a long time, this eclipses the electoral finance bill protests.

    This is going to get very very ugly soon.

    I think, if Key does nothing national will lose the next election.

    Yakkity yakkity will not get Key off the hook. Only a law change will suffice.

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  6. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    DPF: “I regard “criminalised” as meaning are in breach of the law, not merely that they are not charged or convicted. And the law is very specific that smacking for correctional purposes is absolutely illegal.”

    This is indeed the correct analysis of the section. The Government is on a completely different track to the rest of the country on this. John Key seems to think that if nobody is prosecuted for applying force for correctional purposes then the law is working. This is wrong, instead it means the law is not being enforced. That means the law is pointless and means that it is in fact not working because it is not achieving its stated goal as shown in the wording of the section. The purpose of the law, from what I took of Sue Bradford’s explanations, is precisely to make the application of force to one’s child for correctional purposes. In fact, MacDoctor quite clearly points this out in an analysis of the section on his site.

    Any government that says the law prohibits something but that it is ok to ignore the law on certain occasions is setting a very poor example for its citizens.

    Just to be clear, any person who applies force to their child for correctional purposes commits a criminal act and is in danger of prosecution if ANY person chooses to bring a complaint OR prosecute privately. Just because you are not caught or prosecuted does not make you any less a criminal.

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  7. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    More weaseling from John Key. Has the PM read the Herald opinion of Law Professor Jim Evans that was published a few weeks ago?

    New section 59 is clearly a mess

    John Key can’t weasel his way out of this non-objective law.

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  8. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Thank you FE Smith. I’ve been harping on along these lines for ages… but you’ve said it authoritatively and succinctly.

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  9. Nigel Kearney (1,013 comments) says:

    Imagine if gay sex was still illegal but the police never prosecuted. How do you think the media and the rest of the left would react if Key refused to do anything, relying on the ‘is the law working’ test? It’s not the job of the police to decide for themselves whether or not to enforce the law.

    But please spare us all this ‘doesn’t want to break his word’ nonsense. Key has no detectable morals or courage. He backtracked on tax cuts only a few weeks ago despite plenty of unnecessary government spending that can be eliminated to balance the books. There is plenty of political advantage for him in doing nothing on smacking because it keeps the media from turning on him and he can always introduce a change closer to the next election when it will hurt Labour more to oppose it.

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  10. PaulL (5,981 comments) says:

    I don’t understand what benefit John thinks he is getting from not changing the law. I wonder whether the problem is that National are too high in the polls – when you’re greater than 50% then almost any action you take will result in more voters leaving than joining.

    Realistically, he needs to just do what’s right. And what’s right in this instance is the Borrow’s amendment. It achieves everything that the Yes campaigners claim to want, and gives the No campaigners exactly what they claim to want. In the case of the No campaigners, I actually think they’d be happy. In the case of the Yes campaigners, I think they’d be very unhappy, as it wouldn’t give them what they really want, only what they said they wanted.

    In other words, the Yes campaigners claimed they didn’t want to criminalise good parents who use a light smack as part of correction, but really they did. They want nobody to use any physical force at all in disciplining children, now that they managed to get that law they really really don’t want to give it up. Next step will be banning “emotional harm” – which would presumably include things like time out, which clearly causes emotional harm (admittedly transitory and trifling, but still emotional harm).

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  11. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “I think, if Key does nothing national will lose the next election.”

    Did you know read what DPF said at the start? It would be nice if everyone who did not like Key’s stance on this issue voted ACT. But that is not going to happen. However, it would also be nice if enough voted ACT to give them 8 to 12 MPs.

    Before last election I thought ACT hoped to just get a few more votes on this issue but the changing the law was low on its priorities. Then John Boscawen drafted his private member’s bill.

    If Boscawen’s bill gets drawn National will have to take it seriously. If it gets drawn after the election with ACT having more MPs National will have to treat it very seriously.

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  12. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    “Well the simple answer is he does not want to break his word,”

    Pfffttt…

    Why didn’t he apply that principle to tax cuts?

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  13. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “Imagine if gay sex was still illegal but the police never prosecuted.”

    I remember when it was. However, I do not remember hearing about prosecutions for sodomy.

    Their argument was much the same as the NO Lobby’s is now.

    What really pisses me off is that the militant homosexual Labour MPs could not understand their hypocrisy.

    Mr Key as a law maker you are a disgrace. Learn the law. A smack for the purpose of correction is a criminal offence

    What part of NO do you not understand?

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  14. JC (956 comments) says:

    The worst thing is Key and the rest of the pricks are mixing two quite separate issues to justify the change to s59, probably deliberately.

    As a result of the referendum the police, politicians and media have been at great pains to pint out that in nearly two years under the amended Act there have been only 33 complaints and no prosecutions. Thats it, done and dusted.. NZ does not have a problem of smacking with excessive force even under the most ardent scrutiny of the public and police.

    However, in the last 12 months there were about 117,000 notifications to CYFS of child abuse and neglect, thats up from 30,000pa throughout the 90s.

    http://tinyurl.com/n6fx5x

    What the pricks have done is mix up these two issues and land it all at the doorstep of smacking.

    Those 117,000 notifications need a bit of investigating as well..

    There are about 1 million kids aged between 0-18 years, so 12% of them will be complained about/investigated for evidence of child abuse each year. It also means that statistically every single child will be the subject of an investigation nearly twice between 0-18 years. If the child is Maori (and other stats indicate about 60% of child abuse comes from this group), every child will be the subject of investigation 5 times during its childhood!

    JC

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  15. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    I am looking forward to the day that the perpetually-angry mob (Chuck Bird, Redbaiter, Big Bruv et al) finally develops the stones to express its views in the only way that stands any chance of gaining them any traction: armed rebellion.

    Until then, the hypocrisy of furious demands for action from the bone idle will remain an entertainment form reserved for Kiwiblog readers only :-D

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  16. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “I think, if Key does nothing national will lose the next election. ”

    Who do you think you are going to vote for? I’m pretty sure he is counting on the lack of alternatives, if he really thought this was a vote loser he would act in a heartbeat.

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  17. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    In voting No I did not “demand” that the law should be changed, but recognise the intent of the referendum, that a correctional smack as part of good parental upbringing should not be a criminal offence.

    I like the Chester Burrows amendment.

    I think the Yes people should get over themselves and look at the fundemental reason that this last month three children appear to have been killed, and another possibly today – a correctional smack I do not think.

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  18. hj (7,021 comments) says:

    I like Chris Trotters take on it [it takes a theif to catch a theif]:

    So why have these young New Zealanders (along with their non-smacking parents and grandparents) voted “No” instead of “Yes”.
    THE answer, I believe, is because, intuitively, they perceived the legislation repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act to be a product of an extreme, Left-wing ideology, which locates the source of most of modern capitalist society’s social pathologies in the “bourgeois” nuclear family.

    [and]

    Poor old Labour. Having stripped away all of its traditional economic and political radicalism in the name of the “free market”, the only truly revolutionary programme its post-millennial caucus had left was the one that effectively spat upon the values and traditions of 75 percent of its core constituency.

    The 2009 triumph of the “Noes” is, therefore, no more than the deafening echo of Labour’s 2008 defeat.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/opinion/2774394/A-deafening-echo-of-defeat

    So when people see a large photo of a shaken baby in the Press they don’t think “that’s us” they think “that’s Sue Bradfords mob!”

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  19. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    THE answer, I believe, is because, intuitively, they perceived the legislation repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act to be a product of an extreme, Left-wing ideology, which locates the source of most of modern capitalist society’s social pathologies in the “bourgeois” nuclear family.

    Funny, that’s exactly what the local butcher & a couple of taxi drivers said to me today [/not]

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  20. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “Well the simple answer is he does not want to break his word,”
    Pfffttt…
    Why didn’t he apply that principle to tax cuts?

    And what about his promise of no more social engineering and no more nanny state?

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  21. Delivery Boy (24 comments) says:

    “[DPF: The amendment would take nine months or so to get through Parliament. The problem for Key is how does he support the amendment without being seen to break his word that he would only change the law if it was not working. Now I think that is the wrong test - but it is the test he promised to apply]”

    Why would this take about nine months?
    Only perhaps if this was a members bill and not a Govt bill and even less if urgency was used.
    There has been plenty of debate, opinions taken, and procrastination has been paramount.
    The time for democracy and action is here and now.

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

    National is more then just old Shonkey, where are the other great defenders of truth and freedom. Isn’t it amazing, butter wouldn’t melt in these pricks mouths 10 months ago, nothing was to much trouble for the voter. Now the rest have suddenly developed laryngitis, pack of gutless wonders. Is it any wonder parliament in this country is often viewed with contempt, they reap what they sow.

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  23. hj (7,021 comments) says:

    “Until then, the hypocrisy of furious demands for action from the bone idle will remain an entertainment form reserved for Kiwiblog readers only”

    there is an imbalance in so far as the 11% seem to be highly organised and in key occupations.
    They also mistake their 11% score with being at the top end of the normal curve (IQ).

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  24. llew (1,533 comments) says:

    The time for democracy and action is here and now.

    I’m sorry, you can only choose one from today’s selection.

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  25. radvad (765 comments) says:

    So the extremist views of the fringe 12% prevail again, aided and abetted by a Prime Minister no less slippery than the last one.

    Not only should there be a law change but also a clean out of all the PC commissions and busy body agencies so they accurately reflect the views of all NZers. After all, we are supposed to celebrate diversity.

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  26. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    @kiwigreg : I will vote Act.

    Or, if Act drops out, maybe NZ First ha ha.

    John Key is a national disgrace.

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  27. hj (7,021 comments) says:

    llew says:

    “Funny, that’s exactly what the local butcher & a couple of taxi drivers said to me today [/not]”

    that’s what I find Chris Trotter good at: feelings are often just a cloud of smoke until someone finds the language.
    The butcher etc would have said “whata load fo…” (with a skowl).

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  28. spector (180 comments) says:

    David, your justifications for John Keys actions have more then a hint of The Standards justifications for Helen Clark. The nation told Key what it wanted. Key is refusing to listen. It’s that simple to most people.

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  29. MajorBloodnok (361 comments) says:

    Dump the Bradford Bill

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  30. MajorBloodnok (361 comments) says:

    If Sue’s happy with John Key’s attempted appeasement of the 88%, that’s a clear sign he’s messed it up!

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  31. bruceh (102 comments) says:

    John Key’s move to manage the prosecution risk rather than change the criminality of a light parental smack is seriously the wrong end of the stick and shows his reference points for Prime Ministerial leadership come from a different place to the voters who put him there. He is undermining his moral authority to lead. Key has consciously decided to score an own goal; Clark’s own goals accumulated to sink her in the broader public mind.

    The NO vote was to end the criminalization in law of parents who provide such discipline in the ordinary course of family life. The vote was nothing to do with the risk of prosecution or not.

    Mr Key does not seem to grasp the frustration caused by his complacent, elitist response to the historically consistent wishes of New Zealander’s against this level of state interference in private living. To say nothing of the deep moral dilemma of the lawful ambivalence he is visiting on the nation – ‘for you, this law will not be changed but we’ll look the other way’

    In the meantime tragic violent abuse of children continues unabated; how can he say ‘the law as it stands is working’ because of some police report on how unbusy they’ve been on investigating ‘light smackers’? Does he think our brains are fried?

    The collective wisdom of parents and citizens is not less than that of pointy headed experts who provide the ‘official advice on child raising’

    He should simply accept the people have spoken. Shallow excuses such as ‘chaotic parliament’ and ‘keeping his word’ will fool very few except media hacks happy to support the pr effort. It is hugely disrespectful to respond with offers of solace, that we’ll be just fine because he’s giving guidance to his benignly watchful bureaucracy.

    No doubt the advisors are assuming the public spleen will eventually fade as voters have nowhere else to go. But given no thought to the only realistic response of the powerless; passive-aggressive sullenness and increased cynicism about politicians and politics. – it’s close to being a national pathology already.

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  32. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    So the extremist views of the fringe 12% prevail again, aided and abetted by a Prime Minister no less slippery than the last one.

    That’s 12% of the people who voted. Those who think Family First are nutters overwhelmingly didn’t vote. Perhaps responding to referenda should be compulsory (even if it’s returned unmarked).

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  33. Fletch (6,389 comments) says:

    Doesn’t want to “break his word”?
    I am all for politicians who want to keep their word, but there is a conflict here: have not the public employed Mr Key to carry out their will? Or is it the other way around?

    The word of someone does not mean beans when it conflicts with the responsibilities of their office. If a policeman was to swear an oath declaring he would not arrest such-and-such a person, and that person then robbed a bank, would not the policeman still be honour bound to carry out his office, irregardless of promises he may have made?

    So too, with Mr Key. I would be interested to know just exactly what Oath of Office, or Declaration a Prime Minister in New Zealand has to make. I cannot find it online.

    I voted for Mr Key, but I cannot stand with him on this issue. As Mr Lincoln once famously said, “Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong”.

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  34. Chicken Little (741 comments) says:

    Those who think Family First are nutters overwhelmingly didn’t vote. [citation needed]

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  35. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    I think smacking is good for the purposes of correction because the bible says so. The current law is wrong because it explicitly says that smacking for the purposes of correction is now an illegal act.

    The law needs to change because on this one occasion the bible and the NZ public are in agreement! It doesn’t happen too often but on this occasion ordinary NZers have the sense that their authority as parents is being taken away from them and instead authority is being invested in the state.

    That’s what godlessness does.If a person doesn’t believe in God then authority will be invested elsewhere-in this case in the government who have now become the ultimate guardians of the so called rights of children.

    NZers-whether god fearing or not-need to act. Otherwise the law wont change. March on parliament anyone?

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  36. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    First of all what current or potential National voter gives a crap if National breaks it word on this issue? Only a tiny fraction of the 12% of the 56% would ever dream of voting National anyway. Less than .5% of the country.

    I like most other can’t understand what the hell is going through Key’s head right now?
    The only two possible things I can think of are

    It’s a temporary trade off for the Maori Party for not having Maori seats on the Supercity council
    Key is keeping his powder dry, to bring up the issue again to sure up National’s support at some time in the future when it is flagging (probably an election year)

    Other than that he has completely lost it

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  37. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “March on parliament anyone?”

    Voting ACT is a lot more effective

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  38. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    DPF Wrote

    “National could lose support to ACT who want the law changed. This is not a concern to National. Most of the smart people in National want ACT to be higher in the polls than 1%. Losing support to ACT doesn’t change the Government.”

    Fuck thats arrogant!

    “Hey Dime, youre changing your vote to ACT!, thats not a concern to us!” isnt that lovely.

    Maybe ill change it to Winston!

    DPF – you underestimate the feeling out there about this issue. personally, i dont care about the smacking thing. i care about the way National are handling it.

    Sure changing the law would tecnically “break Johns promise”. who gives a shit??? its not like hes introducing something the country hates! its not likes he getting rid of the nuclear free stance.

    NO ONE CARES that he would be breaking his word. not when he has a clear mandate from the people.

    “its still us, the people, right?”

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  39. Cerium (23,562 comments) says:

    “personally, i dont care about the smacking thing. i care about the way National are handling it.”

    Seems like a moving target.
    Child discipline bill.
    Smacking.
    Bloody Bradford.
    Bloody Labour.
    Bloody non-smacking do-badders.
    Bloody democracy.
    Bloody National.

    There’s no one left. Except…….Ahhhhhct. Funny that. Was it ever really about the kids?

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  40. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    Cerium – youre an idiot.

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  41. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “Is the law working” test?”

    I’m unsure what about that rationale I find more appalling.

    If the law is already working its preventing law abiding people from correctional smacking – and already interfering in peoples lives. For the law to “be working’ is the absolute intrusion people are so pissed off about.

    What is it about John Key? He’s flip flopped before – whys this so important to him. FFS – here’s the man that jumps into the bloody Hilary/ Museum dispute who now says he has higher priorities.!!!
    Why did he open his big mouth and put a line in the sand so quickly? and did he chose that line? – Has Sue Bradford got something over him,?

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  42. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    heres the other problem.

    ya leave this sham law in place and set new guidelines for the police because its easy… that means its easy for the next left govt to remove the guidelines!

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  43. democracymum (648 comments) says:

    This is from the NZ Police website and is their procedure for handling smacking complaints.

    While smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent, and other interventions or warnings to the offender have not stopped such actions.

    In cases where the force used is found to be minor, trivial or inconsequential, it will be appropriate to record the event on a POL400 and forward the file to the Family Violence Co-ordinator. The expected outcome for such events will be one using common sense and of offering guidance and support, dependent on the context following discussion by the Family Violence Co-ordinator.

    In repeat events (where other interventions or warnings have been unsuccessful) involving the same family or more serious cases the matter should be recorded on a POL400 and consideration given as to whether prosecution may be appropriate. A Notification to Child Youth and Family must be made by faxing the POL400 to the Child Youth and Family Call Centre. The matter will also be forwarded in the usual way to the Family Violence Co-ordinator.

    Frightening stuff for any parent particularly if you have been reported for smacking more than once.
    Imagine if you happened to live next to Sue Bradford (or any member of the Green party), and had a terrible two year old to contend with – you would live in constant fear of being reported and having your children removed.

    http://www.police.govt.nz/news/release/3149.html

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  44. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    dime, it’s not easy… it’s wrong. as suggested previously, imagine the outcry (from the same ‘yes’ voters) if homosexuality was criminalised but enforcement has directed to minimal/nil?

    criminality defines pretty clearly that society regards something as wrong, and directs that instances should be punished. society has spoken pretty clearly on this matter saying that a light smack as part of good parental correct should not be a crime. our elected leaders think they’re ‘above’ needing to listen.

    key will pay for this. if his poll lead is based on a perception of integrity which was so demonstrably lacking in the previous Labour government, then consider this situation akin to a few small punctures – the tyre may still look inflated but the air is fssssss’ing out slowly.

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  45. MajorBloodnok (361 comments) says:

    And if it’s not written in law, it’s easy for a less citizen-friendly govt and Police to enforce the written law.

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  46. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Clearly that nice Mr Key has never been the subject of a spurious complaint. As JC notes above the figure of “33 complaints, no convictions” is bandied around by those who, like Key, claim the law to be “working” in it’s present form.

    An “investigation” sounds so innocuous but can include:
    – the presumption of guilt by the Police until you can prove otherwise (and believe me, if you think a fundamentalist Christian or a Muslim suicide bomber is hard to dissauade from their beliefs, you haven’t met a copper who’s decided you’re guilty).
    – an unnecessary invasion of your privacy and that of your family, and intrusion into your lives which can last days, weeks or even months.
    – insulting and distressing questions asked of your family. And quite possibly your neighbours and others who know you.
    – Interviews at the Police station – an unpleasant and, for some, fearsome environment.

    It will leave most people distressed and angry and place a strain on relationships both within the family and with others who might have been questioned and thus be aware of the accusation. That in turn can lead to further problems.

    Of course it can also be nothing more than a chat on the doorstep (still an unpleasant experience) but once the ball has started rolling it tends to gain a momentum all its own.

    Since Bradford’s law passed, 33 NZers — none of whom were prosecuted for offences — have been subject to this interference in, and investigation of, their lives. And that’s assuming no charges are laid. If they are, add further stress, shame and a large expense into the picture.

    And Key and other say this is a law that’s working?

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  47. Delivery Boy (24 comments) says:

    “the figure of “33 complaints, no convictions” is bandied around by those who, like Key, claim the law to be “working” in it’s present form.”
    Rex as usual you hit the nail on the head, the fact is people don’t want to open the door to have the state second guessing their parenting in their own homes.

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  48. Cerium (23,562 comments) says:

    What law ensures that no one is unnecessarily inconvenienced and only those who deserve it go through the process?

    How ever the law ends up this will still be an issue – to investigate parents or not. I suspect that has already happened.

    When will we get a case of real abuse after reports that weren’t pursued sufficiently?

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  49. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    Does anyone think any of the polling companies will be running a poll on party popularity/who people are going to vote for at the next election?

    No sign of Sue Bradford again today after the little baby in Auckland was found dead. Yoohoo Sue? Where are you?

    SUE!!!!! WHERE ARE YOU WHEN REAL CHILD ABUSE HAPPENS? FRONT UP AND DEFEND YOURSELF FORTHWITH.

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  50. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Sue Bradford’s probably partying somewhere, because of how much she secretly hates children.

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  51. Delivery Boy (24 comments) says:

    “When will we get a case of real abuse after reports that weren’t pursued sufficiently?”

    15 kids dead and anther incident today it is obvious that Sue Bradford’s law does not work.

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  52. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    I suspect that John’s resistance to changing goes further in that he believes the law to be the best option, and preferable to the Burrows Amendment personally.

    Also saying that the 88 / 12 camps are at polar opposites (ignoring the 48% who didn’t vote like me seeing the whole question was ridiculous) is a misstatement. I know people who voted either way, with those voting yes thinking that it shouldn’t be a criminal offence but that the law as was working and those who voted no who thought the law was working.

    Thing is this law isn’t really aimed at I imagine the users of KB, it’s aimed at those who severely discipline their children using excessive force or use force regularly. It’s also aimed at sending a message to those who use force regularly to discipline their children (daily / weekly), rather than occasionally to send a message that it isn’t really a good thing. It is this point which the Burrows Amendment I believe fails and use of discretion is preferable.

    This isn’t such a radical ‘idea’. Technically when you tackle someone in Rugby it’s an assault, and there are many ‘assaults’ or threats to assaults which are overlooked by police. I believe discretion, with strong guidance – such as Key is advocating – is preferable to amending the bill. This is unless the bill is shown to fail a couple of individuals, in which case I could be in favour of allowing a minor amendment where by a smack was defined as being open handed, leaving no mark (permanent or temporary – it’s not like it’s the actual pain which is the effective disciplining tool), not being to the face and being ‘reasonably executed’ in the parental duties.

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  53. Cerium (23,562 comments) says:

    Bradford’s Law tried to deal with the mildest end of the scale, it was never going to immediately affect kids dying at the worst end of the scale.

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  54. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    Ryan

    Your sarcasm is just so screamingly funny! If Sue Bradford actually cared about the children she would have taken the issue seriously and targeted those people who commit the appalling crimes, with her law. The fact that she didn’t says bucket loads about where her concern really lies.

    You know as well as I do that this is not about protecting children. It is about state intervention and how Sue Bradford thinks people should behave according to her socialist beliefs. If it was about protecting children how come shes quite relaxed about smacking being used for other purposes as stated in the law? How come smacking for correction is abuse, but smacking to reduce self-harm is acceptable? How come there is nothing in the law that limits the reasonable use of a hose pipe or an iron bar if it is used to stop self-harm?

    God how many times do you have to have it explained to you?

    And my question again is if she really cared about the children why doesn’t she make a public statement about how today’s (or any other day’s) death is not acceptable. What she really cares about is her own backside.

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  55. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    “15 kids dead and anther incident today it is obvious that Sue Bradford’s law does not work.”

    I note that there are many rapes although it is illegal – should we give up on that as well? Anyone who thinks that a piece of legislation is going to be a magic bullet, or says legislation fails because it is not a magic bullet is distorting reality. Further changing the attitutes to parenting and what is acceptible isnt exactly going to change in a year is it.

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  56. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Delivery Boy – this law was never intended to stop child abuse.

    In truth, cultural Marxists like Bradford are probably quite happy with increasing levels of violence directed towards children as it gives the state an increasing mandate to intervene broadly into family life across NZ.

    This isn’t a casual change. It’s part of a social architecture that Marx helped craft. He saw the destruction of the family as the first step in the achievement of his goals. Why? Because the family is key to passing the social, cultural, and religious ideals of the established order on to the next generation. The plan is to break down the family structure and have the state teach its ideals directly. We’ve been victims of this ‘progress’ for 30-40 years now.

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  57. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Your sarcasm is just so screamingly funny!

    Ah! Clever!

    You know as well as I do that this is not about protecting children. … If it was about protecting children how come shes quite relaxed about smacking being used for other purposes as stated in the law?

    Presumably because those are situations where using force results in less harm to the child than the alternative (or “protecting children”).

    How come smacking for correction is abuse, but smacking to reduce self-harm is acceptable?

    Because those are situations where using force results in less harm to the child than the alternative (or “protecting children”).

    How come there is nothing in the law that limits the reasonable use of a hose pipe or an iron bar if it is used to stop self-harm?

    Because those would be, if justified in that manner, situations where using force results in less harm to the child than the alternative (or “protecting children”).

    You’re seriously saying, “If Bradford was really about protecting children, she would want to prevent force being used against children to stop them from being electrocuted”?

    You sure you’re not just matching my sarcasm?

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  58. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    In truth, cultural Marxists like Bradford are probably quite happy with increasing levels of violence directed towards children as it gives the state an increasing mandate to intervene broadly into family life across NZ.

    Careful, Sarkozy will tell you off for being sarcastic.

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  59. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    jeff83 – no, but this law was like criminalising kissing in public in order to stop rape. Big difference

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  60. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    Jeff83

    The legislation wasn’t even aimed at those people who maim/kill/terrorise children. Try again. And stop trying to confuse the two issues you are failing miserably.

    Rape is not equivalent to an unwanted kiss on the cheek. Torturing a child to death is not equivalent a smack on the bum for naughtiness. Nobody thinks there should be a law that makes an unwanted kiss on the cheek a criminal offence (even if technically it is assault under the Crimes Act try bringing a conviction). Everybody (except the rapists) thinks there should be a law making rape a criminal offence.

    FFS!!!

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  61. Cerium (23,562 comments) says:

    “Nobody thinks there should be a law that makes an unwanted kiss on the cheek a criminal offence.”

    Really?

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  62. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    Careful, Sarkozy will tell you off for being sarcastic.

    Ryan I see I have touched a nerve.

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  63. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    Well Cerium I don’t. Doesn’t mean to say I think unwanted kisses are appropriate but I don’t think it warrants the police swooping in and arresting someone do you? That really would be a police state. Maybe NZers really do want to live like that, but I doubt it so I think I’m pretty safe in making that assertion.

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  64. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Ryan I see I have touched a nerve.

    What, he gets to say that Sue Bradford secretly delights in child abuse and I don’t?!

    At least be consistent.

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  65. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Or at least explain why you think someone who wants to protect children should rather let them be electrocuted than use force on them.

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  66. Sarkozygroupie (207 comments) says:

    Oh please Ryan

    Belting a small child with an iron bar to prevent them from harming themselves would be reasonable if it stopped them from electrocuting themselves? Come on.

    What I’m saying is that Sue Bradford thinks force is ok to use when it suits her beliefs, but not when it doesn’t. There are plenty of other ways to stop a child from harming itself and/or others than hitting it but this law explicitly states its ok to hit a child in any way shape or form as long as its before the fact and not after. That isn’t child protection that is ideology.

    My point is again why doesn’t this law target the real child abusers??

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  67. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    My prediction is this:

    The government poll rating will now start to fall – slowing but inexorably. Just as it did with Labour when the antismacking law came in and they ignored public feeling, the same will happen to National.

    I dont know if it will carry thru until the next election – its a long way off – but it just might be the start of a long slow slide.

    People will be more pissed off about this ignoring of the referendum than anything else.

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  68. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    getstaffed notes:

    In truth, cultural Marxists like Bradford are probably quite happy with increasing levels of violence directed towards children as it gives the state an increasing mandate to intervene broadly into family life across NZ.

    You’re correct, getstaffed. An end to the “individual ownership of children” has long been a radical Marxist ideal. However it wasn’t just Marx; Plato’s Republic called for community ownership of property, wives and children and was harshly critiqued by Aristotle, who saw it as impractical.

    That didn’t stop the Socialist Action League having a go at it in 1974 in a submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Women’s Rights. Citing it as a measure necessary to “remove discrimination against women”, they called for the nationalisation of children:

    The rearing, social welfare and education of children should become the responsibility of society, rather than the individual parents, upon whose limited resources all the burdens presently fall. All laws enforcing individual ownership of children should be abolished

    Then it was necessary to lift the burden from the shoulders of the oppressed housewife. Now it’s to stop “the child beaters”. The rationale may change but the aim remains the same.

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  69. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Rex – It’s a frightening, ultra slow-motion social train wreck we’re witnessing.

    The family is where care of others, sharing, respect for authority, kindness and nurture should take place, and where unconditional love should exist. The increase in delinquency we see around us is, IMO, directly proportional to the breakdown of the established family environment.

    State intervention is the problem, yet for the last 35 years we’ve been told that it’s the solution.

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  70. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “It’s a frightening, ultra slow-motion social train wreck we’re witnessing. ”

    It sure is. I just cannot believe how stupid they have become. I’d really like to know who is giving Key his advice, they’re either incompetent or they’re setting him up for a fall

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  71. Mr Nobody NZ (391 comments) says:

    I’d really like to know who is giving Key his advice, they’re either incompetent or they’re setting him up for a fall

    Well lets hope the fall happens quickly and whoever replaces him can equally put this Government back on track just as fast.

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  72. John Ansell (874 comments) says:

    John Key says the test of whether the law is working is whether good parents have been prosecuted.

    Those same good parents say the test is whether they feel scared that they may be reported to the police.

    To me, the good parents are more right than Key – and more to the point, it’s their decision.

    But both are looking at the problem through the wrong end of the telescope. The real test of whether the law is working is whether

    a) more

    b) as many, or

    c) fewer

    Maori children are being bashed to death by their parents.

    If the law is working, as John Key claims, the answer should be c).

    Does anyone have that figure?

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  73. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “I’d really like to know who is giving Key his advice, they’re either incompetent or they’re setting him up for a fall”

    Patrick, did you not read the origional post by DPF. Key is not a fool. He may be totaly lacking in principle but he is not a fool.

    Who are people going to vote for if they are not happy with his response?

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  74. democracymum (648 comments) says:

    Chuck

    Who are people going to vote for if they are not happy with his response?

    That’s an interesting question.
    I am picking that National could bleed up to 25% over the next few months because of this decision
    I think Act will pick up to around 10% (maybe even more)
    Around 3% would go to Labour as a protest vote
    National would then sit at 43%
    And Labour would be nibbling at there heels at around 35%

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  75. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    democracymum, I wish you were right but I cannot see this happening.

    This is an important issue for me. It about government undermining parental authority. The smacking this is the final straw.

    As far as I can see the only risk for Key is if Goff said he would change the legialation.

    That is possible but not likely.

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  76. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    “who will they vote for?”………………..

    its easy – anyone but national and labour. I voted against national when idiot shipley bought in lower alcohol ages and removed any sense from the electricity industry – but i didnt vote for labour.
    I voted NZ first party and local national candidate – and Ill do it again if they continue to ignore public sentiment.

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  77. kaya (1,360 comments) says:

    I understand what Key is saying completely but it is not enough. National have fucked up. People are furious that they are being ignored and democracy is being treated so dismissively. The law MUST be changed.

    Good parents are being made criminals with this law, it is irrelevant if police prosecute or not. CYFS can come into the home and take kids on the basis of an accusation from what could be a resentful ex or a neighbour who dislikes your new paint job.

    All the National Party need to do is adopt the Borrows/Boscowen amendment and this will be sorted. The policy advisers really have screwed this one and need sacked. If National think this one will go away by placating people with meaningless shite then they have miscalculated badly.

    I do not beat my kids nor do I wish to, however I DO NOT want the state interfering in my family’s life. National can take their reports and reviews and stick them, that is Liarbore shit. Address the real child abusers and killers.

    This is a miscalculation, anger is building and will not go away in a hurry as National seem to think. Might be time to go on a benefit, have more kids and chill out for a while. Seems to work for the minority.

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  78. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    easy Peasy

    Party Vote ACT.
    if 50% of the electorate give AC their party vote how many seats is that DPF?

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  79. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    Belting a small child with an iron bar to prevent them from harming themselves would be reasonable if it stopped them from electrocuting themselves? Come on.

    Are you seriously under the impression that would be acquitted under the current law?

    What I’m saying is that Sue Bradford thinks force is ok to use when it suits her beliefs, but not when it doesn’t.

    Yes, with the consistent principle of what harms the child the least.

    There are plenty of other ways to stop a child from harming itself and/or others than hitting it but this law explicitly states its ok to hit a child in any way shape or form as long as its before the fact and not after. That isn’t child protection that is ideology.

    Well, it’s both – it’s an ideology about child protection.

    My point is again why doesn’t this law target the real child abusers??

    How would it do that, Sarkozy? I can’t expect you to be familiar with what I’ve said previously on this blog, but I’ve repeatedly pointed out that the Green Party was mistaken and partly to blame for this nonsense by calling the repeal a stand against child abuse in anything beyond a very small technical way.

    I’ve repeatedly said that the only way this law change could directly protect children is by preventing those in court for beating their kids from having an outdated legal defence to use in getting off the assault charges. It could only ever directly protect children from repeat offenders who previously used “reasonable force” as a defence and went on to inflict even more damage on their kids.

    Like I said, I can’t expect you to know everything I’ve said on this blog in the past, and it’s understandable that you would lump me in with whatever stereotype you have in your head of someone who doesn’t spit and snarl about the repeal of S59 in general, but all I’ve been pointing out to you is the inconsistency of your own posts in this very thread.

    You can’t seriously have trouble understanding Sue Bradford being okay with the use of force to prevent self-harm when the alternative is even more harm to the child in question, and you can’t seriously claim this is somehow inconsistent with her “protecting children” stance. You just can’t. You’ve refused to back up what you said, instead turning to some extreme exaggerated hypothetical that no one in their right mind thinks is going to happen or that Bradford would approve of.

    You asked how Bradford could be concerned about protecting children while still being okay with force being used to prevent self-harm. I answered you. You ignored it and came up with an absurd scenario that applies neither to reality in general nor to Bradford in particular.

    We already have laws that “target real child abusers”. What you call “real child abuse” is illegal. Things being illegal doesn’t stop them from happening. To deal with child abuse on a societal level would require far grander and subtler moves than repealing S59. It was a lying mistake of the Green Party to suggest the repeal would have any more effect than the small one it (should have) had, and it was a lying mistake of Family First and Gang to do the same thing.

    It was a tiny repeal, fixing a loophole, which got hijacked by the Greens, by various Christian groups, then by National, then by Labour. The whole thing is fucking nonsense, and if anyone involved was serious about dealing with child abuse, they’d be dealing with its underlying causes, rather than bickering over insignificant matters.

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  80. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “f anyone involved was serious about dealing with child abuse, they’d be dealing with its underlying causes, rather than bickering over insignificant matters.”

    So Ryan do you think homosexuals were bickering over an insignificant matter as few of then got hauled before the court for sodomy?

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  81. Scott (1,800 comments) says:

    I believe we need some more direct action on this one. The problem is also the enlightened liberal media is against smacking.You only have to read Colin Espiner’s blog on Stuff to get the drift. These secular hard left people are the ones who control the media and thereby shape public opinion. We need more sensible people in journalism.

    I do think that a march on Parliament or two is the only way to stop this endless slide in to radically secular socialism.

    I think I should be allowed to smack my children. I love them and I know how to discipline them. The Bible tells me so and I believe the Bible is correct.

    And I resent godless Liberals with fractured families and chaotic lifestyles telling me, by statutory law, how to discipline my own family.

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  82. Cerium (23,562 comments) says:

    There are few Biblical subjects where more misunderstanding exists among Christians and Child Rights advocates today than that of spanking children.

    The Bible does not teach that spanking a child will save him from Hell.

    The Bible does not teach that spanking a child should bring tears.

    In Bible times, the texts concerning spanking children found in Proverbs were not applied to young children under the age of about 10 years!

    http://www.biblechild.com/

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  83. Cerium (23,562 comments) says:

    Anglican Church leader Dean Bay, of Auckland’s Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, says he is “concerned that a particular stance on child discipline has too often been characterised as ‘the’ Christian view.”

    He says too many Christians focus on “the ancient proverb of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’… Many Christians would think quite differently in relation to this matter”.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Church-dean-concerned-at-Christians-pro-smacking-attitude/tabid/423/articleID/117723/cat/238/Default.aspx

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  84. hj (7,021 comments) says:

    The Editor of the press Says:

    “It is the fact that the law frowns on smacking that will encourage parents to rethink and change their behaviour towards their children such is the influence of formal sanctions in altering humans’ attitudes.’
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/2779529/Editorial-Vote-a-fiasco

    Slogan/ billboard:

    Child Abuse: Parliament Blames You!

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  85. Ryan Sproull (7,153 comments) says:

    So Ryan do you think homosexuals were bickering over an insignificant matter as few of then got hauled before the court for sodomy?

    Chuck,

    Good response.

    I think the difference is that in the case of assaulting children (smack or otherwise) being illegal, it’s necessary for the legal system in general to work that the technical definitions err on the side of criminalising everyone, while the police err on the side of letting most technical crimes slide.

    In the case of homosexual law reform, you had institutionalised discrimination.

    My point was not that “the law is hardly ever put into practice, therefore it’s not a problem”. My point was that police ignoring technical assaults, and minor things technically being assault, are the two wacky things which, in combination, make policing and the law work in New Zealand in general.

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