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Turia’s support for Bradford bill waivers.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 11, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Turia’s support for Bradford bill waivers.
Sunday, 11.03.2007, 06:23pm (GMT12)

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is “wavering” on supporting the anti-smacking bill after spending the week talking to people in her electorate, Te Tai Hauauru.

Turia, who has previously given strong speeches in favour of the bill, said she is concerned Maori and Pacific families would be “targeted and criminalised” if it is passed.

Sponsored by Green MP Sue Bradford, the bill would repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, which provides a defence of reasonable force for a parent who hits a child. An amendment proposed by National MP Chester Borrows’ would outlaw anything that caused more than “transitory and trifling” injury.

The amendment goes to a vote on Wednesday and the bill – a conscience vote – will face its final vote later this month.

Bradford believes she has 63 votes to defeat Borrows’ amendment – including the Maori Party’s four MPs. She could also pick up National Party support to push the bill through its final reading if the amendment fails.

However, lobbying against the bill is ferocious and equivocal support from MPs such as Turia has left advocates nervous that numbers could move against them.

Turia told the Star-Times she was concerned Pacific Island and Maori families could be targeted if the bill succeeds. She said she would “probably not” vote for the amendment. However, she was “wavering at the moment whether (the repeal of s59) is the right way to go”.

She was concerned it would be “put in place without education and Maori and Pacific Island families are highly likely to be targeted and criminalised … we need an assurance from government that police will not be going out and arresting people”.

Turia said the other Maori MPs would be listening to their constituents and would make their own decisions. Borrows will also speak at the Maori Party’s caucus on Tuesday in a final pitch to get their votes.

His pitch comes amid lobbying from organisations including Family First, which has called on Pacific Island groups, churches, and communities to campaign against the bill.

Borrows’ said his amendment would ensure normal parents are not criminalised, while supporters of Bradford’s bill say it must be passed to combat New Zealand’s appalling record of child abuse.

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