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Slanging match in House delays bill to stop smacking

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 15, 2007


Slanging match in House delays bill to stop smacking

5:00AM Thursday March 15, 2007
By Mike Houlahan

Opponents of the bill to ban smacking last night stalled its progress in Parliament, winning more time to campaign against the legislation.

MPs opposed to Green MP Sue Bradford’s bill filed a number of amendments and made a succession of speeches as they fought each clause of the legislation.

The tactics hobbled the bill in its committee stages. Debate on it will resume in a fortnight when the Easter recess is over. After 4 hours of often heated argument, Parliament had managed to pass only the title of the bill and agree on when it would come into effect, if passed.

MPs did not begin to debate National Wanganui MP Chester Borrows’ amendment to allow parents to lightly smack their children.

The debate was vicious at times. National MPs, angered that Labour MPs are under orders to back Ms Bradford’s bill, highlighted that Prime Minister Helen Clark and several Labour MPs were not parents, but were prepared to enact laws about parenting.

National Wairarapa MP John Hayes also referred to controversy about Cabinet Minister David Benson-Pope’s disciplinary methods when he was a teacher. show_ad_tag(‘’,’NZH’,’FEA’,’THESMACKINGDEBATE’,’STY’,’300X250′,”,”);

Labour MPs fired back, accusing National MPs of being hypocritical when they themselves were obliged to vote for Mr Borrows’ amendments.

Several Labour MPs are believed to have serious reservations about Ms Bradford’s bill. Likewise, some National MPs are known to be far from enthusiastic supporters of Mr Borrows’ amendments.

National Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson moved an amendment that asked all 121 MPs to attest they supported the bill, and four other amendments that singled out Labour MPs Damien O’Connor, George Hawkins, Harry Duynhoven and Dover Samuels and asked them to sign a similar declaration. All were ruled out of order.

United Future MP Judy Turner’s attempt to have a referendum held on the bill was soundly defeated.

A decision on Tuesday by the Maori Party to back Ms Bradford’s bill is expected to push it over the line.

However, it has not deterred National from staging a last-ditch effort to defer the bill for as long as possible.

Mr Borrows’ amendments, when finally put, are expected to lose 63-58. When Ms Bradford’s bill makes it to its final vote, which could be as far away as May, it is expected to pass with a larger majority as some National MPs will support it.

Expelled Labour MP Taito Phillip Field disrupted debate with 50 amendments aimed at delaying its introduction.

The independent MP, who opposes the bill, confirmed his move was a delaying tactic but said it was for a serious purpose.

“I think the bill should be delayed to allow New Zealanders to consider the issue,” he said.

Ms Bradford was in a philosophical mood last night. “When lots of people really care about something, they want to talk about it,” she said.


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