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Last-ditch battle for smacking bill votes.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 27, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Last-ditch battle for smacking bill votes.
Tuesday, 27.03.2007, 07:27am (GMT12)

Last-ditch battle for smacking bill votes

Email this storyPrint this story 5:00AM Tuesday March 27, 2007
By James Ihaka  and Simon Collins 

Sue Bradford. Photo / Greg Bowker

Sue Bradford. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Smacking Debate

Street marches in Wellington and Christchurch tomorrow will give MPs a last-minute test of their resolve to support Sue Bradford’s “anti-smacking” bill.

Supporters of the legislation will stage counter-demonstrations in both cities, but Ms Bradford conceded yesterday that “I don’t think they are expecting to match the [opponents’] numbers”.

Two opinion polls yesterday showed strong public opposition to her private member’s bill.

One, by Colmar Brunton for One News, found 83 per cent of those surveyed believed in smacking children and 15 per cent did not.

The other, by Research New Zealand, found 73 per cent disagreed with the bill and 72 per cent believed it would be unenforceable.

Both sides of the debate unveiled last-minute moves yesterday: a new website to send emails to MPs supporting the bill on Ms Bradford’s side, and full-page advertisements seeking a referendum against the bill on the other.

The two sides squared off last night in Helensville at a public meeting that drew 150 people.

“If I wanted to make smacking a criminal offence I would have found a way to define it.”

Former United Future MP Larry Baldock, who is behind a petition against the bill, said the legislation was “like using a mallet to hit a peanut, and likely to cause more grief than good”.

He said there was no evidence that smacking children bred criminals or violent behaviour, and a big majority of New Zealanders opposed the legislation.

The Bradford bill, as amended by a select committee, abolishes parents’ right to use reasonable force to “correct” a child, but allows it to protect the child or others from harm or to stop offensive or disruptive behaviour. It is due back in Parliament tomorrow, though Leader of the House Michael Cullen has dropped his plan to seek urgency to get the bill passed into law quickly.

Ms Bradford said last week that she believed she had the support of 63 of Parliament’s 121 MPs.

Bev Adair, of the For the Sake of Our Children Trust, said yesterday that ordinary middle-class families who normally trusted authorities were aghast that their MPs were ignoring polls showing overwhelming opposition to the bill.

“We’ve had nice nanas out banging their petitions on posts because they feel powerless to make their feelings heard.”

Mr Baldock said 55,244 people had signed his petition since March 1.

He hopes more than 100,000 will sign the copies printed in advertisements in today’s Herald, Dominion Post, Press and Otago Daily Times.

The $40,000 advertising splurge was backed morally, but not financially, by Grey Power, the Waipareira Trust, Otara’s Crosspower Ministries, the Affirming Works social work agency in South Auckland, the Samoa Community Council of Waitakere and others.

Affirming Works founder Emeline Afeaki-Mafileo said she had met only a few Pacific Islanders who backed the bill.

“It’s about a way of governing our families in a space where Government doesn’t intervene,” she said.

On the other side of the argument, a website called goes live today with draft emails for supporters to send to MPs.

“We’ve had a huge increase in lobbying from people who support the bill very recently,” said Beth Wood of the Epoch (End Physical Punishment Of Children) Trust.

Her group has also produced a flyer for MPs listing support from 55 groups including Plunket, Unicef, Barnardos, Save the Children, Children’s Commissioner Cindy Kiro and the Families Commission.


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