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Cullen denies backing down on bill.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 28, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Cullen denies backing down on bill.
Wednesday, 28.03.2007, 09:37am (GMT12)

Cullen denies backing down on bill.

Mar 28, 2007

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen denies the decision to drop urgency motion of the anti-smacking bill is a back down, saying he is confident Labour had the numbers to pass it. 

Cullen says Labour and the Green Party agreed last week to explore whether they had the numbers for a successful urgency motion. He says he did not specifically push for urgency and it was Green MP and bill author Sue Bradford who wanted it through.

He also says Labour was getting clear indications from New Zealand First that it was causing a lot of internal ructions for the party. Cullen says Labour’s relationship with New Zealand First is more important than pushing the bill through urgency.

But the Maori Party Co-leader Pita Sharples says he does not buy the government’s argument that the urgency was causing angst among New Zealand First MPs.

He believes Labour withdrew its call for urgency over the anti-smacking bill because it knew it did not have the numbers to succeed without the Maori Party’s support.

Sharples says his party supports the bill but would not have voted for it to be passed under urgency.

He says it is also clear that Labour MPs who are uncomfortable about being forced to vote as a bloc are even more disgruntled.

National leader John Key also says Labour is failing to convince its own MPs to support the bill.

The bill is set to have another round of committee stage debate in parliament on Wednesday evening.

Kids as pawns

Meanwhile there is concern children are being taken advantage of during the debate over the anti-smacking bill.

Groups opposed to the legislation – which would remove the defence of “reasonable force” from Section 59 of the Crimes Act – are planning a mass rally outside parliament.

However, Barnardos chief executive Murray Edridge says while he respects people expressing their views, he is concerned some are using their children in protests.

He says people need to keep a sense of balance when arguing the issues and he is particularly concerned by the parents who put placards around their children’s necks.

Edridge says it is a cynical misuse of children.

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