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National “treading lightly” – or beginning to cluck loudly?

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 1, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

National “treading lightly” – or beginning to cluck loudly?
Friday, 30.03.2007, 01:39pm (GMT12)

Nats tread lightly on smacking law repeal

TRACY WATKINS and NZPA – The Dominion Post | Friday, 30 March 2007

AAMB2();National is refusing to offer any assurances that it will repeal the so-called anti-smacking bill once it is in government as it rides a rising tide of public disaffection with Labour over that party’s support for the measure.

Most National MPs staunchly oppose the bill and some have declared that they smack their children and are proud of it.

Asked if that meant National would campaign at the next election to overturn the Sue Bradford-sponsored bill, leader John Key said the party was considering its options, though there may be limiting factors.

But if a process under way to force a referendum was successful, it was something “National would take very seriously”.

National has voted as a block on a Chester Borrows amendment that would water down the bill by enshrining into law the right of parents to smack or hit their children, so long as it caused only temporary pain or marks.

Mr Key said yesterday that the party was looking at potential options – but “the whole difficulty around that situation is putting in place wording that would reflect what we would want”.

National would also have to consider whether or not it could deliver on such a promise, because of issues such as whether it was a conscience vote, and potential coalition partners, he said.

The Government is losing support over its backing for the Bradford bill, which appears likely to be adopted as a government measure, meaning it could be passed as early as next week.

If not, the Government faces months of debilitating pressure on its MPs and members of its support parties.

The bill would rewrites section 59 of the Crimes Act, which gives parents who hit their children a defence of reasonable force.

Three National MPs planning to vote for the bill have changed their minds, citing huge pressure from their constituents.

Port Waikato’s Paul Hutchison, Rangitikei’s Simon Power and list MP Jackie Blue will now vote against the bill, leaving only National list MPs Paula Bennett and Katherine Rich still in favour. Dunedin-based Ms Rich has confirmed police are investigating after she received violent threats over her stand.

Mr Key said it was “frankly sick behaviour” and the party was deeply concerned.

Ms Rich said it would not change her support for the bill and it was an issue about which she had felt strongly for some years.

A woman had phoned her electorate office threatening Ms Rich’s children and making it clear she knew where they went to school.

But as the debate turns increasingly ugly, Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said Mr Key should bear some responsibility for the situation because of “scaremongering”.


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