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Video: Opposition to government’s bill plans.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 1, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Video: Opposition to government’s bill plans.
Thursday, 29.03.2007, 09:56pm (GMT12)

Mar 29, 2007

A fresh attempt to ram the anti-smacking bill through parliament has already run into trouble.
The government is considering adopting the controversial bill as its own so it can pass more quickly, but its political allies do not like the idea.

There has been plenty of heat in the smacking debate, but there is confusion about what the bill will actually do. 

For starters, it is not actually called the anti-smacking bill – it is the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Bill.  It removes a part of the Crimes Act allowing parents charged with assault to defend themselves, by saying they were just using ”reasonable force” to discipline their child.

Parents have been acquitted after hitting their children with a hose pipe, riding crop and a piece of wood.  It is the use of that force that supporters of the bill want stopped.

“If we’re serious about tackling the causes of child abuse, which is rife in this country, then this measure is vital,” Prime Minister Helen Clark says.

But opponents say the bill goes too far.

“The law which parliament is debating will mean that there is no defence for a parent who lightly smacks their child for the purposes for instance of preventing them from putting their hand on a hot element,” National deputy leader Bill English says.

If the bill is passed, technically it will be possible for even a light smack to be prosecuted, but Labour says police have considerable discretion and very minor offending will not generally result in a decision to prosecute.

Parents will also be allowed to use force in situations like stopping a child running on to the road.

Debate is due to continue in May unless the government takes the bill over and pushes it through more quickly, but its support partners do not like that idea.

“It’s not undemocratic as such, but it’s certainly perverting the way of doing things,” United Future leader Peter Dunne says.

A final decision on that is due next week.

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