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Cabinet backs off smacking bill push.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 3, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Cabinet backs off smacking bill push.
Tuesday, 03.04.2007, 07:50am (GMT12)

Cabinet backs off smacking bill push

By VERNON SMALL – The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 3 April 2007



The Government has abandoned another attempt to speed up the passage of Green MP Sue Bradford’s bill banning smacking and hitting children for the purposes of “correction”.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Cabinet had scrapped the latest tactic – to adopt it as a government measure allowing it to be debated on consecutive days.

As a member’s bill, it is debated for only one day every two weeks, meaning it could be late May or even June before it would become law.

It is expected to pass, with 65 out of 121 MPs in favour, but the Government has been keen to get the measure into law quickly and out of the headlines.

Miss Clark said even if the Government had adopted the proposed law, it would possibly not have passed this week, so debate would have spilled over the three-week Easter recess into May.

Both sides said the delay would give time to muster support.

Miss Clark said community organisations like Plunket, Barnardos and Save the Children, which had decades of service to children in New Zealand, had come out strongly in support of the bill.

“They’ll be working to make sure that the strong views they have about tackling abuse and violence against children are actually heard. We live in a little robust democracy and this bill is getting a lot of debate.”

She had experienced similar debates over issues such as homosexual law reform, adoption law reform, civil union and prostitution law reform. “They have a certain pathway that they follow.”

National MP Chester Borrows, who wants to amend the bill to allow parents to punish their children with a light smack, said its supporters would have time to reconsider.

All four Maori Party MPs back the bill, but Mr Borrows said planned hui would show them there was strong opposition.

Save the Children and other organisations “have got the wrong end of the stick”, he said. “The bill is flawed legislation. I think all they can do is talk about child abuse and this hasn’t got anything to do with child abuse, and that’s how 85 per cent of New Zealanders see it.”

Ms Bradford said the Government’s decision would give opponents “more time to further their misinformation campaign” but she was confident the bill would pass in the end.

“This is an anti-beating, anti-child-violence bill, not a piece of legislation that will see tens of thousands of well-meaning parents dragged into court for the occasional light smack,” she said.

NZ First was due to discuss its position at its caucus meeting today, but Miss Clark said that in talks with its leader Winston Peters yesterday he had not opposed the idea of adopting it as a government bill.



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