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National going cap in hand to Labour and the Greens over the anti-smacking bill?

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 19, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

National going cap in hand to Labour and the Greens over the anti-smacking bill?
Wednesday, 18.04.2007, 07:41am (GMT12)

Cautious steps over smacking compromise

By TRACY WATKINS – The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Cautious steps are being taken toward seeking a political consensus on smacking after National leader John Key offered to look for common ground.

Mr Key said he would seek a meeting in the next few days with Green MP Sue Bradford, whose bill to outlaw physical punishment has polarised public and political opinion.

Yesterday Ms Bradford did not rule out changes to her bill to meet National’s concerns – but conceded it would be difficult to find a solution that would satisfy both camps.

The Government also said its door was open but Mr Key would have to come up with more than vague suggestions.

United Future leader Peter Dunne, a key supporter of the bill, urged other parties to take up the offer and the Maori Party said cross-party talks were a good idea.

But Ms Bradford rejected Mr Dunne’s suggestion that the bill be deferred while politicians sought a compromise.

Mr Key made the offer to re-open talks with supporters of the Bradford bill in a speech on domestic violence to the Salvation Army in Christchurch.

Only one National MP, list MP Katherine Rich, now supports the bill, which would outlaw the use of physical punishment “for the purposes of correction”.

Opponents say the bill will criminalise smacking but supporters say it only removes a defence in the current law that has allowed some parents to be acquitted of assault charges, despite administering severe beatings to their child.

National has promoted an amendment to the Bradford bill that would enshrine parents’ rights to smack or hit their child, so long as it causes only temporary pain or marks.

But the amendment is almost certain to fail when the bill is next put to the vote, on May 2.

Mr Key said Parliament should be able to come up with a compromise that satisfied most groups and MPs should get back around the table.

Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope said the Government’s door was open but there had already been extensive debate over 18 months during select committee deliberations.

Mr Key had yet to spell out what compromises he was prepared to make, he said.

“So far John Key and the National Party have been polarising the debate and deliberately scaremongering rather than debating the bill on its merits,” he said.

Ms Bradford said she would take up the offer of a meeting and “see if there’s any room to move and find a constructive way forward”.

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