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The Smacking Bill: Everyone claims a victory.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 3, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

The Smacking Bill: Everyone claims a victory.
Thursday, 03.05.2007, 08:20am (GMT12)

The Smacking Bill: Everyone claims a victory

5:00AM Thursday May 03, 2007
By Mike Houlahan

They all may be God’s children, but the congregations gathered in Wellington yesterday because of Sue Bradford’s child discipline bill have very different ways of behaving.

The large, boisterous Family Values rally on Parliament’s lawn was a rowdy child, loudly yelling in protest that the parental right to discipline offspring was under siege.

Across the road at Wellington Cathedral a more contemplative, reflective child bowed its head in silent prayer.

Neither side supports smacking: publicity material for the Family Values rally explicitly stated the gathering was not pro-smacking, and the 11 mournful tolls of a cathedral bell for each of the children killed in family violence-related incidents each year summed up the bill supporters’ position better than words.

Neither side needed to shore up support for its cause: yesterday’s compromise between Labour and National meant Ms Bradford’s bill will pass with a massive majority.

However, each was keen to claim the latest twist in the saga as a win for its side.

Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki, who received a reception befitting a rock star when he arrived at the Family Values rally, told the 1000-strong faithful that their opposition to the bill had sparked the compromise.

“Today this is a glorious victory for every good caring Kiwi parent in the land of New Zealand,” he said.

“It’s your day, it’s your victory, and you came through and you put the pressure on and the voice of the people was heard.”

He called the deal between Prime Minister Helen Clark, National Party leader John Key and Ms Bradford of the Greens an “extraordinary liaison” and said it was more than a little coincidental that the announcement was made minutes before the rally began.

Bishop Tamaki also said he would challenge Helen Clark when she presents the National Statement on Religious Diversity to an Asia-Pacific inter-faith forum at Waitangi.

When she said New Zealand was a country with no official or established religion, Bishop Tamaki would argue that New Zealand was a Christian country.

While Bishop Tamaki seemed to welcome the liaison between Mr Key and the Prime Minister, his colleague, the Rev Mike Weitenberg of the Wellington Metro Global Church Community, described it as a sugar-coated pill to cover a deadly blow to the New Zealand family.

“It’s food for custody battles, it’s food for neighbourhood disputes, it’s food for false accusations against parents by children who can’t get their own way.

“It’s a family invasion, it’s a cultural invasion and it’s an invasion attacking democracy.”

In Wellington Cathedral, a much more solemn gathering bridging views from Anglicans, Catholics and Presbyterians to the agnostic Prime Minister and a Rastafarian Green MP heard the Rev Margaret Mayman set out the statistics that have motivated Ms Bradford and her supporters to push for the bill to be passed.

“Eleven children under 15 are killed each year in New Zealand by the people who have them in their care,” Dr Mayman said.

“Four of these children are under 1 year old. Eighty-five per cent of adults responsible for child homicide in New Zealand are members of the child’s family household.

“As Christians charged with care of the vulnerable, we lament this reality,” Dr Mayman said.

“Physical punishment is a demonstrated risk factor in child abuse.

“Child abuse deaths usually begin with physical punishment, which escalates in a context of frustration with the child, anger, and a belief that physical force can stop unwanted behaviour,” she said.

“To prevent these deaths … we must reach a point where parents do not rely on physical punishment as the preferred means of guiding their children’s behaviour.”

Wrestling with his conscience

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven last night revealed how close he came to crossing the floor over the Bradford bill.

Mr Duynhoven is one of Labour’s more conservative MPs, and was frequently challenged by National MPs to vote with opponents of the bill.

“On this issue I have been more torn than any other issue we have debated in this House,” he said.

“I have seriously considered whether I fitted still, whether my views and the basis of my value system were appropriate for the party I am in.”

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