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CYFS and The Government – Dr Michael Bassett.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 26, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

CYFS and The Government – Dr Michael Bassett.
Thursday, 24.05.2007, 08:01am (GMT12)

CYF and the Government

11/11/2003

So Child, Youth and Family will get another chief executive. The Government intends to spend an extra $100 million on the service, new staff will be recruited, and we are asked to believe that children and families in distress will now be better looked after. “Major management problems” within CYF, “critical information gaps” and “a culture resistant to change” will be fixed, resulting in more effective services. Keep your eyes on the heavens : a herd of pigs will soon fly past.

What we are dealing with is just another stage in the collapse of the State¹s welfare services and the fatal conceit of politicians who think “the Government” can fix everything. Having created many of the problems that afflict CYF children, politicians want us to believe they now have a solution. The reality is that a runaway benefit system has been attacking the fence at the top of the cliff these last thirty years, destroying family values and the sense of parental responsibility for children that my generation took as axiomatic. Instead of trying to restore those values, the politicians are buying another ambulance to pick up those they first pushed from the top. The trouble is, the hole is getting bigger, and more fall through it at a faster rate. With one hand the State is pushing children over the cliff, while the other hand fumbles, or drops them at the bottom.

Worst of all, the public averts its gaze, many falling for brainless political assurances that changes at CYF will fix things. No wonder there¹s low staff morale within the service!

Of course there have always been some unwanted and abused children, and there always will be. We need public services to help them. It¹s more than a century since Minnie Dean, the Southland baby farmer, was hanged for murdering babies in her care. But the difficulties confronting today’s children who are unlucky enough to be born at the bottom of the heap have reached epidemic proportions. The mess could be reduced if there were more determination to make parents accountable for their children. CYF¹s problems could become manageable. When will we find a politician prepared to try?

The first thing that needs tackling is the excessive number of children born to those with little or no interest in their upbringing. “The rich get rich and the poor get children” used to have a degree of inevitability about it.

But it’s ridiculous in an era of free contraception and relatively easy access to abortion. What we have done since the introduction of the DPB in 1973 is guarantee that the poor will have more children than they can cope with. The benefit system encourages people caught in the welfare poverty trap to breed, rather than limit their progeny. Educating and nurturing even one child in a single-parent household and let’s be frank, that¹s where most of those in danger come from is a big ask for any mother. Some take solace in multiple partners, especially if they increase the number of dependants, and hence the family’s income. Too many men batten on to vulnerable women, and abuse their partner’s children. Many kids start their lives in poverty, and will remain enmeshed in the net till death. The problems originate in dysfunctional homes and a benefit system that did so much to cause them. Violence, crime, and drug and alcohol abuse are those children¹s constant companions. Over the past decade the problems have grown to such an extent that the Police can¹t contain the daily fall-out from what the DPB, plus too-readily available sickness and unemployment benefits, are doing to our society. All people, even the stupid, respond to incentives.

Pay them to breed, then accept the responsibility to care for their offspring, and they’ll oblige with more.

For people genuinely interested in our children¹s welfare it¹s time the fence at the top of the cliff was replaced with a requirement for more parental responsibility. Extra funding for CYF’s ambulance services will cure nothing. The problem was caused in the first place by bleeding heart politicians who underestimated the damage they were doing to society. I voted for the DPB and several other benefits without enough thought. We encouraged people to shuck off their responsibilities on to society as a whole. The State cannot act effectively in loco parentis. Teachers and social workers know it only too well. How many more kids will die before today’s politicians work it out?

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NEW ZEALAND BURNS WHILE CLARK PLAYS…

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 17, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

NEW ZEALAND BURNS WHILE CLARK PLAYS…
Monday, 14.05.2007, 09:07pm (GMT12)

NEW ZEALAND BURNS WHILE CLARK PLAYS…

 

Lets see now, a 2 year old killed in Wanganui because of a gang war, this problem has been festering in NZ for years, and Labour and National, despite report after report, ignore the problem, too hard they say. To hard says Clark.

 

Jenny Shipley, the scumbag ex leader of National wanted to lower the drinking age, labour supported that idea. Ironic then that two 16 years old girls DIED in Shipleys former electorate (or close to it) this past weekend due to an out of control party.

 

Recently, calls to raise the drinking age again was also consigned to the ‘too hard” basket by Labour.

 

So MP’s are allowing scumbag gang patched members to run riot in our communities, selling drugs to our children, committing crimes, including shooting two year old children, and allowing young teens to be killed at out of control parties…

 

…but what’s NOT too hard for them is to turn good parents into criminals, despite 80% of people being against this bill.

 

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH OUR PARLIAMENT??

 

The deaths of these two teens, and that two year old can be FIRMLY laid at the feet of our parliament.

 

I’m starting to think its NOT the scumbags we elect to the system, but the system itself. Maybe its time for the people to take back what is ours by right, our democracy, save it from these people that are turning it into a dictatorship.

 

By FORCE if necessary! People power worked in the Philippines, and in Russia, and it must work here.

 

It will soon be illegal to lightly smack a child, but gang patched scum are shooting toddlers, and drunk teens are killing other teens, and MPs think this is all acceptable?

 

GIVE US A BREAK!

 

GIVE US OUR DEMOCRACY BACK AGAIN!

 

Clark, Bradford and that sell-out John Key should all resign as MPs. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH DAMNIT!

 

Give us our democracy back you scumbag no hopers.

 

kiwi1960


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NZ Judiical system sows doubt into the public arena.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 17, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

NZ Judiical system sows doubt into the public arena.
Monday, 14.05.2007, 08:01pm (GMT12)

David Bain’s Legacy To Parents…

First, it was Arthur Allan Thomas, and now, David Bain is free because of a faulty system. The Privy Council decision goes much deeper than just the Bain case, as did the Thomas pardon decades ago.

 

Whether by design (corruption) or flaws in the system, this decision means that other cases such as the Peter Ellis case needs to be urgently reviewed, but NOT by this Justice system. Ellis has, like Bain, always maintained his innocence, even though he is now free.

 

But, if the flaws exist with the Police and the Criminal Courts, then is not logical to assume that they also exist with CYFS and the Family Court?

 

If there are corrupt Police officers giving the Police a bad name because of their conduct, then why too not social workers? If some Police officers are twisting the law to get a conviction, then why not social workers too?

 

The O.S.H. case against the Berrymans is another issue that will now need to be looked at, before the election, as leader of the opposition, Helen Clark was heard on TV saying “this is not right” when looking at the bridge which collapsed, killing a beekeeper.

 

After the election, she didn’t want to help them anymore, and now, thinks $200,000 is plenty of compensation even though they lost their million dollar farm to pay legal bills.

 

The entire system is corrupt, and is this way because people like Helen Clark protect the system they should be making more transparent and more accountable.

 

kiwi1960

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Memo to Sue Bradford – your bill won’t stop abuse.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 17, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Memo to Sue Bradford – your bill won’t stop abuse.
Monday, 14.05.2007, 08:00pm (GMT12)

Just saw the whore on TV, looking at the photo’s of that little boy killed my his parents….

 

She is making out this is why her bill is important…

 

HEY SUE…. they were found GUILTY…. and your stupid bill isn’t law yet… so what’s the problem????

 

this proves there’s no need for your bill, so DROP IT!!!

 

and that Judge should resign, he released the photo’s to help Bradford’s bill pass and to sway public opinion.

 

Its against the rules for Judges to get involved in a political debate like this, so, he should go.

 

kiwi1960


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CYFS have more leverage to prosecute parents under Bradford Bill.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 11, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

CYFS have more leverage to prosecute parents under Bradford Bill.
Thursday, 10.05.2007, 10:50pm (GMT12)

Coke, Subway Dismissal and Poor Police Discretion

10 May 2007Coke, Subway Dismissal and Poor Police Discretion

What do two shared cups of Diet Coke, Sue Bradford’s flawed Anti-smacking Bill, CYFS (Child, Youth and Family Services), the Dunedin Police and a local Dunedin Subway (fast food) management team have in common? Before answering this conundrum, here’s a hint. Consider the latest news:

Family-values opponents of Bradford’s Anti-smacking Bill have expressed outrage and disbelief that Dunedin police exhibited such poor “discretion” prior to laying a criminal charge of “theft” against a full-time Subway worker, Ms Jackie Lang, for her “theft” of two cups of Diet Coke. Dunedin-based members of The Young Labour Party, who took to the streets in protest at the “unjust” treatment of Ms Lang by Subway, claimed that she only “shared” her coke with a friend and committed no action worthy of criminal prosecution. The protestors vitriolic performance was only directed at Subway, NOT the police. More astute commentators outside the Labour Party ranks, have accused the police of just buckling under Subway pressure when they laid the charge for an “offence” that almost every reasonable-minded New Zealanders would consider “to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution”. The police prosecuted Lang AFTER she had been notified by Subway of her dismissal and apparently after she indicated to Subway that she intended to take the matter to the Employment Court (over what she said was her unfair dismissal without warning – a response by Subway out of all proportions to her actions).

Conundrum Answer: “DISCRETION”

(1) Choosing largely sugar-free Diet Coke over normal Coke involves “discretion” and sharing it with a friend involves careful “discretion” (wipe the cup before sharing your potent disease with a friend!).

(2) Bradford’s bill involves an affirmation that “discretion” must be applied by police prior to them laying charges against parents for “inconsequential… offences” (the term “police … discretion” has been inserted into the bill for the purpose of supposedly protecting good parents from being prosecuted for lightly smacking their kids for the purpose of “correction”).

(3) Subway management applied “discretion” – albeit a very poor fast-food flavoured variety, when they insisting that the police lay a charge of theft against Ms Lang, for her “theft” of two cups of Diet Coke with a retail value of $4.00. (Subway is a franchise and the outlets are individually owned).

(4) Dunedin police applied “discretion” – albeit a very poor tax-payer funded variety, when they laid a criminal charge against Ms Lang.

(5) CYFS has a well-documented track-record of making many discretionary judgments relating to children and young persons, within the context of domestic violence, that their numerous critics have described as “appalling”, “ill-conceived” and “stupid”. And yet CYFS ‘expert’ judgements by their largely unqualied social workers, significantly inform and impact police prior to the latter using their own “discretion” in choosing whether or not to lay charges involving domestic violence – including smacking complaints.

The Society believes that the Dunedin Subway case raises serious questions about Bradford’s flawed Anti-Smacking Bill that Parliament is set to vote on next week. It puts the focus onto one of the key issues – the use and misuse of “POLICE DISCRETION” – applied before charges are laid under a reorked s. 59 of the Crimes Act (1961). Police already have a comprehensive list of guidelines issued by the Solitor-General’s Office informing them on what matters must be considered before laying criminal charges following formal complaints, including those involving all forms of domestic violence.

Two of these consideratons have been affirmed in the latest amendment to the flawed Anti-Smacking Bill that has been approved by the vast majority of MPs which states:

[Clause 4]: “To avoid doubt it is affirmed that police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child, or person in the place of a parent of a child, in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public intrres in proceeding with a prosecution.”

The nature of the evidence establishing a prima facie case that an offence(s) has taken place and the issue of “public interest” factor regarding proceeding with a prosecution, are all weighed up before a charge is laid by police, in all cases where PROPER police discretion is applied. Clause 4 is only a reminder to police and does not change Bradford’s flawed anti-family bill – in that all use of force used by a parent on a child for correction is still constituted a criminal offence.

Despite the candy-coated addition embodied in clause 4 – to a bill that tens of thousands of New Zealanders consider a “poison pill” – the vast majority of New Zealanders opposing the bill (over 80%), do NOT have confidence that the police are always capable of applying proper discretion in the laying of charges, when it comes to domestic violence, let alone considering Subway complaints of “theft”.

CYFS will have renewed leverage under Bradford’s bill to ensure that parents who apply reasonable force to smack their kids for correction, or apply any other reasonable force for correction, will be prosecuted. If police can buckle under the strain of a Subway franchise holder they will also buckle under the force of the ideologues within CYFS and other child advocasy agencies to prosecute good parents. Bradford and her supporters are determined that Nanny State has the powers to reach into homes to force good parents to deal with children in a way that conforms to the State-sanctioned philosophy and secular values.

ENDS

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Labours Answer To Drunk Teens…

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 11, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Labours Answer To Drunk Teens…
Wednesday, 09.05.2007, 02:57pm (GMT12)

Labours Answer To Drunk Teens…


Labour, who supported Jenny Shipley near the end of her stint in the house by passing a law lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 now has its answer for the chaos caused by drunk teens….

It is thinking of increasing the tax on booze….

The MPs were told by intelligent people at the time the age was lowered that this would cause problems, that those younger than 18 would be drunk, but Shipley said the Police could deal with it, and besides, the age would be raised again if the new law was abused…

With kids as young as NINE being drunk on the streets, our MPs thought it was about time the age was raised again.

But of course, 18 to 21 year olds are voters, and no party wanted to lose votes, so the motion was defeated. It seems the votes were more important than any drunk children wandering the streets.

So, now, we have this idea, its been suggested before, but over the weekend, two 16 years old girls were killed at a wild booze party in Christchurch. Raise the tax…. young people wont be able to afford booze…

I’m not a drinking person, very rarely will you see a beer at my lips… but I fail to see the logic of this idea, why punish ALL booze drinkers because of a few kids getting out of control?

The real reason is that the Minister of Finance is rubbing his hands with glee thinking of all that extra tax he will rake in… Labour doesn’t care about the children, doesn’t care about the adults that have to pay more…

They care more about losing the 18-21 year old voters than they do about any children that are killed….

What’s so hard? Raise the drinking age to 21 again to protect our children, they are passing
Bradford’s bill against the wishes of the people for that reason, what’s the problem?

But then, they wont do anything about the gangs because that’s too hard for them to deal with as well! These gangs are killing our children, be it with drugs or drive by shootings. Children have been found in gang “P” labs, one exploded on the weekend, a child was found lying near a loaded pistol…

Again, what’s so hard? If these gang thugs want to live like animals and make the people living near them live in fear, then what’s the problem? The people would support such a move, make them like terrorists, and crack down on them, HARD, hound them into the grave, who cares? I don’t, I’d welcome such a move…

But Labour doesn’t want to lose the gang vote it seems… go figure, what other reason could there be for Labour protecting them…. other than totally losing the Maori vote.

So, Labour wants to come up with stupid solutions to stop youth drinking, and do nothing to crack down on gangs, BUT… they are willing to defy 80% of the people and crack down on decent parents who smack their children for purposes of correction!

This bill would have been defeated day one if Labour didn’t need the Greens to help them stay in power. That’s why
Clark was anti this bill before the election, and now that Taito Philip Fields is gone, she is supporting it.

She wont even allow her MPs the right to vote the way they see fit, lest it be defeated, and the Greens pull away from helping them stay in power.

This is MMP at work, its a corrupt system, one where deals are done behind closed doors and the result is that the people are screwed time and time again.

There’s SIXTY MPs in the house who no one voted for, Bradford is one of them, they lost the election because the electorate they were in decided, for whatever reason, that they didn’t want them, be it because they came across as insane (like Bradford did) or they didn’t trust the person (like they didn’t trust Bradford) and the result is the same. The voters didn’t want them in the house.

But then, people who used their party vote to support a party were fooled into thinking this was a good thing to do. WRONG! The Party, lets use the Greens as an example, used those votes to screw the people.

If a party gets 10% of the total party vote, but only have two elected MPs then they are allowed to insert 4 MPs into the house, 10% of 60 seats is 6, so they use the party vote. The first 4 MPs on the list are elected to Parliament UNLESS they won the seat. Position number 1 on any party list is always reserved for the leader, then the deputy leader etc etc.

This is how
Bradford was “elected”. Not by the people, but by the party giving her the number three spot on the party list.

She is effectively a Claytons MP! She doesn’t represent the people, but the party, who, by giving her a high spot on the list, elected her. She doesn’t owe anything to the people.

Sue Bradford was a COMMUNIST in her youth, and probably still is. She is laughing her head off at the system we use to elect our MPs.

Should this Claytons MP be allowed to introduce bills into the house? NO! She is only there to make up the numbers so should only be allowed to vote on the bills and laws REAL MPs put into the house.

Our system is corrupt, it need to be changed now, Bradford has NO RIGHT to have this bill in the house, and Labour is only supporting it so they can stay in power, but while time is wasted on this bill, our children are dying in drive by shootings, by drugs and booze.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

kiwi1960

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Wolves and Sheep.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 11, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Wolves and Sheep.
Tuesday, 08.05.2007, 08:31pm (GMT12)

Re: News-n-Debate > NZ – CYFS Social Workers being provided specialist counselling and Police protection for being named on CYFSWATCH.

From: Benjamin Easton

 

I don’t think we have wolves and pigs. We have wolves and sheep.

 

Yet I also figure that the sheep aren’t as black as they are being made out and the wolves that are wearing the skins of sheep should lose the pretence and stand up before the pack and say what you are doing to the national flock is unacceptable.

 

Once a few more wolves (dogs) have the guts to do that then there won’t be any sheep left; and nor will there be wolves.

 

The analogy is about the use and abuse of power and when we are talking about our sons and daughters as being the ultimate sacrifice – who needs it?

 

Let’s stop play with these phrases of power. Let’s stop playing divide and rule games. Let’s get on with the business of standing collectively before the abuse of an administration and say “you will stop abusing our son’s and daughters with your improper interventions”. “And you will fix from the damage you have caused”.

 

I agree with Jim that CYFSWATCH has done a good job, should be proud and should keep up the good work: Until individuals like Mr.Hughes stops hiding behind power, and his employees (rights and demands) necessities to be protected, and start to answer some of the very difficult questions that can/Shall/will be posed to him.

 

Benjamin Easton.


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Muriel Newman: Anti-Smacking Amendment a death blow to Democracy, and a win for CYFS Social Workers.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 7, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Muriel Newman: Anti-Smacking Amendment a death blow to Democracy, and a win for CYFS Social Workers.
Monday, 07.05.2007, 12:44pm (GMT12)

The Tail is Wagging the Dog

The ramming through Parliament of the deeply unpopular anti-smacking bill is the clearest sign yet that under MMP the ‘tail is wagging the dog’. As Iain Gillies wrote in an editorial in the Gisborne Herald last month: “Widespread antipathy to Sue Bradford’s bill on parental smacking could unwittingly provoke renewed calls for a review of the MMP voting system. The motion does not figure much – yet – in either public discussion or the parliamentary debate, but may well get traction when voters consider to whom their MPs are beholden; their party hierarchy or the electorate (To read the article click http://www.gisborneherald.co.nz/article.asp?aid=8971&iid=688&sud=41)

MMP was sold to New Zealanders as a system that would improve representative democracy in this country so that the views of the voters would hold more weight. Surely, no-one could have envisioned the situation we now find ourselves in whereby, in spite of overwhelming public opposition, a list-only minority party is being allowed to foist onto New Zealanders the sort of anti-family legislation that would make Karl Marx proud.

The anti-smacking bill is the brainchild of Green Party MP Sue Bradford. In a 2005 article entitled Vote Labour Now to Smash Capitalism Later, the Communist Workers’ Group states: “A Labour government may need the backing of the Greens. Commentator Chris Trotter said that the New Zealand Greens are probably the most left-wing Green party in the world that has made it into political office. On the face of it there seems to be some truth in this with people like ex-Socialist Action League member Keith Locke and ex-Workers Communist League member Sue Bradford”.  (See Aotearoa Independent Media Centre: http://indymedia.org.nz/newswire/display/37062/index.php)

So unbelievably, because of the support of the Prime Minister, a former Workers Communist League member is now set to impose her ideology onto New Zealand. British journalist Lynette Burrows in an article How to control adults by means of ‘children’s rights’ explains what’s behind the ideology:

“The question was always, why are the children’s rights people so concerned to make the parental right to smack their children illegal? Most of their organisations have been more or less devoted to the subject despite the fact that 90% of good and caring parents say that it is necessary at times. Now the answer is clear.

“It is a device which places most parents in the power of social workers. They are by training and tradition, marxist, feminist and anti-religious. They don’t much care for the family and lend their weight on every possible occasion to arguments and devices that show it in a bad light… The traditional family is still the safest place for any child to be – but you wouldn’t know it from official literature on the subject.

“Thus, anybody who wanted to further a marxist, feminist agenda could not do better than to have most families in thrall to social workers. It is not about the elevation of children’s rights at all. It is all about the crushing of adult ones”. (To read the article click: http://www.nkmr.org/english/how_to_control_adults_by_means_%20of_childrens_rights.htm)

Complicit in this attack on parents is Helen Clark who, badly needing Green Party support after the abdication of Philip Field, has done everything in her power to get this anti-smacking law passed: she has prevented her MPs from exercising a conscience vote, she attempted to get the bill passed under urgency, she tried to adopt it as a government bill, and now, in what must be one of the greatest political coups in New Zealand’s history, she has duped the National Party, United and New Zealand First into supporting a Claytons amendment.

The new amendment provided by the Law Commission – under instruction from the Prime Minister – and tabled in Parliament by the Leader of the United Party, changes nothing. As the law now stands if a complaint is laid about a parent smacking a child, the police are required to investigate and to notify the Department of Child Youth and Family. As a result of such an investigation the Police already have the discretion over whether or not to prosecute: if the matter is minor and of no public interest then there will be no prosecution. The much-heralded new clause – which astonishingly gained the support of even those MPs who were vehemently opposed to Bradford’s bill – simply re-states the law as it stands.

What this whole exercise has shown, is that under MMP calculated cunning is the name of the game. As long as the ruling party can cobble together sufficient support in the House – using whatever trickery it can dream up – any sort of radical new law can now be imposed in New Zealand without public mandate. Nothing is sacred, not even our right to run our own families as we see fit.

Democracy is meant to be government for the people, by the people and of the people. It is meant to respect the rights and freedoms of each and every citizen. What we have under MMP is government by political unions – the political parties – which collude to seek electoral advantage so they can push their ideology into law in order to satisfy the special interest groups that provide their support. All that matters is whether they have the numbers: the question of whether a proposed public policy change will serve the common interest and the public good appears to have been subsumed by the desire to be seen to be winning a victory in Parliament.

Most of the time they get away with it, but this time, with public opinion polls showing that the views of over 80% of New Zealanders are being ignored by our MMP parliamentarians – who look set to pass the anti-smacking bill into law – then surely it is time to question the electoral system itself.

Peter Shirtcliffe has always held serious doubts about the suitability of MMP for New Zealand. He is the NZ Centre for Political Research guest commentator this week. In an article entitled The Nonsense of the List MP he explains:

“One of the most heavily-promoted arguments in favour of MMP was that its introduction would transform for the better the way in which Parliament worked. We were promised… greater sensitivity to the wishes of the Electorate”.

Peter goes on to say: “The signs of politically-driven control agendas are starting to show and objective common-sense solutions will not readily emerge from arrogant, unelected MPs who are at the same time seeking ways to use more taxpayers’ (your) money to fund their own organisations”.

Peter is not alone in believing that a further referendum on MMP is now warranted – although he does note that it is extremely unlikely that such an initiative would be generated by this Parliament. I suspect that a good many of the 1,032,919 voters who supported MMP in the 1993 referendum did so believing that if it didn’t work out, they were going to be given another chance to change it in a later referendum.   

With the vexed question of how to best to safeguard ourselves from hasty, unwise or ill-considered legislation uppermost in our mind, maybe the time is now right for that long-awaited binding referendum on whether MMP has delivered to New Zealand a system of government that ensures that not only do our elected representatives reflect the will of the people, but they are also committed to protecting their rights and their liberties.

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Maxim Institute – Section 59 Amendment “Smoke & Mirrors”.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 4, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Maxim Institute – Section 59 Amendment “Smoke & Mirrors”.
Thursday, 03.05.2007, 07:36pm (GMT12)

Section 59: the consensus amendment

Introduction

Commentators and politicians of all persuasions have acclaimed the consensus amendment to the so-called “anti-smacking Bill”. However, closer examination reveals that it would not do what it is claimed to. The main problem is that even with this amendment, the Bill will still make it a crime for parents to use reasonable correction such as a light smack.

This Issue Snapshot analyses the amended Bill, finding that the consensus amendment does not change the Bill’s prohibition on correction, and that the way it attempts to mitigate the rigour of the prohibition creates more problems than it solves.

Background

Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 currently permits parents to use “force by way of correction towards [a] child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances”. Without this permission, the use of mild physical discipline, such as a light smack, would constitute assault. Parliament has been considering a Private Member’s Bill that would make it illegal for parents to use reasonable force for correction, leading to the Bill being dubbed the “anti-smacking Bill”. The Bill’s formal title is the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill.[1]

Public opposition to the Bill has been staunch, with polls consistently showing that there was little public support for a law that treated mild physical correction as a crime. Political parties were also in deadlock on the issue, with a number of amendments and counter-amendments proposed in Parliament.

The political stalemate was resolved when the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and the Leader of the Opposition, John Key, agreed to a consensus amendment to the Bill.

The consensus amendment

The amendment does not change the Bill’s position on correction. All uses of force for correction will continue to be prohibited, with the effect that they will be criminal offences. The amendment would add the following paragraph after the ban on correction:[2]

To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

 

Parents criminalised

Mr Key announced that the amendment “gives parents confidence that they will not be criminalised.” But the amendment is premised on a misunderstanding of what it means to criminalise something. The amended Bill would criminalise parents who use mild correction such as a light smack, because it continues to prohibit such conduct and, as a result, parents who use this type of correction will be committing a crime. They will therefore be criminalised.

An unworkable tension at the heart of the Bill

The consensus amendment represents an attempt to avoid this unpalatable result by saying that something that has been made into a criminal offence may not be prosecuted by the Police. This creates an unworkable tension at the heart of the Bill, creating a cascade of problems downstream. Before discussing these problems, it is worth noting that they could have been avoided if Parliament had applied one simple principle, usually recognised as being crucial to good legislating: only criminalise things you are prepared to have prosecuted.

The Bill does not clearly tell parents what is required of them

One of the most significant problems with the amended Bill is the way it contradicts the rule of law. This requires laws to be clear and certain, so that citizens know what is required of them, and so that they are governed by law instead of arbitrary government decisions.

However, the Bill does not clearly tell parents what is required of them. On the one hand, it criminalises a certain type of conduct, but on the other says it may not be prosecuted if certain conditions are met, and that it all comes down to Police discretion. Parents will be left unsure about how the law actually requires them to act.

The problems with Police discretion and the “public interest” test

The idea that Police should have a discretion not to enforce something that is actually a crime is also highly problematic. The wording “to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest” as a standard to guide prosecution decisions may appear to offer some reassurance, but it does not solve the problem that the Bill constructs a law that is supposed to work by being ignored by the Police.

In fact, the Bill opens the door to arbitrary law enforcement decisions by the Police, a possibility that is not entirely removed by the use of “so inconsequential” and the public interest test. The content of the public interest is uncertain; it is a slippery concept which is likely to change over time. Various people have different ideas about what is in the public interest, so while one prosecutor might look at a set of facts and decide it is not in the public interest to prosecute, another prosecutor could reach the opposite conclusion on the same set of facts. And sometimes the Police just get it wrong. The Law Commission reports that:[3]

… it appears that the police do sometimes persevere with minor cases where … no public interest is being served in pursuing the matter before the court.

 

It is also possible that certain people or groups may not be given the benefit of the Police’s discretion, if only because they are already ‘known to the Police’ or are a member of a group that the Police are frequently in contact with.

Supporters of the Bill try to assuage these fears by saying that the Police are already in the habit of exercising their discretion on matters of child discipline and they do so wisely, as evidenced by the lack of prosecutions for light smacking. The extended version of the argument is that mild correction, such as light smacking, is already a crime which the Police exercise a discretion not to prosecute. And so, we are told, the Police will continue to act in this way, keeping good parents from the courts.

The argument is on rather shaky legal ground. The Crimes Act provides that parents who use reasonable force for correction are “justified”. This term means “not guilty of an offence”.[4] In other words, Police do not currently prosecute parents who smack lightly because they have done no wrong. With the law set to change to criminalise parents, and a new standard to be applied by Police, the Police practice of the past does not provide much in the way of guidance or reassurance.

Police discretion will not apply to others

A further problem with the reliance on Police discretion is that it will not affect non-Police prosecutors or other organisations who take an interest in how parents relate to their children. It is not just the Police who can prosecute law-breakers. Any private citizen can go to court complaining that an offence has been committed.[5] The person complained about can then be committed for trial.

In addition, many of the cases involving child discipline issues occur in the Family Court, either in family disputes or in cases involving agencies such as Child, Youth and Family Services. The Police discretion, and its intended restrictions, will not be relevant in those cases, where the ban on parental correction will have to be applied.

Earlier problems with the Bill remain

Finally, it is worth remembering that the Bill draws a difficult distinction between the use of force for correction, which is prohibited, and situations where parents may use reasonable force (where they are trying to prevent a child being offensive or disruptive, committing a criminal offence or harming themselves or others, or where it is incidental to normal daily parenting).

The amendment to the Bill does not affect this distinction, so parents will still be left in the difficult position of trying to decide when their conduct crosses the line from the permitted uses of force into the prohibited region of correction.

Conclusion

Despite some of the claims made for the consensus amendment, it is apparent that it has not really changed anything. Crucially, the Bill continues to say that parents who use mild correction, such as a light smack, are acting outside the law. The amendment’s attempt to avoid the full consequences of this provision by relying on Police discretion creates more problems than it solves.

In spite of these problems, Parliament made the consensus amendment part of the Bill on the same day that it was announced. The amended Bill now only has to pass its third and final vote, which is expected to happen with overwhelming support from almost every political party just two weeks after the consensus amendment was announced.

For more information, read Maxim Institute’s previous Issue Snapshot on the original Bill, our Issue Snapshot on the amendment to the Bill proposed by the Select Committee that considered the original Bill, our written submission to the Select Committee and the supplementary material we provided to the Select Committee during our oral submission.

Endnotes

[1] The Bill’s original title was the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill. It was changed at the Bill’s second reading in Parliament.
[2] Supplementary Order Paper 107 in the name of Hon Peter Dunne MP, 1 May 2007, http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/07222ECD-BDB7-4EBF-88B9-ECC0AABF98C9/54561/DBHOH_SOP_1005_4901.pdf (accessed 3 May 2007).
[3] Law Commission, “Criminal Pre-Trial Processes: Justice Through Efficiency,” Report 89 (Wellington: Law Commission, 2005), paragraphs 99-101.
[4] Crimes Act 1961, section 2.
[5] Summary Proceedings Act 1957, section 13.

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Where do we, as parents, stand with the new amendment to section 59?.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on May 4, 2007

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Where do we, as parents, stand with the new amendment to section 59?.
Thursday, 03.05.2007, 07:43pm (GMT12)

Where do we, as parents, stand with the new amendment to section 59?I’m Sheryl Savil, the author of the CIR initiated referendum and I think it’s time to hear from a parent on one of the most controversial laws to affect parents in this countryFar from bringing a clear answer to this debate, the new Section 59 amendment creates confusion and many unanswered questions for parents in
New Zealand
 If we smack our children we will be breaking the law…or will we? According to the wording of the new bill, a parent is justified in using force if they are performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting. This is then negated by the wording, “Nothing [in the above] or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.” What is good care and parenting if it does not involve correction?  The government doesn’t seem to find a way to solve the smacking debate. As a mother as well as the Programmes Administrator at
Focus on the Family NZ, I feel strongly that the answer is not state legislation but parent education.
This bill’s unclear wording suggests that parents are justified in using force if the force reasonably prevents the child from engaging in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence, yet criminalizes parents who smack as a form of correction.   I am confused by a proposed law that implies that it is okay to break the law sometimes, but not others.  How does a bill like this set an example for our children: It’s okay to misbehave but only during certain, undefined times.There are many unanswered questions this law presents.  Although the intent is to give Police discretion, what does that mean?  And how will it actually work? What role will CYFS have in all of this? Will they still have the power to come into our homes and remove our children if they suspect that smacking has been used to correct offensive or disruptive behavior?The original intent of Sue Bradford’s bill was to “abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as justification for disciplining children.” Her reasoning was that smacking was child abuse. As a nation we agree that there is an unacceptable level of child abuse. However, as this proposed bill’s momentum increases, it appears now more than ever that her real intention was to define and restrict the role of the parent.
Focus on the Family New Zealand believe so strongly in empowering, educating and equipping parents in their role of growing great kids, that we feel it’s the right time to release a wonderful resource that will give parents the best possible tools in the area of discipline. Dr James Dobson’s “Essentials of DISCIPLINE” covers such points as ‘What’s OK, What’s Not and What Works’. As parents, I BELIEVE THAT it is still important that we have our voice heard against the majority of MP’s who have voted for this new amendment to the Bill. The petition calling for a referendum at the next election is still needed.  I urge everyone to continue collecting signatures for both petitions. And if you want clear answers, the
Focus on the Family on-line resource center would be a great place to start.
 


Sheryl Savill


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