NZ Herald 21 Nov 06
The anti-smacking bill looks certain to be passed by Parliament in a slightly weakened form. The Herald has confirmed claims by the bill’s sponsor, Green MP Sue Bradford, that she has enough votes to ensure it will become law.
The bill will change the Crimes Act to remove the defence of “reasonable force” that parents can invoke if charged with assaulting a child. But the select committee that approved the bill yesterday has forced a compromise which will permit parents to use reasonable force to exercise necessary parental control. This would include restraining a child to prevent it from harm, or from causing others harm, or to prevent it engaging in disruptive behaviour. This may include, for example, stopping a child from running across the road, or forcibly removing one from a supermarket. But the law will say that such force cannot be used for “corrective” purposes.
The Greens, Labour and the Maori Party yesterday said all their MPs would vote for the bill, as will several New Zealand First MPs. Ms Bradford said she hoped United Future leader Peter Dunne, National MP Katherine Rich and possibly other National MPs would also vote in favour. Ms Rich said yesterday National MPs would be required to vote against the bill for the second reading, but would be allowed a conscience vote for the third reading, when she would support it. Fellow MP Simon Power said he had an open mind, but “was not a fan of the status quo”.
The amended bill’s second reading is not expected until February.