Dominion Post 09 September 2008
A National government will axe the Families Commission and give the savings to community groups, including churches, leader John Key has told a Family First forum. The commission was set up by the Labour Government as part of its supply and confidence agreement with UnitedFuture – a potential coalition partner for National after the election. But Mr Key earned loud applause yesterday for telling the forum in Auckland that he did not support keeping the commission. “I don’t think that’s working very well. There’s a huge amount of bureaucracy, and a ton of money being spent on it. What would you rather do? Pick up that money and give it to NGOs [non-government organisations] or more bureaucrats telling you what constitutes a family in New Zealand? I want to give it to those NGOs,” Mr Key said.
The National leader was questioned on the removal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, which took away the defence of reasonable force for parents who hit their children. National supported the legislation but has been under pressure from lobby groups such as Family First to repeal it. One man asked Mr Key whether he would restore his right to “discipline my child lovingly”. Mr Key said that he sought a compromise on section 59 because it was clear that Labour was going to force the bill through anyway. He repeated his previous pledge that if he saw evidence the legislation was not working he would repeal it. “To this point I haven’t seen such evidence.” But he added that if an upcoming referendum – which calls for parental correction through a smack to be lawful – gave a strong mandate for change then a future government would need to listen to the result. Mr Key was also asked whether he supported a law change on abortion. He said it was a conscience issue, but he did not support any change to the existing law.