Big two coy on smacking vote

NZ Herald Jun 17, 2009 By Audrey Young

A national referendum is re-igniting debate on the anti-smacking law two years on, but confusion surrounds the position the two main political parties will take. Prime Minister John Key helped to negotiate the law and says it is working. But he says it would be very difficult to interpret anything from the referendum – which he expects to have a low return – even if there were a large No vote. Labour leader Phil Goff, whose party staunchly supported the law under Helen Clark’s leadership, says the law is working. But he says he will probably abstain because the question in the referendum is confusing.

..The referendum was approved after Sheryl Savill, who worked for the Christian group Focus on the Family, got the required 390,000 signatures last year. Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said Mr Key was undermining the process by suggesting that while he would listen to the public, any law change would be subject to what he thought. Mr McCoskrie also criticised Mr Key for saying he expected Families Commissioner Christine Rankin – who opposes the law – would not campaign on the issue.