By BOB McCOSKRIE – The Dominion Post 12/06/2009
Linley Boniface (A question smacking of deceit, June 8) is right on one thing. We should not be spending $10 million on a referendum on the anti-smacking law. But we are for two reasons. First, , the politicians failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Kiwis who knew the law change would do nothing to tackle our horrendous rate of child abuse (and it hasn’t). Second, the previous government failed to hold the referendum at the more economical time of a general election because it knew the issue would bring about its downfall. It did anyway.
But Boniface needs correction on many other things. A total of 113 politicians did vote for the law – after being whipped to vote that way by Helen Clark and John Key. Phil Goff and Paula Bennett have now admitted they don’t agree with the law as stated. The law change was labelled the anti- smacking bill because this is what the architect of the law change (Green MP Sue Bradford) called it. And groups who supported it, such as Barnardos, Plunket, Epoch and the previous children’s commissioner, have all been calling for a ban on smacking since 2001.
The question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ?” was publicly notified for submissions in 2007 but there was no opposition from these groups at that time. They never believed that more than 300,000 voters would sign a petition demanding a say on this issue, the majority of whom signed the petition after the amendment was passed. Those who oppose the question simply don’t like the answer they came to: No!