NZ Herald Aug 27, 2009
Prime Minister John Key moved swiftly yesterday to stop a new smacking bill going beyond its first reading and reigniting a debate he believed could consume Parliament. He is confident his move will not be seen as thumbing his nose at the 87.4 per cent of voters in the citizens-initiated referendum who did not support the present smacking law. By coincidence, a measure legalising smacking was drawn from a ballot of 29 private members’ bills yesterday, less than a week after the referendum. The bill is in the name of Act MP John Boscawen, and its first reading debate and vote are likely to be on September 23. The present legislation outlaws smacking for punishment or correction but says the police should not prosecute minor transgressions. Mr Boscawen’s bill would allow smacking for correction and define the type of force that could be used. Act’s five votes and National’s 58 would be enough to send it to a select committee, re-opening the debate that gripped the country in 2007.
* The Boscawen bill
Would allow smacking for the purposes of correcting a child’s behaviour.
Defines unreasonable force as force that causes the child to suffer an injury that is “more than transitory and trifling”; is inflicted by any weapon, tool or implement; and is inflicted by cruel or degrading means.
The term “transitory and trifling” is already established in common law to mean force that causes redness for more than a few minutes, or bruising.