Otago Daily Times 18 Aug 2009
Opinion – Rex Ahdar is a professor in the Faculty of Law at Otago University
People should exercise their democratic rights and vote in the smacking referendum. I believe the objections to it are misplaced. Some cry, what about the expense? Could not the money have been spent on tackling child abuse? Yes, but the promoters of the referendum are not to blame. The government was asked to run the referendum in conjunction with the general election, but it said no. The referendum question might have proved an unpalatable, additional reason for voters not to give Labour and the Greens another term. It is thus disingenuous for the politicians to cry waste when they had a straightforward opportunity to avoid it.
Besides, $9 million is not a huge amount when considering an important parental practice and, as the abolitionists of smacking remind us, the welfare of children. If we can spend $80 million per year on possum eradication, we can afford a fraction of this on such an important matter of family governance.
Next, the wording is said to be ambiguous and confusing. Really? Read in isolation I suppose one could quibble with its meaning. But unless you have been living in the Fiordland bush for the last few years, or have just arrived from Latvia, you would readily understand the fateful sentence in its cultural context.