NZ Herald Sep 19, 2009
Organisers of the recent referendum on the smacking law confronted the leaders of both major parties yesterday – but failed to win a single concession to review the law. Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader Phil Goff both told a Family First forum in Manukau that the current law was, respectively, “a dog’s breakfast” or “a sideshow”. But both refused to change the law despite the 87 per cent “no” vote in last month’s referendum on the question, “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
Questions from smacking supporters actually pushed Mr Key into a stronger defence of the law than he has given before, saying the 2007 ban on any use of force against children for “correction” was important to “send a message” that violence against children was unacceptable. The forum, Family First’s fourth annual “Forum on the Family”, was also attended by Mr Key last year. Former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark was the only party leader who turned down an invitation then, and Family First director Bob McCoskrie welcomed Mr Goff’s presence yesterday as a sign that Labour had changed.