NZ First Correct To Revisit Smacking Law

Media Release 19 June 2017
Family First NZ is welcoming continued comments by NZ First that they will revisit the highly controversial and hugely unpopular anti-smacking law, but will be clarifying with the party as to whether they will accept the previous referendum on the issue or demand a new one, and whether it is a non-negotiable bottom line for any coalition agreement after the election. 

“Despite having almost 10 years to prove the doubters wrong, the smacking law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness. In fact, the law has maintained its very high level of opposition, but most significantly, a high level of NZ’ers say they would flout the law despite the possible consequences. This proves the abject failure and rejection by ordinary NZ’ers of this highly controversial and flawed law. If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now. Instead it has simply threatened and undermined good parents raising great kids,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

In March, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.” 

An analysis of the law in 2014 by Public Law Specialists Chen Palmer said that statements made by politicians and Nigel Latta to the effect that the new section 59 does not criminalise “good parents” for lightly smacking their children appear to be inconsistent with the legal effect of section 59 and the cases they analysed. 

“Continued statements by the media and supporters of the law that there have only been a few convictions and only for hitting around the head are factually wrong, and also fail to acknowledge the investigations by CYF and the chilling effect it has had on parents and families. The police reporting also stopped way back in mid-2012.” 

“A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

Police statistics showed there had been a 136% increase in physical abuse, but also a 43% increase in sexual abuse, a 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007.   

“New Zealanders predicted all of this before the law was passed, but their concerns were ignored. The politicians and anti-smacking lobby groups linked good parents who smacked their children with child abusers, a notion roundly rejected – and still rejected – by NZ’ers. The anti-smacking law assumes that previous generations disciplined their children in a manner that was so harmful that they should now be considered criminals,” says Mr McCoskrie. 

A poll released in January found continued widespread rejection of the law and that two out of three NZ’ers would flout the law if they believed it reasonable to correct the behaviour of their child.  

“NZ First are right to be revisiting the issue, and should repeal the law and adopt the “Borrows amendment” which decriminalises non-abusive smacking.”
ENDS