Friday, 23 March 2007

23 March 2007 - New Zealand National Party - The Mapp Report - Smacking

The Mapp Report - Smacking
Friday, 23 March 2007, 10:59 am
Column: New Zealand National Party
The Mapp Report

Shutting down debate is a tactic adopted by those who fear the public. That is exactly the position the Labour Government is taking in relation to Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill.

Next week the government wants to rush the Bill through all stages in a single debate on Wednesday and Thursday. Sue Bradford said there had been enough debate, and it should now be passed. To shove a member’s bill through under urgency is unheard of, especially when it is allegedly a conscience vote – but of course in the Labour Party that means Helen Clark’s conscience.

Parliamentary procedure provides for separate debate on each stage of a Bill for good reason. It is to allow Members of Parliament to reflect, and for the public to make their views known before the next stage is debated. So there have been occasions when a Bill has passed the Committee stage, but gets defeated on the Third Reading. That is because the two or three weeks between the two stages allows an opportunity to reconsider.

The only reason to terminate Parliamentary procedure is to avoid accountability. Labour knows that many of their MP’s don’t want the Bill. They know a three-week recess when the public can talk to the MP’s will mean that many of them will rebel.

The urgency tactic is designed to stifle democracy. But ultimately it is an admission of weakness and fear. Labour may think it can avoid accountability now, but the voters will have their say in 18 months time, and that is a date Labour can’t avoid!


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23 March 2007

Dr Wayne Mapp

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