Tuesday, 6 March 2007

23 November 2006 - Wanganui Chronicle - Borrows seeks change to smacking bill

23 November 2006 - Wanganui Chronicle - Borrows seeks change to smacking bill


Borrows seeks change to smacking bill

AN AMENDMENT drawn up by Wanganui National MP Chester Borrows will take the fight against Green MP Sue Bradford’s total ban on smacking bill to the next stage.

“The amendment has been checked by the president of the Law Commission Sir Geoffrey Palmer (a former Labour Prime Minister). I’m hopeful it will be accepted by Parliament.

Common sense has to be listened to,” Mr Borrows told the Chronicle.

Parliament’s second reading of the bill is expected in mid to late February, at which stage the amendment will be put for debate.

National’s spokesperson on Ms Bradford’s bill to repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, Mr Borrows was seconded onto the Justice Select Committee.

Section 59 allows “reasonable force” (to be used against a child for the purpose of correction), and he is concerned that the Select Committee’s replacement clause does not allow smacking. “The replacement allows for restraint such as holding a child, or picking them up, but not for smacking.

“I want to see the bill limit the degree of force which can be used for correction, and worded so that parents who should be prosecuted can be. But the bill needs to give protection to good parents who smack their children occasionally.

“The protection needs to be written into the law. The public have a right to know with certainty and clarity the law they have to abide by.”

Sue Bradford, he said, believed the police would not charge people for smacking their kids, but “Police Association president Greg O’Connor has made it clear the police will have to pursue offences that are disclosed”.

Also the bill, as amended, did not take into account the 10 or so surveys that had been done, all of which had found New Zealanders did not want parents criminalised for smacking children.

“As well as the surveys, I have spoken to a number of children, all of whom have said they would rather have a quick smack for doing something wrong than lose privileges. “With a smack, straight away the matter is dealt with and immediately and done with.”

Meanwhile, Plunket would rather have seen a full repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act.

“Plunket sees over 90 percent of babies born in New Zealand. As an organisation we called for repeal of Section 59 as a signal that violence against children will not be tolerated,” Kaye Crowther, New Zealand President, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society said.

A Chronicle street poll yesterday found people were unanimous in their belief that smacks on the hands and legs as a way of keeping children safe were necessary at times.

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