Monday, 26 March 2007

26 March 2007 - Bay of Plenty Times - Smacking law gets thumbs down in Bay

Smacking law gets thumbs down in Bay


Green MP Sue Bradford's controversial anti-smacking bill has received an overwhelming thumbs down from Western Bay residents.

A special Bay of Plenty Times text message poll on Saturday asked readers Do you think smacking should be outlawed? A staggering 94.6 per cent of the 354 respondents said "no", with only 5.4 per cent saying "yes".

The Government will this week decide whether they will attempt to fast-track legislation that would restrict parents' right to smack their children.

If they do so Green MP Sue Bradford's controversial bill could be passed into law by the end of the week.

The bill would remove the legal defence of "reasonable force" for parents who physically punish their children but opponents say it will outlaw smacking.
Opponents of the bill will march on Parliament this Wednesday.

Ms Bradford said the Government had sought the Green Party's support for an urgency motion, which requires a majority.

But the Government would still need others to back the move before it could take urgency to pass the bill through its remaining stages.

To do that it would need the Maori Party, which supports Ms Bradford's bill, along with the six Green MPs, plus at least one other _ one of the two New Zealand First MPs who support the bill _ to get the 61 votes it needs to bring the matter before Parliament under urgency this week.

NZ First and the Maori party both said their parties would discuss the issue at their caucus meetings tomorrow. National MP for Tauranga Bob Clarkson said the anti-smacking bill was an ``extreme case of bad law'' and Prime Minister Helen Clark would achieve little in agreeing to have the bill fast tracked.

"Helen's got herself in a corner and she can't back out now or she'll upset the Greens," he said.

Mr Clarkson said by fast tracking the bill before Easter, Helen Clark perceived the issue would have cooled down after Parliament's three-week break.

"You can't take the control away from the parents, it's just ridiculous. Parents should have the right to control their children in a fair way and not beat them, of course," he said.

Mr Clarkson said 96 per cent of parents in New Zealand wanted the right to control their children.

"Sue Bradford talks about stopping parents beating their children, that is rubbish. The bill stops them touching their children and that is just silly. This is an extreme case of bad law."

Tony Ryall, National MP for the Bay of Plenty, said the Bay of Plenty Times poll reflected the feedback he was getting from the community. "Parents are angry that sticky beak Government is telling them how to run their families. Parents know the difference between a smack and a smash."

Mr Ryall said the bill would not stop one child from being beaten and it is was only being fast tracked because Miss Clark didn't want New Zealanders to know "how out of touch" she was.

Sue Bradford drafted legislation early last year seeking to repeal the law that allows parents to use reasonable force to punish their children.

She described the current law as "barbaric".

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