Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Family Integrity # 170 -- lobbying targets

Family Integrity # 170 -- lobbying targets

This will help us know whom to target in our lobbying.

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

From NZ Herald
Votes adding up for full smacking ban
5:00AM Friday February 23, 2007
By Mike Houlahan

Smacking seems certain to be banned when MPs cast their final votes on the issue in three weeks' time.

Yesterday, New Zealand First MP Doug Woolerton confirmed he would back Green MP Sue Bradford's bill and would oppose an amendment which might have derailed it. His decision, plus confirmation from at least two National MPs that they will back Ms Bradford's bill, virtually ensures smacking will be forbidden.

The biggest hurdle to smacking being banned remains a proposed amendment by National MP Chester Borrows, but since at least 63 MPs in the 121-MP Parliament are expected to vote against it, it seems doomed to fail.

If the amendment is lost, at least 65 MPs could then vote for Ms Bradford's bill. It needs 61 votes to pass.

Yesterday Mr Borrows believed he needed to secure four more votes to pass his amendment, and said he would do his best over the next three weeks to get them.
"I will have to concentrate on those people who haven't fully declared their hand yet, or people whose arguments I think are not necessarily exclusionary of my amendment."

However, the loss of Mr Woolerton's vote will be a major impediment to Mr Borrow's chances of success.

"Even though the words are nicer, it would still allow people to sneak out under the reasonable-force-type argument in a court," Mr Woolerton said, adding he would support Ms Bradford's bill.

National MPs are obliged to back their party's position and vote for the amendment.
Yesterday two MPs, education spokeswoman Katherine Rich and women's affairs spokeswoman Jackie Blue, confirmed that, if the amendment was lost, they would vote for Ms Bradford's bill, while Port Waikato MP Paul Hutchison said he was likely to vote for it.

If the bill became law, parents would be able to use physical force only to restrain their children from hurting themselves and other people, from being disruptive or to stop them committing a crime.

Mr Borrows' amendment would allow parents to use reasonable force with an impact which was "trifling or transitory" to discipline their children.

Ms Bradford has said she will withdraw her bill altogether if the Borrows amendment is passed.

Dr Hutchison conceded it seemed contradictory if he voted to allow smacking, then voted to ban it.

"Yes there is contradiction, and yes I am quite aware that defining it has been problematical internationally, but at least what it [the amendment] does is give clear signals that overt abuse is absolutely inappropriate."

Dr Hutchison said he was deeply concerned about violence against children, and also to preserve parental freedom.

"On balance there is an inconsistency that adults by law can't hit other adults, and yet I as a 90kg, 6ft individual have a defence against hitting a 2-year-old."

Mrs Rich said Mr Borrows had worked hard on his amendment and that she would support it. However, some of the Bradford bill's provisions were commonsense.

Two other National MPs, backbencher Paula Bennett and Justice spokesman Simon Power, are still considering whether to support Ms Bradford's bill.

Mr Borrows said he would not support Ms Bradford's bill if his amendment failed.

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