Thursday, 3 May 2007

3 May 2007 - nzherald - The Smacking Bill: Amendment passes by landslide - only three MPs vote no

The Smacking Bill: Amendment passes by landslide - only three MPs vote no

Email this storyPrint this story 5:00AM Thursday May 03, 2007

The amendment brokered by Prime Minister Helen Clark and National's leader John Key that ended the battle over the bill to amend the law on smacking was passed by Parliament last night on a vote of 117-3.

Act's two MPs, Rodney Hide and Heather Roy, and Independent MP Taito Phillip Field voted against it.

Mr Hide said the amendment saying the police had the discretion not to prosecute complaints that they considered to be "inconsequential" made no difference at all to the bill.

"It just says the police don't have to prosecute. They don't have to prosecute without the amendment," he said. "We're not making any law, we're leaving it up to the police to decide what it is."

Mr Hide said Helen Clark had cleverly worked out an amendment which meant nothing but had ended National's opposition to the bill.

"The entire National Party has been rolled. I congratulate Helen Clark for a great sleight of hand and emerging from it unscathed."

Mr Field was not in the debating chamber when the vote was taken. His vote was cast by proxy.

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who introduced the amendment, said the cross-party support was extraordinarily significant and a good day for Parliament.

"There has always been this concern ... that good parents were going to be put at risk ... were going to have the police banging down the door, [and] were going to be criminalised by this bill."

The bill's promoter, Green MP Sue Bradford, said she could happily back Mr Dunne's amendment as it did not define the nature and level of force people could legitimately use against their children.

Parliament also accepted, by 116 votes to four, an amendment that commits the Government to reviewing the law two years after it comes into force.

The amendment was introduced by Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope several weeks ago, when the Government was trying to ease public concern about the bill.

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