Tuesday, 15 May 2007

15 May 2007 - ACT - Hide Calls on Helen Clark and John Key to Allow Free Vote on Anti-Smacking Bill

Hide Calls on Helen Clark and John Key to Allow Free Vote on Anti-Smacking Bill

from http://www.act.org.nz/hide_calls_on_helen_clark_and_john_key_to_allow_free_vote_on_anti_smacking_bill

15 May 2007

ACT Leader Rodney Hide has written to Helen Clark and John Key urging them to allow their MPs a free vote on Sue Bradford's Anti-Smacking Bill.

"It's all very well for John Key and Helen Clark to decide that they want to criminalise parents who smack their children – but it's wrong that they dictate that their MPs must vote for the Bill.

"I don't believe that the majority of Parliament is for this Bill. I believe, given the choice, the majority of Labour and National MPs would vote with ACT against this Bill. But there's only one way to find out: Have a free vote in Parliament. After all, if Helen and John think the Bill is so good, then they should have no problem allowing their MPs a free vote.

"Make no mistake this Bill criminalises parents who smack their children. The Bill states its purpose is to abolish the use of parental force for the purpose of correction. Clause 4 substitutes a new section 59(2) into the Crimes Act 1961 and declares:

"(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction."

"The amendment that John Key and Helen Clark have agreed to does nothing to alter the fact that parents who smack their children will be breaking the law. All it does is confirm that the police have discretion as to whether they will prosecute parents who smack their kids.

"Smacking parents may not be prosecuted but they will still be breaking the law and Sue Bradford's Bill makes good, loving parents criminals.

"It's an atrocious Bill. That's why we need a free vote" said Rodney Hide.


To access a copy of Rodney Hide's letter to Helen Clark and John Key go to http://www.act.org.nz/files/m/downloads/Letter%20To%20Clark%20And%20Key.pdf.

Leader ACT New Zealand, MP for Epsom
Parliament Buildings Wellington Telephone 04 470 6630 Fax 04 473 3532
Electorate Office: Unit A, 11-13 Clovernook Road, Newmarket, PO Box 9209 Newmarket AUCKLAND
Telephone 09 522 7464 Fax 09 523 0472

May 1407 Clark and Key
14 May 2007

Right Honourable Helen Clark
Prime Minister
Parliament Buildings

John Key MP
Leader of the Opposition
Parliament Buildings

Dear Helen and John

On Wednesday 16 May we have the final vote on Sue Bradford’s Crimes (Substituted
Section 59) Amendment Bill.

I write to ask you to allow your respective MPs a free vote in the same way all other parties have allowed their MPs to vote as their conscience determines.

The Bill is controversial with public polls reporting 83 percent of New Zealanders opposing it.

In Epsom 68 percent of voters are opposed; only 21 percent in favour.

John, when you opposed the Bill, you asked the Prime Minister the following question:
“If the Prime Minister thinks Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill is such a good bill and that the 83 percent of New Zealanders who have consistently opposed it are so
completely wrong, why will she not simply give her caucus a free vote?”

It’s a good question. Of course, at the time the vote was tight. In fact, you suggested that Sue Bradford’s Bill would not pass if Labour allowed their MPs a free vote. Presumably the vote is less tight as you and some of your caucus are now supporting it. Surely we are now in a better position to have a free vote and see what Parliament actually thinks.

John, you once thought it was a good idea for the Prime Minister to allow her caucus a free vote, why isn’t it a good idea for you now to do the same? It would be good for our democracy and for political accountability if you would do so.

Prime Minister, you told Parliament last Wednesday: “…But I do think that in the case of the Bill on Section 59, the overwhelming majority of our Parliament has come together, not only to send a very strong message about not wanting the violence that causes death and injury in our homes but also to send a strong message of support to good, decent parents, who should not be marched off to court for matters that are so inconsequential it would not be in the public interest to have them there...”

If it is truly the “overwhelming majority” of our Parliament that has come together then you should have no difficulty accepting a free vote. The problem is if you don’t, it looks as if you and John Key are dictating how the majority of Parliament should vote. Not all of Parliament accepts this Bill just as much of the country does not. The only way to resolve it is to allow a free vote.

ACT is the only party which now opposes the Bill. We oppose it because it makes any mum or dad lightly smacking their toddler a criminal. That’s ridiculous. The Bill’s purpose makes this clear. It is to:

“Make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.”

Clause 4 substitutes a new section 59(2) into the Crimes Act 1961 that drives the point home:

“(2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.”

Once the Bill passes it will be against the law to smack a child and a parent lightly smacking their toddler will be committing a criminal offence as defined in the Crimes Act.

New subsection (4) which you have both agreed to doesn’t change this fact. That is why Sue Bradford has not withdrawn her bill as she said she would if it was watered down in any way.

All your joint amendment does is to confirm that the police have discretion as to whether they prosecute or not, discretion they have always had and have always exercised.

The fact remains that a parent smacking their child will be committing a crime, whether or not they are prosecuted. Good parents will be criminalised should this bill pass into law. It’s simply not right to criminalise parents in this way.

I once again ask you both to allow you respective caucus’ a free vote to test truly the will of Parliament.

Yours sincerely
Rodney Hide MP for Epsom
Leader, ACT New Zealand

1 comment:

Gary said...

Good on you Rodeny ... Problem is that this adminstration does not have ears to hear the will of the people that they are supposed to represent! And that there is NO system of accountability toward the people who placed them in a fiduciary capacity! Anyone with half a brain can see that this is not good policy, but we should be aware that there is another agenda working to strip parental ownership from parents to state and that is why Priminister Clark has whiped her caucus to vote this way. As for John Key, he has showed no back bone and has done the old political two step with the devil to try and show us that he has what it takes to do deals at the top level ... HA!
Shame on you John! ... to coin the prase from Bishop Tamaki "Enough is enough", when dose a democracy stop being a democracy? ... When those entrusted to power stop acting in the best interest of those that placed them in that position of trust! The Trust is gone and the people have spoken!
There needs to be a change of accountability toward the people!
Who is going to do it?
If not now ... WHEN!