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26 July 2007 - Ruby Harrold-Claesson - The Empresses' new clothes or Smacking: Those Kiwis must be crazy!

Dear Editor,

I the undersigned, Ruby Harrold-Claesson, attorney-at-law in Gothenburg, Sweden and president of the NCHR ( am hereby sending you a manuscript "The Empresses' new clothes or Smacking: Those Kiwis must be crazy!"

Very truly yours
Ruby Harrold-Claesson
Attorney at law
President or the NKMR/NCHR

The Empresses' new clothes or Smacking: Those Kiwis must be crazy!

One year ago, I travelled 36 hours from Gothenburg, Sweden to Auckland at the invitation of the Section 59 Coalition. I came to testify at the Parliamentary hearing on the private member's Bill that proposed a repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act and to inform - and to warn - the general New Zealand public of the effects of the Swedish smacking ban.

When I left New Zealand after my two-week stay, I was hopeful that the bill would not pass because over 80 % of the population was not in favour of it. I had also thought that New Zealand was a democratic country that respected the will of the people. My warnings were backed by my presentation of 30 of the court cases that I have collected for my coming PhD thesis on the Swedish anti-smacking law. These show how parents were prosecuted and sentenced to fines or prison and their children were taken into forcible public care and separated from them and placed in foster homes. But it all fell on deaf parliamentarian ears. My hopes were finally crumbled in May when the compromise was reached and the bill became law because the MPs were forced to vote against their consciences. Fortunately, a few MPs with high integrity refused to vote for the law: one even resigned from his Party because of it.

New Zealand has made a historical mistake by following Sweden's example to ban smacking. New Zealand's law has gone even farther than Sweden's in that it prescribes criminal penalties for smacking parents and the Children's Commissioner cheered - just like the crowds did at the Emperor's new clothes. The Swedish law doesn't prescribe criminal penalties, but Parliament was informed that the new law would be sanctioned by the provisions of the Penal Law. And so it has been.

Section 59 was good legislation and as such it should not have been tampered with in any way. Sue Bradford sent three strong messages:

1 - She knows best - better than the legally educated judges on whose discretion it lies to decide what is "reasonable force";
2 - She does not trust the judgement of the courts;
3 - She thinks previous rulings were wrong.

Remember, the anti-smacking law was not delivered to mankind on slabs of stone as one of the Ten Commandments. It was imposed by the Swedish social engineers. So, the fact that Sweden repealed its equivalent to Section 59 does not justify New Zealand repealing its own. In a TV-debate on July 19, 2006, Sue Bradford said that it was irrelevant to discuss Sweden. However, it is quite obvious that no one can discuss imposing a smacking-ban on a country without taking Sweden - the pioneer - into account. Also, the British Parliament engaged in similar legislative procedure in 2004. It resulted in the Lester amendment, which is called the "fudge". The Lester amendment is deemed as a progression towards a total smacking ban. However, England is facing a re-think. In an article in The People, July 8, 2007, Tory children's minister Tim Loughton said: "The present law is unworkable nonsense - it just criminalises parents. We need to clearly define the line between chastisement by parents as they see fit and violence towards children."

While the Swedish parliament may have been in good faith in repealing their equivalent to Section 59 and consequently passing the anti-smacking law despite the warnings of important judicial organs, the NZ parliament cannot be deemed to have acted in good faith. Both Dr Bob Larzelere and I informed them of the disastrous consequences that the Swedish anti-smacking law has had for children, families and the society as a whole.

The NZ anti-smacking lobby claims that repealing Section 59 will stop child abuse. They also claim that Swedish children are safer and that only one child every four years dies from abuse in Sweden. These claims have been proven mendacious so, imposing a smacking ban with reference to Sweden's "low mortality rates" shows that they have failed to note that homicide rates indicate only the extreme cases of child abuse. How often does one hear of 'death by a smack'? Homicide rates are not the same as rates of supposed harm by smacking. And, the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act will not change the situation for children who are subject to abuse.

Not even the blanket prohibition against smacking that was passed in 1979 has prevented child abuse in Sweden. In fact, assistant professor Hans Temrin at the University of Stockholm has shown in two separate press releases, the latter of which was published in May 2006, that 258 children in Sweden died at the hands of their parents or guardians between 1965 - 1999. Incidentally, those figures do not include children who have died while in state care, for e.g. Daniel Sigström (1992) or Felicia Pettersson (2005). A little reminder: in Sweden, in January - February 2006 three children under the age of ten died at the hands of their parents and in May a 12 yr-old girl was murdered by her step-father.

You may wonder what the reason is for my involvement in the New Zealand smacking debate. Well, Sweden was the first country to ban smacking so it is cited as the model to follow. In my capacity as a lawyer in Sweden, researcher on the Swedish anti-smacking law (PhD) and president of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights (NCHR) for the Protection of Family Rights in the Nordic countries , I have close-up experiences of the that law. I find that Sweden is the model to avoid - at all costs.

Parenting vs child abuse
Here's why:
1 - society accepts that parenting, by definition, embraces a corrective role. Sweden, that prides itself in being the first country in the world to abolish physical punishment - smacking - of children, removed the plea of "reasonable force" in 1957. Sweden has thereafter taken further steps to "protect children" from "abuse" and in 1979 the "Anti-smacking law", which was promulgated in the Parent and guardianship Code, came into force. Smacking was equated to "child abuse". Several state organs that gave opinions warned against the law. They invoked the indoctrination to violence that children meet in films and in the media and also the administrative violence that children and their parents would be subjected to because of the totalitarian nature of the law.

Despite the fact that Parliament had been informed that the law would be sanctioned by the provisions of the Criminal Code, the information given in the English summary promised that no parents would be prosecuted because of the law. This was reiterated in similar words to the international audience in Paris when the law was presented to the world stating that the law does "not represent an extension of the punishable area". However, the first prosecution for minor incidents occurred already in 1978 - prior to the passing of the law. Swedish statistics published in February 2007 show that there has been a 14% increase in child abuse despite the smacking ban, with 11 000 reports of "child abuse" per year in Sweden. There are claims that "only" ten percent are prosecuted. Yet, the Swedish and New Zealand lobbies and their experts and statisticians claim that the Swedish smacking ban is extremely successful, and that polls show that only a minor percent of Swedish parents smack their children.

With 11 000 reports of "child abuse" per year and "only" ten percent being prosecuted there seemed to be a need for more stringent laws to guarantee the success of the Swedish smacking ban. So, in 1998 - 2000 the law "gross disturbance of the peace" - which initially was drafted to protect battered women - came to include child smacking. Since then parents are being prosecuted for "gross disturbance of the peace" and their children are taken into compulsory care. The difference between being prosecuted for "child abuse" and "gross disturbance of the peace" is that in the former one had to present times and dates, but in the latter the charges do not have to be substantiated.

Smacking = child abuse?
2 - In my capacity as legal practitioner in Sweden , researcher and president of the "Nordic Committee for Human Rights (NCHR) for the Protection of Family Rights in the Nordic countries", I have seen the effects of the anti-smacking law on children and their families. Because of my first-hand knowledge of the Swedish system, I was approached by two persons from separate parts of NZ who had found the NCHR's web site and I have now been engaged in the Section 59 debate for the past two years. I made both a written and an oral submission to the Section 59 Select Committee. My oral submission was accompanied by 32 case summaries in English and 30 photocopies of verdicts, summary judgements and newspaper or other articles in Swedish.

Discipline in Sweden has become a word that is despised and equated with child abuse. It is a very extremist view and one that should be examined carefully. In his book "Basic theory of Psychoanalysis" Robert Waelder wrote the following:
"... a psychoanalytic approach to upbringing does not mean that children should get what they desire when they desire something; instead it demands an attempt to find a suitable balance between satisfaction and disappointment in every situation ... we have to find the optimal combination of two equally important but partly opposite ingredients for a healthy development, namely, love and discipline; to love without spoiling and to discipline without injuring."

In his paper "Combining Love and Limits in Authoritative Parenting: A Conditional Sequence Model of Disciplinary Responses" published in 2001, Dr. Bob Larzelere finds that several research programs have shown that optimal parenting combines love and limits - not pitting both ingredients against each other.

UN and Unicef Directives
In May 2006, former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, who is married to a Swedish woman, thus his interest to promote the Swedish agenda, issued directives that every country in the world should impose anti-smacking laws. Kofi Annan, also known for his non-intervention in the Rwandan massacre, has completely ignored the gross injustices being perpetrated because of the Swedish anti-smacking law; that thousands of families have been - and are being - destroyed by unnecessary state interventions and that parents are afraid to correct their children. To implement his directives, Kofi Annan appointed the Portuguese professor, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, to lobby all governments in the world "to offer children the same protection under the law that adults have". This is a most interesting phrase, because UNCROC in its preamble stipulates for the protection of children as follows: "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth". Sweden fails grossly to meet up to that requirement for ca 30 000 unborn children per year. The New Zealand figures are 18 000.

The ideological "child protection" advocates claim that they are acting in the child's best interest when they call for a total ban on smacking and heavy penalties for smacking parents. However, they fail to realise that they are the very ones who are exposing children to severe abuse. Normally, the vast majority of parents talk to their children and try to make them comply. A smack is usually administered when words and admonition have failed to have the desired effect. So, if a child is smacked for something that he/she did or failed to do, subjecting the parents to police investigations and subsequent social investigations and separating the child from its parents will be double punishment for the child. This will not only expose the child to severe trauma but also damage the child's relations to its parents - maybe permanently. So, those Kiwis (MPs) must be crazy!

Ruby Harrold-Claesson, Lawyer, President of the NCHR/NKMR.

1 Larzelere's parting comments
2 Was the Lester amendment really necessary? By Kay Ma. Dissertation 2005.

3 Hans Temrin "Styvföräldrar misshandlar oftare barn till döds", DN May 12, 2006
4 Kathryn Rich claimed that I am "a fruit loop". See Prof Jacob Sundberg's letter to Kathryn Rich and his letter to Deborah Coddington,

5 14% Increase in Child Abuse despite Swedish Smacking Ban,
6 "Anti-smack campaign fails to pack a punch" quotation, Christian Diesen. Note in the article that Diesen wants more parents to be prosecuted.
7 I am not a member of the Swedish Bar Association, a fact that Sue Bradford and her "child protection" lobby, unknowledgeable of the Swedish system, tried to make a big affair of in their attempts to discredit me because of my criticism of the Swedish anti-smacking law. Cf Note 4 supra.

8 Waelder, R IUP, New York, 1964
10 European Report: Mummy and Daddy spare rod - or go to court

21 July 07 - NZCPR Weekly - Breaking Through
NZCPR Weekly

21 July 07
NZCPR Weekly - Topic: Welfare
Breaking Through
Muriel Newman

Breaking Through

Early last year a little boy was brutally beaten to death by his mother and her partner:

“The child's blood was also found throughout the house. In two rooms - the living area and his bedroom - the blood had splattered so high it hit the ceiling”.

Graphic photographs taken during his post-mortem showed three year old Ngatikaura Ngati’s body had suffered repeated beatings. His left arm was so badly damaged that it had swollen to twice its normal size. When pathologists cut it open they found all the tissue had already died from the beatings he had suffered.

The investigating Police Officer Richard Middleton said, "This is as bad as anything I have seen on a child or any human”.

Ngati’s mother had given him to childless relatives when he was a month old. They raised him as their own. But shortly after his third birthday, his mother wanted him back: “she was claiming a benefit for more children than were living with her and she was afraid of being caught out”. Three months later, the little boy was dead. (See From Happiness to Hell, Herald>>>)

This shocking case highlights the malevolent nature of child abuse in New Zealand – a vicious crime committed by a mother and her partner who were so hungry for benefit money that they placed their dependency on government welfare above the safety and happiness of their child.

For that reason, the second defendant in this case – and in most other child abuse cases in New Zealand - should be the State. The worst child abusers in this country are the government which has knowingly cemented in place social policies that create the environment for child abuse to flourish. Their social welfare policies lead to the disintegration of marriage, family and community as benefit recipients become hooked, realising that they are significantly better off if they stay single and on welfare.

Through unconditional state handouts to vulnerable women with children, whole communities have been created where the two-parent family has vanished, where work is rare or non-existent, and where social degradation – squalor, alcoholism, drugs, violence, crime - is commonplace.

Just last week, the Herald on Sunday reported on child abuse cases at Auckland’s Starship Hospital, stating that last year’s child abuse admissions were the worst on record. It also claimed that the figures for head injuries for Maori children are the highest in the world. (See Doctor Decries Staggering Level of Child Abuse>>>)

Yet the Government’s response to this national crisis is a shameful silence.

In contrast, the Howard Government in Australia has invoked a state of emergency to deal with their child abuse crisis - which is at a level similar to ours. They have introduced controls on dysfunctional families that include compulsory health checks on all at-risk children, linking benefit payments to school attendance, and quarantining 50 per cent of welfare payments to ensure that funds are used for children’s welfare, not booze, drugs or gambling.

The opposition Labour Party, recognising the seriousness of the problem, has pledged to put in place even tougher measures if they become the government, withholding all welfare payments from families that do not do the right thing by their children.

New Zealand remains the only country in the world that has wide open access to the sole parent benefit. Here, girl can get pregnant as teenager and literally have a benefit income for life. She can remain on the Domestic Purposes Benefit just so long as she doesn’t work, doesn’t marry, and from time to time has another baby to keep her eligibility current.

Yet life on a benefit is the very worst incentive that any government could possibly dangle in front of vulnerable young girls as it creates a perilous home environment for their children. Maori girls in particular are susceptible to the government’s anti-marriage welfare ‘bait’ with figures from the Ministry of Social Development showing that Maori teenage parents are on a benefit at a rate of 85 per 1,000, more than eight times higher the non-Maori rate of 10 per 1,000.

Just last week the Ministry of Social Development released a report showing that the number of children living in financial hardship in New Zealand has - incredibly - almost doubled in two decades from 12% in 1982 to 23% in 2004, with sole parent households with children being by far the worst off. (see MSD Hardship Report>>>)

That is why the government’s refusal to fundamentally reform welfare, in order to move sole parents off benefits into supported work and a decent life, borders on being criminally negligent.

In contrast to a situation here, politicians in the US took action over a decade ago: “The designers of welfare reform were concerned that prolonged welfare dependence had a negative effect on the development of children. Their goal was to disrupt intergenerational dependence by moving families with children off the welfare rolls through increased work and marriage... Ten years after welfare reform became the law those who have enjoyed the greatest benefits are the most disadvantaged single parents with the most significant barriers to employment. In particular, young, never-married mothers with low levels of education and young children”. (see The Impact of Welfare Reform by the Heritage Foundation>>>)

Figures from Statistics NZ confirm the dramatic move in New Zealand away from childbearing within marriage. Historically, only around five percent of babies were born outside of marriage. But largely as a result of the introduction of the Domestic Purposes Benefit in the seventies, the trend changed and by 1990 the rate had increased to 35 percent. As of last year, 47 percent of all babies born in New Zealand were born outside of marriage, which means that almost a half of all newborns in this country are being born into family structures that put them at an increased risk of child abuse.

That is not to say that all children born into de-facto relationships will be harmed; of course they won’t. Nor that all sole parents do a bad job; on the contrary many do an exceptional job and raise great kids. But just as there are no guarantees that children raised in two-parent married families will be happy and safe, on the balance of probability married families represent the safest of all environments in which to raise children, with un-married families the most dangerous.

Encouraging marriage is the approach that has now been taken by legislators in the United States in order to improve the outlook for children. It is also the conclusion that has been reached in “Breakthrough Britain: Ending the Costs of Social Breakdown”, a new report produced by the British Conservative Party’s Social Justice Commission. This report, which builds on last year’s “Breakdown Britain”, finds that the breakdown of the two-parent family and the decline of marriage is at the heart of the collapse of values in British society. It proposes a number of strategies to strengthen families and encourage marriage through adjustments to the tax and benefit systems. (see Breakthrough Britain>>>)

The report also discusses the significant contribution made by the voluntary sector, which works at the coalface of social dysfunction, and it recommends that it be liberated from the domination of state control.

According to this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Peter Allen, who founded and headed the Prince of Wales Trust, the situation here in New Zealand is dire:

"During my eleven years of involvement with some of the country’s most complex young people I saw many valuable youth initiatives destroyed by the government’s youth policies and bureaucratic pressure. Unfortunately their loss is becoming increasingly apparent as we see more youth crime, assaults on elderly people, property damage, theft, drunken behaviour, increased drug abuse and more truancy from school than ever before".

He goes on to warn, "This Government’s destructive social policies have created divisions between cultures, within families, and across communities, and until there is a full realisation that the problems are politically motivated - and the people of this country demand appropriate action - the situation will continue to deteriorate". (To read Peter's article "The Bureaucratic Destruction of Private Sector Youth Support Services" click the sidebar link>>>)

Peter is right. Many of the complex social problems that we face in New Zealand – like the dreadful child abuse crisis – are being caused by politically motivated government policy. But until the public demands action, there will be no breaking though and as sure as night follows day, more and more innocent children like little Ngatikura Ngati will die.

Poll: The poll this week asks whether you would favour the introduction of policies to encourage marriage in New Zealand.
To vote click here>>>

[Comments received during the week on the column and the poll will be posted here>>>]

Last week's poll asked: Should the welfare reform proposed by the Howard Government in Australia should be adopted in New Zealand?
Result: 96% said Yes and 4% said No.
You can read the hundreds of comments that were submitted by clicking here>>>.

Housekeeping: Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to others who you think would be interested. A printer-friendly version is on the website.

Don't forget that we are always keen to consider publication of opinion pieces for the website Soapbox Series - why not visit the page and send in your submission.

To contact Muriel about this week’s column please click here>>>.

NZCPR Weekly is a free weekly newsletter by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based forum at for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas. You can reach Muriel by phone on 09-434-3836, 021-800-111 or by post at PO Box 984 Whangarei.


EXCLUSIVE Human rights 'farce' faces axe
By Nigel Nelson
PARENTS who smack their children are likely to be spared the threat of jail under a Government rethink.

Mums and dads currently face up to five years in prison if they bruise or graze kids.

But outraged parents say the penalties - brought in two years ago under European human rights laws - are too tough.

They want the courts to distinguish between disciplining naughty kids and child abuse. Now the Government is to ask parents' views over the summer after other surveys showed that two-thirds are in favour of disciplinary smacking. Tory children's minister Tim Loughton said: "The present law is unworkable nonsense - it just criminalises parents.

"We need to clearly define the line between chastisement by parents as they see fit and violence towards children." The current law allows "reasonable chastisement" but if a mark is made that could be treated as actual bodily harm.

Critics say that fails to recognise the difference between responsible parents and those who beat their kids black and blue.

The results of the Government survey will be announced by Schools Minister Andrew Adonis in the autumn when a law change will be considered.

Child protection organisations who want an outright ban on smacking will also be consulted.....

2 July 2007 - hbtoday - EDITORIAL - All feeling smack in checkout

EDITORIAL - All feeling smack in checkout

With two suspicious deaths of infants at the weekend the controversy over whether cabinet minister David Cunliffe smacked his child in a supermarket seems obscenely petty.

But therein lies the point.

Mr Cunliffe - who denies he "smacked" his child - and his family are distressed by the attention received from "Families First", which has lobbied against the anti-smacking legislation.

And who could blame him?

His parenting methods - and, no doubt, those of all who have supported the anti-smacking legislation - have become hostage to politics. Such scrutiny, though unkind, is not surprising.

The law's opponents would relish the chance to test the new law on one of its high-profile advocates. However, all parents are in the same uncomfortable position as Mr Cunliffe, who was in fact congratulated by Families First, which said he "did what any half-decent parent would have done in the circumstances".
While the Government's accommodation reached with National for its support of the bill exempted "inconsequential" events from prosecution, that level has yet to be determined.

And despite repeated assurances that good parents won't be hauled before the courts, how can anyone know?

Is a small, corrective smack in a supermarket a forgivable "technical breach" or might it be eligible for prosecution if drawing a complaint or witnessed more than once?

How much discretion might police be allowed if the precautionary principle gives authority to finger-pointers and mischief makers (who appear to be the beneficiaries of the new law)?

The triviality of the Cunliffe affair seen beside the baby deaths - the importance of which it has all but eclipsed - is instructive because it underlines the worthlessness of sending messages with a prescriptive, intrusive law.

Most New Zealanders believe that not only the new law fails to honour its promise to protect the young but it will also hit the wrong targets.

Meanwhile the real problem will remain unaddressed.

Sue Bradford's bill won endorsement from many disgusted at the level of child abuse in New Zealand and who rightly believed something needed to be done. However, instead of focusing on baby bashers and killers (collectivist ideology absolves individual wrongdoers by making everyone else accountable) Parliament found blanket disapproval was far more convenient and put all parents on notice that they had better be on their best behaviour.

So disconnected have our politicians become from their constituents that they just cannot understand why they have deeply offended so many - even when one of their own is used to make the point.

2 July 2007 - newstalkzb - MP in smacking controversy

MP in smacking controversy
2/07/2007 7:36:02

Opponents of the new anti-smacking law believe the actions of a Labour MP prove its stupidity.

There are claims Cabinet Minister David Cunliffe was spotted smacking his child at LynnMall shopping centre in Auckland, despite the fact the MP voted in favour of legislation repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland was one of eight MPs to oppose the bill. He says Mr Cunliffe's case highlights the pitfalls of the new law, which outlaws smacking unless it is to save a child from harm. Police have discretion to decide whether to prosecute.

30 June 2007 - Family First - Cabinet Minister Corrects Child With a Smack

30 June 2007 - Family First - Cabinet Minister Corrects Child With a Smack

30 June 2007

Cabinet Minister Corrects Child With a Smack

Labour MP David Cunliffe has been observed giving one of his children a smack for naughty behaviour at a shopping mall.

Family First was contacted and told of the actions which occurred at the Lynmall Shopping Centre this afternoon (Saturday 30 June). The child was being corrected for hitting another child.

“We support David Cunliffe for the action he took to correct naughty behaviour,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “The smack on the hand was reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.”

“It appears that Mr Cunliffe was acting as any good parent would in the same circumstances.”

“However, under the anti-smacking law passed by Mr Cunliffe and his colleagues, his action of using force to correct a child is now illegal and a complaint made by a member of the public, or the child, to the police would have to be investigated.“

“The Police would record the event on a POL400 and forward the file to the Family Violence Co-ordinator, and if Mr Cunliffe was observed taking the same action again, the police would consider prosecuting him and forwarding the file to CYF’s for possible investigation and intervention.”

“That’s how farcical this law is,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Groups like Barnados and Plunket, and the Children’s Commissioner would find Mr Cunliffe’s actions totally unacceptable.”

But Family First congratulates him for being a responsible and loving parent.


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

26 June 2007 - The Timaru Herald - Smacking law not yet used in Timaru

Smacking law not yet used in Timaru
By RHONDA MARKBY - The Timaru Herald | Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The new law banning the smacking of children might be three days old, but Timaru police are yet to use it.

Senior Sergeant Mark Offen was not surprised that there had been no complaints, adding allegations of assault on children by either adults or children themselves, were not common.

In the less serious cases officers could use their discretion as to whether a charge was laid. Mr Offen said there still had to be sufficient evidence for police to lay a charge and take the matter to court.

22 June 2007 - Maxim Institute - real issues - A LEAP IN THE DARK

Maxim Institute - real issues - No. 258
Friday, 22 June 2007, 10:50 am
Column: Maxim Institute
21 June 2007


This week the Police released a practice guide on the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 detailing how they intend to decide whether parents will or will not be prosecuted when they use physical discipline. The changes to the law around disciplining children will come into effect on 22 June 2007, making it technically illegal to use mild physical force for the purposes of correction. However, if the offence is 'inconsequential' the police have discretion whether to prosecute.

The guidelines suggest that even though infrequent smacking may be considered inconsequential, prosecution may still occur after repetitive incidents. Similarly, even 'inconsequential' reports of force must be passed on to the Police family violence co-ordinator under the guidelines. The police have also been careful to point out that the true impact of this law will not be seen until case law develops. This means that until someone is prosecuted under the new section 59, the way the guidelines will be applied cannot be predicated. The changes to section 59 are, as many opponents warned, a leap in the dark.

The release of these guidelines coincides with the findings of a national poll on people's attitudes towards the new law, conducted by Curia research, a market research firm. The results show that 78 percent of parents surveyed will still smack their children to correct their behaviour if they believe it is reasonable to do so. Only 16 percent said that they would not. This suggests that people are going to be willing to break the law and whether they will be punished for doing so will depend on how the police view their actions.

This raises an interesting question; will the vast majority of New Zealanders actually ignore this new legislation long-term or will the law eventually change New Zealanders' perspective on parental discipline? Sweden is an interesting test case because physical punishment against children was banned in 1979, yet parents continued to physically discipline their children. While 34 percent of those born before 1979 indicated they had received physical punishment from their parents, this only dropped to 32 percent for those born during or after 1979. The results of the poll by Curia research tentatively suggest that a similar pattern may emerge in New Zealand, which is the inevitable result of a law that relies on police guidelines and court precedents.

22 June 2007 - dailypost - Smacking doesn't make me a bad mum - Rotorua parent

Smacking doesn't make me a bad mum - Rotorua parent


SINGLE mum Augusta Scott has her hands full with two young boys, Elijah, 10 and Chance, 8.

Most of the time they're good kids.

But sometimes if they're naughty, she'll give them a light smack.

Ms Scott says that doesn't make her a bad mother.

However, she's worried that from today parents like her could come under unfair scrutiny.

Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill - the anti-smacking bill - comes into effect today after being passed into law last month.

Ms Scott said as a single mum it could be difficult controlling two young boys who sometimes fought.

In these circumstances, a light smack was necessary, she said.

"You can't say naughty boy and send them to time out because it doesn't work," she said.

"If it's controlled it can provide the effective reinforcement when you're trying to teach a child something.

"It's all the parents [who] discipline with control [who] are going to be under the spotlight."

Ms Scott has a teenage daughter who was smacked when she misbehaved.

It had not had a negative affect on her, Ms Scott said.

Ms Scott said the bill also had the potential for children to make false complaints because it has been such a high-profile issue.

"Guaranteed, it will happen."

John Wilson of the Rotorua police child abuse section agreed.

"There's always been the potential for false complaints," Mr Wilson said. However, he did think the bill was good in the sense that it changed the Crimes Act and removed the defence of "reasonable force" against assault on a child.

"It's certainly a step in the right direction," he said.

He didn't think responsible parents needed to worry about getting into trouble.

"The whole thing has to be viewed with a good amount of common sense," he said.

21 June 2007 - tvnz - Anti-smacking guide for police

Anti-smacking guide for police
Jun 21, 2007

With the new anti-smacking law coming into effect on Friday, police have released guidelines on how staff should handle it.

The guide outlines situations where it is okay to smack. But parents opposed to the bill say the guidelines confirm it is their worst nightmare.

The police guidelines acknowledge children are unpredictable. A smack is okay to stop a child running onto a road, experimenting with electrical outlets or behaving in a criminal or offensive way that may harm themselves or others.

Police can also look the other way if the smack is deemed inconsequential or so light it doesn't matter.

But if it comes to police attention, it will be recorded.

"It's a record of police action and potentially if there is a sequence of incidents relating to a particular family or person then police clearly would be failing in their duty not to look at the matter appropriately," says Pope.

In the guide, police state that where force is used against a child, they must consider the amount of force used before deciding whether a prosecution is in the public interest.

If an assault is found to be minor, trivial or inconsequential, the event will be recorded and the file forwarded to a family violence co-ordinator.

But the guide states that "while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent."

Simon Barnett says he is a good father to his four children and smacking is all part of that.

"Then you say 'look if you do that again daddy's going to give you a smack on the count of three. One, two' and if they do it again I will smack her wee hand," Barnett says.

He believes police guidelines on the new anti-smacking law confirm his worst fears that parents like him will be criminalised.

"Even if it's inconsequential smacking, your name goes on a police computer forever as a violent offender. That is unconscionable," he says.

Police say that is just business as usual.

Police use a number of sources for registering complaints, offences or incidents they attend as part of our overall statistical gathering," says Rob Pope, police deputy commissioner.

Like any new law, this one will have to be tested through the courts to see what the judiciary decides is inconsequential smacking or not. The police statement says that until cases go through the courts it is not clear how the law will be applied.

"Well I'm sorry, I don't want to have to be the test case - some poor child getting dragged through the court system and some family suffering that fate," says Barnett.

Police will review the guidelines in three months.

Law "confusing"

Bob McCoskrie from lobby group Family First says the guidelines show the law is confusing.

"If the Police are having difficulty determining the law and its effect, how is a parent trying to do a good job and parent effectively and within the law supposed to have confidence in what they are doing," says McCoskrie.

But bill author Sue Bradford says the guidelines really support the idea behind the bill. She says it is clear that using weapons, or hitting kids around their head is inappropriate and also gives good rules around what is.

CYF won't change approach

And it will be business as usual for Child Youth and Family when the anti-smacking legislation comes into effect on Friday.

CYF says it will look at each notification involving physical discipline in the same way as any other allegation of assault.

Spokeswoman Lee Harris Royal says a smack on the back of the hand to signal displeasure will not reach an intervention stage.

In repeated events where police warnings have been unsuccessful involving the same family, only then will CYFS intervene.

But whether the use of physical force against a child constitutes an offence, will still be a police decision.

21 June 2007 - police - Smacking guidelines too restrictive

Smacking guidelines too restrictive - police
NZPA | Thursday, 21 June 2007

New guidelines for handling smacking complaints are too restrictive for police and will put pressure on those making decisions about complaints, the Police Association says.

The police guidelines drew some criticism after being issued on Tuesday, with critics concerned the new rules may be confusing to interpret.

A late amendment to new smacking laws added the proviso that police had the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent where the offence was considered to be inconsequential.

But association president Greg O'Connor said the guidelines defeated the purpose of the amendment about discretion.

"The guidelines mean we have been given less discretion than we thought we were going to be given," he told the New Zealand Herald.

There would be pressure on the senior sergeants who would have make decisions about individual cases.

There would also be pressure on frontline police dealing with people on both sides of the argument trying to prove their point.

Mr O'Connor said as with family violence cases, there would have to be zero tolerance with complaints and they would have to be reported. "And unfortunately, as a result of these guidelines, there is very little discretion. We think the guideliines could have been a little more broad."

A group opposing the smacking bill - Family First - yesterday said the guidelines confirmed its worst fears.

Director Bob McCoskrie said the guidelines made clear that while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions were repetitive or frequent.

"This makes it quite clear that the discretion clause, trumpeted as the saviour to good parents, will only apply for a limited time and that in effect light smacking of an inconsequential nature will end up being prosecuted," Mr McCoskrie said.

The guidelines suggested it would take a while to find out how the laws would be interpreted in courts.

National Party leader John Key said the party was confident the police would deal with the law appropriately but that a National government would make changes if things were not working.

20 June 2007- Waikato Times - Father hits out at 'vague' new smacking guidelines
Father hits out at 'vague' new smacking guidelines
By NATALIE AKOORIE and THE DOMINION POST - Waikato Times | Wednesday, 20 June 2007

A Hamilton father of five who plans to continue smacking his children in spite of a controversial law banning physical punishment says the police prosecution guidelines are too vague.

Neil Pascoe, whose children range in age from two to 23, said it was "totally ridiculous" that parents who regularly smacked their children despite warnings faced prosecution and referral to Child, Youth and Family under the law, which comes into effect on Friday.

"How can they prove it?" he said. "They're not there at the time - they didn't see what went on . . . unless there is bruising - but if there is, or scarring, that then becomes abuse."

Under the guidelines sent to officers yesterday, even parents found to have used "minor, trivial or inconsequential" force and not charged will have their details recorded by police family violence co-ordinators.

The advice, from Police Commissioner Howard Broad, is a crucial element in the implementation of a law that abolishes the defence of reasonable force for parents who smack their children.

It was passed after a last-minute deal between Labour and National brought a clause making it clear that police were not expected to prosecute "inconsequential" smacking.

Though that is recognised in the guidelines, "inconsequential" is not defined, with officers told it will ultimately be up to the courts to determine in test cases.

The advice goes on to say that smacking not considered inconsequential by investigating officers may be prosecuted if it is "repetitive and frequent" and previous warnings have been ignored. Such incidents would constitute assault, and must be referred to child abuse investigators and CYF.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie, who led a massive campaign against the law change, said the guidelines confirmed many of the fears raised by opponents.

Green MP Sue Bradford, who introduced the bill, said the guidelines gave police "some context".

20 June 2007 - New Zealand National Party - National will fix smacking law if it's broken

National will fix smacking law if it's broken

Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 10:05 am
Press Release: New Zealand National Party
John Key MP
National Party Leader
20 June 2007

National will fix smacking law if it's broken

National Party Leader John Key says a National-led Government will change the smacking law if the spirit of the compromise thrashed out with Labour is broken.

"We're watching the developments. National has maintained right the way through the process that we do not wish to see responsible parents criminalised. If that starts happening, a National Government would fix the law.

"The critical test of this legislation was always going to be the way it was administered.

"But I am confident the police will administer the law with the appropriate judgment and discretion required. If, for whatever reason, that proves not to be the case, we'll change it.

"The overwhelming majority of New Zealanders do not want to see good parents criminalised for an 'inconsequential' smack. That's what National signed up to, and that's still the case."


20 June 2007 - Family First - Regular smackers may face charges

Regular smackers may face charges

The Dominion Post 20 June 2007

Parents who regularly smack their children despite warnings face prosecution and referral to Child, Youth and Family under police guidelines on the controversial law banning physical punishment. Even parents found to have used "minor, trivial or inconsequential" force and not charged will have their details recorded by police family violence coordinators, under the guidelines sent to officers yesterday. The advice, from Police Commissioner Howard Broad, is a crucial element in the implementation of the law that abolishes the defence of reasonable force for parents who smack their children. The law comes into force on Friday.

Family First director Bob McCoskrie, who led a massive campaign against the law change, said the guidelines confirmed many of the fears raised by opponents. "Who's going to be the lucky test case parents who have to go through the hell of a prosecution? If the police are saying 'we're not sure', how in the heck are parents going to be certain that they're parenting within the law?"

Police issue smacking law guide and question definitions
NZ Herald

READ The Police Practive Guide for New Section 59

Family First's Response...

Police Practice Guide for Smacking Law Confirms Worst Fears for Parents
19 JUNE 2007

The Police have confirmed that they will prosecute parents who lightly smack their children, even if the smacking is inconsequential.

In the Police Practice Guide released by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope today, it states that “while smacking may, in some circumstances, be considered inconsequential, a prosecution may be warranted if such actions are repetitive or frequent.”

“This makes it quite clear that the discretion clause, trumpeted as the saviour to good parents, will only apply for a limited time and that in effect light smacking of an inconsequential nature will end up being prosecuted,” says Mr McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This flies in the face of assurances given by Helen Clark and John Key.”

The Police Practice guide also acknowledges the confusing nature of the new law in its introduction by stating that "until case law develops on the section, it is not known how it will be interpreted and applied by the Courts. It will take time to see the impact of the new law.”

“If the Police are having difficulty determining the law and its effect, how is a parent trying to do a good job and parent effectively and within the law supposed to have confidence in what they are doing,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The Practice Guide also confirms that the Police will be keeping records of all complaints – even those of a minor, trivial or inconsequential nature.”

“It is interesting to note that the Police, in the absence of clear definitions in the law of who is a “child” and what constitutes “reasonable force” will be forced to make subjective decisions based on the age and maturity of the child and the circumstances that led to the use of force. In other words, and ironically, we’re back to the original section 59.”

“The politicians have delivered a ‘feel-good’ law change to the Police with no substance or certainty for parents, and some poor family is going to be the ‘test case’ of a law which, according to a recent poll, 78% of NZ’ers will ignore and 77% say it will have no effect on child abuse.”

17 June 2007 - Family First - 78% Will Break New Smacking Law Coming Into Force This Week

17 JUNE 2007

Smacking Law Rejected by Majority of NZ’ers – 78% Will Ignore the Law

Only 29% of NZ’ers support the Sue Bradford ‘anti-smacking’ bill due to become enforceable in law this week, and 78% plan to ignore the law and continue to smack as a form of correction, despite the possibility they might be prosecuted.

These are the key finding of research commissioned by Family First NZ and conducted by market research company Curia Market Research. The poll surveyed almost 1,000 people and found continued overwhelming opposition to the new law.

29% strongly or somewhat agreed with the new law despite the Police discretion clause, while 62% strongly or somewhat disagreed with the law. 9% had no opinion either way.

“This law will turn the huge proportion of good parents and grandparents into law-breakers and politicians have failed to hear and acknowledge the voice of NZ’ers,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

82% said that the new law should be changed to state explicitly that parents who give their children a smack that is reasonable and for the purpose of correction are not breaking the law.

When asked whether their support for a party would be affected if they promised to change the law, 31% said they would be more likely to vote for that party, 6% less likely, and the policy would make no difference to 59% of voters. 4% didn’t know.

78% of respondents said that despite the new law, they would continue to smack their child to correct their behaviour if they believed it was reasonable to do so.

“This result is surprising, and a huge concern to us,” says Mr McCoskrie. “For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is. NZ’ers have not been fooled by the claims of the anti-smacking lobby that smacking is child abuse, they haven’t been duped by dodgy research attempting to suggest that children are damaged by reasonable smacking, and they have understood that our unacceptable rate of child abuse has far deeper root causes that a loving parent who corrects their child with a smack on the bottom.”

When asked whether they thought the new law was likely to help reduce the rate of child abuse in NZ, 77% responded that it was not at all likely. Only 5% thought it was very likely, and 17% said somewhat likely.

“This is a significant result. Politicians were hijacked by ‘feel-good’ ideology and law-making, but NZ’ers have not been fooled,” says Mr McCoskrie. “NZ’ers didn’t see the need for the law change in the first place, and they still don’t see the need. They desparately want politicians to tackle the real causes of child abuse without penalising good parenting practice.”

“The late addition of the Police discretion clause has not reassured parents as the politicians believed it would.”

As a result of these survey findings, Family First is calling on MP’s to amend the bill, so that the law explicitly states that reasonable smacking for the purpose of correction is not a criminal act.

“Parliament should also give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in NZ – a sentiment shared by 200,000 NZ’ers who have already signed the petition demanding a Referendum on this issue,” says Mr McCoskrie.

The poll was conducted during the week beginning June 11. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.3 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Read Full Report -


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

8 June 2007 - The Age - Smacking kids should not be outlawed: PM

Smacking kids should not be outlawed: PM

June 8, 2007 - 11:19AM

Prime Minister John Howard says he never smacked his children but he wouldn't want the practice outlawed.

Mr Howard said he did not want to tell parents how to discipline their children.

After an anti-smacking law was passed in New Zealand last month, the Australian Democrats called for the federal government to protect children from physical punishment.

A taxpayer-funded campaign is also discouraging the practice.

Asked if he smacked his three children, Mr Howard said: "No, actually I was a bit of a softie in relation to that.

"We were not into, sort of, physical discipline," he told Southern Cross broadcasting.

"That's us. I'm not telling other parents how to run their lives."

The prime minister said disciplining children was entirely a matter for parents.

"I do not believe the law should be changed.

"There are laws at the moment which punish people who abuse children.

"But reasonable discipline is not abuse. Can't we just have a commonsense approach to these things?"

31 May 2007 - Family Integrity - Swedish Academic Slams National MP

Media Release
For Immediate Distribution

Swedish Academic Slams National MP for Cowardly Attack in Parliament Jacob Sundberg, Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus and Family Law at the University of Stockholm, and author ("Family Law under change") has written to National MP Katherine Rich complaining about her cowardly and unsubstantiated attack on Swedish Lawyer Ruby Harrold-Claesson who recently visited NZ.

In Rich's speech in parliament recently supporting Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill against the weight of public opinion, Rich slammed Harrold-Claesson as a 'fruit loop' and 'false expert', all said behind the cowardly protection of parliamentary privilege.

However, Professor Sundberg rejects Rich's attack stating that she has "fallen prey to a smear campaign run in Sweden by some of her adversaries in the social bureaucracy and by their leftist chums in the Faculty of Law in Stockholm."

Sundberg also slams Katherine Rich's understanding and support of the Swedish experiment with smacking bans and says "Whether Sweden "benefited" from the reform as you put it, is very much in doubt as I see it. Certainly, it has undermined the family tie with a lot of mischief following. It has turned little children into informers upon their parents, and the social bureaucracy into a super-nanny with a kind of police powers as against the parents. The change in atmosphere may be applauded by leftist circles around, but it is certainly deplored by the families hit by the revolutionary zeal. No figures have ever been given showing any beneficial effect of the legislation."

Katherine Rich should do her homework before making baseless and defamatory attacks against individuals, especially in the cowardly way she did behind the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Letter from Sundberg to Kathryn Rich:

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North
New Zealand
Ph: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389

Our Home....Our Castle

if Section59 is repealed - or replaced...


28 MAY 2007 - Family First - Smacking Law Hits Labour in Polls Because of Inconsistency

28 MAY 2007

Smacking Law Hits Labour in Polls Because of Inconsistency

The Prime Minister, in her response to calls to lower the alcohol limit for driving, has said what many parents and family groups argued should be the approach to the anti-smacking bill.

In response to a question this morning on Newstalk ZB as to why won’t the government consider lowering the alcohol limit on drink driving, the PM’s response was

“…I am highly conscious of not drinking before driving. I think most people are. And the question you have to ask is are you then going to bring in a rule that fundamentally changes it for highly law abiding people when the problem is with those who drink far too much.”

We agree.

Kiwi parents would agree.

“This was the exact argument used by Family First regarding the anti-smacking bill, which has effectively targeted law abiding parents, while ignoring the root causes of child abuse,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First. “Why was the PM’s logic not used in the smacking debate?”

“As a result of shoddy and undemocratic lawmaking, ‘highly law abiding parents’ are now going to be criminalised, and threatened with investigation and intervention by CYF, because of a ‘fundamental’ law change that has no scientific support or international experience backing it up.”

“If we are serious about reducing our abysmal rate of child abuse, the target should be parents who physically and emotionally abuse their children or neglect their needs – a far cry from a smack on the bottom by a loving parent.”

“The Prime Minister should be consistent in her approach to law making,” says Mr McCoskrie.


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

17 May 2007 - Commissioner For Children - Commissioner wants more integrated investment

We need to be watching for this very dangerous legislation which leads on from the Amendment of Section 59

Commissioner wants more integrated investment
Thursday, 17 May 2007, 6:12 pm
Press Release: Commissioner For Children

Media Release
17 May 2007

Children’s Commissioner wants more integrated investment in children

Children’s Commissioner, Dr Cindy Kiro congratulates all those politicians who voted to pass the Crimes Amendment Bill (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Bill and sent a strong and united message that is consistent with a legislative and policy context that prioritises a whole child approach and working towards improved outcomes for children.

"We now need to support this direction towards a better future with monatory policies that support this,” says Dr Kiro.

“Today’s budget does contain some good initiatives for children although its focus is somewhat ad-hoc and not as coherent as the provisions for older people. There should be a clear strategy underpinning investment in children.”

“It is good to see investment in education and better health outcomes for children and boosting the ability of community organisations to work with government to deliver services that support children and families”

“New Zealand children should grow up in a safe and secure family environment, free from all forms of violence. Additional funding of $11.2 million towards programmes to reduce family violence is money well spent.”

“I would like to see more investment in preventing youth offending. Ensuring that children are safe and nurtured, have the resources to develop to their full potential, and have their views considered in matters that affect them, is a fundamental responsibility of governments and communities and families. It also makes good sense, as it will lead to a better future for all of us. Investments in childhood are most likely to bring good returns to society as a whole. The best results occur when we intervene early in the child’s life before problems become endemic, and also when the likelihood of success is greater.”

I believe the establishment of an integrated framework for children and their families would provide a foundation for more co-ordinated strategies. An integrated framework would bring a systematic approach to monitoring the development of every child and young person in New Zealand through co-ordinated planned assessment at key life stages and supporting families to make sure children have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” says Dr Kiro.


17 May 2007 - The Dominion Post - New law won't stop Bob from smacking

New law won't stop Bob from smacking
PATRICK CREWDSON - The Dominion Post | Thursday, 17 May 2007

Bob McCoskrie smacks his children, and Sue Bradford's law change won't make him stop.

The national director of Family First New Zealand, a vociferous opponent of the Green MP's bill to amend section 59 of the Crimes Act, said the "confusing legislation" that passed last night would not changed the way he disciplined his three children - just the way he described it.

"I'll continue to do it in a reasonable way and I'll continue to do it as a back-up when other non-physical methods of discipline haven't worked."

After obtaining an opinion from Queen's Counsel Grant Illingworth, Family First cautioned parents yesterday not to incriminate themselves to police.

Mr McCoskrie said that, under the amendment, parents could still use reasonable force for the purpose of prevention, but not for correction.

"What the QC is saying is that if you ever do get prosecuted for giving a light smack, simply say it was for the purpose of preventing bad behaviour, not correcting bad behaviour, which shows just how ridiculous the law is."

Supporters of the bill relaxed yesterday as it passed with greater political support than initially expected.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro said she was hugely relieved.

She had supported outright repeal of section 59 and had some reservations about how the amendment would be interpreted, but was happy a compromise had been reached to "allay the fears that had been whipped up among parents around criminalisation".

Barnardos chief executive Murray Edridge said he was delighted, but the challenge now was to ensure parents were equipped to deal with behavioural problems without resorting to force.

In a rearguard action against the amendment, opponents yesterday took out full-page newspaper advertisements seeking signatures to force a referendum on child discipline at the next election.

The advertisements warned parents that they would be criminalised if they smacked their children, and said police had confirmed they would have to investigate any complaints made against parents who smacked or put their children in time out.

But Police Association president Greg O'Connor said he had been misquoted.

Police would continue to investigate complaints of assault - just as they always had - but putting a child in time-out would not land a parent in jail.


16 MAY 2007 - Family First - “I Was Preventing, Not Correcting, Bad Behaviour Officer!” - Advice to Parents

16 MAY 2007

“I Was Preventing, Not Correcting, Bad Behaviour Officer!” - Advice to Parents

A leading QC has recommended to parents that they never acknowledge that they are “correcting” bad behaviour once the Anti-Smacking law is passed in Parliament.

“Because good parents who use reasonable force to effectively correct offensive or disruptive behaviour or defiance from a child will be exposed to criminal liability and investigation under the new anti-smacking law, it is essential that they receive good advice and protection,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Family First asked leading QC Grant Illingworth for his opinion regarding the new law.

Mr Illingworth said “The difficulty with the section is that it does not tell us what "correction" means. In ordinary language, and for most ordinary people, correction would include preventing a child from continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour and preventing harm to another child. But that cannot be the correct interpretation because it would mean that the section is self contradictory.”

“This means that "correction" will have to be given a somewhat artificial meaning that does not correspond with the ordinary use of language. The question is: what will "correction" be held to mean? This is a question of enormous importance because, if a parent intends "correction" then, even if the parent would otherwise have a defence, that defence will no longer be available by reason of s 59(2).”

“The moral of the story is that, in any investigation, it would be extremely unwise for a parent to admit that she or he was attempting to correct a child's aberrant behaviour. And if that isn't silly, I don't know what is.”

Mr Illingworth responded to two scenarios presented by Family First, and how the new law could apply -

1. A child is having a tantrum in the supermarket because mum won’t buy that lolly, and mum gives the child a light smack on the bottom which brings the child under control. An observer reports the parent to the police. Does the parent have a defence under s59?

Illingworth QC - The mother who smacks the child lightly in the supermarket to stop a tantrum is arguably using reasonable force to prevent the child from continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour, so she has an apparent defence so long as her purpose is not "correction".

2. A child throws a toy at his brother’s head. Mum tells him to go to his room. The child refuses. Mum grabs him by the arm and literally has to drag a screaming child, who is throwing his arms all around, to the room. The child tells his school teacher who rings CYF. Does the parent have a defence under s59?

The mother who drags her child to its room to stop violent behaviour towards a sibling is also arguably using reasonable force to prevent the child from continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour. She may, as well, be preventing further harm to the other child. She too has an apparent defence so long as her purpose is not "correction".

“The bottom line is that we have created a confusing law,” says Mr McCoskrie. “This is bad news for good parents who wish to parent within the law. The good news is that we do not have a blanket ban on smacking – despite the misrepresentation by the supporters of the law change.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

16 May 2007 - Stuff - Copeland quitting over smacking bill

Copeland quitting over smacking bill

By TRACY WATKINS - The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 16 May 2007

CLASH OF IDEAS: See link for photo: Gordon Copeland debating the child discipline bill outside Parliament earlier this year. It is believed the United Future MP is quitting the party as he does not agree with its stance on the issue.
Related Links

UPDATED REPORT: The government has been dealt a blow on the eve of the budget, with United Future MP Gordon Copeland expected to announce today he is resigning from his party in protest at the so-called anti-smacking bill.

NZPA understands that Mr Copeland is leaving over Green MP Sue Bradford member's bill to remove from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of "reasonable force" to correct a child.

Mr Copeland, a Christian, has always opposed the legislation and while he voted for an amendment stating police had discretion not to prosecute inconsequential complaints he felt the bill still made criminals of parents who smacked their children.

He would form the party with former colleague Larry Baldock who has been running a petition against the Bradford bill.

The party would be called Future New Zealand - the name of the Christian party which the United Party previously merged with.

When Parliament sat at 2pm National Party deputy leader Bill English questioned Prime Minister Helen Clark about Mr Copeland's decision.

He said the Government could now only rely on 59 votes in the 121 MP Parliament.

"What assurances can she give as the leader of the current coalition of Labour, United Future and New Zealand First that the Government commands a majority in this House?" he asked.

The Government's only formal coalition partner is the Progressive's Jim Anderton. It has support agreements with New Zealand First and United Future and a cooperation agreement with the Greens under which that party abstains on confidence and supply issues.

The Government may find it harder passing some legislation but its confidence and supply arrangements are secure as they were when Taito Phillip Field became an independent.

Miss Clark said that the Government continued to enjoy the confidence of the House.

- With NZPA

16 May 2007 - tvnz - MP quits over anti-smacking bill

MP quits over anti-smacking bill

May 16, 2007

United Future MP Gordon Copeland is set to quit United Future over the anti-smacking bill.

The decision leaves the government in a precarious situation. The recent defection of Taito Philip Field and now Copeland leaves the government in a true minority.

It is understood the MP is planning to start a new political party with a former one-term United Future MP Larry Baldock.

The catalyst for his departure is the anti-smacking bill, which will get its final reading on Wednesday. Both men vehemently oppose the amendment watering down the bill.

Copeland will stay on as an independent

Earlier this weka another United Future MP, Judy Turner, said she would oppose the anti-smacking bill when it had its final reading in parliament.

While she believes the compromise amendment reinforcing discretionary powers for police was a good move she is concerned it doesn't also apply to Child Youth and Family.

Turner says not enough has changed at CYF to reassure her parents are safe from prosecution for lightly smacking their children.

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


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

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

14 May 2007 - United Future NZ Party - Turner to oppose Bradford Bill Bill

Monday, 14 May 2007, 10:16 am
Press Release: United Future NZ Party
Monday, 14 May 2007
Turner to oppose Bradford Bill

United Future MP Judy Turner today announced she will be voting against the third and final reading of Green MP Sue Bradford's anti-smacking Bill when it next comes up for debate in Parliament.

"I do believe that the amendment passed last week to clarify the police discretion to not prosecute when it is not in the public interest to do so, was a definite improvement," says Mrs Turner.

"However, this provision does not apply to Child Youth and Family Services who, like the police, have statutory powers and can remove your children, limit your access, and eventually in the interests of permanency, place them with a new family.

"Some would say that it is pure hysteria to suggest that parents will lose their children into care if they lightly smack their children.

"Well I hope they are right. CYFS certainly don't have to meet the same burden of proof as the police do to make an arrest, so discretion is even harder to determine.

"Currently this agency has no robust complaints service and because this is lacking there is little feedback across the department about the need to change social work procedures.

"They do acknowledge that most complaints are about social work provision, but there is no break-down of this to identify if there are any common themes in these complaints.

"Parents I have dealt with fear making a complaint in case they further jeopardise their case. They feel powerless and understandably emotional, often lacking the skills needed to make calm representation to staff at the local branch office.

"To date, not enough has changed in this department to reassure me that good parents are safe, and for this reason… I am not supporting the third reading of this Bill.


13 MAY 2007 - Family First - MP’s to Vote on “Most Extreme Anti-Smacking Law in World” - Expert

13 MAY 2007

MP’s to Vote on “Most Extreme Anti-Smacking Law in World” - Expert

Politicians will vote this week on the world’s most extreme anti-smacking law in the world, according to Dr Robert E Larzelere, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science at the Oklahoma State University, who was brought to New Zealand by Family First NZ as a scientific expert on child correction for the debate on Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill.

In a commentary written after his week in NZ earlier this month speaking with politicians and media, he says “…the imminent New Zealand smacking ban is more extreme than Sweden’s ban in three ways. Using force to correct children will be subject to full criminal penalties …. Sweden’s ban had no criminal penalty. In addition, New Zealand’s bill bans the mildest use of force to correct children, not just smacking. This removes most disciplinary enforcements parents have used for generations, especially for the most defiant youngsters. Finally, the required change in disciplinary enforcements will be the biggest change ever imposed on parents.”

Dr Larzelere also highlights concerns of immigrants to NZ with the law and says “The New Zealand bill’s proponents claim that missionaries were responsible for introducing smacking and bashing to the Maori and other South Pacific peoples. The irony is that they are doing the same thing they accuse missionaries of – imposing a European philosophy of child correction on native ethnic groups – this time enforced with criminal penalties.”

He warns that the law to be voted on this Wednesday by Parliament “…runs counter to scientific evidence, previous experiences with similar bans, and the wisdom of previous generations as far back as we can remember. It illustrates the world’s increasing inability to work out well-reasoned balanced positions rather than forcing people to choose between polarized extremes.”

Dr Larzelere compares our politicians’ efforts to ban smacking with US President George W Bush’s decision to invade Iraq and says Bush “…had an overly optimistic view about invading Iraq because they heard only one optimistic side of the scenarios. Now our country is in a quagmire with no good way out. For the sake of New Zealand’s children and future, I hope they have a better exit strategy than George Bush.”

Dr Larzelere’s full warning can be read at


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

9 MAY 2007 - Family First - Save the Children Report – Further Proof that Smacking Isn’t the Issue

9 MAY 2007

Save the Children Report – Further Proof that Smacking Isn’t the Issue

The latest report from Save the Children “State of the World’s Mothers 2007 – Saving the Lives of Children Under 5” is further evidence that the proposed ban on smacking is a ‘feel-good’ policy which has been adopted by 17 countries now without any identifiable or tangible benefit.

For the child death rate in the developed world, NZ currently ranks 21st. Of the top 20 safest countries, less than half have banned smacking. And the worst country for child deaths, Romania, banned smacking 3 years ago.

“Save the Children in New Zealand have trumpeted this report as further evidence that section 59 should be repealed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, “yet this report is simply further proof that groups like Save the Children, Barnardos and EPOCH are barking up the wrong tree in relation to child abuse.”

“The report quite correctly identifies the health and well-being of the mother, the availability of skilled health personnel during births, education and poverty as key contributors to children being at risk.”

The report reiterates the issues that Family First is highlighting. It says “Factors such as single parenthood, low levels of maternal education, teenage motherhood, substandard housing, large family size and parental drug or alcohol abuse increase the risks that a child will not survive to age 5.”

Mr McCoskrie says it is time that groups like Save the Children, CYF and UNICEF in NZ started reading their own reports and started advocating for dealing with the actual causes of child abuse, rather than attacking good families.


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

6 May 2007 - Family First - ANTI-SMACKING BILL

06 May 2007
Hi Barbara,


Can Parents Have Confidence in the Proposed Anti-Smacking Law?

But Clark said the proposed change was a "breakthrough" in that it provided assurance to good parents who were concerned they could be prosecuted for lightly smacking their children under the bill. She said the bill as it stood would have never done that, but inserting police guidelines into the legislation made that clear. - Helen Clark (NZPA 2 May 2007)

" National Party Leader John Key is pleased Labour will adopt a version of his amendment to the anti-smacking bill which he thinks will give parents confidence they will not be criminalised for lightly smacking their children ." - John Key (Media Release 2 May 2007)


The amendment simply says they may not be PROSECUTED for smacking their children - if the police thinks the force is "inconsequential" (whatever that means) and "not in the public interest" (but there is HUGE public interest by anti-smacking groups to ban all force.)

In response to an email from Family First to the Police Association, where we put a couple of scenarios of how a harrassed mother may deal with a child who is being defiant and a member of the public or even the child complains to the police, they said

"The important thing to remember is that in both cases, a complaint has been made and police have an obligation to investigate. A file will be created and it will be assigned to an officer to investigate. They will interview witnesses, etc, as we always do, to establish the facts to the extent they can. It is then that a decision will be made.

Had Section 59 been repealed, under police policy, if there was evidence of an offence, the offender would have to be arrested. Now there will be a test applied as to whether the force was inconsequential or not which essentially means police can and will exercise some discretion.

As to whether CYFS will be notified, the answer as I understand it to be, bearing in mind I speak on behalf of the Association not Police, is that there is likely to be a notification if it is established some force has been used. This is the practice where a complaint involving a child is made. "


- despite the supposed compromise reached by Clark, Key and Bradford???

We believe that John Key and Helen Clark should make good their promise that parents will not be criminalised for lightly smacking their children. This should be explicitly spelt out in the legislation - not left to the Police. This would avoid good parents coming under the weight and stress of an investigation by the police and CYF if a malicious or unecessary complaint is made against them.


There are 3 things we'd like you to consider doing - if you agree with our concerns:

1. Email all NATIONAL MP's and ask that John Key's promise to parents is stated explicitly in the law - that parents will not be criminalised for light smacks. Also ask for a Conscience Vote on the issue; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
(simply copy these signatures and paste onto email)

2. Email all LABOUR MP's and remind them that if the new amendment is as good as they say, allow a Conscience Vote for their MP's ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
(simply copy these signatures and paste onto email)

3. Continue to gain signatures for the Referendum.

There are already over 160,000 signatures on this petition demanding a Referendum on this exact issue "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a Criminal Offence in NZ"

You can download forms here


Please feel free to email us with your feedback and opinion on this issue. Email

Have a good week

Kind regards

Bob McCoskrie
NATIONAL DIRECTOR | About us | Media Centre | Contact Us | Support Us |

nzcpr - The Tail is Wagging the Dog

New Zealand Centre for Political Research -

The Tail is Wagging the Dog

The ramming through Parliament of the deeply unpopular anti-smacking bill is the clearest sign yet that under MMP the ‘tail is wagging the dog’. As Iain Gillies wrote in an editorial in the Gisborne Herald last month: “Widespread antipathy to Sue Bradford’s bill on parental smacking could unwittingly provoke renewed calls for a review of the MMP voting system. The motion does not figure much – yet - in either public discussion or the parliamentary debate, but may well get traction when voters consider to whom their MPs are beholden; their party hierarchy or the electorate (To read the article click here

MMP was sold to New Zealanders as a system that would improve representative democracy in this country so that the views of the voters would hold more weight. Surely, no-one could have envisioned the situation we now find ourselves in whereby, in spite of overwhelming public opposition, a list-only minority party is being allowed to foist onto New Zealanders the sort of anti-family legislation that would make Karl Marx proud.

The anti-smacking bill is the brainchild of Green Party MP Sue Bradford. In a 2005 article entitled Vote Labour Now to Smash Capitalism Later, the Communist Workers’ Group states: “A Labour government may need the backing of the Greens. Commentator Chris Trotter said that the New Zealand Greens are probably the most left-wing Green party in the world that has made it into political office. On the face of it there seems to be some truth in this with people like ex-Socialist Action League member Keith Locke and ex-Workers Communist League member Sue Bradford”. (See Aotearoa Independent Media Centre

So unbelievably, because of the support of the Prime Minister, a former Workers Communist League member is now set to impose her ideology onto New Zealand. British journalist Lynette Burrows in an article How to control adults by means of ‘children’s rights’ explains what’s behind the ideology:

“The question was always, why are the children’s rights people so concerned to make the parental right to smack their children illegal? Most of their organisations have been more or less devoted to the subject despite the fact that 90% of good and caring parents say that it is necessary at times. Now the answer is clear.

“It is a device which places most parents in the power of social workers. They are by training and tradition, marxist, feminist and anti-religious. They don’t much care for the family and lend their weight on every possible occasion to arguments and devices that show it in a bad light… The traditional family is still the safest place for any child to be – but you wouldn’t know it from official literature on the subject.

“Thus, anybody who wanted to further a marxist, feminist agenda could not do better than to have most families in thrall to social workers. It is not about the elevation of children’s rights at all. It is all about the crushing of adult ones”. (To read the article click here

Complicit in this attack on parents is Helen Clark who, badly needing Green Party support after the abdication of Philip Field, has done everything in her power to get this anti-smacking law passed: she has prevented her MPs from exercising a conscience vote, she attempted to get the bill passed under urgency, she tried to adopt it as a government bill, and now, in what must be one of the greatest political coups in New Zealand’s history, she has duped the National Party, United and New Zealand First into supporting a Claytons amendment.

The new amendment provided by the Law Commission - under instruction from the Prime Minister - and tabled in Parliament by the Leader of the United Party, changes nothing. As the law now stands if a complaint is laid about a parent smacking a child, the police are required to investigate and to notify the Department of Child Youth and Family. As a result of such an investigation the Police already have the discretion over whether or not to prosecute: if the matter is minor and of no public interest then there will be no prosecution. The much-heralded new clause – which astonishingly gained the support of even those MPs who were vehemently opposed to Bradford’s bill – simply re-states the law as it stands. (To read the original Police advice to the Select Committee click here

What this whole exercise has shown, is that under MMP calculated cunning is the name of the game. As long as the ruling party can cobble together sufficient support in the House - using whatever trickery it can dream up - any sort of radical new law can now be imposed in New Zealand without public mandate. Nothing is sacred, not even our right to run our own families as we see fit.

Democracy is meant to be government for the people, by the people and of the people. It is meant to respect the rights and freedoms of each and every citizen. What we have under MMP is government by political unions – the political parties - which collude to seek electoral advantage so they can push their ideology into law in order to satisfy the special interest groups that provide their support. All that matters is whether they have the numbers: the question of whether a proposed public policy change will serve the common interest and the public good appears to have been subsumed by the desire to be seen to be winning a victory in Parliament.

Most of the time they get away with it, but this time, with public opinion polls showing that the views of over 80% of New Zealanders are being ignored by our MMP parliamentarians - who look set to pass the anti-smacking bill into law - then surely it is time to question the electoral system itself.

Peter Shirtcliffe has always held serious doubts about the suitability of MMP for New Zealand. He is the NZ Centre for Political Research guest commentator this week. In an article entitled The Nonsense of the List MP he explains:

“One of the most heavily-promoted arguments in favour of MMP was that its introduction would transform for the better the way in which Parliament worked. We were promised… greater sensitivity to the wishes of the Electorate”.

Peter goes on to say: “The signs of politically-driven control agendas are starting to show and objective common-sense solutions will not readily emerge from arrogant, unelected MPs who are at the same time seeking ways to use more taxpayers’ (your) money to fund their own organisations”.

Peter is not alone in believing that a further referendum on MMP is now warranted - although he does note that it is extremely unlikely that such an initiative would be generated by this Parliament. I suspect that a good many of the 1,032,919 voters who supported MMP in the 1993 referendum did so believing that if it didn’t work out, they were going to be given another chance to change it in a later referendum.

With the vexed question of how to best to safeguard ourselves from hasty, unwise or ill-considered legislation uppermost in our mind, maybe the time is now right for that long-awaited binding referendum on whether MMP has delivered to New Zealand a system of government that ensures that not only do our elected representatives reflect the will of the people, but they are also committed to protecting their rights and their liberties.

The poll this week asks whether you would support New Zealand holding a binding referendum on MMP.
To vote click here

Last week's poll asked: Do you you support government funded legal aid for environmental activists driving a political agenda? The result: 3% voted Yes, 97% voted No! Hundreds of the comments submitted on this issue can be seen here

Please feel free to send this newsletter on to others who you think would be interested and encourage them to visit the website and register for the newsletter.

Don't forget that we are always keen to consider publication of opinion pieces for the website Soapbox Series why not visit the page and send in your submission.

To contact Muriel about this week’s column please click here

NZCPR Weekly is a free weekly newsletter by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based forum at for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas. You can reach Muriel by phone on 09-434-3836, 021-800-111 or by post at PO Box 984 Whangarei.

5 May 2007 - Family Integrity - Politicians Party over Parental Sellout

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Politicians Party over Parental Sellout

No matter how you slice it, Bradford's original intention in repealing Section 59 was to make criminals out of parents who dared to use any force, regardless of how light or reasonable, to correct their own children, a core responsibility of parenthood.

This amendment does not effect this intention one iota: which is why Bradford is so happy and did not pull the bill.

If this bill goes through, parents wanting to correct a child's bad behaviour or speech or attitude or values or morals will be committing a criminal act if any force of any kind is used. This is way beyond smacking, which significantly isn't mentioned anywhere in the bill. To correct a child is at the very least to force the parent's will on the child, however that is done: physical force; appeals to cultural, social, religious or traditional standards; warnings of loss of
privileges, intimidation, etc.

And to show how encompassing this criminalisation is, neither Bradford nor anyone else has yet bothered to define what "correction" means, even though it is about to become the latest crime to be added to the Crimes Act. Neither is the term "force" defined nor limited to only physical force.

Every parent in the country is under threat.

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity

kearney.blogspot - Meet the new bill, same as the old bill

Meet the new bill, same as the old bill

Yesterday's 'consensus' changes don't change the legal effect of the anti-smacking bill at all.

It is always possible for the police to refuse to prosecute on the grounds that there is no public interest. If they can do it when the Prime Minister commits fraud they can certainly do it when a parent lightly smacks their child. However, the police have discretion as to whether they prosecute and the bill does not change that. When opposition MP Shane Ardern drove a tractor up the steps of Parliament, police did choose to prosecute. Now for light smacking, then will be able to prosecute as and when they choose, based on race, gender, previous convictions, political party membership or any other grounds they see fit.

There are a couple of misunderstandings now out there.

The normally sensible Audrey Young in the Herald declares that "The compromise explicitly tells the police not to prosecute inconsequential 'offences'". A simple reading of the text of the amendment is enough to see that this is not so. It explicitly says the police have discretion.

Dave at Big News says: "It is the intent of Parliament that is most important - even more important than the wording of legislation itself." This is a common misconception, even among law students. The intent of Parliament evidenced by Hansard etc. is looked at when an Act is ambiguous (it shouldn't be but that is a story for another day). This Act is not ambiguous. It's the police's choice.

I suppose a defendant might seek judicial review of the decision to prosecute, but judicial review is weighted in favour of the government decision maker, even in criminal cases. To show that no reasonable decision maker would have found there was any public interest at all in prosecuting sounds like a very uphill battle. If the defendant suspects police bias against them for some reason it would be very hard to prove that as well.

I was wondering how Helen Clark could come out of this looking good but her amazing political cunning has manifested itself yet again. Two days ago her party was backing a bill opposed by 80% of New Zealanders. Since then, the bill has not materially changed, the opposition are now supporting it, and a smokescreen has been created that will likely persuade many of those 80% that the bill is not too bad, especially given the compliant nature of the media coverage.

lindsaymitchell - We'll never know

We'll never know

Harking back to yesterday's suggestion by Larry Baldock that Clark was facing a caucus revolt, here's where Harry Duynhoven was at;

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven last night revealed how close he came to crossing the floor over the Bradford bill.

Mr Duynhoven is one of Labour's more conservative MPs, and was frequently challenged by National MPs to vote with opponents of the bill.

"On this issue I have been more torn than any other issue we have debated in this House," he said.

"I have seriously considered whether I fitted still, whether my views and the basis of my value system were appropriate for the party I am in."

Personally I don't think he was on his own. But now we will never know.

With the amendment we will have the police defining what is acceptable. If they don't want to make that call they can refer the case to CYF. What is CYF's directive? As always they will be using their discretion based on evidence and testimony. So what happens before a case reaches court is pretty much the same.

Thereafter, the accused will have no defence of reasonable force and the court will have to decide what is and isn't 'inconsequential'. Things have just become a lot murkier. What was bad legislation has been turned into worse legislation and so it will be passed.

There will be more reports because the population, thanks to this extraordinary debate, is charged up about the moral rights and wrongs of smacking.

And given the result, it's a debate that has been a waste of time. Except for the CIR petition that asks govt to do something meaningful about child abuse.

3 May 2007 - newstalkzb - Unrest in National ranks over smacking bill

3 May 2007 - newstalkzb - Unrest in National ranks over smacking bill

Unrest in National ranks over smacking bill

3/05/2007 14:16:14

There is disquiet among a large number of National MPs over their leader's decision to strike a deal with Helen Clark over the anti-smacking bill.

Newstalk ZB's political staff say news of John Key's late night meeting with the Prime Minister came as a complete surprise to National's caucus.

National and Tauranga MP Bob Clarkson says the anti-smacking bill is home invasion. He says the compromise reached with the Labour Party was a caucus decision.

Mr Clarkson says National has let Labour off the hook with the deal. He says he would have left Labour to be hung out to dry, as the public reacted to the controversial bill.

One senior National MP says most party representatives are going to hold their judgement on the move, after gauging media and public reaction.

Another says while National has been instrumental in brokering near political consensus on the issue, many MPs are unhappy they will end up supporting a bill which they are opposed to, as is the majority of the public.

Both agree that the decision could be a stroke of genius, or a serious setback and that only time will tell.

Maxim - Smoke and mirrors

Smoke and mirrors

Pundits hail a political consensus. National and Labour have done a back-room deal on an amendment to the "anti-smacking Bill," and parents apparently no longer have anything to fear. But when the smoke and mirrors are rolled away, the effect of the Bill has not changed. The Bill would still mean that good parents who use mild correction are committing a criminal offence, regardless of whether they are prosecuted.

The amended Bill says that the Police will not have to prosecute "where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution." But immediately preceding this is the statement, "Nothing ... justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction." In other words, parents who use mild physical force for correction, such as a light smack, will be acting outside the law and subject to Police scrutiny, investigation and possible prosecution.

The problems with this proposal are legion. To begin with, we should only call something criminal if it is worthy of prosecution and conviction. This proposal attempts to fudge the issue and falls foul of this standard. It also gives the Police wide discretion and raises the spectre of discriminatory enforcement. The requirement that prosecution be in the public interest may sound reassuring, but different prosecutors will take different views of what it means, and the Law Commission has said that Police have been known to continue with some cases which are not in the public interest. Significantly, the limitation would only apply to Police, not to other government agencies, and not to private citizens, who are able to prosecute for breaches of the criminal law.

The amended Bill is highly unsatisfactory, but seems likely to be passed in just a couple of weeks with almost no scrutiny or debate.

Read Maxim Institute's Issue Snapshot Section 59: The consensus amendment

Hear John Key and a chance to comment

Hear John Key and a chance to comment

3 MAY 2007 - Family First Calls for Clark and Key to Allow Conscience Vote on Bill

3 MAY 2007

Family First Calls for Clark and Key to Allow Conscience Vote on Bill

Family First is calling on the leaders of the National and Labour party to allow a conscience vote for their MP’s on the final reading of the ‘anti-smacking’ bill in two week’s time.

“If this revised bill is as good as both John Key and Helen Clark are claiming, then they should have no problem allowing their MP’s to vote with their conscience as was previously promised,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First.

On March 22 of this year when Labour were attempting to place the bill under urgency, John Key said "The Labour-led Government knows the (anti-smacking bill) is deeply unpopular, so it plans to act against the wishes of the majority of Kiwis and ram the bill through under urgency. This is a deeply cynical abuse of power as Labour tries to clear the decks of this controversial issue. Helen Clark has refused to let her MPs vote the way they really think on this bill.” (

Mr McCoskrie believes that MP’s within both the Labour and National Caucus are still deeply unhappy with this law change, and know that parents in their local electorates are not happy with them having to support the bill.

“A good law will have the support of MP’s, who in turn know that they have the backing of the people. That’s democracy. This bill still doesn’t have a public mandate.”


For More Information and Media Interviews, contact Family First:
Bob McCoskrie JP - National Director
Tel. 09 261 2426 | Mob. 027 55 555 42

3 May 2007 - Rodney Hide - Confusing times

Confusing times
Thursday, May 03, 2007

I arrived back in the country jetlagged and flew onto Wellington to learn that an historic peace had broken out with Helen Clark and John Key agreeing to a compromise on the smacking bill.

Good on John Key I thought. He's taken the high ground and made a difference. That's what I thought. Until I saw the amendment.

It makes no difference. Of course, the police have the discretion whether to prosecute. If anyone knows that, it's Helen Clark!! This amendment just confirms it and then adds the confusing terms "inconsequential" and "public interest".

Then John Key wips the National Party caucus to vote for it. So now Labour and National are voting for Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill. The criticisms National made of the Bill still stand except now they are all voting for it.

But get this: I move Chester Borrows' amendment last night because he wouldn't. That defines clearly what is allowed and what is not. National voted against it, including Chester.

It must be the jet lag or something. I can't figure it out!

UPDATE: Here are my speeches from last night.

Here is an interesting exchange with Chester:
I ask Mr Borrows whether it is true that the police have a decision not to prosecute.

Chester Borrows: Yes.

RODNEY HIDE: So this does nothing to Sue Bradfordâ€(tm)s bill?

Chester Borrows: No

3 May 2007 - Libertarianz Party - Key Sells Out On Smacking

Key Sells Out On Smacking
Thursday, 3 May 2007, 10:06 am
Press Release: Libertarianz Party
Anti-Smacking Bill
Key Sells Out On Smacking

Party leader Bernard Darnton today confirmed that Libertarianz opposes John Key's sell-out on the anti-smacking bill.

"John Key is utterly worthless. I have no idea why he doesn't just join the Labour Party," Darnton said in disgust.

"Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill effectively nationalises New Zealand's children by removing parental discretion in how to raise them. It is 'nanny state' in its most literal form. Helen Clark's amendment, which John Key has lapdoggedly pursued, does nothing to change that."

Looking at EXPORTING?
"All this amendment does is give Police discretion in deciding whether a prosecution is in the public interest. As ministers of the current government already know, the Police already have that power."

"The amended bill will not necessarily prevent the Police from prosecuting trivial cases. It will not prevent CYF from making its victims' lives a misery. It will not prevent private prosecutions – against which there will now be no defence - from malicious ex-spouses. It will not make the tiniest bit of difference to those who already seriously assault their children."


SCOOP FULL COVERAGE: Section59 May 2 2007

SCOOP FULL COVERAGE: Section59 May 2 2007
Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 5:34 pm
Article: Scoop Full Coverage

SCOOP FULL COVERAGE: Section59 May 2 2007

* Front of the Box -
<> Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson: Smacking Bill

* Save The Children -
<> Save The Children Applauds Parliamentary Support For Section 59

* Libertarianz Party -
<> Key Sells Out On Smacking

* Caritas Aotearoa -
<> Caritas Support For Section 59 Amendment

* Families Commission -
<> Public education must follow amendment

* Direct Democracy Party Of NZ -
< > DDP Disappointed In National Support For Smacking Bill

Scoop Audio: Clark and Key Unite On Section 59

Scoop Image by Kevin List
Wednesday morning the media and assorted onlookers were treated to the rare sight of a joint press conference involving both the Prime Minister Helen Clark and the Leader of the Opposition John Key. The reason behind this unlikely podium sharing was that Mr Key was announcing he would now be supporting Green MP Sue Bradford's Bill... More
<> >>

* National - <> Labour adopts version of Key s59 amendment

* Greens - <> Kids win out over petty politics

* Maori Party -
< > 'Hitting is an Adult Issue'

* Maori Party -
<> 'Important Day for Maori' says Turia

* Every Child Counts -
<> Every Child Counts welcomes political consensus

* LawFuel - <> Police Resources Allocated To Anti-Smacking Law

* Young Labour -
<> Clark leads the way on sensible resolution to section 59 debate

* Family First Lobby. -
<> Backdown on Bradford Bill Still Not Total Victory

* Relationship Services -
<> Relationship Services Supports Amendment

* Public Health Association -
<> Good news on s59 but more action required

* Police Association -
< > Frontline Police Welcome the Clarity on Discretion

* New Zealand Police -
<> Police Welcome Proposed Amendment to Bradford Bill

* KiwiFM Audio -
<> Wammo n List - S59 Amendment Grand Coalition


* Anglican Bishops -
<> Anglican bishops support repeal of Section 59

* Anglican Church -
< > Ecumenical Church service to support repeal of s59

* Maori Anglican Church -
<> Anglican Maori support repeal of Section 59

* Maori Anglican Church -
<> Smacking lobby have got the wrong end of the stick

* St Andrew's on The Terrace -
<> Lament for the Children of Aotearoa

* Catholic Communications -
<> No Catholic bishops at Ecumenical Service

* -
<> 'Wednesday's mass rally to up anti against bill

* Society For Promotion Of Community Standards -
<> Call to Abandon Bradford's Flawed Bill

* Society for the Promotion of Community Standards -
<> Cracks Widen in 'Anti-Smacking' Bill Support

* National Network of Stopping Violence Services -
< > NZ Experts Reject American Advice

* Family First Lobby. -
<> US Expert Opposes Anti-Smacking Bill

* Family First Lobby. -
<> Bradford continues to mislead the country

* Lindsay Mitchell -
<> Sweden's Ban on Smacking a Failure

* Scoop Full Coverage -
<> Section 59 Bill


2 May 2007 - Close Up

Wednesday May 2
Related Video
Close Up: Smacking compromise (15:23)
Close Up: Smacking feedback (01:08)
Click on link above to see these two sections of Close up

People Power or Political Brinkmanship?
After feeling the blow torch of public opinion a compromise appears to have been found over Sue Bradford's private member's bill to repeal Section 59 - known as the anti-smacking bill. The reaction around the country has been fierce. Even those who supported the intent were angry at the possibility parents would become criminals even for lightly smacking their children. Whether or not that was likely was clearly becoming a political problem. Our show last night drew around 600 emails and thousands of responses to our online questionnaire. But today National leader John Key joined forces with Prime Minister Helen Clark to announce an amendment to the bill, that should see it passed with the support of all parties.

The amendment reads: "To avoid doubt it is affirmed that police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child, or person in the place of a parent of a child, in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution."

Today Corinne Ambler hit the streets of Wellington to talk to the masses. Then in the studio Mark Sainsbury talked to PM Helen Clark, National leader John Key, Green MP Sue Bradford and father of four Simon Barnett.

Smacking Feedback
Last night we received more than 600 emails about the smacking issue, more than 90 percent of which were against Sue Bradford's bill. You can read some of those by clicking and more than 5700 also participated in our survey conducted by Buzz that you can contribute to HERE

3 May 2007 - The Press - Not all happy with smacking bill amendment

Not all happy with smacking bill amendment

By IAN STEWARD - The Press | Thursday, 3 May 2007

Police and child welfare agencies welcomed the clause inserted into the child-discipline bill yesterday, while some parents still decried being "criminalised".

The clause gives police the discretion to not prosecute parents for offences "so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding".

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the clause represented "MMP at its finest".

"It ensures an important element of policing is retained – the ability to use discretion. What front-line police had feared was that they would have no choice but to arrest people, but now it empowers the people who should have the power, and that is senior sergeants."

O'Connor said the law was the only one he could think of that enshrined discretion which until now had been a tacit understanding.

Christchurch radio personality and father of four Simon Barnett said the law was now more confusing than ever.

"Police will have to be judge and jury and make a decision on the spot. I feel this is going to make it extremely tough for them."

Barnett said he thought officers would "err on the side of caution" in the event that a case not acted upon turned serious. "I think John Key's intentions were good but I think parents will feel let down by him."

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.

3 May 2007 - The Dominion Post - Smacking bill sorted in time for Budget to shine

Smacking bill sorted in time for Budget to shine
The Dominion Post | Thursday, 3 May 2007

Of course by definition – again her own – the prime minister cannot "leak" since as the Government's spokesperson what she says is automatically mandated.

When it comes to the Budget, Miss Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen have taken that to a new level.

So when ministers decide to say something, be it more money for tertiary institutions or a dollop of new health spending, then that is a pre- budget announcement.

However, should any reporter ask a straight – or even tangential – question about the Budget they are met with much eye-rolling and "you should know better than to even ask" looks. Certainly Miss Clark's deal- making over an amendment to Green MP Sue Bradford's child discipline bill was kept firmly under wraps till the ink was dry, and the way cleared for yesterday's exceptional joint press conference with National leader John Key.

Once it saw the light of day it prompted a predictable scramble between the two big parties, with both declaring relative victories.

Labour can claim it showed a leader in Miss Clark who could broker the deals and herd the cats in an MMP world.

At the same time it has helped remove the erroneous perception that responsible and mild parents would be hauled into court, without compromising on Miss Bradford's bottom line that a level of acceptable hitting must never be defined.

National can claim it helped achieve a compromise that Miss Bradford had previously resisted, ensuring parents would not be criminalised for delivering a light smack.

(It has also removed the embarrassing prospect for National, in government, of drafting a bill that would provide a state mandate for violence against children, however minor.)

What remains unclear is whether National will suffer a backlash from those who think – rightly – that the amendment changes little beyond providing a level of "comfort" for concerned parents. Police discretion is now enshrined in the Bill, but let's not forget that smacking for correction is still illegal.

The real winners, though, are the police.

As Parliament implicitly, or overtly, ruled out smacking that caused trifling or transitory harm (under the Chester Borrows amendment) or minor and inconsequential (under the proposed John Key wording) their job was made more difficult.

By a law of unintended consequences, there was a risk that every time MPs tried to define acceptable levels of smacking – and were defeated – the police's ability to use their discretion diminished and the risk they would have to move against even light smacking increased.

That does raise the question of whether the clauses in the bill which define where force for non-corrective purposes is allowed are now necessary – but it is unlikely a tired Parliament will want to open that debate again.

The twin pillars of secrecy surrounding the Bradford bill and the Budget were, in fact, tightly intertwined.

A deal over the Bradford bill, which will now get Parliament's overwhelming endorsement on May 16, clears the decks for the Budget the following day.

It may remain controversial for some time, as the police response to the new law is tested and examined, but with National on board it will lack a high profile political champion.

And make no mistake, this is a Budget the Government does not want overshadowed.

It comes as National consolidates a big poll lead and Labour fights to regain the initiative – and turn back any perception it is tired as its third term rolls on.

For the first time in many years Dr Cullen is not banging on about his Budget being boring, beige and predictable.......

........Then, the heat around the Bradford bill may fade more quickly from the voters' hearts and minds.

Snippets from a Press Release

Snippets from:

Rev Mike Weitenberg of the Wellington Metro Global Church Community, described it as a sugar-coated pill to cover a deadly blow to the New Zealand family.

"It's food for custody battles, it's food for neighbourhood disputes, it's food for false accusations against parents by children who can't get their own way.

"It's a family invasion, it's a cultural invasion and it's an invasion attacking democracy."

Wrestling with his conscience

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven last night revealed how close he came to crossing the floor over the Bradford bill.

Mr Duynhoven is one of Labour's more conservative MPs, and was frequently challenged by National MPs to vote with opponents of the bill.

"On this issue I have been more torn than any other issue we have debated in this House," he said.

"I have seriously considered whether I fitted still, whether my views and the basis of my value system were appropriate for the party I am in."

3 May 2007 - DDP Of NZ - DDP Disappointed In Support For Smacking Bill

DDP Disappointed In Support For Smacking Bill

Thursday, 3 May 2007, 9:51 am
Press Release: Direct Democracy Party Of NZ Press Release from the Direct Democracy Party:
DDP Disappointed In National Support For Smacking Bill

The Direct Democracy Party is disappointed that the National Party have decided to now support the anti smacking Bill being promoted by Green MP Sue Bradford, despite overwhelming public opposition to the Bill.

"There have been multiple polls, both public and privately monitored, that have recorded anywhere between 70% - 90% public opposition to Sue Bradford's Bill - if a Binding Referendum (a cornerstone of Direct Democracy Party policy) were held on this issue, this legislation would have been consigned to the political scrapheap long ago" says Direct Democracy Party Leader Kelvyn Alp.

"It is clear that Police discretion not to prosecute will still allow police discretion to prosecute, thereby criminalising parents by default - however, the Police are not our greatest concern, but rather Child, Youth, and Family (CYF)."

"CYF will most certainly not "exercise discretion"as the Bill encourages the police to do. CYF will not be concerned with any "public interest" whatsoever. If this legislation passes in its current form, CYF will be able to say that smacking is illegal, and then arbitrarily intervene into the lives of innocent, decent, law-abiding families, families who now have everything to fear from this legislation becoming law in its current form.

"The Bradford anti-smacking Bill, now supported by the National Party, is a body blow to Democracy and for New Zealand families" says Mr Alp.

"The Direct Democracy Party gives an unequivocal commitment to the people of New Zealand that, if elected to Parliament in 2008, we will repeal the anti-smacking Bill in its entirety - the people of New Zealand who so overwhelmingly oppose this legislation deserve no less."

2 May 2007 - Family First Lobby - Bradford continues to mislead the country

Bradford continues to mislead the country
Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 10:16 am
Press Release: Family First Lobby.
1 MAY 2007

Bradford continues to mislead the country – and blame the media for it!

On the 15th March 2007, Greens MP Sue Bradford put out a press release in relation to her bill amending section 59 saying "I have never called it an anti-smacking bill – my opponents did, and the media adopted the phrase. Smacking a child is already an assault under section 194 of the Crimes Act 1961. It has been this way for over a century. If my Bill is passed this will not change." ( )

However, in a press release from 2003 when the bill was first mooted, the release is entitled "Greens draw up their own anti-smacking bill" and says "The Greens are designing a bill that will stop parents physically punishing their children, in line with United Nations demands." ( )

This proves that the media and groups like Family First have been correct in labeling the bill the 'anti-smacking' bill, and that the supporters of the bill are trying to mislead the country regarding the effects of this bill.

The supporters of the bill have also been dishonest by saying that smacking a child is already an assault.

In 2003, Judge Ingalls QC, Family District Court Judge, said "as a matter of law the effect of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 in smacking of a child for the purposes of correction, was entirely lawful if the force used was reasonable in the circumstances. Reasonable force used against a child for the purposes of correction could not be, by law, categorized as physical abuse of a child."

Grant Illingworth QC says "The relevant part of the current section 59 provides that every parent of a child and every person in the place of the parent of a child is "justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances". The important word is "justified". The use of this word is the clearest possible indication that the act in question (reasonable use of force for correction) is NOT unlawful."

While the Prime Minister has said "It's actually illegal now to smack your child", Sue Bradford has been forced to acknowledge that not all smacking is illegal under the law.

Family First calls on the MP's to use education and policies that strengthen, not criminalise, families to tackle child abuse – and not to be misled by the rhetoric of the supporters of this bill who will do anything they can to mislead the public into supporting this bill.


2 May 2007 - nzherald - The smacking bill - what it says

The smacking bill - what it says
5:00AM Wednesday May 02, 2007

The current law

What Section 59 of the Crimes Act says:

Every parent of a child and every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

The proposed Law - then

What Sue Bradford's bill said when she introduced it in July 2005

Section 59 of the principal act is repealed. The stated purpose of the bill: "To abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as justification for disciplining children."

The proposed Law - now

What Sue Bradford's bill says now after 18 months in a select committee [likely to pass]:

Section 59 is repealed and substituted with the following section on parental control: Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of:

a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or

d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

It then says: Nothing [in the above] or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

The stated purpose of the amended bill changed: "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."

Proposed addition to bill

Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope has moved an amendment [likely to pass]:

To require the chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development to review the effects of the new act after it has been in place for two years.

Proposed change before house national MP

Chester Borrows' amendments to be debated tonight define the limits of unacceptable force [likely to fail]:

The use of force is unreasonable if it ... causes or contributes materially to harm that is more than transitory and trifling; or any weapon or tool is used; or it is inflicted by any mean that is cruel, degrading, or terrifying. He wants the purpose of the bill changed to state: "To make better provision for the parental control of children by limiting the use of force for the purpose of correction."

John Key's failed proposal

The National leader tried but failed to find support for a proposal between Borrows and Bradford:

It would have adopted the Bradford purpose of the bill ... "abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction". He proposed a new Section 59: "Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of a child is justified in lightly smacking the child in the course of their parenting duties if the smacking used was minor and inconsequential."

Prime Minister Helen Clark uses the language of the Key proposal to give guidance to the police to ignore inconsequential breaches of the new law, with the additional wording:

To avoid doubt it is affirmed that police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child, or person in the place of a parent of a child, in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

2 May 2007 - big-news - National to vote for the anti smacking bill

Wednesday, May 02, 2007
National to vote for the anti smacking bill

National is to vote for the anti smacking bill after National and Labour agreed to an amendment last night. They should have done this ages ago.

What the amendment says

To avoid doubt it is affirmed that police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against parents of any child, or those standing in place of any child, in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in pursuing a prosecution.

What this means, if this bill is written into the clause of the Act, is that police do not have to uphold the law in all cases. It is a compromise, it is not ideal, but it may be politically achievable. However if it is written into the preliminary guidelines, it has no legal effect and police can ignore it.

What the leaders should have added is that if police have discretion not to prosecute, they also have discretion as to whether they report such discipline to Child,Youth and Family. Its my understanding that as the bill stands, police will have to report all such reported discipline to CYFS. So if they have discretion in prosecuting, they should also have discretion in notification to CYFS.

Bradford says it is an

Sue Bradford and Helen Clark and their supporters have been saying:
"It's not an anti-smacking bill"
But check out this link, on the Greens website:

Justice | Children's Issues | All Press Releases

Greens draw up their own anti-smacking bill
Sue Bradford MP, Green Party Children's Issues Spokesperson

6th October 2003

The Greens are designing a bill that will stop parents physically punishing their children, in line with United Nations demands.

Green MP Sue Bradford says her bill will repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, the provision that condones the use of physical force by parents against children.

We want to end the situation where there is a legal defence to striking a child.”

A new report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says it is deeply concerned New Zealand has not changed the law which allows parents to use so-called “reasonable” force against their children.

Ms Bradford said today parents have used Section 59 to get away with, not only smacking their children, but also whacking them with bits of wood and other objects.

“I can’t understand why the Government is delaying doing anything about Section 59 until the next election year. The safety and welfare of our children is too important to put on hold.”

Ms Bradford, Green Children’s Issues Spokesperson, said it was the inalienable right of every child to be free from any form of violence or abuse.

“Parents are supposed to be protectors, not attackers, and children should feel totally safe at home. Section 59 adds to the whole culture of abuse of children that is still so rampant in New Zealand society.”

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1 May 2007 - SPCS - Cracks Widen in ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill Support

The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

P.O. Box 13-683 JohnsonvillePress Release

1 May 2007

Cracks Widen in ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill Support

MPs must relegate Bradford’s bill to the trash can if parents cannot be assured in the legislation that its purpose is NOT to have parents and those in the place of parents charged with an assault on a child for applying a smack with "reasonable force" for the purpose of "correction". Bradford and the Prime Minister Helen Clark are expecting the public to believe their word that they will not be charged and prosecuted because "police will use their discretion" and will not charge them following formal complaints for smacking. That’s not good enough for the vast majority of thinking New Zealand parents. As the Dominion Post editorial points out today: "opponents of her [Bradford’s] legislation are entitled to take at face value the provision that states nothing in the exemptions of the legislation "justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction". That, however, much she may deny it, is a ban on what people would regard as smacking." (1 May, B4).

The traffic speeding analogy is often used by Bradford’s supporters to support their claim that the police will not prosecute parents who continue to smack their kids for correction, in the same way that police have discretion in whether they criminalise a speeding motorist. Katherine Rich, spokesperson for Education no less, has relied on this poor analogy to defend the bill that no one else in her caucus is supporting. She used this flawed analogy in the weekend:

"Many extreme - and public - cases of child abuse involved parents who thought they were using appropriate force, said Rich. The repeal of Section 59 would send a message that using physical force against children was not appropriate.

"Criminalising is such an emotive word. If you drive at 101km/h, that doesn't make you a criminal. But if you drive at 140km/h, then it's far more clear-cut." (NZ Herald 29 April).

Rich falsely claims that police officers deciding whether to investigate and lay charges for a reported smacking incident will be in the same position as traffic officers have who make decisions based on discretion whether or not to lay a criminal charge for speeding, rather than just issuing an infringement notice. This is a false analogy.

The police cannot only lay a criminal charge once a driver is recorded as having exceeded any given speed limit by 40 kms/hr or more. An automatic 28-day suspension of the driving licence is applied and the driver faces a criminal charge in Court. At sentencing there will be a minimum further disqualification of the licence of 3 months and furthermore, the possibility of a fine and/or imprisonment.

Police cannot lay criminal charges for speeding when a vehicle is driven at less than 40 km/hr over the speed limit so have no discretion in such cases. Such a charge can only be laid if other aspects of the law are broken (e.g. dangerous driving).

Motorists will generally incur a fine and demerit points for speeds between 111 and 140 kms/hr. Again, there is no discretion to lay criminal charges unless there are other factors involved (proximity to schools, careless driving etc.).

The only area under current policy where discretion on the part of police can apply for cars is where speeds of up to 11 kms/hr over the speed limit are recorded. In issuing a warning, rather than an infringement notice (fine) in such circumstances, the police are NOT suggesting that the action of the driver is reasonable or acceptable of lawful. Quite the opposite. ALL SPEEDNG IS AGAINST THE LAW. It constitutes either a traffic offence or a criminal offence. There is no justification offered in law for a member of the public to travel at over 140 kms/hr and escape conviction and no provision in law informing them that it is lawful to exceed 100 kms/hr.

The police authorities have confirmed that all formal complaints of smacking for correction will have to be treated as potential criminal offences (domestic violence) and will require thorough investigation (police statements from witnesses, victim and child abusing parents to be recorded and the collecting of medical evidence that may need to be submitted at a deposition hearing etc.). If the law’s purpose as stated is "abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction" the police will have to be vigilant in exterminating the last vestige of any smacking culture in New Zealand by using the full force of the law. Good parents who break the rules against smacking will need to have the force of the law applied to make them comply.

Bradford and Clark know full well that the effect of Bradford’s bill is to make all forms of force used by parents for correction, illegal. Parents have a right to know if their actions constitute an offence in law, just as drivers have a right to have speed limits regularly notified to them by way of traffic signs, and made clearly visible from the driving lane. If the Ministry of Transport is not prepared to inform drivers by proper signs, then it has no right to prosecute drivers for breaking speed limits known only to the authorities! Failure to do so means in practice that drivers cannot be convicted.

Parents have a right to know in law what level of force, if any, can be used for "correction". In the existing law s. 59 sets the limit: "reasonable force in the circumstances". This is perfectly fine. However, if that provision is removed then they potentially face prosecution for using ANY level of force. Bradford argues that no limit needs to be set because police will not be enforcing charges against minor force such as smacking, even though her law declares such actions illegal and need to be abolished. She is relying on some sort of de facto law that the police will come up with to set limits of force. This is a nonsense law.

If the term "reasonable care" meant nothing drivers could never be prosecuted for reckless driving. Unreasonable care involves placing the driver or passengers and others or in danger etc. Ironically the term "reasonable force" is a term Bradford has still retained to provide limits for use of force in the four exemptions under section (1).

The boundary between reasonable and unreasonable use of force is determined by the police before laying charges for assault under the existing section 59, taking into account the facts of the case and the circumstances involved in the domestic discipline etc. The amended Bradford bill recognises that such boundaries do exist and can be defined with respect to force used in the four situations covered in section 1 (a-d). However, it is the view of the bill’s proponents that no force is reasonable when used for correction and this is enshrined in the bill by the specific removal of the existing defence applying to force for correction. Its removal, for the first time, makes all forms of smacking for correction illegal.

Under Bradford’s bill all use of reasonable force for correction, including smacking, becomes a criminal offence. The law does not have a special provision for light smacks - worthy only of a mere traffic infringement notice (to use the flawed analogy she relies on). That there is no lesser category for "light smacks" comparable to traffic infringements proves that the purpose of the bill is to abolish ALL use of force for correction.

If Bradford’s bill becomes law she knows that one of its effects will be to make it legal to use reasonable force on a child to minimise harm (s. 1a). Why would it be legal one might ask? Because under the new law there would be a specific justification for the use of reasonable force in such circumstances ("…every parent…. Is justified….").

But the same justification exists in current law for the use of such force for correction – including smacking. And yet Bradford and Clark have repeatedly claimed publicly that under current law lightly smacking a child for correction is illegal. When asked why it is illegal they respond: Because any form of smack applied for any reason constitutes an "assault" under s. 2 of the Crimes Act (1961)? This statement is false. In the above example involving harm minimisation (s. 1 a) Bradford affirms that the force is used legally, but then contradicts herself when considering force used for correction under current law. The same justifications are used which mean that the actions are legal.


1 May 2007 - nzherald - Smacking handy as back-up, says expert

Smacking handy as back-up, says expert

5:00AM Tuesday May 01, 2007 By Simon Collins

Dr Robert Larzelere has been brought to New Zealand by groups opposed to Sue Bradford's bill. Photo / Brett Phibbs

One of the world's leading experts on disciplining children says parents need smacking as a "back-up" for other forms of discipline for children aged from 2 to 6.

Dr Robert Larzelere, an American who says he has written three of the six main reviews of the scientific literature on smacking, has been brought to New Zealand by lobby groups opposing Green MP Sue Bradford's bill to repeal the law allowing parents to use reasonable force to discipline their children.

He will be in Wellington today for a meeting with National MPs convened by Whanganui MP Chester Borrows, whose amendment defining reasonable force will be voted on in Parliament tomorrow.

Dr Larzelere will meet Sue Bradford tomorrow. He will also meet two New Zealand First MPs who support her bill, Doug Woolerton and Brian Donnelly, and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, whose party will discuss the Bradford bill today.

In the debates in the scientific literature, Dr Larzelere has been the leading proponent of smacking.

Canadian Joan Durrant, who was brought to New Zealand by the Government last year, has led the opposing argument that smacking produces a more violent society, citing Sweden as a model of a society where a smacking ban has reduced violence.

Dr Larzelere, 62, attends a Baptist Church near the university where he works in Oklahoma, but he rejects Dr Durrant's allegation that this makes him biased.

He says he smacked his two now-adult children "occasionally".

"When they were small, I would use a warning count one to three," he said yesterday. "In almost all cases I'd get action just as I got to three, so I only had to smack them a few times."

His research over 20 years showed that the best way to stop young children misbehaving was to use reasoning backed up by punishment - initially non-physical punishment such as time out, but with a smack if the children refused to co-operate.

"To me, it seems like today we polarise all arguments to ridiculous extremes and we don't do so well at finding the balance in the middle.

"So I have tried to be as scientific as possible to inform this debate, rather than having the people choose between the two polarised positions."

His research showed that to be effective, smacking should be used only as a "conditional" back-up, not as a primary form of discipline.

"The best way to use it is this back-up smacking - non-abusive, two swats with an open hand to the rear end, on 2- to 6-year-old children," Dr Larzelere said.

He would support a ban on smacking babies, and in one published paper said smacking could be counter-productive for children of 7 or over when they were old enough to "internalise" the rules of good behaviour.

Yesterday he stopped short of supporting a ban on smacking children over 6 because of one study that found that physical punishment of 13-year-old African-Americans made them less aggressive three years later.

"So although I think it should be phased out as quickly as possible [as a child gets older], I see exceptions that suggest it shouldn't be an absolute rule."

He said colleagues who had worked in parenting education in Norway, where smacking is banned at all ages, reported that Norwegian parents were "immobilised" by not knowing how to control their children.

"So their children run wild, according to newspaper reports," he said.

Similarly in Sweden, where the legal defence of using force to discipline children was abolished in 1957, criminal assaults by under-15-year-olds against other 7- to 14-year-olds had increased by 519 per cent in the period from 1981 to 1994.

Dr Durrant argued this was because of more reporting of assaults by children against other children.

But Dr Larzelere said that did not explain why the assault rate rose more in the younger age groups than in older age groups, which he sees as evidence that youthful misbehaviour has worsened since the ban on smacking.

1 May 2007 - SPCS - Call to Abandon Bradford’s Flawed Bill

The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville

Press Release

1 May 2007

Call to Abandon Bradford’s Flawed Bill

A guilt-ridden Ms Katherine Rich MP, mother of two children and Education spokesperson for the National Party, candidly confessed to the nation in the weekend that she was "way out of control" and "totally lost it" when she lightly smacked her son Jonathan on a couple of occasions for some apparent minor misdemeanours. Rich, a National List MP, who is the only National MP continuing to support Green Party MP Sue Bradford’s unpopular ‘anti-smacking’ bill, stated:

"I smacked Jonathan a couple of times - but I'm deeply ashamed of that. I've thought about those situations and it was more to do with my tiredness and inability to cope than trying to find genuine ways of directing him.

"The time when I just totally lost it because ... sometimes you just lose all tolerance ... he turned around to me and said, 'Mummy, why did you do that, you're supposed to be happy'.

"I decided very early on it didn't serve any purpose. I recall seeing the fear on his face when I raised my hand. I realised I was the one out of control - he was just being a child." (NZ Herald 29 April).

The Society believes that very few thinking New Zealand parents will be persuaded by this sort of heart-felt confession, that they too need to do penance for with Rich by lending support to Bradford’s deeply flawed anti-family bill. Of course most loving parents, like Rich, would concede that they might have made the odd mistake (e.g. slight over-reaction) in dealing with disciplinary matters, when tired and struggling to cope with their kids bad behaviour. It is ludicrous and deeply insulting that the promoters of Bradford’s bill continue to suggest that genuine loving parents, who might occasionally smack their kids for correction, "abuse" their kids using physical "violence". Like Rich they appear ideologically-driven by the misguided belief that nothing justifies the use of any kind of force for the purpose of the correction of children and appear to actually believe that light smacking actually constitutes "child abuse".

Many parents actually think that Rich has "totally lost it" by supporting Bradford’s pointless bill for the reasons she has stated. Over 80% of New Zealanders polled have consistently opposed the bill which Rich is hailing as the answer to New Zealand’s child abuse problem. Most see the bill and her support of it as a direct attack on the family. They’re sick and tired of the dishonest rhetoric coming from the bill’s sponsor Ms Bradford. As the Dominion Post editorial stated today "…opponents of her legislation are entitled to take at face value the provision that states nothing in the exemptions of the legislation ‘justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction’. That, however, much she [Bradford] may deny it, is a ban on what most people would regard as smacking.’ (May 1, B4).

Most parents of young children will appreciate the circumstances that may have led to Ms Rich’s ‘disciplinary’ actions involving light smacks. However, without knowing the specifics it is hard to comment on whether her actions qualified as a genuine and justified case for corrective physical discipline where reasonable force was required, or not. The fact that Jonathan did not know what the smack was for and had to ask the reason why it was applied, suggests that Ms Rich failed in the basics of corrective discipline. A smack must be judiciously applied only after adequate reasons have been given to the child and the child complies to receiving the corrective. It must be appropriate in the circumstances and never be administered in anger or merely to release the frustrations of an exasperated parent or person in the place of a parent. The fact that Rich was at her wits’ end when she says she smacked Jonathan could suggest that he had repeatedly disobeyed and/or ignored her instructions. However, the fact that his aggravating behaviour is described as arising from him "just being a child" suggests that it may not have been appropriate "in the circumstances" to apply a smack.

Whatever the circumstances were, most New Zealand parents would understand the type of situation Rich might have faced with her son Jonathan and would sympathise with her frustrations. Most parents cringe from their actions when, upon reflection, they realise that they reacted inappropriately in seeking to correct their child for wrongdoing. A good parent would always seek to promptly correct and modify his/her behavioural responses in the light of their mistakes, perhaps requesting advice from his or her spouse or wider family. However, a smack using reasonable force, does not constitute "child abuse", as Rich seems to imply it does. It is hard to understand why she continues to support Bradford’s seriously flawed and pointless private member’s bill that has as its stated purpose 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". [Emphasis added].

The bill’s original purpose prior to its amendment during the select committee stages stated, to:

"… abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as a justification for disciplining children".

Both opponents and supporters of the bill do share common ground in genuinely wanting a reduction in child abuse and both agree that this bill will NOT achieve this goal. In the light of these facts it is farcical that MP’s supporting Bradford’s bill have amended the original bill in such a way that as to actually assert something they do not actually believe: that "violence" against children (child abuse) will be reduced once "parental force for the purpose of correction" is abolished: a clear case of either self-delusion, or contradiction and dishonesty on the part of the bill’s supporters. Furthermore, it is ludicrous that the bill uses the verb to abolish ("abolishing the use of parental force") and yet Bradford and the Prime Minister, Miss Helen Clark have repeatedly told the public that the bill is not about banning smacking and is only about removing the defence of reasonable force from s. 59.

It’s time to be honest in this messy, time-wasting debate! Light smacking for correction constitutes force used for correction. "Abolishing" means getting rid of. Therefore, the intention of the bill must include getting rid of the use of light smacking for correction! To say otherwise is to be dishonest. Reinforcing this conclusion is the fact that the bill only allows the defence of "reasonable force" for acts of force used against children in four specific circumstances (section 1 [a] to [d]) – four exemptions - but removes this defence from the Principal Act where it is applied specifically to acts involving "correction" (involving "domestic discipline").

Bradford’s bill, in its current form, including the amendments, contains nothing to back up the bill’s supporters’ claims that its purpose is: [1] NOT to ban smacking, but [2] rather is focused just on removing the defence of "reasonable force" against prosecution of an adult (parent) for an assault against a child, in cases involving correction. As shown above a reasonable and logical interpretation of the wording of the bill (see Dominion Post quote above) must lead one to draw the conclusion that the bill, once put into law, will make it a criminal offence to lightly smack a child for the purpose of "correction". If that was not the intention of the bill as Helen Clark and Sue Bradford claim, then it must be stated in the bill as Nation Party MP Chester Borrows and his Party leader John Key have cogently argued, by introducing their respective amendments to the bill, both of which have been flatly rejected by Bradford.


30 April 2007 - spinneretta - The Idiocy of Bias
April 30th, 2007

You'd think I'd be inured to political stupidity by now. It appears I am not.

In a wonderful piece of self-gratulation, Tariana Turia (Maori Party) blamed Christianity and colonisation for the introduction of smacking to the Maori people as a form of discipline.

I'm no fan of Sue Bradford's bill, I freely admit. But neither am I a fan of someone who appears to be placing the blame for a problem in the here and now - child abuse in some Maori families[*] - on the actions of colonising Europeans over two hundred years ago!

Let's backtrack.

First, Sue Bradford's intention was to make the use of violence unacceptable against children. A goal I applaud. She's chosen to do it by attempting to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows reasonable force as a defense when under charges of 'over-disciplining' your children. Unfortunately, politics has got in the way, and we're left with a big ugly mess, given incredibly bad press, very little public support, and very little public understanding.

Second, it's true that statistically speaking, Maori families have higher reported rates of family violence. I agree that that's a situation which needs change. I agree that the colonisation of New Zealand changed the Maori people irrevocably. It introduced the concept of Christianity. Shall we examine some Christian principles?

The Bible says that children should be disciplined. We all know "Spare the rod, spoil the child". But child abuse was never, never, what Christianity preached. I'm not even Christian, and I have better understanding than that! Jesus himself loved children. He taught peace, taught respect for one's fellow man. Taught that a husband and wife should love and respect each other, and in turn teach and care for their children in a loving way.

Shall we also look at historically provable things the Maori, as a people, did prior to European colonisation of them?

Wiped out the Moriori (historically debatable, I admit)
Had bloody wars between tribes
Drove the moa into extinction
Hardly the record of a peaceful people whose whanau were only corrupted by the heinous introduction of the European settlers.

Further, has it escaped Tariana Turia's notice that many European families, both now and in the past, also had parents who were perfectly capable of disciplining their children without physical violence?

Think about how society has changed, too. Remember the time where it took a village to bring up a child? Where parents had support from the surrounding community, were near their parents, their siblings, in constant communication with their friends and families, had support networks to rely on? How many parents today bring up their children as best they can, with parents and families many miles away, both having to work each day, without their whanau surrounding them?

So, here's my advice, Tariana. Think about what you can do to support the people you represent, here and now. Instead of trying to foist away the blame for today on people two hundred years ago, look for ways to make it better tomorrow.

Of course, my voice means nothing. I'm only one of the ...... Pakeha who corrupted your people. Shall I make sure the door doesn't slap me ...... on the way out?

(* I specify Maori abuse as Tariana Turia is representative of the Maori party. I am thoroughly aware that Europeans and other racial groups are represented in the statistics about child abuse. Thanks.)

30 April 2007 - Right To Life New Zealand Inc - Search and Destroy – Down Syndrome

Search and Destroy – Down Syndrome
Monday, 30 April 2007, 10:49 am
Press Release: Right To Life New Zealand Inc
29 April 2007

Search and Destroy – Down Syndrome

Right to Life deplores the decision of the Minister of Health the Hon Pete Hodgson to request the National Screening Unit to advise him on how to implement a national screening programme for Down syndrome. A programme for screening all pregnant women for Down syndrome is a search and destroy mission. Those women who tested positive for Down syndrome would be encouraged to abort their child. The sole purpose of this programme would be to define who shall live and who shall die. This is unjust discrimination against the disabled. Every child at conception is endowed by its creator with an inalienable right to life. A child does not lose its right to life because it has a genetic condition.

The Minister of Health has a responsibility to protect life and to promote the health of the community; his action reveals that the government does not welcome the birth of children with Down syndrome. Its response is to sanction and fund the killing of children with Down syndrome; this is eugenics which promotes a humanistic quality of life ethic which decrees that only the perfect have a right to life. The Minister in this action is promoting a culture of death. The right to life is a sacred principle of civilisation; it is an indispensable guarantee of the individual worth of the persons within it, its universal denial would fail to recognise the dignity of man.

There are many people who are born with Down syndrome who have a good quality of life and who make a valuable contribution to the family and society.

Right to Life welcomes the Minister's decision to discontinue risky diagnostic tests that have been leading to the miscarriage of dozens of unborn children.

This proposed national screening programme should be seen in the context of the public debate on the government supported repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act that would outlaw the smacking of children. The Prime Minister has said that her government wishes to give a clear message to the community that violence against children is unacceptable. Violence against children begins in the womb. The government is giving the message that they support the killing of unborn children, including those with Down syndrome, but that after birth you may not smack them.

30 April 2007 - nzherald - Survey may force Maori Party shift on Bradford bill

Survey may force Maori Party shift on Bradford bill

Monday April 30, 2007The fate of Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill appears to rest with the Maori Party caucus which will discuss it tomorrow in the light of a poll showing overwhelming 80 per cent opposition to it by Maori.

The party has backed the bill but the resounding Maori opposition may create pressure to back a proposal by National Party leader John Key to allow "minor and inconsequential" smacking.

It is believed to have been a consistent topic of concern raised at the consultation hui the four Maori Party MPs have held up and down New Zealand during the three-week recess.

If the Maori Party decides to back the Key amendment, it would have the numbers to pass.

But Sue Bradford has said she would withdraw it in those circumstances.

The bill, which returns to the House on Wednesday, outlaws the use of physical force against children for purposes of correction. It allows it to prevent a child from engaging in harmful, disruptive, illegal or offensive behaviour.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia indicated at the weekend that the party would continue to support the bill, despite 80 per cent of Maori in the Marae Digipoll survey opposing it. But she could not be contacted last night to discuss the Key proposal.

She said at the weekend the present law allowed a legal defence against abuse. "We will not support abuse. We have got to show leadership. If we are looking at all the statistics we have got the worst statistics in the OECD. "

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia was also committed to supporting it, saying he saw the "other side" of smacking. "I visit the refuges.

"We know that we have rampant violence in some areas for a whole host of reasons within our families. We must address that."

Mr Key said he had spoken to Mrs Turia on Saturday night about his proposal and said she had a very clear understanding of the law. She would discuss it with the caucus tomorrow.

"We can't do it without the Maori Party," Mr Key told the Herald.

He believes the Maori Party might be more tempted to back the amendment since the Marae poll.

He also said if Sue Bradford's bill passed and it was challenged in a citizens-initiated referendum at next year's election he would be inclined to change the law to reflect his own proposal.

Former United Future MP Larry Baldock said last night that he had had 163,150 signatures since March 1.

That makes it likely he will get the requisite 300,000 (10 per cent of registered electors) by March 1 next year in order to get a referendum.

"They had better prepare themselves for a referendum - and the bill hasn't passed yet." The petition asks:

* Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

* Should the Government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse?

Mr Baldock said he had tried to discourage his own associates from attending the Destiny Church rally at Parliament on Wednesday, when the bill returns for further debate.

"This is not a church issue. This has never been just a bunch of Christians who want to retain the right to smack their kids. It is 80 per cent of New Zealanders."

kiwiblog - Letter from John Key to Party Leaders on Smacking

Letter from John Key to Party Leaders on Smacking


Even though Sue Bradford has said she will not back it, John Key has written to all party leaders seeking support for his compromise amendment. That amendment will defuse all the controversy from the bill and it will probably then pass with 110 or more votes.
The Key letter is:

I am writing to seek your support for a proposed amendment to the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill currently before the house. As you may know, I met with Sue Bradford MP to discuss this amendment with her on 25 April, and she has indicated she will not support the amendment.
The amendment proposes removing the new subsections 59(2) and 59(3) and inserting a clause justifying the use of light smacking that is "minor and inconsequential", while leaving in place the general prohibition on force for the purpose of correction in the purpose clause of the bill. A copy of the proposed amendment is attached.

This amendment will allow good parents to feel reassured that they will not be criminalised by the new legislation, rather than relying on Police procedure to avoid investigation and prosecution. The clause will also provide clear guidance to the Police that light smacking of a minor and inconsequential nature should not result in prosecution.

It is unfair to rely on the Police to exercise their discretion to make this legislation work, simply because we as a Parliament lack the courage to codify the law in the way we expect it to be enforced. The reality is that there will be widely differing interpretations of this law, and of any procedures and guidelines attached to it, by Police around the country.

We all agree that the purpose of this legislation is to reduce New Zealand's terrible rate of harming children, but we all probably agree that we do not want to see good parents criminalised for engaging in actions no one considers criminal. I simply believe it is bad law for Parliament to pass a piece of legislation outlawing an activity absolutely, and then expect the Police not to prosecute minor breaches.

My proposed amendment achieves the outcome that I think we are all after, and I seek your support for this change to the bill.

The amendment John Key proposes, to replace the 59(2) and 59(3) is:

Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of a child is justified in lightly smacking the child in the course of their parenting duties if the smacking used was minor and inconsequential, notwithstanding Section 3 of the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Act 2007.

If an MP votes against that amendment, it will make it pretty clear they are voting to ban correctional smacking.

26 April 2007 - By Audrey Young - Labour left between

Audrey Young: Labour left between a rock and a hard place
5:00AM Thursday April 26, 2007 By Audrey Young
National leader John Key played pragmatic politics this week and Green MP Sue Bradford played principled politics.

In a sense, both were playing to their parties' strengths.

In a sense, neither can be condemned for that.

It leaves the anti-smacking bill exactly where it was: legislation that will outlaw the use of physical force to teach children a lesson or for "correction", but with two different predictions about how the law will be applied.

Supporters are certain the police will not prosecute parents who smack their children lightly - just as the police don't press assault charges now for such action.

Opponents caution that a new law that specifically bans force to discipline children will invite prosecutions for a light smack.

Key offered a significant compromise this week on his party's previous position on the anti-smacking bill.

He accepted the bill's primary function - to ban the use of force against children for correction on one proviso that it explicitly allow for "minor and inconsequential" smacks in the course of parenting.

What he proposed this week was no more than the assurances given by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Bradford that parents who smack lightly would not be criminalised.

Instead of trusting their predictions of police interpretation, Key wanted the proviso written into the law.

While there is an inherent contradiction in what he offered - banning physical punishment but allowing it a little bit - it is no more of a contradiction than that already existing in Bradford's bill.

Bradford rejected the compromise because it was inconsistent with the principle driving the bill.

She wants to put children on the same footing as adults and to remove the notion that it is excusable to use any form of violence on them - children - other than a few exceptions outlined in the bill such as to save them or others from harm.

To define in law what level of violence was allowed against children would be like trying to define what level of violence was allowed by men against women.

And anyway, Key's compromise is a watered-down version of the amendments proposed by National MP Chester Borrows, which are set to be voted down next Wednesday.

Bradford is a mother of five. She has said from the first reading that it was not her intention to criminalise ordinary parents, that her target was those who hit or beat their children seriously.

The difficulty is that her intentions conflict with the actual bill.

She may not want police to prosecute smackers but the bill leaves it open to just such a response.

It is almost inconceivable Parliament will pass a law that explicitly bans physical punishment and then expects the police to prosecute only extreme cases.

It would have been a lot plainer if Bradford had said something like "this bill outlaws physical discipline against children and, even though I don't want the police to prosecute smackers, they may do so because smacking is violence on a milder scale".

But if she had promoted a hard line, or a bright line in the law, she would have kissed goodbye to Labour's bloc support and relegated it back to a conscience issue, which is probably what it should have been.

Key's failure this week will not alter the likelihood of the bill passing narrowly. It would have given Parliament the satisfaction of having broad-based support for such a contentious law.

Key will try to get as much mileage as he can from here.

He will now approach Labour which will almost certainly dismiss it as a stunt.

Any acceptance by Labour would also prompt Bradford to withdraw the bill (which might provide private relief to Labour if it is haemorrhaging support from women over its decision to back the bill).

Key, whether genuine or not - and Bradford believes he is - has manoeuvred himself into an enviable position on this issue.

If Labour agrees to his amendment, he gets the credit for showing some leadership on the issue. If it tells him to get lost, it rejects what is seen as a sensible way through a difficult issue.

Even if he fails, he wins.

27 April 2007 - SPCS - Bradford Fails to Answer Questions on anti-smacking bill

27 April 2007 - SPCS - Bradford Fails to Answer Questions on anti-smacking bill

Society For Promotion Of Community Standards Inc. 27 April 2007

Bradford Fails to Answer Questions on anti-smacking bill

The Society is very concerned that Ms Bradford appears unable or unwilling to answer key questions put to her regarding her unpopular private members bill that is opposed by over 80% of New Zealanders.

In an Open Letter to her dated 23 March (copied below) the Society sought urgent clarification on four matters relating to her contradictory public pronouncements on her bill that seeks to remove the defence of "reasonable force" for "correction" (that can be used currently by a parent against a charge of assault on a child), from Section 59 of the Crimes Act (1961). The explanation given by the Green Party for her lack of response is that she is "very busy". Green Party worker, Ms Fran Tyler, has undertaken to give her the hurry up.

Tens of thousands of concerned parents who may face charges of criminal assault for lightly smacking their children for the purposes of corrective discipline, should Bradford's flawed anti-family bill pass into law, await answers to the important questions the Society has raised. Bradford says the aim of her bill is to make it illegal for any parent or person in the place of parent to use any "force" for the purpose of "correction". However, the bill does not specifically define what constitutes "force".

On the other hand, she has agreed to retain the defence of "reasonable force", but only for parents who she claims might face a charge of criminal assault for removing a child from harm's way etc. But she is adamant that this defence cannot be used if the action is undertaken with the intent or purpose of "correction": in whole or in "part". In effect she has made an ass of the law. Current law provides a clear justification for the use of "reasonable force" by parents for correction. Bradford is seeking to make that which is perfectly legal, illegal, and thereby she undermines the authority of good and loving parents.


RE: Sue Bradford's Private Members Bill dealing with Repeal of s. 59 that is opposed by 80% - 90% of New Zealanders polled.

23 March 2007

Dear Ms Fran Tyler

Please thank Ms Bradford for the answers she has supplied to the Society's questions (1-4) re her bill.

[See:]. However, having studied her answers, we are unable to comprehend how her position can be logically coherent within a legal framework. All our members feel the same way.

Please present to her a few short follow-up questions seeking urgent clarification. We would appreciate her prompt assistance.

Re Queston 1.

If as Ms Bradford stated on TV One's Agenda programme: "It's actually illegal now to smack your child" - why has she in responsed to Q 1 by stating: "Some smacking is therefore illegal under the current law." [Emphasis added]. We believe that it follows logically from the latter statement that some smacking is LEGAL; therefore the Agenda programme comment is inconsistent and misleading to say the least.

Questions: seeking clarification:

1.. How does Ms Bradford reconcile the apparent inconsistency between her two statements quoted and b.. What forms of smacking does she consider legal under the current Crimes Act? c.. Is it the smacking that is legal under current law or that which is illegal under current law that her bill intends to make illegal, or is it both forms? d.. Does Ms Bradford consider that it is unlawful under current law for a parent or person in the place of a parent to use "reasonable force" in the context of domestic discipline, for the purpose of correcting a child who exhibits extreme defiance and/or disobedience despite a number of clearly defined warnings to desist from wrong behaviour (see section 59 of Crimes Act)? e.. Is it the intention in her bill to prevent parents from correcting their children by using ANY actions that involve "reasonable force" in the circumstances? (vi) If so why, and why particularly has she sought to make illegal the use of ALL forms of force for correction carried out by the parent to achieve compliance from the disobediant/defiant child? Re. Questions 2-3

(vi) In the light of Ms Bradford's negative answers concerning the lawful use of "reasonable force" in self-defence (s. 48) and by ship's captains (s. 60), which we accept as correct; why did she state on Agenda "It's actually illegal now to smack your child" when she knew full well that this is untruthful (s. s. 59) and has now done a U-turn on by stating: "Some smacking is therefore illegal under the current law." (see above)? [Note the "reasonable force" defence provisions in s. 59, 60 and 48 serve the same purposes in protected those who use the force and those subject to the force].

Re Queston 4

(vi) Ms Bradford agreed to amendments to her bill which she now admits she did not feel were necessary, but agreed to in order to alleviate some doubts by some submitters - as she puts it "assertions by some submitters on the Bill that it [use of reasonable force for removing kids from harms waty etc.] may not be so justified". In the light of these concessions to submitters, why is she opposed to a clarification of s. 59 (the Borrows amendment) so that judges can point jury members to a clearer definition of "reasonable force" as it applies to actions taken by parents in corrective discipline on children?

Yours sincerely

David Lane


Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville


How Caregivers will be Criminalised Under Sue Bradford's 'anti-smacking' Bill
Press Release 27 April 2007

If Green MP Sue Bradford's 'anti-smacking bill' is passed into law, increasing numbers of childcare workers (e.g. creche and kindergarten workers) and those in the place of parents (e.g. grandparents, foster parents and guardians) will be charged with criminal assault by the police for lightly smacking children for "correction" purposes and will find themselves before the Courts defending actions which the vast majority of good parents consider perfectly justified as part of good domestic disciplinary procedures. As one leading New Zealand barrister, Mr Peter McKenzie QC, has reported in a comprehensive legal opinion on the effect of the Bill, some could even find themselves charged with criminal assault for applying "force" for removing troublesome and recalcitrant kids to "time-out" or "naughty-mat" zones because the discipline was done with the intention and for the purpose of "correction". The intention of Bradford's flawed bill, as clearly stated, is to make the use of all force illegal when used for "correction" by parents or those in the place of parents.

Sadly, the New Zealand public has too often seen the ugly face of badly applied law. Some cases have involved the domestic discipline of children (the case of the criminalising [for assault] of foster parents Don and Anne Eathorne through the actions of CYFS) and others involving public facilities where children are cared for by dedicated staff (The notorious Christchurch Creche case). An example of the latter, is the case involving a creche worker – Judith Anne Hende - who was wrongfully convicted and sentenced in a District Court for an assault on a child in her care and charged with wilfully and without lawful justification or excuse, stupefying a child (W) under her care. In 1995 the guilty verdict for stupefying was set aside by the Court of Appeal and the conviction was quashed. The Court directed that a judgment and verdict of acquittal be entered. Hende had been fined $1,000 by the District Court on the charge of stupefying a child.

More important to the debate over Bradford's anti-family bill is the fact that when the Court of Appeal dealt with Hende's conviction for assault, its ruling was that it be set aside and "the appellant be discharged without conviction".

The Queen v Judith Anne Hende (CA196/95)
Coram: Eichelbaum CJ, Hardie Boys J and Henry J

Hearing 24 July 1995 (at Auckland)

On 18 September 1995 Judge Eichelbaum CJ issued the Court of Appeal's Judgment that in part dealt with the assault charge against Ms Judith Anne Hende and he "discharged [her] without conviction". Hende, the appellant, was a licensee of a creche and had appealed against her conviction and sentence for assault and other matters, by a District Court. The assault charge was laid by the police under s. 194(a) of the Crimes Act. It was alleged that she assaulted a child (S) under the age of 14.

Eichelbaum CJ stated in his Judgment:

"The particulars alleged were 'hitting child when [the child was] going berserk' … The only prosecution evidence of the assault was in the depositions of two witnesses who were unavailable to give evidence at the trial." [Permission was granted by the Judge for the depositions to be read at the trial.]… "The second witness (the sister of the first) said she saw the appellant smack the child twice with her open hand on his bottom, two smacks one after the other on the same occasion. Cross-examined briefly, she agreed her memory about what exactly happened was a bit hazy, and that the smacks would not have hurt."

"Given, however, that as to the nature of the assault the Court had only the bare words quoted [by the witness], there was no justification for treating the incident as involving anything more than a pat on the bottom. Although technically an assault, it did not merit the stigma of a conviction and the fine [of $250] imposed"

"…the appellant has been through a seven day trial and two hearings before this Court, and the events are now three to four years old"

This tragic case highlights how police, even after presumably applying careful discretion (we doubt it in this case), will readily lay charges for a mere "technical assault" for incidents involving a mere "pat on the bottom", and allow such trivial matters to be taken to Court leading to the stigma of a conviction and a fine being imposed on an innocent child care worker. Police merely do their job when Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and similar agencies – the so-called "experts" in child advocacy – fail to apply commonsense, are consumed by their own misguided zeal and ideological bias and are goaded into action by parents with their own agendas. The Police regularly hand the troublesome matter from the basket labelled "Too Hard" – to the Courts – relying on the legal "experts" to decide. Police are too busy chasing serial rapists, child molesters, bank heist professionals, and those committing aggravated robberies and sexual assaults, to be bothered too much by cases involving children being patted on the bottom.

It is staggering and hard to believe that such trivial and ridiculous cases as those involving some of the charges laid against Judith Hende, end up in Court even without Ms Bradford's bill becoming law! When it does become law – God forbid - the gloves are off! Agencies like CYFS will pursue all manner of trivial prosecutions against decent parents who seek to administer corrective discipline to their children for serious wrongdoing. They will use the police to hide behind. Bradford's absurd and naïve claim that police discretion is the only filter needed to ensure that parents will not be criminalised for trivial cases involving light smacking etc. deserves the cynical response "Yeah Right!".

It is noteworthy that on the charges of "ill-treatment" for which Hende was convicted by the District Court and sentenced to 200 hours community work, the appeal was allowed on a number of counts and a new trial was ordered by the Court of Appeal. A number of the key verdicts were therefore ordered to be set aside and a new trial was ordered.

The New Zealand public have overwhelmingly indicated via numerous opinion polls that they strongly oppose the repeal of section 59 and oppose Bradford's "anti-smacking bill" – one that even if passed, will make no difference to rectifying the serious problem of child abuse in this country. The SPCS wants the serious problem of child abuse properly investigated by the government and the real root causes addressed urgently.

24 April 2007 - familyvalues - 'The real school bully isn't in the schoolyard'

'The real school bully isn't in the schoolyard'
Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 9:33 am
Press Release:
Mass gathering at Parliament Grounds
Wednesday 2nd May at 12.30pm
24 April 2007

'The real school bully isn't in the schoolyard'

Without provocation, the Government has forced Wainuiomata Christian College to disclose its disciplinary policies or face closure. Martin Keast, principal of Wainuiomata Christian College and Silverstream Christian School has reluctantly complied with the demand but states, 'we do so under threat.'

In response to Mr Keast's comments, Education Minister Steve Maharey, says: "The law is the law.' Now lets take the anti smacking bill.

If this bill is passed, what will stop the Government (without any provocation) demanding from ordinary, law-abiding kiwi parents the same disclosure of their disciplinary measures in the home? After all, 'the law is the law!' Government's planned national database to monitor all New Zealand children provides the framework to make this scenario a reality.

To that end, a mass gathering at Parliament Grounds will take place next week - Wednesday 2nd May at 12.30pm to oppose the anti-smacking bill. Speakers include Bishop Brian Tamaki, Pastor Peter Mortlock, Wellington Reverend Mike Weitenburg and former All Black and Wellington Hurricanes Captain Bull Allen.

Event details can be viewed on

Locations of visitors to this page


Equipping parents to do battle to protect the integrity of their family