NZPA | Monday, 16 April 2007
A petition for a referendum on proposals to change the law around smacking has reached the half-way mark.
Sheryl Savill's Citizens Initiated Referendum petition asks if smacking a child as part of good parental correction should be made a criminal offence.
Petition coordinator former United Future MP Larry Baldock said 150,745 people of the required 300,000 needed to force a referendum had signed.
Green Party MP Sue Bradford has a bill before Parliament which changes the Crimes Act and removes the statutory defence of "reasonable force" against assault on a child.
Opponents say it will turn parents into criminals if they even lightly smack their children.
Ms Bradford and her supporters argue that smacking has been illegal for more than 100 years, and removing the defence means people will not get away with savagely beating children.
Petitioners have one year from when they start to gather signatures.
"To have arrived at the halfway mark after only six weeks must make this the fastest petition-gathering exercise in the history of the CIR Act, and, needless to say, all of us involved are very encouraged by the support we have received from all over the country," Mr Baldock said.