Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 3:06 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party
National Party Leader John Key says backers of the anti-smacking bill need to accept that the way the bill is currently drafted will make it illegal to use light smacking for the purposes of correction.
"I will not support a bill that leaves otherwise good parents at the mercy of the police and the judiciary.
"The Greens and Labour now have an opportunity to get closer to the public they serve, by agreeing they've got a major problem with the current wording."
Mr Key says his offer to get around the table with Sue Bradford and Helen Clark remains open.
"But there's no point in proceeding unless Sue Bradford and Helen Clark will accept that light smacking for the purposes of correction will be illegal under their proposals.
"That is the first step towards finding some common ground."
Mr Key has laid down a counter-challenge for Labour to explain how it is that the bill in its current form won't criminalise parents.
"If Labour really believes that 'light smacking for the purposes of correction' will not be outlawed, then they need to explain that. But no matter how you read this bill in its present form it will be illegal to 'lightly smack for the purposes of correction'.
"The way to send a strong message on child abuse is to make the law clear and precise and then to police it strongly and vigilantly. This bill as it stands does the opposite.
"So again I say to Helen Clark and Sue Bradford, if you are genuine in your statements, and genuine in your intentions, then let's get around the table and come up with a set of words we all agree on.
"For me, a result that sees the criminalisation of parents for a light smack is simply not on the table."