Monday, April 02, 2007

Bradford: 80% Kiwis are savage child-beaters

this from
By PETER WILSON - NZPA | Monday, 2 April 2007

The Government is not going to adopt Sue Bradford's bill to change the law on smacking, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

It had been considering turning the controversial bill into government legislation so it could speed up its progress in Parliament and shut down the row over its provisions.

But Miss Clark said even if that was done, its opponents could still hold it up and it would probably not be passed into law before the three-week Easter recess.

Because it is a member's bill it can only be debated every second Wednesday Parliament is sitting, which is why it has taken so long up to now and its opponents have had many opportunities to stage protests and demonstrations.

"I really think it just has to take its course as a member's bill," Miss Clark said at her post-cabinet press conference.

"It will be debated in May. There is really no reason to change the way in which it is being handled."

The Government considered speeding it up so it could get it off the agenda before the May budget, but Miss Clark said keeping things the way they were would give supporters more time to have their say.

"What we've seen in the last couple of weeks is the very substantial organisations in our community, like Plunket, Barnados, Save the Children and many others who have decades of service to children in New Zealand come out and strongly support the bill," she said.

"And in the intervening period I'm sure the organisations that have been really shocked by the campaign against the bill will have a chance to have their voices heard."

The bill 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 be able to get away with savagely beating children.

The Government had been waiting for New Zealand First to take a position on whether it should be turned into a government bill, but Miss Clark said the party had not opposed the idea and Cabinet made the decision to keep it a member's bill.

There is a solid 63 votes behind the bill, enough to pass it into law, and two National MPs are expected to add their backing to it as well.

A majority in Parliament is 61 votes."

No comments: