Thursday, May 03, 2007

Opponents thrash 'anti-smacking' bill


By AARON LEAMAN - Waikato Times | Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Green MP Sue Bradford's proposed "anti-smacking" bill was given a thorough thrashing at a public forum last night, with one opponent labelling it "pure evil".

About 80 people gathered at Hamilton's Celebrating Age Centre to hear Act Party president Garry Mallett, Act deputy leader Heather Roy and former United Future MP Larry Baldock speak against the contentious bill.

The meeting came just hours before Christians were to face off over the proposed anti-smacking law change at Parliament today. Mainstream religious groups were to rally at Parliament at the same time as a Destiny Church-led protest against Ms Bradford's bill, which would remove the "reasonable force" defence for parents charged with assault.

Mr Mallett described Ms Bradford's bill as a "wicked piece of legislation" and "pure evil".

However, the 2 1/2-hour forum was more a gathering of like minds than a debate on the merits of the bill. Mr Mallett said he had not invited supporters of the bill to speak because they had had plenty of Government and media support.

Audience members, who identified themselves as concerned parents and grandparents, engaged in a series of hand-raising exercises, responding to questions such as whether they had smacked their children.

Mr Mallett said the "anti-smacking" bill did not reflect the realities of raising children and would not curb the abusive behaviour of "savages". The bill would not have prevented the deaths of children such as Lillybing or the Kahui twins, he said.

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