by Lavinia Ngatoko from The Challenge Weekly
New Zealanders are being urged to get involved in a campaign aimed at getting the required number of signatures needed for referenda on the anti-smacking law and family issues.
Unity for Liberty, a recently formed group of people fighting the legislation, is running The Great New Zealand Table Challenge next month.
The aim is to get people armed with pens, tables and petitions out into their communities to help get the 300,000 signatures required to force a referendum at next year’s elections. These must be collected by March 1 next year.
There are two petitions, one against the anti-smacking law and the other covering the wider issue of family breakdown in the country.
Craig Hill of Unity for Liberty is asking for 2,500 volunteers, each pledging to get 40 signatures, to come out on the first Saturday of November.
This would result in the collection of 100,000 signatures, he said.
He warned that although the group sympathised with those calling for harsher penalties, it was concerned that good parents were not protected under the current law.
“It will require more than hype and hysteria to change this situation and turn our society from total disaster,” he said.
“To effect change requires calm and deliberate steps to be made. The first step for New Zealanders is to petition for a citizens’ initiated referendum so they can have their say at the 2008 election.” Mr Hill is encouraging those who would like to get involved to start preparing now by ringing their local shops or banks to ask for permission to set up tables outside their premises.
Although people are being encouraged to do this every Saturday of November, if they can get involved on more days that would be even better.
Mr Hill said his group had initially tried to find volunteers to hold placards on footpaths to raise awareness, but had found that difficult to achieve.
“People are willing to sign, but churches don’t seem interested in getting involved,” he said. Petition forms can be downloaded from www.unityforliberty.net.nz/petition.html or www.familyfirst.org.nz