Manawatu Standard | Saturday, 15 December 2007
More than 240,000 people have signed a petition calling for anti-smacking legislation to be repealed. A steady flow of people added their names to the list in Palmerston North yesterday.
Future New Zealand political party co- leader Larry Baldock and his wife Barbara set up a stand near The Plaza about 11.15am.
By 3.30pm they had more than 240 extra signatures.
The petition needs 300,000 signatures by March 1 if the issue is to be voted on at the next general election in 2008, Mr Baldock said.
The campaign lost momentum after Green MP Sue Bradford's controversial child discipline bill, which outlaws physical punishment, passed into law last winter.
However, Mr Baldock said petition volunteers' spirits have picked up and they have their sights set on the 300,000 target to force a non-binding citizens' initiated referendum.
"We're not interested in trying to convince people," Mr Baldock said yesterday.
"Most people are upset - they didn't want [the law], but [Parliament] went ahead and did it anyway."
The law wastes police resources and makes good parents nervous, Mr Baldock said.
Palmerston North man Rhys Rossiter said he signed the petition because the law "criminalises parents for doing what they do".
The law also encourages people to nark on parents who discipline their children, he said.
"There's a difference between beating a kid and disciplining a kid."
The law has done nothing to stop child abuse, he said.
New Zealand has the third highest rate among developed nations of child deaths due to maltreatment. On average our adults kill 1.2 children per 100,000 each year.
The petition has two questions:
- Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?
- Should the Government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in New Zealand?