Prime Minister John Howard says he never smacked his children but he wouldn't want the practice outlawed.
Mr Howard said he did not want to tell parents how to discipline their children.
After an anti-smacking law was passed in New Zealand last month, the Australian Democrats called for the federal government to protect children from physical punishment.
A taxpayer-funded campaign is also discouraging the practice.
Asked if he smacked his three children, Mr Howard said: "No, actually I was a bit of a softie in relation to that.
"We were not into, sort of, physical discipline," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting.
"That's us. I'm not telling other parents how to run their lives."
The prime minister said disciplining children was entirely a matter for parents.
"I do not believe the law should be changed.
"There are laws at the moment which punish people who abuse children.
"But reasonable discipline is not abuse. Can't we just have a commonsense approach to these things?"