Sunday, October 26, 2008

How should one vote to change the anti-smacking legislation?

Andy has started a topic Christian Vote 2008. He starts a new blog for it and lists his recommendations for how Christians should vote. This blog is about Section 59 and restoring parental authority so I will say how I am likely to vote and why and recommend how others - Christian or not should vote to restore parental authority.

I will be voting on one issue and one issue only and that is which party has a policy of restoring parental authority. Although I will be focusing on the one issue I will consider other things about the party. Firstly, I will consider what the likelihood of the party making it into Parliament is. Secondly, I will consider the honesty of the party leaders.

Parental authority

Obviously, the right of parents to use reasonable physical force to discipline children for purposes of correction is a major consideration. The second issue for me is right of both parents to be informed when authorities know that their underage daughter is pregnant and certainly before an abortion is arranged. A third issue for me is harm minimisation being taught to children in school in relation to drugs or sex. It is sending mixed messages to children to say do not take drugs and delay sex till you are older but if you choose to ignore this advice here is how to do it.

Other issues

Some people who signed the petition may have other issues that they consider far more important than parental authority like the economy, crime or other moral issues like abortion or euthanasia. This article is not for them but for those whose number one issue is parental authority. Large parties hate individuals or pressure groups that focus on one issue. They keep trying to change the subject and you keep saying I did not come to speak to you about that issue but this issue and that is how I will base my vote.

Parties opposed to the removal of Section 59

The parties opposed to the removal of Section 59 are The Family Party, The Kiwi Party, The Pacific Party and ACT. There may be very small parties unlikely to attract a thousand votes that oppose the removal of Section 59 but I will ignore them.

The Family Party

The Family Party is strongly opposed to the removal of Section 59. It also in favour of legislation so parents would be notified before their underage daughters have an abortion arranged for them. The downside is the low likelihood of them making it into Parliament. The chance of them making the 5% is near zero. A spoke to Richard Lewis a while ago and he told me of internal polls in key electorates. I cannot recall the figures he gave me so I will not guess but they were certainly better than the chances of gaining the 5% nationally. Hopefully, a Family Party member will give us an update.

Another downside for me is the Family Party’s links to the Destiny Church and Bishop Brian Tamaki. I personally do not like the idea of someone heading a church and gaining so much personal wealth from many families in his church who would be struggling financially. Having said that, my vote will be going the the Family Party unless National listens to reason.

The Kiwi Party

Like The Family Party, The Kiwi Party is strongly opposed to the removal of Section 59 and is in favour of parental notification in the case of underage pregnancy. According to independent polling the chance of the Kiwi Party making 5% nationally or Larry winning Tauranga is virtually nil.

The downside with the Kiwi Party is simply whether they operate in an ethical manner. Like Andy, I am very concerned about the way they used signatures and addresses from their unsuccessful petition has been used to solicit votes and funds. Andy in his Christian Vote 2008 Blog states why he thinks this is wrong. I agree with his reasons and have few of my own. I will not go into them all here but will say this action has been enough to make me change my vote and I have been a Kiwi Party member from the start.

The Kiwi Party claims they have had good legal advice and what they have done is legal. This may or may not be the case – time will tell. I still think it was quite wrong for them to have done this. Firstly, I started collecting signatures after meeting Craig Hill of Unity for Liberty. That is a group opposed to the anti-smacking legislation but non political. This is but one group that helped in the collection of signatures opposing this anti-family legislation. When Craig started his group the collection of signatures had slowed right down. In my opinion the goal would not have been achieved without Craig. It definitely would not have been achieved without the effort and money from a lot of groups not connected to the Kiwi Party.

The second issue is that I gave an assurance to many people particularly women who did not like to give details like their full address and age that this information would only be used by government employees that would check the details to make sure they are on the voters role. Their names and details have been copied in to PDF files and circulated to members of the Kiwi Party in lots of a few hundred to post with letter soliciting funds and votes (click here for an example).

How secure is this information? If a disgruntled former member of the Kiwi Party put these files on a website would they be breaching the Privacy ACT? Would the person who sent out the PDF files be in breach or both? I wonder if their legal advisors considered the above scenario. I am not suggesting anyone do so?

The point I am making is that the Kiwi Party has made a liar out me and many others in the assurance I have given many people signing the petitions.

The Pacific Party

Like the other two parties, The Pacific Party is strongly opposed to the removal of Section 59 and is in favour or parental notification in the case of underage pregnancy. The problem I have with the Pacific Party is its leader Philip Field is before the Court on very serious criminal charges. I know he has not been proven guilty of anything. However, I believe that an MP should be expected to conduct himself in ethical manner regardless of the law. Even if he had stood trial and been found not guilty I would not support him because of the way he has dealt with immigration matters and also the purchase of a house off a constituent who came to him for help. I feel his actions were unethical for an MP.

ACT

ACT is the only party which all its MPs voted against the anti-smacking bill. However, both its current MPs voted for legislation that allows school counsellors to arrange abortions for underage girls without parents being notified. There are other polices that I consider anti-family but their policy on underage abortions is enough to put off voting ACT. I am not totally anti-abortion but I regard this issue more one of parental authority than abortion per se. The only way I would consider voting ACT was if ACT had a policy of all conscience votes having to be ratified at a general referendum before they became law. I asked Rodney if ACT supported such an idea at a Family First Forum he said that he did. After the Forum I tried to find out if ACT would adopt such a policy. I was told that it would seriously be considered. Despite numerous requests and assurances I have not been able to find out if ACT adopted what Rodney thought was a good idea. I suspect the lack of response indicates they have not.

One plus for ACT is that they are almost certainly going to make it to Parliament. However, if ACT was offered a choice of lower taxes or changing the anti-smacking law, which would they choose.

National

Voting National is definitely the best way to get rid of a government which has brought in much anti-family legislation against the will of the vast majority of the public. If National were to change its policy on this anti-parent piece of legislation I would definitely vote National. I cannot understand why John Key ever came up with this so-called compromise. I find it even harder to understand he will not listen to the will of the people with polling so close.

Recommendation

I am not really trying to tell people how to vote. I am trying to generate discussion and debate as to how one can best use their vote to get rid of this piece of anti-family legislation. I hope the discussion could be limited to parental authority and not other moral issues. There are people who signed the petition from all walks of life, religions and will have differing views on a wide range of moral and ethical issues.

My vote will be going to the family party unless National changes its position on this issue. I can understand many petitioners not wanting to vote for the Family Party because of links to Brian Tamaki. If this is the case then I would recommend voting for the Kiwi Party. You may not be as concerned over the issue of the petition details as I am.

Neither of these parties is likely to make it into Parliament. I would have a lot more respect for their leaders if they were honest with there members and the public and acknowledged this but still asked for their vote but explained why it would not be wasted.

Let us suppose National loses by a small number of votes and we end up with the result of the five headed monster Key warns us about. It would likely not last long and the next National leader might learn to listen to the people.

A vote for ACT would certainly help put pressure on National to change the anti-smacking legislation. The law relating to parental notification has been in place for a number of years now and is unlikely to change.

The only way to change the anti-smacking law is to keep the pressure on. One good way to do it is to write to John Key or your National MP if you have one. Send a letter by smail. Emails will have little effect.

I will await responses with interest.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bid to ban smacking fails in the Commons - UK

This from the Christian Institute in the UK

"A back-bench attempt to ban smacking has failed to secure a vote in the House of Commons.

A last minute amendment to change the law was tabled just two days before the Children and Young Persons Bill was due to be considered by MPs.

However, there was limited time for debate on the Bill and the amendment was not reached.

Government research has found that 70 per cent of parents oppose an outright ban.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls recently said that the Government would not support the move. He said it would be difficult to police and “the wrong thing to do for children”.

Mike Judge of The Christian Institute said: “Many loving parents will be relieved that this misguided attempt to interfere with the way they bring up their children has failed.

“Parents who would never dream of being violent towards their children use smacking as one of a range of techniques to discipline them.

“They shouldn’t be criminalised for doing so.”"

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Smacking Not an Offence" - Bradford

Family First Press Release, 29/Sept/08 - read entire article here.

In a stunning turnaround, Green MP Sue Bradford has told parents that smacking is not a criminal offence and implied that groups like Barnardos, Plunket, Every Child Counts and politicians who have said that the aim of the law was to ban parents physically punishing their children are misleading the public.

In a media release from the Green party today, Bradford says ‘smacking has never been a criminal offence, and still isn’t.’

Yet only last year, she told Newstalk ZB ‘it is already illegal to smack children but her bill removes a defence of reasonable force for the purpose of correction.’


And in the original 2003 media release from the Green party launching her amendment to section 59, it is entitled “Greens draw up their own anti-smacking bill” http://www.greens.org.nz/node/12844

“Sue Bradford is confused by her own law,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, “and is misrepresenting the real effect and purpose of the anti-smacking law. She believes smacking is assault, yet more than 80% of NZ’ers continue to disagree.”

Herald Singing a Different Tune Now

The Herald's Editorial on 28 May 2008 read "Spare us a smacking referendum". In the article they state:

"Why, then, is Mr McCoskrie's group unable to let this unpleasant subject rest? Why is a petition circulating to put the issue to a referendum that could be held with the general election this year? The public must be heartily sick of this non-issue. Smacking children is simply not worth further debate. There are, as every sensible parent knows, better ways to correct bad behaviour, but if parents sometimes use more primitive means the law can be reasonable."

And now on 29 September 2008, they come out saying that...

"The anti-smacking law is still enormously unpopular, a Herald election survey has found. It reveals that more than 500 out of 600 people polled don't agree that smacking children is a criminal offence."

The article goes on...

"Sixteen months after the bill passed in a political compromise supported by Labour and National, the in-depth poll also found strong resistance and scepticism about the watered-down version of the law.

The issue will be tested in a referendum next year, forced by 310,000 people who signed a petition organised by Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock.

The Herald asked people from Cape Reinga to Fiordland the question to be put in the referendum: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Of those polled, 503 (86 per cent) answered "no", 52 said "yes", 28 were equivocal and 17 did not answer the question..."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Invercargill: 83% Want Anti-Smacking Law Repealed

A survey by Invercargill MP Eric Roy shows a majority of Invercargill residents want to bring back smacking and ban cellphone use in cars.

The survey was sent to 21,500 homes in Invercargill and asked questions on issues from health to a passenger train service.

Almost 12,000 responses had come back and random sampling had been used to come up with statistics, Mr Roy said.

A total of 83 percent of people responding to the survey wanted to repeal the "anti-smacking" legislation removing a legal defence for parents to hit their children.

--------------------------------------------

12,000 responses out of 21,500 surveys is a very high response rate, and so the result of 83% will be extremely close to reality.  And surprise surprise, it also backs up what we have been saying for a long time now: "83% of Kiwis don't want the Anti-Smacking Law".  Read the rest of the article here at The Southland Times

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sue Bradford's Democracy



83% of Kiwis think the Anti-Smacking Law is a bad law.

Sue Bradford doesn't care what you think.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Government's Stance on Referendum Arrogant

Press Release: Family First, Saturday, 23 August 2008
Family First Slams Govt’s Desperate Delay Tactics on Referendum

Family First NZ says the government is guilty of being arrogant, hypocritical and patronising by suggesting that the Referendum on the anti-smacking law cannot be organised until mid-2009.
“The government is yet to announce the date of the general election involving the two-vote system under MMP and due to take place within 3 months, yet it says it cannot organise a one-vote Referendum within 10 months,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The attempt to delay democracy by this government is breath-taking. This is a cynical attempt to muzzle the voice of NZ’ers who are opposed to the hugely unpopular and highly flawed anti-smacking law.”
“More than 10% of voters have met the high threshold of asking for a Referendum and recent polls suggest that between 80-90% oppose the legislation. It makes complete sense both economically and in terms of timing to do it at the same time as the general election.”
According to the Cabinet papers, the lame excuses for not holding the Referendum during the election include
  • it would take issuing officers longer to issue the two or three voting papers to each voter
  • voters would take longer to mark their papers
  • voters would be confused by the additional voting papers
The Cabinet papers also acknowledge a simple lack of organisation caused problems at the last Referendum. It says “At the 1999 general election, voters were instructed to place the two CIR voting papers, together with the Parliamentary voting paper, into a single ballot box for each electorate. This, together with the fact that the CIR voting papers were not distinctly coloured, contributed to significant delays to the sort and count of voting papers.”
“In other words, the problems experienced by the last Referendum held on an election day simply came down to poor organisation.”
“The government simply refuses to acknowledge the opinion of NZ’ers,” says Mr McCoskrie, “and is doing everything it can to bury this issue. It shows a complete lack of respect for the due democratic process in NZ.”

Sunday, August 24, 2008

OPEN LETTER TO JOHN KEY

JOHN KEY’S SECRET AGENDA

At the end of the article is an interview by John Key in GayNZ. This article shows Key
’s very liberal attitude and his lack of respect for those with more conservative views particularly if they are Christian.

Here is a man who is willing to support homosexuals adopting children yet is prepared to undermine parental authority. The undermining of parental authority is the main issue not the small number of parents who will get convicted for appropriately disciplining their children. Their small fine would be nothing compared to having their parental authority undermined.

School teachers and police officers giving school talks ask children to inform on their parents if they are smacked. This is not surprising from a left wing Feminazi government. However, as an ex-National party member I am very disappointed that a National government supports this anti-parent legislation.

The reason for me resigning from National in a word is Key. Shortly after Key replaced Brash someone sent me the article below. Then he whipped his whole party to change their stance on
Bradford’s anti smacking bill.

There was some excuse for moral issues to be decided by a conscience vote under FPP. Members of Parliament were meant to represent their electorate. Under MMP who does Key think he should represent – the majority of good parents or a small vocal group of mainly left wing homosexuals who want the right to adopt children? I am all for human rights but adopting children is not a right.

To be honest I would like to vote National. Key is a very talented man. I admire his skill and drive. A man who could command the wage he did obviously has financial skills. If Key wants my vote he should devote his talents to improving
New Zealand economically and allow New Zealand parents to devote their skills to raising their children to be good New Zealanders.

I will be emailing this to Mr Key and copying it to my local MP, Judith Collins who is a very good MP. Unfortunately, Key would not allow her to represent her electorate on this very important issue.

I urge others if you have voted National in the past or are consider doing so at this election to post and email Mr Key and politely tell him National will not be getting your vote if he continues to ignore the wishes of the vast majority of
New Zealand parents.

Chuck Bird

John Key, supporter of equality for gays and lesbians
03DEC06 - Jay Bennie

Last year's Civil Unions Bill, conferring formal legal status on same sex relationships, was a litmus test for the moral conscience of members of Parliament. One of those who voted against Civil Unions, John Key, MP for Helensville, has emerged as the new leader of the National Party.

While Key voted for the Property (Relationships) Amendment Bill, ushering in a tidy up of laws which discriminated against same sex couples in a myriad of ways, Civil Unions - a conscience vote - appeared to be a step too far.

"I voted for the Property (Relationships) part of the bill because I really felt that the situation there was totally discriminatory. I guess the view I have taken is that marriage is an institution of the church, I don't think it is necessary to have that label put on every relationship many people don't in fact want that. But marriage wasn't being asked for in the Civil Unions Bill anyway, that was a demarkation that the Government made themselves.

And voting against legalised Civil Unions for same sex and de facto couples was not discriminatory? Keys followed the same path trodden by his neighbouring National MP, Lockwood Smith of Kaipara. "Because I see myself as the elected representative of the people of Helensville. I try to reflect that in my voting on conscience issues, as opposed to a personal vote from my own perspective. I had done some polling, I wouldn't say it was extensive, but I did some polling in my electorate and on the basis of that polling I voted against civil unions."

ELECTORATE VS PERSONAL VIEWS - THE CONSCIENCE VOTE

Putting the 'will of the electorate' aside, would John Key otherwise have voted for Civil Unions? "Personally I have no problems with Civil Unions... there was an argument put forward that civil unions would undermine marriage, and I never believed that line. I have been married for 22 years and the fact that a gay couple may choose to have a Civil Union would have absolutely no impact on my marriage to my wife."

Key says he doesn't intend to pre-judge the construction of families. "We have friends who are a gay couple bringing up children, I would support any gay or lesbian couple bringing up children, I would hope for them what I want for any children and that is for them to give the best parental instruction and love and attention that they can for the children that are in their care."

The Brash leadership and its advisers appears to have fostered a relationship with a number of very anti-gay, conservative, religious groups, and the need for their votes and background support clearly influenced some National MPs, including Brash himself, to flip flop from supporting Civil Unions to voting against. But National's new leader believes in a clear separation of church and state. "I think we largely live in a secular society, I think there are many religions operating in NZ and it is in the best interests of the state to make decisions that are on a secular basis so they don't discriminate. I'm no supporter of these hard right religions. [For instance,] I was never offered, I would never have accepted any financial support from the Exclusive Brethren. I met them as a constituency MP, as I would meet anyone as a constituency MP on constituency issues as I believe it's wrong to discriminate. But I intend having no contact with the Brethren going forward."

JUDGMENT AND PREFERENCE

Brash is gone from the leadership, and his close cabal of advisers has all but evaporated. Expediency politics may have led National down a dead end but in right wing politics its hard to believe that homosexuality wont become a public issue again, with calls for moral judgement to forestall moral and social rot. "I don't think I am a terribly judgmental person," says Key. "I don't care what people's sexual preferences are, It's for them to determine that. We have friends who are gay and lesbian, just as we have dozens of friends who are heterosexual. I judge my friends on the basis of the friendship that we have and the support we give each other, not on their sexual preferences which, as far as I am concerned, is their business and their business alone."

Sexual 'preferences?' There's that scary word beloved of fundamentalist preachers. Does Key believe that we glbt people exercise a choice over our sexuality? "No. I believe it is innate. I am not an expert in these areas but I have had all these religious groups in my electoral office trying to argue that this is learned behavior, personally I believe that is crap. The only way I can express that is that I am not gay and that is not a conscious decision I made, it's just the way I feel. I assume that gay people have other feelings."

ENDS

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Press on the Referendum

I'll just quickly run over this article and make a few comments in bold.
Petition earns referendum on `child-smacking' law - The Press

New Zealanders will be asked to vote on the so-called anti-smacking law next year.
So-called? Well, that was what the Green Party called it initially.

Parliament's Clerk of the House said yesterday that a petition organised by Christian political activists had enough valid signatures to force a referendum.
Hah, just couldn't help yourselves could you? Yes, the petition question was written by Sheryl Savill who works for Focus on the Family. But look at the huge support nationwide, from a huge variety of people and groups.

Justice Minister Annette King said planning had begun to hold a postal vote on section 59 of the Crimes Amendment Act.

"The advice to me has been that it should be a postal referendum, and my latest advice is that it will take until about mid-next year to organise such a referendum properly," she said.

An audit of the petition found that 310,000 of the 390,000 signatures were valid.

That represented 25,000 more signatures than the 10 per cent of the national electorate required for a non-binding referendum.

Parliament's Speaker, Margaret Wilson, is expected to present the petition to the House on Tuesday, after which the Government will have one month to announce a date.

The referendum question will be: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Petition organiser Larry Baldock, who founded the Christian-based Kiwi Party, said the vote should be held with this year's general election.

The Government has ruled this out, saying the petition had come too late and it would best be held as a postal ballot next year.

"It has been a long battle to assert the right of all New Zealanders to be heard on this controversial issue," Baldock said.

"Quite frankly, in a democracy it should not require so much effort. The referendum should be held at this year's election.

"None of the reasons being given by the Prime Minister for delaying it make any sense at all, and are simply a tactic for her to try to avoid this being an election issue."

Family First director Bob McCroskrie said the petition showed the strength of the opposition to the law.

Green Party MP Sue Bradford, whose child-discipline bill last year removed the defence of reasonable force from the Crimes Act, said she welcomed the ongoing debate.
Hah, did she? That's easy to believe.

"They put an enormous amount of effort, time and money into it, so it is not a surprise," Bradford said.

"We will continue to engage in the debate. It is all part of the process of changing the culture of violence in this country.

"The fact that these people are so determined to change the law back again just gives us more of an opportunity to educate people as to why we shouldn't be able to legally hit our children."

Bradford said the referendum question was misleading. "There is no such offence in New Zealand law as smacking. There never was and there isn't now. There is an offence of assault on a child."
Then why was your original bill drawn up as an "Anti-Smacking bill"?

She said that while the referendum was not binding, she would not trust a future National government not to change the law, despite the party's current support for the legislation after a last-minute deal with Labour.

"I've heard National MPs out and about basically dog-whistling to the Christian Right," she said.

National leader John Key has ruled out overturning the law if he becomes prime minister unless there was evidence of good parents being prosecuted.

Figures released by police have so far shown that has not happened.

Key did not return a call for comment yesterday.

Clark told Parliament in June that she had received "strong advice" from the Ministry of Justice that it was too late for a referendum to be held with this year's election.

She said the Government had accepted the ministry's advice that it would cause too much confusion, and a postal ballot next year was preferable.

The ministry said a postal referendum could cost taxpayers between $4.8 million and $6.4m.

A previous petition to force a referendum was ruled invalid when it was found it had failed to collect enough signatures.
No, it was not ruled invalid, and it was not a previous petition. It was the same petition for which we were granted another 2 months - as is usual practice, to make up the short-falling.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Family First: Success on Referendum

Family First Media Release 22 August 2008
NZ’ers Deliver Strong Message on Anti-Smacking Law

Family First NZ is welcoming the success of the petition demanding a Referendum on the flawed anti-smacking law.

“To reach the required 285,000 signatures is difficult enough, but the final result shows that an extra 25,000
signatures have been attained. This is evidence of just how strong the opposition to this law is,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“The evidence is pouring in that good families are being both persecuted and also prosecuted with eight prosecutions for minor acts of physical discipline in a recent six month period.”

“The rate of CYF notifications has sky-rocketed yet actual cases of child abuse found are remaining the same, and in some areas like the Waikato, actually falling.”

“The anti-smacking law has failed miserably. You know a law is flawed when it fails to address the problem it was supposed to, and implicates good families in the process. Supporters of the law are trying to herald its success because they incorrectly claim nobody has been prosecuted. But we actually want a law that works and catches actual child abuse!”

“The only reason the law was passed in the first place was because the two major parties were whipped to vote for it – which is a little ironic in itself, being an anti-smacking law,” says Mr McCoskrie.

Family First NZ continues to call on the politicians to change the law so that non-abusive smacking is not a crime (as wanted by 85% of NZ’ers according to research), and to tackle the real causes of child abuse.

Clerk Confirms: Referendum to go Ahead

Kiwi Party Press Release
2pm, 22 August 2008

Kiwi Party Leader and CIR Petition organiser Larry Baldock welcomed the news today that the petition has been certified by the Clerk of the House of Representatives to have achieved sufficient signatures to force a referendum on the question, “should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

“This is great news and a huge victory,” said Mr Baldock.
“It has been a long battle to assert the right of all New Zealanders to be heard on this controversial issue. Quite frankly in a democracy it should not require so much effort. I want to pay tribute to Sheryl Savill who was prepared to put her name to the petition, and the thousands of volunteers that have helped us collect over 390,000 signatures,” Mr Baldock said.

The clerk of the house has declared that 310,000 signatures were certified as valid.
This means there were over 25 000 more signatures than the 285 027 required by the CIR Act 1993 to force a referendum.

“The referendum should be held at this year’s election. None of the reasons being given by the Prime Minister for delaying it make any sense at all, and are simply a tactic for her to try and avoid this being an election issue. She will not drown out the voice of the people and should realise there is no point further angering everyone by delaying the inevitable.

“Justice delayed is justice denied, Prime Minister. 110 MPs should never have ignored 80% of the population in the first place, and the right thing to do now is to let every Kiwi have their say as quickly as possible.

“The Kiwi Party have made it our number one priority to ensure that voice of the people in this referendum is respected. There is ample evidence that good mums and dads are now being prosecuted by this new law, while there is no evidence that it has led to any reduction in the real child abuse we are all concerned about,” said Mr Baldock.

www.thekiwiparty.org.nz

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ear-Flick Dad on Trial for Assault Charges

From Christchurch Court News,

Media access has been blocked for all evidence at the depositions hearing of child assault charges against a Christchurch professional musician, James Louis Mason.

The preliminary hearing was held before Caroline Kellaway and Percy Acton-Adams, Justices of the Peace, in the Christchurch District Court today, and Mason was committed for trial.

But the JPs refused a radio application for recording the evidence, and another media application for in-court photography.

When Mason’s defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger indicated that the evidence of all four prosecution witnesses would be handed to the JPs in written form, the eight reporters present made a joint application to see the briefs of evidence.

Miss Bulger opposed the application because she would have wanted the opportunity to have some sections of the evidence suppressed, and the JPs decided to decline the application.

Mason, 49, has been charged with assaulting his two sons aged two and four, and the case is attracting media attention because it may be a test of the anti-smacking laws.

Will they find him guilty?  I don't think so, it would just reinforce in the minds of New Zealanders that the law is bad, invasive and pointless.  I think they'll let him off (even though he has broken the law), let's wait and see.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Smacking Debate Continues in Australia

The debate on child-discipline rages on across the Pacific in Australia. Below are a few excerpts from an article www.thedaily.com.au...

"Outlawing parental smacking of children could lead to family break ups and brand parents as criminals.

Brisbane criminal defence lawyer Tim Meehan has released a statement arguing against the recent push to make “excessive” smacking of children illegal claiming the move could spell the end for many families..."

Later on,

"...[former attorney-general] Mr Wells said he believed outlawing smacking would force parents to discover non-violent ways to discipline their children.

However Mr Meehan, who works for Ryan Bosscher Lawyers, said parents needed education, not a change to the criminal code.

“You would just make them liable to be charged as criminals,” Mr Meehan said.

“An education program is a great idea and worth supporting but changing the Criminal Code to ban parental smacking is not the way to do it. Changing the Criminal Code is not an education move, it is purely about punishing people for crimes.”

Mr Meehan said New Zealand parents were attempting to overturn their nation’s anti-smacking laws.

“Our laws already protect children against excessive force and provides the option to prosecute parents who abuse their children,” Mr Meehan said.

“Nobody is suggesting parents, or anyone who abuses a child, should be immune from prosecution.

“The danger with changing the law is how they are interpreted and enforced. You could see parents being prosecuted for minor smacks that would usually be associated with part of the parenting process..."

And finishes up by stating,

"...The law, as it stands, allows for parents to use “reasonable force” to discipline children."


I just hope that the people and legislators of Australia have more sense than we appear to be excercising over here in New Zealand. I hope that they can look at the dog of a law that we now have, and also look across to Sweden and the other few countries that have criminalised parents who smack their children; and think better of a law-change.

God defend Australia.

Sheryl Savill on the Petition

Sheryl Savill has written a column at the New Zealand Centre for Political Research on her involvement with the Anti-Smacking Law petition. Below is an excerpt from that article,

"I am not normally one to get involved in politics or public demonstrations. But when I realised how the anti-smacking bill would directly affect the way I was raising my children, I just knew that I had to do something. And I discovered very early on that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way - many of the parents I talked to thought the bill was ludicrous. So ludicrous, they felt that there wasn’t even a need for a petition… surely our politicians weren’t that blind. The ironic thing about it was that many children also thought it was illogical!

The government was intruding yet again into the lives of parents, and as a mum, I was really concerned about the impact that this type of bill would have on my family.

Through my role at Focus on the Family, I deal with parent education and run the How To Drug Proof Your Kids programme. I know how incredibly important the values instilled by parents are in a child’s life. To remove and undermine a parent’s authority in their own home is a treacherous area for the State to wade into.

I’m not speaking blindly here as the Founder of Focus on the Family, Dr James Dobson, has dedicated his life to helping parents nurture and protect their children. Work that started while he was working in pediatrics over 30 years ago. He found that children were falling through the cracks because parents weren’t given the tools to be able to raise their children. So he began to provide practical ideas and techniques to mums and dads, helping them to be the best parents that they can be..."

She finishes off her article,

"...It’s important to acknowledge that even though my name is on this petition not to criminalise good parents for smacking, the work of collecting the 380,000 signatures is not the work of one individual. A team of people and organisations who were just as passionate as me, made this happen.

On the 29th of February 2008, I was fortunate enough to stand on the steps of parliament with Larry Baldock and a group of people to hand in the boxes of signed petitions. I cannot put into words how proud I was to be a kiwi that day. We represented a nation of mums, dads, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, grandfathers and grandmothers, who have stood on the streets in our local towns, outside schools, field days, at sports games and at work to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures. New Zealanders, standing up for what we believe!
..."


Thanks Sheryl, and also a massive thankyou to the people and organisations that put in so much time and effort to protect Kiwi families.

Unity for Liberty: Petition Count Report

Below is an excerpt from an email received from Unity for Liberty, regarding the status of the Anti-Smacking-Law petition signature count...

All is looking good for the referendum. The scrutiny is now complete and is just waiting for the statistician to come up with his magic answer. The good news is that the results are almost identical with the first scrutiny, which means the result should be beyond the power of any magic wand that our statistician may wish to wield.

Here are some official numbers concerning the sample of signatures taken for the signatory check,

The sample taken represented a 1 in 13 ratio, a total of 29,710 signatures were scrutinized.

From this total 25,787 signatures were valid, 3,886 did not qualify.

160 duplicates were found, there were no triplicates found.

So 25,787 x 13 = 335,231,  which means that the statistician will have to lose a further 50,000 signatures (approx) to fail the attempt. Apparently, by applying the same formula as the first time we should have a 25,000(approx) surplus.


The question is not now "if", the question is "when".  Will Helen Clark push ahead with her selfish plan of running the referendum after the election (costing NZ over $10,000,000), or will she allow the referendum to go ahead as would be normal practice, at the upcoming General Election (15 Nov or earlier).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Kiwi Party lays down it's policies - Anti smacking law gone by lunchtime

This from the NZ Herald

Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock today announced his party's first five priorities for action they work on after this year's general election.

"Our number one priority is, of course, to stop the criminalisation of good parents by repealing the anti-smacking law," Mr Baldock told his party's national conference in Auckland.

"This has to be the most anti-family socially destructive legislation parliament has passed in a long while.

"Completing the petition to force a referendum was always only going to be the first stage of the battle," said Mr Baldock

Mr Baldock announced today that the party's anti-smacking law petition had sufficient signatures to force a referendum.

He said it was not good enough for National Party leader John Key to say he supported the peoples' right to have their voice heard in a referendum without committing his government to abide by the result.

"In fact, when National's leader John Key announced their pledge of 10 policy items at their conference last weekend, not a single one of them addresses any of the social engineering Labour has forced upon the nation in the past six to nine years," Mr Baldock said.

"National surely is the party to maintain the status quo, easy she goes, don't rock the boat."

Mr Baldock said it was essential that the Kiwi Party was able to exercise influence over National after this year's election if voters wanted to see the social engineering of Labour repealed.

"Our message to the voters in this election is this, give the Kiwi Party your support on election day and the Bradford anti-smacking law will be gone by lunchtime.

"Once the law has been repealed we must then get serious about the nation's child abuse by appointing a Royal Commission to understand and address the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in response to the more than 300,000 kiwis that signed our petition on this matter.

"Then we must restore our democracy by ensuring that we can have binding referenda on controversial issues. It must never happen again that more than 90 per cent of our elected representatives could ignore 80 per cent of the population ever again," Mr Baldock said.

He said the minimum wage must be raised to to $15 an hour with an offsetting tax credit to employers "to give our low paid workers dignity and a decent wage to put food on their tables".

The party would also raise the drinking age, clamp down on anyone supplying alcohol illegally to people underage and move quickly to establish faith-based detox and rehab centres to provide assistance to families dealing with drug and alcohol addictions in their youth.

"Then we will invest in marriage preparation, marriage and relationship enrichment course through faith-based charities, iwi-based and other third sector organisations," Mr Baldock said.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wales: Smacking Ban Must be Slapped Down

This article just in from www.walesonline.co.uk (hat tip, Family Integrity)

I'm told there are moves in Parliament to bring in a Bill to outlaw smacking. If they succeed, I will again oppose it, which seems odd when I abhor smacking and long for a world in which every child is free from fear.

The reason for my objection is "mission-creep", that insidious disease which overtakes too many pieces of legislation that at first seem sensible. In other words, give an idiot a law a sane man or woman would use sensibly and the idiot will abuse it.

Mission-creep has overtaken terrorism laws so that they are now used against ordinary citizens. Latest figures reveal that councils across Wales and England launched more than 10,000 spying missions last year to investigate possible petty offences.

Rules to curb paedophile activity have led to inexcusable situations like a mother from Aberfan being banned from riding in a taxi with her disabled child until she has a criminal record check.

If a smacking ban succeeds, forget assurances that it will be used with common sense. Before long some good mum or dad will be hauled into court because, in a moment of panic, they tapped little Johnny's legs for running into the road. The case will probably be thrown out when the court sees the whole picture, but not before that family has been traumatised.

We already have laws to prevent the abuse of children – laws which are not used often enough in my opinion – but my fear of mission-creep if there is a total ban on smacking is very real.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Parents Assaulted with Bogus Smacking Prosecutions

Family First on Bradford Comments


Vigilance needed still on child abuse (should read Vigilance needed to keep smacking banned!)
Otago Daily Times 26 July 08
The repealing of section 59 of the Crimes Act was not "100% safe" (TRUE) and it was important to stay vigilant, Green Party MP Sue Bradford told those attending the Children's Issues Centre national seminar in Dunedin yesterday. "There is still an ongoing political battle and it is not completely won.(TRUE) " Ms Bradford is one of six speakers at the seminar, which is focused on moving on from the repealing of section 59.
Polls showed the law change was a major election issue for about 5% of voters (TRUE), Ms Bradford said. The "most powerful forces" working against the law change were those involved in the petition for a referendum on the issue (FALSE - IT'S THE HUGE PROPORTION OF NZ'ERS). There was no question the petition had been "amazingly successful" (TRUE) given that it was very difficult to meet the required 10% target, she said. "They have poured a huge amount of time and money into it. (TIME YES MONEY NO) " More signatures were collected for the petition after the first petition fell short (FALSE) when more than 5000 signatures were declared invalid (FALSE). A report on the validity of those further signatures was expected at the end of August.
"I feel sure some of the people who signed it then have changed their mind since (FALSE), but that doesn't negate the legality of those signatures." Any potential threat to the law change would depend on the make-up of the next government (TRUE). Her biggest concern would be any attempt to change the law to define an acceptable level and nature of violence, as that would send the message violence against children was acceptable (FALSE), she said. The role of academics and researchers in any future debate would be "incredibly important".
There was no evidence people were being "dragged off to court" for minor offences (FALSE) and she welcomed research presented at the seminar which showed 44% of voters were in favour of the new legislation (FALSE), she said. "While Family First are creating the perception 80% are against it, I feel this is much more in line and that the proportion is about 50-50. (FALSE)"
http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/14996/vigilance-needed-still-child-abuse
Family First Comment: Note that there is no reference to the continuing rate of child abuse deaths, the skyrocketing rates of CYF notifications, and the continued horror stories of real child abuse happening where there is drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown, dysfunction etc.

“The epidemic of child abuse and child violence in this country continues – sadly. My bill was never intended to solve that problem.”
Sue Bradford – National Radio - 21 Dec 07

Read Family First Media Releases
Discredited Anti-Smacking Advocate Back in NZ
Anti-Smacking Conference At Venue Where Research Contradicts

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Misleading Stats Used by Anti-Smacking Lobby

A press release just out from Family First sheds some light on the misleading statistics regarding the effects of an anti-smacking law in Sweden that were copiously refered to by the anti-smacking lobby, prior to the passing of the bill.

"...A document circulated on behalf of Barnadoes, Plunket, Save the Children, Children's Commissioner and EPOCH in 2006 stated that "In Sweden, the average annual deaths attributable to child abuse for the past 30 years or so has been less than one every four years." This was based on a 2000 paper by Joan Durrant A generation without smacking – The impact of Sweden's ban on physical punishment published by Save the Children which said "The rate of child homicide … in Sweden is something like one every 4 years"
"This statement, now referred to as the 'Swedish myth', has proved to be completely inaccurate and Morgan Johansson, the public health minister, said in 2006 that 'every year, eight to ten, sometimes as many as twelve children die in Sweden due to violence. This has been true for several years.' Even NZ's Children's Commissioner has acknowledged that Durrant's figures were wrong."
"Durrant also uses a completely irrelevant definition of child abuse, and excludes the killing of children as a result of neglect, intentional killings, post-natal depression, babies killed within 24 hours of birth, and those accompanied by suicide by the abuser. She has adopted a definition by Somander and Rammer (1991) which also excludes child deaths due to poverty, marital conflicts, alcohol abuse, sparing the child the kind of life led by the perpetrator, and giving no reason for killing the child."
"No wonder she has misrepresented the effect of the Swedish smacking ban on child abuse rates! Even UNICEF reports have ignored her definition," says Mr McCoskrie..."
Click here to read the rest of Family First's press release.
 
And in other news,

Family First NZ says that it is highly ironic that the anti-smacking lobby is gathering together at Otago University this coming weekend to try and sell the deeply flawed anti-smacking law. 
Otago University research showed that reasonable and appropriate smacking for the purpose of correction was not harmful and in some circumstances was actually beneficial in the development of a child. 
Click here to read the rest of the press release.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Police Priorities Skewed

Simeon and I are pleased to welcome Chuck Bird onto the blogging team on the Section 59 blog. Below is Chuck's first article.

(An email to Leighton Smith, radio talkback host)

I received the following email yesterday.

Exclusive Child HARD-CORE ! Young and innocent little boys and girls, 8 - 13 years old.
Come also see new videos with small girls!

I have not included the website references.

I called the police and am appalled their lack of interest. They told to print it off and lay a complaint at my police station. I told them I would prefer to email. They were not interested. I told them they should get their priorities right and give a priority to real child abuse instead of harassing good parents.

I will probably print off a copy but not go to the police station but send it to the Minister of Police and the opposition spokesman.

Do you think I am unreasonable? Plenty of people would think if the police do not really care why should I go to any bother as the will file my evidence in the round bin.

Feel free to rear this if you choose. The officer who was not seriously interested name was John Fraser. No rank or department given.

Cheers
Chuck

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Canada to Criminalise Smacking

The Suburban from Quebec, Canada reports on the passing of an Anti-Smacking bill.

"Recently, the Senate passed a bill that will eliminate the section of our criminal code that allows the use of “reasonable” force in order to correct a child’s behaviour. In the media it’s been dubbed the anti-spanking law and judging from the comments on websites that are reporting this development, many Canadians are livid about it.

I’ve read comments saying if the bill becomes law it will be a waste of government resources and will lead to a generation of wild children with no respect for authority. More than a few people seem to think this bill is over-the-top government interference and that spanking is an acceptable, non-abusive disciplinary tool. Some lawyers warned the Senate about a possible onslaught of criminal prosecutions that would label competent parents as child abusers.

I believe there is a difference between hitting a child in a controlled manner as a predictable consequence to unacceptable behaviour and letting loose on a child out of rage. Perhaps it’s because I’m old enough to have grown up at a time when getting spanked was an ordinary, though exceedingly unpleasant, part of childhood...."

Click here for the entire article

Monday, July 14, 2008

There's that 83% Again

...it just won't go away. www.littlies.co.nz is currently running a poll asking the following question:

One year on, do you think the anti-smacking Bill has proved to be effective?


Yes (8%)


No (83%)



Unsure (9%)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Anti Smacking Law Wastes CYF Time

Family First Press Release, 8 July 2008

Family First NZ says that the evidence is in that CYF’s limited resources are being wasted, with a ‘blow-out’ in CYF notifications but the levels of actual abuse not increasing, or at worst not being caught.

“This is perfect proof that the ideologically flawed anti-smacking law has resulted in unwarranted reports of good parents which is a waste of the limited resources of CYF,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

Statistics released by CYF to the Nelson Mail reported today showed that the total number of notifications received by CYF had increased steadily over the last four financial years. However, the agency's figures showed a significant drop in actual cases found to involve abuse or neglect.
And figures from CYF’s national 2007/08 Third Quarter report show a 32% increase in notifications over the previous 12 months but numbers requiring further action remaining the same.

“If the figures could be attributed to a rising intolerance to child abuse and domestic violence, we would be seeing an increasing rate of cases requiring further action - but we are not. That is simply because of a misguided law,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“CYF resources are being wasted because of a law that labels good parents as potential child abusers, and distracts CYF and Police from dealing with the real causes of child abuse and actual child abuse.”

“The police report released last month also confirmed that there had been a 300% increase in families being investigated yet less than 5% were serious enough to warrant prosecution. And the number of actual child assaults are now at almost the same rate as before the law change.”

Family First NZ continues to call on the politicians to change the law so that non-abusive smacking is not a crime (as wanted by 85% of NZ’ers according to recent research). Then CYF and Police will have the time and resources to focus on the ‘rotten parents’ who are abusing and killing their children.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"Don't Follow NZ" Warns Aus Lawyer

This article in from The Brisbane Times, emphasies my own.

Anti-smacking laws to punish Queensland parents who used "excessive force" to discipline their children could be too hard to prosecute, a lawyer has warned.

Moves by the Labor Party to toughen its stance on smacking were made at its state conference earlier this month, with suggestions the practice would eventually be outlawed.

But Brisbane lawyer Michael Bosscher, of criminal defence firm Ryan and Bosscher, said changes to the Criminal Code to make smacking illegal would be a legal minefield and would cause more problems than

He cited the example of New Zealand, where anti-smacking legislation had sparked a public backlash and had prompted calls for a referendum.

"It is amazing to think Queensland is considering going down this path when New Zealand is trying to reverse its decision," Mr Bosscher said.

"Our laws already provide the option to prosecute parents who abuse their children.

The move comes after shocking cases of children being abandoned outside casinos and hotels in South East Queensland while their parents socialised hit the headlines earlier this year.

Mr Bosscher said said practical difficulties would arise when police, lawyers and the courts tried to prosecute parents who smacked.

"The real danger with new laws is how you interpret and enforce them and there is a risk of zealous authorities prosecuting parents for minor smacks that would traditionally be seen as just part of parenting.

"There's this nanny state mentality here where the state government is imposing draconian laws upon families, in theory to protect children. However if you start prosecuting parents for smacking children, the potential to destroy families and therefore hurt children, is enormous.

"Anti-smacking laws would be a controversial issue to prosecute in the courts because one police officers definition of excessively hard smacking could be radically different from another officers view.

Mr Bosscher said Queensland laws currently allowed parents to use "reasonable force" to discipline their children.

"A change to the Criminal Code is not needed. The law already has provision to prosecute parents- or any person- who inflicts serious, grievous or bodily harm on a child," he said.

"What they are really talking about is changing the law to brand parents as criminals. This is wrong and is not needed in Queensland."

Monday, June 30, 2008

Call for a Parents' Liberation Movement

Here's a quote from an article entitled Why we need a parents' liberation movement, on www.spiked-online.com, which is so relevant for us in New Zealand today.

'Lecturing or hectoring' parents has become the only vocabulary in town, as parents are sternly instructed that they will be issued with Parenting Orders if their children play truant too much, drink too much, or generally behave 'anti-socially'.

From midwives and hospitals at a baby's birth to schools, parents are given a bewildering amount of information and exhortation about what to feed their children, how to touch their children, what to talk to their children about, and how to exercise their civic responsibilities in recycling and rubbish management. There no longer seems to be any sense that society-at-large should treat parents with the minimum respect, let alone the reverence that was once accorded the nuclear family. On the contrary – parents can be told to do anything, so long as it is 'for the sake of the children.'

State intervention is no longer geared towards keeping the family together, but on constructing direct relationships between the state and each family member – mother, father, each separate child. The autonomy of the family, once considered so crucial to its effective functioning, is now treated as a barrier to the therapeutic dynamic, which seeks to break down family member's reliance upon one another, substituting an official 'partner' for a parent.

How did we get to this point, so quickly and with so little opposition?"


Thanks to Ruby Harrold Claesson for the link to this article.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

National and the Referendum



"We support the Referendum but...
We will ignore it anyway. Hahaha"

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where does John Key and National stand on the "anti-smacking" law?

Bob McCoskrie has sent out an email explaining John Key's and National's position on the "anti-smacking" law.

We have been asked on a number of occasions where does National stand on the anti-smacking law, and will they change it if elected as the government.

Here's the answer...
Nats won't change child-discipline law, says Key
The Press 26 June 2008
National Party leader John Key has ruled out overturning the controversial child-discipline law if he becomes Prime Minister, despite championing a referendum on the issue. In Parliament yesterday, he accused Prime Minister Helen Clark of "ignoring the will of the New Zealand people" and urged a referendum be held on the so-called "anti-smacking" legislation at election time. His call came after Clark announced the Government had accepted official advice that it was too late to hold a referendum this year.

Asked by The Press afterwards if a National government would consider revoking the law as a result of a referendum, Key said: "No. The position as it has essentially always been since we signed a compromise (with Labour) is that if we see good parents being criminalised for lightly smacking their children then we will actively seek to change the law," he said. "But at this point, as the police report pointed out earlier this week, we haven't seen that at all. "The test we have is a pretty simple one. If the law doesn't work then we'll change it."
READ FULL ARTICLE
http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/thepress/4596934a24035.html

Family First Comment :
We are currently researching a number of cases where good parents have been criminalised or had children removed by CYF for lightly smacking or correcting their children.

If you have been investigated or prosecuted by the police or CYF for 'light smacking', or know of someone who has, please email us in the strictest confidence bob@familyfirst.org.nz

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"prime minister smacks of arrogance" - John Key

With the numbers looking right for a referendum on the "anti-smacking" law to be given the go ahead the PM is getting nervous.

She said to the NZ Herald this morning "Just in terms of sheer organisation, I do not think that is possible".

But John Key is fighting back in the name of democracy saying "the referendum should take place at the general election in 2008 and quite frankly the behaviour of the prime minister smacks of arrogance and wasteful behaviour."

"You can't tell me that it will take more than two months to organise one simple question to be added to the ballot paper." he continues.

John Key then says "But this is about democracy, the right of people to be heard and it's the absolute height of arrogance that the prime minister is going to use a technicality within the law to circumvent people's rights to express their views on the issue."

But John Key has still made no commitments to overturn the law.

Rodney Hide has also joined in with Key saying

"Labour's anti-smacking legislation strikes at the very heart of how Kiwi parents raise their children, with both National and Labour saying they know best.

"ACT doesn't accept that they do - ACT backs parents, and we back Kiwis having a say about what they think the law should be," Mr Hide said.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why do Anti-smackers get violent?

During the final days of collecting to get a democratic referendum on the "anti-smacking" law a disturbing story comes through from North Auckland.

This from Stuff.co.nz

Anti-smakers lose their cool

By GEMMA REDDELL - Rodney Times | Thursday, 12 June 2008

Anti-smacking supporters got violent at a gathering of signatures for the Citizens Initiated Referendum campaign last Saturday.

Whangaparaoa resident Arna Mountain was gathering signatures for the petition when two women, on separate occasions, started abusing her.

She says many people were eager to sign the two petitions, which ask ‘should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?’ and ‘should the government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse?’

She says she was shocked by what she sees as violent, anti-democratic behaviour.

"These petitions are asking for the democratic right to vote on what has been a contentious issue, but these two women seemed determined to intimidate the public and those collecting the signatures."

She says the first woman took offence to the gathering of the signatures and started yelling.

How dare we smack our children, she shouted. Mrs Mountain says she then started telling bystanders to "roll up and sign the petition that allows you to abuse your children and then kill them, yes murder them, come on sign up."


Later she was approached by another woman who asked if this was the petition to sign, then grabbed it, tore off the signed part and ripped it into pieces.


The destroyed petitions

"The woman then took the clipboard which had other completed forms underneath and took off.

I called her to give back the clipboard and the legal document she had torn. She threw it across the entrance-way and yelled about how smacking children was wrong," she says.

Mrs Mountain says that while she is shocked at the intensity of the behaviour, there are obviously a few people who are mistaken about what the petition is about.

"There are a few people who are completely unaware of the statistics that show that abuse and parental correction are completely different issues. No one in their right mind wants to abuse children. She says the vast majority of people are still against this law."

They received 144 signatures in a two-and-a-half hour period in Whangaparaoa.

Petition forms can be downloaded from thekiwiparty.org.nz under ‘referendum’ or from Orewa and Whangaparaoa libraries. The last date for signing is June 15.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Final push going well

The final push to get enough signatures on the petition calling for a referendum on the "anti-smacking" law is well under way with 1000's being collected over the past week.

Here are a few results,

Warriors game on Friday the 6th of June 1100
WWE Smack down last Wednesday delivered 600
Mystery creek field days brought in 2700 on Thursday and 1800 yesterday. Results for today will come out later tonight.

Also the All Blacks game will be targeted tonight.

Also on another note, this is the 400th post on the Section 59 Blog. Thank you to all who have read the blog and to those who have commented.

A special thank you to Andy for running this site and keeping people informed about this terrible law.

Update :

3700 collected at Mystery creek field days on Saturday and 1200 at the All Blacks test match in Auckland.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fwd: Police get new powers in domestic incidents

The police are soon to be issued with the authority to issue "safety orders" for up to 72 hours, in cases where domestic violence is suspected - but there is not enough evidence to make an arrest.  This is a blatant attack on our freedoms, as it ignores our long-held principle that people are innocent until proven guilty.

Watch, as this new piece of legislation is used together with the newly ammended Section 59 - even more power for the police to take children away from parents and parents away from children, in cases where there is an allegation of a smack for the purpose of correction.

Below is an excerpt from this article in the Dominion Post (11 June 2008) on www.stuff.co.nzEmphasies my own.

Police who attend suspected domestic violence incidents will have the power to issue "on the spot" safety orders lasting up to three days under tough law changes proposed by the Government.

The safety orders are part of a raft of changes announced by Justice Minister Annette King to the Domestic Violence Act and welcomed by support groups.

The safety orders would last for up to 72 hours and could be issued in circumstances where police suspected domestic violence but did not have enough evidence to make an arrest.

Other proposals include stiffening the penalties for breaching court protection orders, with a maximum penalty of up to two years jail to give judges an "appropriate sentencing range".

"When you get problems, often deaths, it is when you get breaches of protection orders," King said.

The courts would also be allowed to consider making protection orders on behalf of victims and access to counselling programmes for both offenders and victims will be improved.

The proposed law changes were currently being drafted and were expected to be put before Parliament within weeks, King said.

Chief Families Commissioner Rajen Prasad welcomed the proposals and said he hoped they would contribute toward a reduction in domestic violence.

"Better enforcement by the police and courts and better access to programmes will improve safety in families and encourage people to seek help to change their abusive behaviour."

Click here to read the entire article.

Should be an Anti-Bashing Law

I was out with the team in Auckland today, collecting signatures for the petition calling for a referendum on the Anti-Smacking law. We got a huge response first outside Westfield Mall and then Britomart, on Queen Street.

Eighteen-year-old Bailey and her friends stopped to sign. She had this to say...

"They should have made an anti-bashing law, not an anti-smacking law"

This threw me - such simple insight from young Bailey, utterly demolishing all the fancy rhetoric from the bureaucracy of academics down in Wellington.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wales Holds Out Against Smacking Ban

an excerpt from an article in the Western Mail (http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk).  Selection in bold of particular interest.  Click here to read the entire article.

"THE Children's Commissioner for Wales believes the Westminster Government is stopping young people gaining the rights they deserve.

Together with the commissioners for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Keith Towler will this week present his concerns to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva.

He said: "I have major concerns around the levels of child poverty in Wales, and child and adolescent mental health services in this country are obviously struggling to cope with the demand, breaching children's rights in both policy and practice."

He added: "It also seems to me that the Westminster Government is working against the grain of a children's rights approach and is holding us back from supporting children and young people tied up in youth justice and those seeking asylum. There is a real need to allow children caught up in these systems to be treated as children first and allow them to exercise their rights."

He is also frustrated that Welsh politicians have not been able to push forward with the goal of banning smacking.

The commissioners' report states: "It is important to note that the Welsh Assembly Government agrees with the committee that all physical punishment should be prohibited but, due to the constitutional settlement for Wales, is unable to change the law. The legislative power to affect the desired change lies with the UK Parliament."

It continues: "In passing the Children Act 2004, the UK Parliament disregarded the views of the Welsh Assembly Government and the fact that the National Assembly of Wales had recently passed a motion regretting the UK Government's failure to prohibit the physical punishment of children in the family."

Thursday, June 05, 2008

France Leading the way in Pro-Family Legislation

Thursday June 05, 2008 by Bruce Logan from the NZ Herald website.

Living in France, particularly in the south, has tended to reinforce the impression that smacking is not an old-fashioned and unenlightened activity at all. Indeed a number of mythologies one absorbed in New Zealand have dissolved. The French are not arrogant, they are not bad drivers and the children are not cheeky.

Nevertheless, it was surprising to discover from a visiting Paris journalist that a significant majority of French adolescents valued obedience to parents above independence in a recent European survey. I have also discovered that 70 per cent of French children think that la fessee (French for a smack on the bottom) is fine.

And smacking young children in France doesn't seem to be a generational thing either. Ten years ago 85 per cent of parents thought smacking normal but a more recent survey put the figure at 87 per cent.

For European anti-smackers all this is something of an enigma. France, the country that gave us the Enlightenment, they argue, is being regressive. It is quite simply old-fashioned.

But the facts do not bear this out; children, one could reasonably argue, are treated better in France than any other European nation. France at 2.1 has the highest fertility rate of all the West European countries; only Sweden equals that.

And then there are the government incentives; Three year paid parental leave with guaranteed job protection. Subsidised day care for the first two years of a child's life.

Universal full-time preschool at age 3. Monthly child-care allowance which increases with the birth of each child plus a grant for a third child of $2000. Subsidised nanny care.

France spends about 15 per cent of its total budget on family and child services.

French women are not only more productive than their European counterparts but they also have higher rates of employment than most other European countries. Seventy-four per cent of women between 25 and 54 with one child are in fulltime employment. It drops to 58 per cent with two children. Whatever one might think of that, the accusation "old-fashioned" is hardly appropriate.

The French seem to have adopted a quality of life that encourages French women to feel legitimised when they enter the workforce. It might be that this has something to do simply with the way the French live. They certainly have a shorter working week than New Zealanders. Five or six weeks annual leave also helps.

France remains a country where family life is valued. In every village and small town, especially in the south, most shops close for a two-hour lunch; sometimes longer. Even in large cities like Toulouse, many shops close for an extended lunch hour.

Although this extended lunch hour is eroding, families still tend to come together during the lunch hour and again in the evening when very young children participate in family activities. The civilised custom of an aperitif with friends before the evening meal, and which can go on until quite late, will nearly always have children present.

It is this mix of ritual and child friendliness which gives French life much of its appeal. It tends to encourage a certain expectation of trust which just might, for example, be evident in the remaining frequent use of cheques in supermarkets although the severe punishment for fraud could be a deterrent.

The French are not old-fashioned at all but they are suspicious of the government when it tells parents how to treat their children. And it is this fear of unwarranted intrusion that I suspect is driving Bob McCoskrie and Family First. He would get considerable support in France.

The use of smacking as a disciplinary tool for young children is not old-fashioned at all. It is not an exercise in violence or an indicator of a lack of love. Indeed I suspect most French parents would claim the opposite.

To smack or not to smack is not the kind of non-issue that the Herald editorial seems to be claiming. Loving children and caring for them demands discipline and the smacking of young children must be something that parents are able to do without government manipulated guilt.

The loving and disciplining of children lies at the heart of a culture and reflects a complexity of issues. It is far too complex an issue to be monitored by a poorly designed law.

* Bruce Logan, a former teacher, is a conservative Christian who founded the Maxim Institute for social research.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's about the Right to Parent, not Right to Smack

Family First Media Release 4 June 2008

The NZ Health Survey released today confirms that parents are not using smacking as a 'first measure', and the huge opposition to the anti-smacking law is not based on parents demanding the right to smack – it is based on simply the right to parent effectively and appropriately.

The government survey shows that less than a third of primary caregivers physically punished their child in the relatively small 4-week period before responding to the survey.

"Despite this being a very short 'snapshot' and therefore giving an inaccurate picture of the overall trend , it does confirm that parents are using a number of techniques, including smacking, to correct and train their children ," says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

" The figure of 48% of parents who admitted smacking in the Family First survey released last week was based on their actions over a whole year – that's a period 13 times larger than this survey period, so it's obviously far more likely that a parent will have used a smack as correction over that much longer period ."

"The survey also confirms what the international studies have shown – that the most effective use of smacking is for 2 to 6 year olds as a follow-up when the child is defiant and hasn't responded to other forms of correction. The vast majority of parents are using it appropriately," says Mr McCoskrie.

"The overwhelming opposition to the anti-smacking law has never been based on demanding the right to smack or the right to smack every time a child misbehaves. This is how the anti-smacking lobby group has attempted to paint it."

" The continued and in fact growing opposition to the law is based on the important role of parents, and their ability to parent their own child in a way that is reasonable and effective . The opposition to the anti-smacking law would be just as great if there was a proposed law to ban 'time-out' because it was argued to be a form of isolation and led to separation anxiety!"

This survey confirms that parents are doing a great job and deserve the right to parent in a reasonable and effective way without being criminalised for their actions, and subject to potential investigation from CYF, police, and schools.
ENDS

Original article
Caregivers say smacking ineffective
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10514229