Carrying out surveys when the result is obvious might be said to waste money.
Certainly there was no surprise that most New Zealanders think the upcoming referendum on child discipline is a waste of money.
But let’s apportion blame where it belongs.
The referendum would have cost a lot less had it been held in conjunction with last year’s general election. The blame for delaying it and therefore increasing the costs of holding it belong to the last government.
But the blame goes further back than that to the people who designed the legislation.
Had they come up with good law and taken the majority of people with them there would have been no need for a referendum.
The people at either extremes of the argument are getting most of the headlines.
But between those who think any physical discipline is child abuse and those who think it’s possible to deliver a loving smack are a lot of reasonable people with moderate views. They don’t think smacking is a good way to discipline children but they don’t like the idea of parents being criminalised for delivering a light smack.
Had the proponents of the S59 amendment got off their high horses they could have worked with moderate people to get good legislation. Had they done that we’d have got a law which protects children without the danger, real or perceived, of criminalising parents who love their children and do their best to bring them up safely and well, and there would be no need for a referendum.
There might also have been the culture change that’s needed to address violence and abuse.
Instead there’s confusion, fear and resentment and no improvement at all where it’s really needed.
Money may be wasted on the referendum but that’s not the fault of the people who want good law.
It’s the fault of the people who made bad law, which for the record still allows smacking providing it’s not for the purpose of correction.