Who’s confused Sue?

The referendum on child discipline hasn’t closed yet, but Sue Bradford is already making excuses:

“Feedback I’ve received from the public over the last few weeks tells me a lot of people feel pretty angry at the confused nature of the referendum question and the waste of $9 million of taxpayers’ money this represents,” she said.

The waste of money started when the law was drafted badly in the first place. It continued when former Prime Minister Helen Clark refused to allow the referendum to take place with last year’s general election when it would have cost much less.

The referendum is badly worded but it’s not hard to work out what its intention. It is asking people if they support the law change which made it illegal to smack children for the purposes of correction. Those who do should vote yes, those who don’t should vote no.

That is much clearer than the law itself which even it’s architect doesn’t understand because she says:

“The `Yes’ vote is a vote for keeping the law as it is, providing children with the same legal protection from violence as adults.

She’s wrong.

The law for which she is responsible, the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act says:

 Parental control

  • (1) Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of—

  • (a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or
  •  (b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or
  • (c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour; or
  • (d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.
  • (2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

    (3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

    (4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

     Which bit of justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of – preventing . . . don’t you understand Sue?

    Smacking to correct is illegal, smacking to prevent is not.

    The wording of the referendum could be better but its intent is clear. That is more than you can say about the law which criminalises parents who smack for correction but protects those who use the same amount of force, or more, providing they do it for prevention.

    To misquote Blackadder, this law is so stupid you could pin a tail on it and call it an ass.

    4 Responses to Who’s confused Sue?

    1. andrei says:

      Have you seen Chris Trotters take on the inevitable?


      I think he gets it


    2. MacDoctor says:

      The referendum question is somewhat ambiguous. However, that is only a reflection of the ambiguity of the current law.


    3. scrubone says:

      It was written before the law was finalised – so it couldn’t draw on the law. They did that because it was almost certain that the law would be changed, and the publicity behind the law passing was a great springboard for the petition.

      If Sue had spent any time collecting signatures she’d know how angry people are with *her*.


    4. Anonymouse says:

      The waste of money started when the law was drafted badly in the first place.

      Nope. The law isn’t that badly drafted – it just has a bad intent – to ban all smacking which is precisely what it does.

      As it is: this is a good result for NZ and good for democracy. 1.4 MILLION people voted for smacking to be made legal in New Zealand! 1.4 MILLION people voted – rather more than at the last elect – to move decisively away from Labour and the Nanny State!

      This is the largest democratic result ever in NZ’s history. period

      The fact of 54% turnout isn’t important – the point is that 87% of votes on a 54% turnout is far far more of a mandate than say 45% of the votes of an 85% turnout – which is the best you’d get in an election if you’re very very lucky.

      Key should amend the law under urgency. Next week. (And amend the education act while he’s at it, removing section 139(A) which also bans smacking at school)


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