1 – 2 May 2007

SCOOP FULL COVERAGE: Section59 May 2 2007
Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 5:34 pm
Article: Scoop Full Coverage

SCOOP FULL COVERAGE: Section59 May 2 2007

* Front of the Box
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU0705/S00029.htm> Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson: Smacking Bill

* Save The Children –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00067.htm> Save The Children Applauds Parliamentary Support For Section 59

* Libertarianz Party –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00066.htm> Key Sells Out On Smacking

* Caritas Aotearoa –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00065.htm> Caritas Support For Section 59 Amendment

* Families Commission –
< http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00063.htm> Public education must follow amendment

* Direct Democracy Party Of NZ –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00062.htm > DDP Disappointed In National Support For Smacking Bill

Scoop Audio: Clark and Key Unite On Section 59

Scoop Image by Kevin List
Wednesday morning the media and assorted onlookers were treated to the rare sight of a joint press conference involving both the Prime Minister Helen Clark and the Leader of the Opposition John Key. The reason behind this unlikely podium sharing was that Mr Key was announcing he would now be supporting Green MP Sue Bradford’s Bill… More
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0705/S00063.htm> >>

* National – < http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0705/S00043.htm> Labour adopts version of Key s59 amendment

* Greens – < http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0705/S00050.htm> Kids win out over petty politics

* Maori Party –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0705/S00051.htm > ‘Hitting is an Adult Issue’

* Maori Party –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0705/S00057.htm> ‘Important Day for Maori’ says Turia

* Every Child Counts –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00040.htm> Every Child Counts welcomes political consensus

* LawFuel – <http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00041.htm> Police Resources Allocated To Anti-Smacking Law

* Young Labour –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00043.htm> Clark leads the way on sensible resolution to section 59 debate

* Family First Lobby. –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00045.htm> Backdown on Bradford Bill Still Not Total Victory

* Relationship Services –
< http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00046.htm> Relationship Services Supports Amendment

* Public Health Association –
< http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/GE0705/S00026.htm> Good news on s59 but more action required

* Police Association –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00048.htm > Frontline Police Welcome the Clarity on Discretion

* New Zealand Police –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00051.htm> Police Welcome Proposed Amendment to Bradford Bill

* KiwiFM Audio –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0705/S00060.htm> Wammo n List – S59 Amendment Grand Coalition


* Anglican Bishops –
< http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00015.htm> Anglican bishops support repeal of Section 59

* Anglican Church –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00006.htm > Ecumenical Church service to support repeal of s59

* Maori Anglican Church –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00014.htm> Anglican Maori support repeal of Section 59

* Maori Anglican Church –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00035.htm> Smacking lobby have got the wrong end of the stick

* St Andrew’s on The Terrace –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00050.htm> Lament for the Children of Aotearoa

* Catholic Communications –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00022.htm> No Catholic bishops at Ecumenical Service

* www.familyvalues.net.nz –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0704/S00364.htm> ‘Wednesday’s mass rally to up anti against bill

* Society For Promotion Of Community Standards –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00010.htm> Call to Abandon Bradford’s Flawed Bill

* Society for the Promotion of Community Standards –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00020.htm> Cracks Widen in ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill Support

* National Network of Stopping Violence Services –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0704/S00366.htm > NZ Experts Reject American Advice

* Family First Lobby. –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00030.htm> US Expert Opposes Anti-Smacking Bill

* Family First Lobby. –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00026.htm> Bradford continues to mislead the country

* Lindsay Mitchell –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0705/S00025.htm> Sweden’s Ban on Smacking a Failure

* Scoop Full Coverage –
<http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0703/S00511.htm> Section 59 Bill


2 May 2007 – Close Up

Wednesday May 2
Related Video
Close Up: Smacking compromise (15:23)
Close Up: Smacking feedback (01:08)
Click on link above to see these two sections of Close up

People Power or Political Brinkmanship?
After feeling the blow torch of public opinion a compromise appears to have been found over Sue Bradford’s private member’s bill to repeal Section 59 – known as the anti-smacking bill. The reaction around the country has been fierce. Even those who supported the intent were angry at the possibility parents would become criminals even for lightly smacking their children. Whether or not that was likely was clearly becoming a political problem. Our show last night drew around 600 emails and thousands of responses to our online questionnaire. But today National leader John Key joined forces with Prime Minister Helen Clark to announce an amendment to the bill, that should see it passed with the support of all parties.

The amendment reads: “To avoid doubt it is affirmed that 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.”

Today Corinne Ambler hit the streets of Wellington to talk to the masses. Then in the studio Mark Sainsbury talked to PM Helen Clark, National leader John Key, Green MP Sue Bradford and father of four Simon Barnett.

Smacking Feedback
Last night we received more than 600 emails about the smacking issue, more than 90 percent of which were against Sue Bradford’s bill. You can read some of those by clicking http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/488124/1093173 and more than 5700 also participated in our survey conducted by Buzz that you can contribute to HERE http://www.buzzchannel.co.nz/v2.1/surveys/closeup/start.asp?s=2980&c=89

3 May 2007 – The Press – Not all happy with smacking bill amendment

Not all happy with smacking bill amendment

By IAN STEWARD – The Press | Thursday, 3 May 2007

Police and child welfare agencies welcomed the clause inserted into the child-discipline bill yesterday, while some parents still decried being “criminalised”.

The clause gives police the discretion to not prosecute parents for offences “so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding”.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said the clause represented “MMP at its finest”.

“It ensures an important element of policing is retained – the ability to use discretion. What front-line police had feared was that they would have no choice but to arrest people, but now it empowers the people who should have the power, and that is senior sergeants.”

O’Connor said the law was the only one he could think of that enshrined discretion which until now had been a tacit understanding.

Christchurch radio personality and father of four Simon Barnett said the law was now more confusing than ever.

“Police will have to be judge and jury and make a decision on the spot. I feel this is going to make it extremely tough for them.”

Barnett said he thought officers would “err on the side of caution” in the event that a case not acted upon turned serious. “I think John Key’s intentions were good but I think parents will feel let down by him.”

3 May 2007 – nzherald – The Smacking Bill: Amendment passes by landslide – only three MPs vote no

The Smacking Bill: Amendment passes by landslide – only three MPs vote no

Email this storyPrint this story 5:00AM Thursday May 03, 2007

The amendment brokered by Prime Minister Helen Clark and National’s leader John Key that ended the battle over the bill to amend the law on smacking was passed by Parliament last night on a vote of 117-3.

Act’s two MPs, Rodney Hide and Heather Roy, and Independent MP Taito Phillip Field voted against it.

Mr Hide said the amendment saying the police had the discretion not to prosecute complaints that they considered to be “inconsequential” made no difference at all to the bill.

“It just says the police don’t have to prosecute. They don’t have to prosecute without the amendment,” he said. “We’re not making any law, we’re leaving it up to the police to decide what it is.”

Mr Hide said Helen Clark had cleverly worked out an amendment which meant nothing but had ended National’s opposition to the bill.

“The entire National Party has been rolled. I congratulate Helen Clark for a great sleight of hand and emerging from it unscathed.”

Mr Field was not in the debating chamber when the vote was taken. His vote was cast by proxy.
United Future leader Peter Dunne, who introduced the amendment, said the cross-party support was extraordinarily significant and a good day for Parliament.

“There has always been this concern … that good parents were going to be put at risk … were going to have the police banging down the door, [and] were going to be criminalised by this bill.”

The bill’s promoter, Green MP Sue Bradford, said she could happily back Mr Dunne’s amendment as it did not define the nature and level of force people could legitimately use against their children.

Parliament also accepted, by 116 votes to four, an amendment that commits the Government to reviewing the law two years after it comes into force.

The amendment was introduced by Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope several weeks ago, when the Government was trying to ease public concern about the bill.

3 May 2007 – The Dominion Post – Smacking bill sorted in time for Budget to shine

Smacking bill sorted in time for Budget to shine
The Dominion Post | Thursday, 3 May 2007

Of course by definition – again her own – the prime minister cannot “leak” since as the Government’s spokesperson what she says is automatically mandated.

When it comes to the Budget, Miss Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen have taken that to a new level.

So when ministers decide to say something, be it more money for tertiary institutions or a dollop of new health spending, then that is a pre- budget announcement.

However, should any reporter ask a straight – or even tangential – question about the Budget they are met with much eye-rolling and “you should know better than to even ask” looks. Certainly Miss Clark’s deal- making over an amendment to Green MP Sue Bradford’s child discipline bill was kept firmly under wraps till the ink was dry, and the way cleared for yesterday’s exceptional joint press conference with National leader John Key.

Once it saw the light of day it prompted a predictable scramble between the two big parties, with both declaring relative victories.

Labour can claim it showed a leader in Miss Clark who could broker the deals and herd the cats in an MMP world.

At the same time it has helped remove the erroneous perception that responsible and mild parents would be hauled into court, without compromising on Miss Bradford’s bottom line that a level of acceptable hitting must never be defined.

National can claim it helped achieve a compromise that Miss Bradford had previously resisted, ensuring parents would not be criminalised for delivering a light smack.

(It has also removed the embarrassing prospect for National, in government, of drafting a bill that would provide a state mandate for violence against children, however minor.)

What remains unclear is whether National will suffer a backlash from those who think – rightly – that the amendment changes little beyond providing a level of “comfort” for concerned parents. Police discretion is now enshrined in the Bill, but let’s not forget that smacking for correction is still illegal.

The real winners, though, are the police.

As Parliament implicitly, or overtly, ruled out smacking that caused trifling or transitory harm (under the Chester Borrows amendment) or minor and inconsequential (under the proposed John Key wording) their job was made more difficult.

By a law of unintended consequences, there was a risk that every time MPs tried to define acceptable levels of smacking – and were defeated – the police’s ability to use their discretion diminished and the risk they would have to move against even light smacking increased.

That does raise the question of whether the clauses in the bill which define where force for non-corrective purposes is allowed are now necessary – but it is unlikely a tired Parliament will want to open that debate again.

The twin pillars of secrecy surrounding the Bradford bill and the Budget were, in fact, tightly intertwined.

A deal over the Bradford bill, which will now get Parliament’s overwhelming endorsement on May 16, clears the decks for the Budget the following day.

It may remain controversial for some time, as the police response to the new law is tested and examined, but with National on board it will lack a high profile political champion.

And make no mistake, this is a Budget the Government does not want overshadowed.

It comes as National consolidates a big poll lead and Labour fights to regain the initiative – and turn back any perception it is tired as its third term rolls on.

For the first time in many years Dr Cullen is not banging on about his Budget being boring, beige and predictable…….

……..Then, the heat around the Bradford bill may fade more quickly from the voters’ hearts and minds.

Snippets from a Press Release

Snippets from:

Rev Mike Weitenberg of the Wellington Metro Global Church Community, described it as a sugar-coated pill to cover a deadly blow to the New Zealand family.

“It’s food for custody battles, it’s food for neighbourhood disputes, it’s food for false accusations against parents by children who can’t get their own way.

“It’s a family invasion, it’s a cultural invasion and it’s an invasion attacking democracy.”

Wrestling with his conscience

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven last night revealed how close he came to crossing the floor over the Bradford bill.

Mr Duynhoven is one of Labour’s more conservative MPs, and was frequently challenged by National MPs to vote with opponents of the bill.

“On this issue I have been more torn than any other issue we have debated in this House,” he said.

“I have seriously considered whether I fitted still, whether my views and the basis of my value system were appropriate for the party I am in.”

3 May 2007 – DDP Of NZ – DDP Disappointed In Support For Smacking Bill

DDP Disappointed In Support For Smacking Bill

Thursday, 3 May 2007, 9:51 am
Press Release: Direct Democracy Party Of NZ Press Release from the Direct Democracy Party:
DDP Disappointed In National Support For Smacking Bill

The Direct Democracy Party is disappointed that the National Party have decided to now support the anti smacking Bill being promoted by Green MP Sue Bradford, despite overwhelming public opposition to the Bill.

“There have been multiple polls, both public and privately monitored, that have recorded anywhere between 70% – 90% public opposition to Sue Bradford’s Bill – if a Binding Referendum (a cornerstone of Direct Democracy Party policy) were held on this issue, this legislation would have been consigned to the political scrapheap long ago” says Direct Democracy Party Leader Kelvyn Alp.

“It is clear that Police discretion not to prosecute will still allow police discretion to prosecute, thereby criminalising parents by default – however, the Police are not our greatest concern, but rather Child, Youth, and Family (CYF).”

“CYF will most certainly not “exercise discretion”as the Bill encourages the police to do. CYF will not be concerned with any “public interest” whatsoever. If this legislation passes in its current form, CYF will be able to say that smacking is illegal, and then arbitrarily intervene into the lives of innocent, decent, law-abiding families, families who now have everything to fear from this legislation becoming law in its current form.

“The Bradford anti-smacking Bill, now supported by the National Party, is a body blow to Democracy and for New Zealand families” says Mr Alp.

“The Direct Democracy Party gives an unequivocal commitment to the people of New Zealand that, if elected to Parliament in 2008, we will repeal the anti-smacking Bill in its entirety – the people of New Zealand who so overwhelmingly oppose this legislation deserve no less.”

2 May 2007 – Family First Lobby – Bradford continues to mislead the country

Bradford continues to mislead the country
Wednesday, 2 May 2007, 10:16 am
Press Release: Family First Lobby.
1 MAY 2007

Bradford continues to mislead the country – and blame the media for it!

On the 15th March 2007, Greens MP Sue Bradford put out a press release in relation to her bill amending section 59 saying “I have never called it an anti-smacking bill – my opponents did, and the media adopted the phrase. Smacking a child is already an assault under section 194 of the Crimes Act 1961. It has been this way for over a century. If my Bill is passed this will not change.” (http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/PR10668.html )

However, in a press release from 2003 when the bill was first mooted, the release is entitled “Greens draw up their own anti-smacking bill” and says “The Greens are designing a bill that will stop parents physically punishing their children, in line with United Nations demands.” (http://www.greens.org.nz/searchdocs/PR6778.html )

This proves that the media and groups like Family First have been correct in labeling the bill the ‘anti-smacking’ bill, and that the supporters of the bill are trying to mislead the country regarding the effects of this bill.

The supporters of the bill have also been dishonest by saying that smacking a child is already an assault.

In 2003, Judge Ingalls QC, Family District Court Judge, said “as a matter of law the effect of Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 in smacking of a child for the purposes of correction, was entirely lawful if the force used was reasonable in the circumstances. Reasonable force used against a child for the purposes of correction could not be, by law, categorized as physical abuse of a child.”

Grant Illingworth QC says “The relevant part of the current section 59 provides that every parent of a child and every person in the place of the parent of a child is “justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances”. The important word is “justified”. The use of this word is the clearest possible indication that the act in question (reasonable use of force for correction) is NOT unlawful.”

While the Prime Minister has said “It’s actually illegal now to smack your child”, Sue Bradford has been forced to acknowledge that not all smacking is illegal under the law.

Family First calls on the MP’s to use education and policies that strengthen, not criminalise, families to tackle child abuse – and not to be misled by the rhetoric of the supporters of this bill who will do anything they can to mislead the public into supporting this bill.


2 May 2007 – nzherald – The smacking bill – what it says

The smacking bill – what it says
5:00AM Wednesday May 02, 2007


The current law

What Section 59 of the Crimes Act says:

Every parent of a child and every person in the place of the parent of a child is justified in using force by way of correction towards the child, if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances.

The proposed Law – then

What Sue Bradford’s bill said when she introduced it in July 2005

Section 59 of the principal act is repealed. The stated purpose of the bill: “To abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as justification for disciplining children.”

The proposed Law – now

What Sue Bradford’s bill says now after 18 months in a select committee [likely to pass]:

Section 59 is repealed and substituted with the following section on parental control: 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.

It then says: Nothing [in the above] or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

The stated purpose of the amended bill changed: “To make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.”

Proposed addition to bill

Social Development Minister David Benson-Pope has moved an amendment [likely to pass]:

To require the chief executive of the Ministry of Social Development to review the effects of the new act after it has been in place for two years.

Proposed change before house national MP

Chester Borrows’ amendments to be debated tonight define the limits of unacceptable force [likely to fail]:

The use of force is unreasonable if it … causes or contributes materially to harm that is more than transitory and trifling; or any weapon or tool is used; or it is inflicted by any mean that is cruel, degrading, or terrifying. He wants the purpose of the bill changed to state: “To make better provision for the parental control of children by limiting the use of force for the purpose of correction.”

John Key’s failed proposal

The National leader tried but failed to find support for a proposal between Borrows and Bradford:

It would have adopted the Bradford purpose of the bill … “abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction”. He proposed a new Section 59: “Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of a child is justified in lightly smacking the child in the course of their parenting duties if the smacking used was minor and inconsequential.”

Prime Minister Helen Clark uses the language of the Key proposal to give guidance to the police to ignore inconsequential breaches of the new law, with the additional wording:

To avoid doubt it is affirmed that 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.

2 May 2007 – big-news – National to vote for the anti smacking bill


Wednesday, May 02, 2007
National to vote for the anti smacking bill

National is to vote for the anti smacking bill after National and Labour agreed to an amendment last night. They should have done this ages ago.

What the amendment says

To avoid doubt it is affirmed that police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against parents of any child, or those standing in place of any 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 pursuing a prosecution.

What this means, if this bill is written into the clause of the Act, is that police do not have to uphold the law in all cases. It is a compromise, it is not ideal, but it may be politically achievable. However if it is written into the preliminary guidelines, it has no legal effect and police can ignore it.

What the leaders should have added is that if police have discretion not to prosecute, they also have discretion as to whether they report such discipline to Child,Youth and Family. Its my understanding that as the bill stands, police will have to report all such reported discipline to CYFS. So if they have discretion in prosecuting, they should also have discretion in notification to CYFS.

Bradford says it is an

Sue Bradford and Helen Clark and their supporters have been saying:
“It’s not an anti-smacking bill”
But check out this link, on the Greens website:


Justice | Children’s Issues | All Press Releases

Greens draw up their own anti-smacking bill
Sue Bradford MP, Green Party Children’s Issues Spokesperson

6th October 2003

The Greens are designing a bill that will stop parents physically punishing their children, in line with United Nations demands.

Green MP Sue Bradford says her bill will repeal Section 59 of the Crimes Act, the provision that condones the use of physical force by parents against children.

We want to end the situation where there is a legal defence to striking a child.”

A new report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child says it is deeply concerned New Zealand has not changed the law which allows parents to use so-called “reasonable” force against their children.

Ms Bradford said today parents have used Section 59 to get away with, not only smacking their children, but also whacking them with bits of wood and other objects.

“I can’t understand why the Government is delaying doing anything about Section 59 until the next election year. The safety and welfare of our children is too important to put on hold.”

Ms Bradford, Green Children’s Issues Spokesperson, said it was the inalienable right of every child to be free from any form of violence or abuse.

“Parents are supposed to be protectors, not attackers, and children should feel totally safe at home. Section 59 adds to the whole culture of abuse of children that is still so rampant in New Zealand society.”

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1 May 2007 – SPCS – Cracks Widen in ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill Support


The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

P.O. Box 13-683 JohnsonvillePress Release

1 May 2007

Cracks Widen in ‘Anti-Smacking’ Bill Support

MPs must relegate Bradford’s bill to the trash can if parents cannot be assured in the legislation that its purpose is NOT to have parents and those in the place of parents charged with an assault on a child for applying a smack with “reasonable force” for the purpose of “correction”. Bradford and the Prime Minister Helen Clark are expecting the public to believe their word that they will not be charged and prosecuted because “police will use their discretion” and will not charge them following formal complaints for smacking. That’s not good enough for the vast majority of thinking New Zealand parents. As the Dominion Post editorial points out today: “opponents of her [Bradford’s] legislation are entitled to take at face value the provision that states nothing in the exemptions of the legislation “justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction”. That, however, much she may deny it, is a ban on what people would regard as smacking.” (1 May, B4).

The traffic speeding analogy is often used by Bradford’s supporters to support their claim that the police will not prosecute parents who continue to smack their kids for correction, in the same way that police have discretion in whether they criminalise a speeding motorist. Katherine Rich, spokesperson for Education no less, has relied on this poor analogy to defend the bill that no one else in her caucus is supporting. She used this flawed analogy in the weekend:

“Many extreme – and public – cases of child abuse involved parents who thought they were using appropriate force, said Rich. The repeal of Section 59 would send a message that using physical force against children was not appropriate.

“Criminalising is such an emotive word. If you drive at 101km/h, that doesn’t make you a criminal. But if you drive at 140km/h, then it’s far more clear-cut.” (NZ Herald 29 April).

Rich falsely claims that police officers deciding whether to investigate and lay charges for a reported smacking incident will be in the same position as traffic officers have who make decisions based on discretion whether or not to lay a criminal charge for speeding, rather than just issuing an infringement notice. This is a false analogy.

The police cannot only lay a criminal charge once a driver is recorded as having exceeded any given speed limit by 40 kms/hr or more. An automatic 28-day suspension of the driving licence is applied and the driver faces a criminal charge in Court. At sentencing there will be a minimum further disqualification of the licence of 3 months and furthermore, the possibility of a fine and/or imprisonment.

Police cannot lay criminal charges for speeding when a vehicle is driven at less than 40 km/hr over the speed limit so have no discretion in such cases. Such a charge can only be laid if other aspects of the law are broken (e.g. dangerous driving).

Motorists will generally incur a fine and demerit points for speeds between 111 and 140 kms/hr. Again, there is no discretion to lay criminal charges unless there are other factors involved (proximity to schools, careless driving etc.).

The only area under current policy where discretion on the part of police can apply for cars is where speeds of up to 11 kms/hr over the speed limit are recorded. In issuing a warning, rather than an infringement notice (fine) in such circumstances, the police are NOT suggesting that the action of the driver is reasonable or acceptable of lawful. Quite the opposite. ALL SPEEDNG IS AGAINST THE LAW. It constitutes either a traffic offence or a criminal offence. There is no justification offered in law for a member of the public to travel at over 140 kms/hr and escape conviction and no provision in law informing them that it is lawful to exceed 100 kms/hr.

The police authorities have confirmed that all formal complaints of smacking for correction will have to be treated as potential criminal offences (domestic violence) and will require thorough investigation (police statements from witnesses, victim and child abusing parents to be recorded and the collecting of medical evidence that may need to be submitted at a deposition hearing etc.). If the law’s purpose as stated is “abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction” the police will have to be vigilant in exterminating the last vestige of any smacking culture in New Zealand by using the full force of the law. Good parents who break the rules against smacking will need to have the force of the law applied to make them comply.

Bradford and Clark know full well that the effect of Bradford’s bill is to make all forms of force used by parents for correction, illegal. Parents have a right to know if their actions constitute an offence in law, just as drivers have a right to have speed limits regularly notified to them by way of traffic signs, and made clearly visible from the driving lane. If the Ministry of Transport is not prepared to inform drivers by proper signs, then it has no right to prosecute drivers for breaking speed limits known only to the authorities! Failure to do so means in practice that drivers cannot be convicted.

Parents have a right to know in law what level of force, if any, can be used for “correction”. In the existing law s. 59 sets the limit: “reasonable force in the circumstances”. This is perfectly fine. However, if that provision is removed then they potentially face prosecution for using ANY level of force. Bradford argues that no limit needs to be set because police will not be enforcing charges against minor force such as smacking, even though her law declares such actions illegal and need to be abolished. She is relying on some sort of de facto law that the police will come up with to set limits of force. This is a nonsense law.

If the term “reasonable care” meant nothing drivers could never be prosecuted for reckless driving. Unreasonable care involves placing the driver or passengers and others or in danger etc. Ironically the term “reasonable force” is a term Bradford has still retained to provide limits for use of force in the four exemptions under section (1).

The boundary between reasonable and unreasonable use of force is determined by the police before laying charges for assault under the existing section 59, taking into account the facts of the case and the circumstances involved in the domestic discipline etc. The amended Bradford bill recognises that such boundaries do exist and can be defined with respect to force used in the four situations covered in section 1 (a-d). However, it is the view of the bill’s proponents that no force is reasonable when used for correction and this is enshrined in the bill by the specific removal of the existing defence applying to force for correction. Its removal, for the first time, makes all forms of smacking for correction illegal.

Under Bradford’s bill all use of reasonable force for correction, including smacking, becomes a criminal offence. The law does not have a special provision for light smacks – worthy only of a mere traffic infringement notice (to use the flawed analogy she relies on). That there is no lesser category for “light smacks” comparable to traffic infringements proves that the purpose of the bill is to abolish ALL use of force for correction.

If Bradford’s bill becomes law she knows that one of its effects will be to make it legal to use reasonable force on a child to minimise harm (s. 1a). Why would it be legal one might ask? Because under the new law there would be a specific justification for the use of reasonable force in such circumstances (“…every parent…. Is justified….”).

But the same justification exists in current law for the use of such force for correction – including smacking. And yet Bradford and Clark have repeatedly claimed publicly that under current law lightly smacking a child for correction is illegal. When asked why it is illegal they respond: Because any form of smack applied for any reason constitutes an “assault” under s. 2 of the Crimes Act (1961)? This statement is false. In the above example involving harm minimisation (s. 1 a) Bradford affirms that the force is used legally, but then contradicts herself when considering force used for correction under current law. The same justifications are used which mean that the actions are legal.


1 May 2007 – nzherald – Smacking handy as back-up, says expert

Smacking handy as back-up, says expert

5:00AM Tuesday May 01, 2007 By Simon Collins


Dr Robert Larzelere has been brought to New Zealand by groups opposed to Sue Bradford’s bill. Photo / Brett Phibbs

One of the world’s leading experts on disciplining children says parents need smacking as a “back-up” for other forms of discipline for children aged from 2 to 6.

Dr Robert Larzelere, an American who says he has written three of the six main reviews of the scientific literature on smacking, has been brought to New Zealand by lobby groups opposing Green MP Sue Bradford’s bill to repeal the law allowing parents to use reasonable force to discipline their children.

He will be in Wellington today for a meeting with National MPs convened by Whanganui MP Chester Borrows, whose amendment defining reasonable force will be voted on in Parliament tomorrow.

Dr Larzelere will meet Sue Bradford tomorrow. He will also meet two New Zealand First MPs who support her bill, Doug Woolerton and Brian Donnelly, and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples, whose party will discuss the Bradford bill today.

In the debates in the scientific literature, Dr Larzelere has been the leading proponent of smacking.

Canadian Joan Durrant, who was brought to New Zealand by the Government last year, has led the opposing argument that smacking produces a more violent society, citing Sweden as a model of a society where a smacking ban has reduced violence.

Dr Larzelere, 62, attends a Baptist Church near the university where he works in Oklahoma, but he rejects Dr Durrant’s allegation that this makes him biased.

He says he smacked his two now-adult children “occasionally”.

“When they were small, I would use a warning count one to three,” he said yesterday. “In almost all cases I’d get action just as I got to three, so I only had to smack them a few times.”

His research over 20 years showed that the best way to stop young children misbehaving was to use reasoning backed up by punishment – initially non-physical punishment such as time out, but with a smack if the children refused to co-operate.

“To me, it seems like today we polarise all arguments to ridiculous extremes and we don’t do so well at finding the balance in the middle.

“So I have tried to be as scientific as possible to inform this debate, rather than having the people choose between the two polarised positions.”

His research showed that to be effective, smacking should be used only as a “conditional” back-up, not as a primary form of discipline.

“The best way to use it is this back-up smacking – non-abusive, two swats with an open hand to the rear end, on 2- to 6-year-old children,” Dr Larzelere said.

He would support a ban on smacking babies, and in one published paper said smacking could be counter-productive for children of 7 or over when they were old enough to “internalise” the rules of good behaviour.

Yesterday he stopped short of supporting a ban on smacking children over 6 because of one study that found that physical punishment of 13-year-old African-Americans made them less aggressive three years later.

“So although I think it should be phased out as quickly as possible [as a child gets older], I see exceptions that suggest it shouldn’t be an absolute rule.”

He said colleagues who had worked in parenting education in Norway, where smacking is banned at all ages, reported that Norwegian parents were “immobilised” by not knowing how to control their children.

“So their children run wild, according to newspaper reports,” he said.

Similarly in Sweden, where the legal defence of using force to discipline children was abolished in 1957, criminal assaults by under-15-year-olds against other 7- to 14-year-olds had increased by 519 per cent in the period from 1981 to 1994.

Dr Durrant argued this was because of more reporting of assaults by children against other children.

But Dr Larzelere said that did not explain why the assault rate rose more in the younger age groups than in older age groups, which he sees as evidence that youthful misbehaviour has worsened since the ban on smacking.

1 May 2007 – SPCS – Call to Abandon Bradford’s Flawed Bill

The Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc.

P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville

Press Release

1 May 2007

Call to Abandon Bradford’s Flawed Bill

A guilt-ridden Ms Katherine Rich MP, mother of two children and Education spokesperson for the National Party, candidly confessed to the nation in the weekend that she was “way out of control” and “totally lost it” when she lightly smacked her son Jonathan on a couple of occasions for some apparent minor misdemeanours. Rich, a National List MP, who is the only National MP continuing to support Green Party MP Sue Bradford’s unpopular ‘anti-smacking’ bill, stated:

“I smacked Jonathan a couple of times – but I’m deeply ashamed of that. I’ve thought about those situations and it was more to do with my tiredness and inability to cope than trying to find genuine ways of directing him.

“The time when I just totally lost it because … sometimes you just lose all tolerance … he turned around to me and said, ‘Mummy, why did you do that, you’re supposed to be happy’.

“I decided very early on it didn’t serve any purpose. I recall seeing the fear on his face when I raised my hand. I realised I was the one out of control – he was just being a child.” (NZ Herald 29 April).

The Society believes that very few thinking New Zealand parents will be persuaded by this sort of heart-felt confession, that they too need to do penance for with Rich by lending support to Bradford’s deeply flawed anti-family bill. Of course most loving parents, like Rich, would concede that they might have made the odd mistake (e.g. slight over-reaction) in dealing with disciplinary matters, when tired and struggling to cope with their kids bad behaviour. It is ludicrous and deeply insulting that the promoters of Bradford’s bill continue to suggest that genuine loving parents, who might occasionally smack their kids for correction, “abuse” their kids using physical “violence”. Like Rich they appear ideologically-driven by the misguided belief that nothing justifies the use of any kind of force for the purpose of the correction of children and appear to actually believe that light smacking actually constitutes “child abuse”.

Many parents actually think that Rich has “totally lost it” by supporting Bradford’s pointless bill for the reasons she has stated. Over 80% of New Zealanders polled have consistently opposed the bill which Rich is hailing as the answer to New Zealand’s child abuse problem. Most see the bill and her support of it as a direct attack on the family. They’re sick and tired of the dishonest rhetoric coming from the bill’s sponsor Ms Bradford. As the Dominion Post editorial stated today “…opponents of her legislation are entitled to take at face value the provision that states nothing in the exemptions of the legislation ‘justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction’. That, however, much she [Bradford] may deny it, is a ban on what most people would regard as smacking.’ (May 1, B4).

Most parents of young children will appreciate the circumstances that may have led to Ms Rich’s ‘disciplinary’ actions involving light smacks. However, without knowing the specifics it is hard to comment on whether her actions qualified as a genuine and justified case for corrective physical discipline where reasonable force was required, or not. The fact that Jonathan did not know what the smack was for and had to ask the reason why it was applied, suggests that Ms Rich failed in the basics of corrective discipline. A smack must be judiciously applied only after adequate reasons have been given to the child and the child complies to receiving the corrective. It must be appropriate in the circumstances and never be administered in anger or merely to release the frustrations of an exasperated parent or person in the place of a parent. The fact that Rich was at her wits’ end when she says she smacked Jonathan could suggest that he had repeatedly disobeyed and/or ignored her instructions. However, the fact that his aggravating behaviour is described as arising from him “just being a child” suggests that it may not have been appropriate “in the circumstances” to apply a smack.

Whatever the circumstances were, most New Zealand parents would understand the type of situation Rich might have faced with her son Jonathan and would sympathise with her frustrations. Most parents cringe from their actions when, upon reflection, they realise that they reacted inappropriately in seeking to correct their child for wrongdoing. A good parent would always seek to promptly correct and modify his/her behavioural responses in the light of their mistakes, perhaps requesting advice from his or her spouse or wider family. However, a smack using reasonable force, does not constitute “child abuse”, as Rich seems to imply it does. It is hard to understand why she continues to support Bradford’s seriously flawed and pointless private member’s bill that has as its stated purpose to:

“… make better provision for children to live in a safe and secure environment free from violence by abolishing the use of parental force for the purpose of correction”. [Emphasis added].

The bill’s original purpose prior to its amendment during the select committee stages stated, to:

“… abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as a justification for disciplining children”.

Both opponents and supporters of the bill do share common ground in genuinely wanting a reduction in child abuse and both agree that this bill will NOT achieve this goal. In the light of these facts it is farcical that MP’s supporting Bradford’s bill have amended the original bill in such a way that as to actually assert something they do not actually believe: that “violence” against children (child abuse) will be reduced once “parental force for the purpose of correction” is abolished: a clear case of either self-delusion, or contradiction and dishonesty on the part of the bill’s supporters. Furthermore, it is ludicrous that the bill uses the verb to abolish (“abolishing the use of parental force”) and yet Bradford and the Prime Minister, Miss Helen Clark have repeatedly told the public that the bill is not about banning smacking and is only about removing the defence of reasonable force from s. 59.

It’s time to be honest in this messy, time-wasting debate! Light smacking for correction constitutes force used for correction. “Abolishing” means getting rid of. Therefore, the intention of the bill must include getting rid of the use of light smacking for correction! To say otherwise is to be dishonest. Reinforcing this conclusion is the fact that the bill only allows the defence of “reasonable force” for acts of force used against children in four specific circumstances (section 1 [a] to [d]) – four exemptions – but removes this defence from the Principal Act where it is applied specifically to acts involving “correction” (involving “domestic discipline”).

Bradford’s bill, in its current form, including the amendments, contains nothing to back up the bill’s supporters’ claims that its purpose is: [1] NOT to ban smacking, but [2] rather is focused just on removing the defence of “reasonable force” against prosecution of an adult (parent) for an assault against a child, in cases involving correction. As shown above a reasonable and logical interpretation of the wording of the bill (see Dominion Post quote above) must lead one to draw the conclusion that the bill, once put into law, will make it a criminal offence to lightly smack a child for the purpose of “correction”. If that was not the intention of the bill as Helen Clark and Sue Bradford claim, then it must be stated in the bill as Nation Party MP Chester Borrows and his Party leader John Key have cogently argued, by introducing their respective amendments to the bill, both of which have been flatly rejected by Bradford.



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