2 Responses to “FI-350-U4L, Send them in”

  1. Discussion on Radio New Zealand National’s “Afternoons’ programme yesterday seemed to epitomize the ignorance surrounding the repeal of s59 and the citizen’s initiated referendum. I’d like to highlight two points. One is that the first question in the CIR and the NZR survey question were mischievous and bare no relationship to the Repeal of Section 59. The second relates to the misconception that the repeal of section 59 is about the introducing new legislation rather than repealing old legislation.
    The first question of the Larry Baldwick’s Citizens Initiated Referendum reads:

    Should a smack as a part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?
    The survey question from Research New Zealand reported yesterday was of a similar ilk.
    Do you believe that parents should be allowed to smack their children or are you against any physical force being used on a child?
    If this was the actually wording of the question as quoted by Emanuel Kalafatelis on “Afternoons” it was a clumsy and ambiguous question in fact a double barrelled question with assumption built in which is totally unprofessional.
    How can ‘Clear cut’ results be drawn from unclear questions?
    The first part of the survey question and the CIR question are unhelpful because it is possible to say yes to both questions while still supporting the bill. Parents are not criminalised for light smacking or gently physically reprimanding their children.
    It is highly plausible to believe that a good majority of New Zealanders believe that such light disciplinary action is justifiable in some circumstances but that at the same time the law should not give an escape clause that allows people to get off with serious abuse at the whim of some jury who is guided to misread the law as it was. (Thanks Irene Gardiner for making this clear)
    The repeal of section 59 was not about parent’s rights but about children’s rights. Children now have the same right under the law to protection from assault that have some time been afforded animals.
    I’d like to see Research New Zealand survey public opinion on some other questions around this. For example:
    • Should parents be able to get off a charge of abusing these kids by a legal loop hole allowing reasonable force?
    • Should children be given more or less rights than dogs and horses?
    • Should parents be allowed to punch their kids?
    • Should we do everything in our power to reduce violence in society including where necessary repealing legislation that specifically allows for domestic violence.
    • Should we reintroduce legislation to allow husbands to physically discipline their wives?
    I wonder what the stat for those questions would look like.
    And my second point
    Peter Elliot said a “Good intention got turned into a law” and that this should not have happened – parliament has “evoked the law” to achieve social outcomes and that is the wrong way to go about it.
    The opposite is true; the point is that a ‘good intention’ of the Victorian era was enshrined in law which was being abused in the court system to allow child abusers to get off by invoking section 59. This was a case of removing such bad law rather than imposing new law.

    Rev’d Steven O’Connor

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