FI424- Referendum will be held

22 August Family Integrity #424 — Referendum will be held

Referendum to be held on smacking

The Dominion Post | Friday, 22 August 2008

Opponents of the anti-smacking law change are celebrating after collecting enough signatures to force a referendum.

Kiwi Party leader and petition organiser Larry Baldock said today that the petition had been certified by the Clerk of the House as having enough valid signatures.

“This is great news and a huge victory,” he said.

When the petition was originally handed to the Clerk on February 29, 285,027 valid signatures were needed. It failed because too many were ruled to be invalid.

This time, around 310,000 signatures were valid – 25,000 more than required to force a referendum.

The referendum will be on the question: “should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

Mr Baldock called for the refendum to be held with 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.”

In June, Helen Clark said it was unlikely the referendum could be held with the election.

“Just in terms of sheer organisation I don’t think that is possible.”

Ministers cited advice from electoral officials that the last time a referendum was held it had confused voters, slowed down the count and to so again would be a logistical nightmare.

They said there was little difference in cost between holding a postal ballot separately and the extra resources need to run a referendum on election day.

Ms Harris said the petition would be presented to Parliament on August 26 and the Government had one month to name a date for a referendum or say a postal ballot will be held.

The vote must be held within a year of its presentation to Parliament.

The legislation, which was drafted by Green MP Sue Bradford, amended section 59 of the Crimes Act to remove the defence of reasonable force for parents who physically discipline their children.

It was backed by Labour and eventually National supported the legislation after an amendment gave police discretion to judge whether a reported offence warranted prosecution.

Craig Smith

National Director
Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North 4441
New Zealand
Ph: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389

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