ACT: Key’s ‘huge mistake’ will cost National

ACT: Key’s ‘huge mistake’ will cost National

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 5:17a.m. Prime Minister John Key has made “a huge mistake” by refusing to change the so-called anti-smacking law and National will suffer for it at the next election, the ACT Party says.

“He is making exactly the same mistake as Helen Clark made – he is putting himself above the overwhelming wish of the majority of New Zealanders,” MP John Boscawen told NZPA.

“I think he’s making a very stupid mistake”.

Mr Key yesterday said he was going to ensure parents were not prosecuted for an inconsequential smack but he wasn’t going to change the law in response to the referendum result.

Voters faced the question: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction by a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

About 1.6 million ticked the boxes and nearly 88 percent said “no”.

Mr Key said changes were likely to the way welfare officers handled complaints about light smacking and police would be asked to review their procedures to make sure good parents weren’t treated like criminals.

“I am not going to allow that to happen to them and if the law shows, through its application, that New Zealand parents are criminalised or their children are taken off them in some bizarre case for what could only be described as minor or inconsequential smacking, then the law has to be changed,” he said.

But the facts showed people were not being prosecuted and he wanted to find ways to assure parents that was not going to start happening.

Mr Boscawen said the referendum result was a clear, emphatic vote for the law to be changed.

“I think he’s taking a very grave risk in ignoring such a massive mandate for a change to the law,” he said.

“I think he’s being very foolish, his response is totally inadequate and he’s making a huge mistake.”

Mr Boscawen said National’s poll ratings would drop and the impact would carry through to the next election.

Family First, one of the referendum’s main promoters, said MPs and ministers were receiving floods of e-mails demanding a law change.

“The referendum wasn’t about recommendations, guidelines or comfort – it was about a law change,” said Family First director Bob McCoskrie.


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