Anti-smacking referendum: No vote wins

Anti-smacking referendum: No vote wins


Last updated 20:03 21/08/2009

New Zealanders have overwhelmingly voted for the anti-smacking law to be canned.

A total of 1,622,150 votes were cast with 87.6 percent in favour of repealing the controversial new law.

The Chief Electoral Office said it would now complete checks and count voting papers still to be received, before releasing the final result.

The preliminary results from the $9 million citizens-initiated referendum which asked: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” have just been released.

Both sides of the campaign had earlier admitted this was the more likely result.

Labour deputy leader Annette King said the referendum had allowed everyone to have their say.

“It’s now up to the Government to determine what the next steps are. Labour is yet to see evidence that the current Act needs to be changed. It is going to be reviewed at the end of the year and we will wait to see the outcome of that.”

The referendum followed a controversial law change in 2007 led by Green Party MP Sue Bradford, which repealed Section 59 in the Crimes Act, a clause which made it legal for parents to use reasonable force to discipline a child.

Those leading the “Vote No” campaign had argued the law had achieved nothing and was not targeting the real causes of child abuse in New Zealand.

The “Vote Yes” advocates wanted the law to be kept, saying fears that innocent parents would be criminalised had not eventuated and that children deserved the same protection against physical harm as adults.

Both Prime Minister John Key and opposition leader Phil Goff have indicated they were comfortable with the law and the referendum would not necessarily change that.

The law change made it illegal for parents to use force against their children but affords police discretionary powers not to prosecute where the offence is considered inconsequential.


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