Posts Tagged ‘MMP’

John Armstrong: National won’t be smacked twice

Monday, August 31st, 2009

John Armstrong: National won’t be smacked twice

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10593810&pnum=0

4:00AM Saturday Aug 29, 2009
By John Armstrong

No matter what spin the anti-smacking brigade puts on last week’s referendum, the result is still mind-boggling.

The referendum’s opponents have naturally sought to downplay the 88 per cent “no” vote as not unexpected, arguing that people were confused by the referendum question which was anyway heavily loaded to increase the “no” vote, while only 56 per cent of eligible voters actually bothered to return their ballot paper.

However, the turnout was marginally higher than that recorded in the first MMP referendum in 1992.

In some electorates, it was as high as 66 per cent, which is the same level as that registered in the Maori electorates at the last general election and not all that far short of overall turnout, which in recent elections has hovered around the 80 per cent mark.

The assumption of voter ignorance is the typical sort of patronising claptrap used by the liberal elites to conveniently explain away something that disturbs their comfort zones.

Faced with predictions of mass confusion following the introduction of GST in the 1980s, a Labour MP at the time noted most people had no problems filling out a TAB betting slip which was equally complex.

Ditto with the smacking referendum. Voters understood exactly what they were doing. Politicians ignore the outcome at their peril.

Those in National’s senior ranks are most definitely taking note. The highest “no” votes were registered in provincial and rural seats held by that party.

Once it was clear that the turnout was going to be much higher than predicted, the Prime Minister ensured he had a response prepared. This amounted to more monitoring of the existing law to ensure it is working as intended.

That was obviously not going to satisfy the referendum’s organisers, who were seeking the repeal of the relevant section of the Crimes Act.

While Sue Bradford’s amended initiative remains the law, National has taken on board the message from the referendum that voters are drawing a line in the sand against any more measures which might be termed liberal, socially progressive or nanny state-ish.

In marked contrast, National’s reform agenda for the economy and social service delivery is meeting little resistance. For example, Bill English has now mentioned on several occasions three dreaded words that usually spell political death – “capital gains tax” – without his world caving in.

That is not to say the Finance Minister is about to bring in such a tax.

But the lack of opposition is emboldening the Government to move faster on the economic front than it might otherwise have done, another example being National’s willingness to allow mining of minerals on parts of the Department of Conservation estate.

National’s shift to the right in such policy areas is one reason there is less concern within the party about Act’s current muscle-flexing over the anti-smacking law and Maori seats on the Auckland “Super City” Council.

Act is clearly seeking to fill a gap left on the right by John Key’s relationship-building with Maoridom and his unwillingness to ditch the anti-smacking law.

If nothing else, the politics surrounding the latter is proof there is a God – and that he or she has a sense of humour.

How else to explain the private member’s bill promoted by Act’s John Boscawen, which allows parents to give their child a “light” smack for corrective purposes, making it onto Parliament’s order paper for debate.

The odds on the measure securing the sole spot available were a staggering 28-1 against. Beating those odds in the ballot of private member’s bills – plus the timing just days after the referendum result – suggested divine intervention.

The Prime Minister is said to have been torn initially between voting down Boscawen’s bill and allowing it to go as far as being scrutinised by a select committee.

The referendum result weighed heavily on Key’s mind. However, it is understood that colleagues who had previously been supportive of legalising smacking argued for Boscawen’s bill to be killed as swiftly as possible.

They and Key did not want the public distracted by what would have been a lengthy sideshow as MPs grappled with the complexities of defining what was acceptable and not acceptable in terms of a “light” smack.

National is relaxed about Act getting a pay-off in the polls from Hide appearing principled by saying he would resign his Local Government portfolio rather than steer legislation through Parliament with which he could not agree.

Act has struggled to register above 1.5 per cent support since the election, while backing for National is up to 10 percentage points higher than the party got at the ballot box last year.

While Act appears to have decided to be less supine in its four-way relationship with National, the Maori Party and United Future, it has to ensure it does not overreach itself and become the docked tail wagging a very large National dog…….

To read  the rest go to:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10593810&pnum=0

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Larry Baldock

Larry Baldock

The Kiwi Party
Press Release

Open Letter to the Prime Minister of New Zealand,
Parliament,
Wellington

26 August, 2009

Dear Prime Minister,

As you are aware I have led and organised the recent Citizens Initiated Referendum on the amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act that has given all New Zealanders a chance to voice their strongly held views on a controversial subject. This was only possible because of the support given by a marvellous group of volunteers who gave their time and resources freely.

An important part of that group, at least in the first months of the campaign, were many of your Caucus members who strongly opposed the Sue Bradford’s bill, and actively collected signatures for the petition to force the referendum.

Given this common history in the referendum, and the very strong result, it would seem reasonable then that I may have been invited by you to discuss some proposals to address the widespread concerns of the majority of this country’s citizens.

In contrast, I have learnt from news reports that, prior to the referendum results being announced you have been involved in discussions with those we discover now only represent just fewer than 12 percent of the Referendum vote, such as Sue Bradford and Deborah Morris-Travers. In fact it seems that advisors from the ‘Yes” vote coalition are literally crawling all over our ‘House of Representatives.’

I shall therefore endeavour to communicate my concerns through this open letter and hope you may grant me an opportunity for personal dialogue as well.

The final results show that 87.4 percent voted ‘No!’ This means more New Zealanders voted ‘No’ in this referendum than voted for the National party in the 2008 elections and that the turnout at 56 percent was higher than for the referendum on MMP in 1992.

Your views about the rights of parents and your disapproval of the way the Helen Clark-led government ignored the majority opposition to the Bradford law are well known and documented. This makes your current position very difficult to understand and impossible to justify or defend.

When you try to reassure concerned parents with your personal promises, it seems, from the outside at least, that you are falling prey to the attitude that your predecessor developed wherein she thought as Prime Minister her opinion mattered more than anyone else’s, and that it was within her power to take care of everyone.

With all due respect John, you will not be Prime Minister forever. If you leave the Bradford law on our statutes any future government will be able to change the police and CYFS policy guidelines by executive decree, without reference to the democratically elected House of Representatives. This would render your short-term proposals aimed at giving comfort to the good parents of New Zealand null and void.

Prime Minister, good parents do not want words of comfort they want legislative change!

Your continued claims that the ‘law is working well’ are not enhancing anyone’s view of your comprehension of what the law was supposed to do, and what it is in fact accomplishing.

As a parliamentarian you will know that the purpose of a bill is summed up in its ‘purpose clause’.
It is impossible to properly evaluate whether or not the law as enacted is working well, except by reference to the purpose clause of the Bill itself.

Sue Bradford’s purpose clause was “The purpose of this Act is to amend the principal Act 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”.

Here in clause 4 of her Bill we have the purpose and the means of achieving that purpose, defined very clearly, namely to reduce violence towards children (child abuse) by abolishing the use of parental force for correction!

The continued abuse and sickening deaths of children since the Bill was passed is proof that it is not achieving that purpose. The awful abuse continues, and Sue Bradford herself readily admits, “My bill was never intended to solve this problem”. (National Radio Dec 2007)

So not only is the law not working, but also that lofty goal has long since been abandoned by its sponsor!

When you claim that no good parents are being criminalised I think you are referring to ‘prosecuted’.  The police records do indicate that the numbers of prosecutions are low at this point for smacking or minor acts of discipline offences, but the truth is that every parent that continues to use a smack for correction is automatically criminalised.

After all, wouldn’t we consider a thief a criminal once they stole possessions that were not their own, regardless of whether they were caught by the police and prosecuted? After being found guilty in court their status would then be changed to that of a convicted criminal.

The number of prosecutions by the police of good parents is therefore not evidence of whether the law is working or not.

The law has an effect on every good parent in this country even if a single prosecution has not been laid.

You may not have had to deal with the circumstances created when your child comes home from school to announce that they had been informed that they should report Mummy or Daddy to the teacher if they are smacked, but many have.

Your proposal to solve this dilemma appears to be that parents should wilfully break the law of the country, while disciplining their children for breaking the rules within the family home! This forces many parents into the awful position of a hypocritical ‘do as I say, not do as I do’ type parenting which should not be recommended by anyone, least of all the Prime Minister.

A useful test of the efficacy of the new law might be to determine how many more prosecutions the police are bringing before the courts against real child abusers. This is because supporters of the amendment to Sec 59 constantly claim that the police were hindered from prosecuting real child abusers because the previous Sec 59 defence of reasonable force meant they could easily be acquitted. They claimed that as a result the police were not even bothering to bring charges against these criminals.

This of course was not supported by a proper study of case law over the past 15 years, or the police statistics.

However, if this is the justification for the new law we should have seen a dramatic increase in the number of police prosecutions for crimes against our children, given that any use of force by parents for correction is now prohibited.

Police records and statements by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope in the last police report on the new law saying that “its business as usual for the police” clearly confirms that the law is not working in that regard.

There is only one way in which it could be claimed the law is working, (though I cannot believe that this is what you mean), and that it is that progress is being made towards the total abolition of the use of parental force for the purpose of correction.

While prosecutions at this stage are low, the latest police report confirms that the police have issued a considerable number of warnings. What is the purpose of those warning Prime Minister? Does not a warning imply that the police have informed the traumatised family members that have just been subject to an investigation that they should not use force for the purpose of correction again, or else prosecution would likely follow. Surely that must be the case.

Because the purpose of the law is to ultimately stop parents from using any force for the purpose of correction!

All your promises and words of comfort are meaningless since the police are to be independent in enforcing the law in New Zealand. We have had enough of the police asking the PM whether they should prosecute or not with ‘paintergate’ and the failure to prosecute Heather Simpson over the illegal spending of taxpayer money in the 2005 elections.

New Zealanders are not stupid and they were not confused about the referendum question. They have understood from the very beginning what Sue Bradford and her supporter’s real intentions were. Surely you are not unaware of her motives, or have you now joined with her and the UN in their plan to run our country?
That plan was made clear in the Green party’s first press release back in 2003 when they announced they had drafted an ‘anti-smacking law’ to “stop parents physically punishing their children in line with UN demands.”

A recent survey confirmed a reduction in the number of parents using smacking for correction, which is not surprising given that it has been a criminal offence for the last two years. Unfortunately, such a decline has not resulted in a less violent society.

I guess this does reveal though, that the law is indeed working, but is that what you and the National party were committed to? Have you really become so aligned with Sue Bradford and the 12 percent minority of the country who view all discipline as violence, that you are pleased with this outcome?

If so, it must be said that your party has made a flip-flop in policy between May and June 2007, without consultation with your supporters, sufficient to make the 1984 Labour government look like angels of democracy!

Given that a recent Colmar Brunton poll showed that 90 percent of National Party voters were going to vote ‘no,’ and that the result from your own electorate was about the same, surely there are many of your loyal voters who would be shocked at the change in your views on parenting?

One of the things that made a positive impression on me, when I discussed with you how you would vote on the Prostitution Law Reform Act back in 2003, was that you said that when you were made aware of your electorates’ opposition to the proposed bill, you felt you were obligated to represent them and vote against the law.

Surely you have not abandoned your principles in just a few short years?

Prime Minister I have no personal interest in becoming your enemy, but I will speak up on behalf of 87.4 percent of Kiwis who voted ‘No’.

Many of these people feel they have lost all hope of being heard by politicians in their own country. As my wife and I criss-crossed the country many times over the 18 months in which we collected signatures to force the referendum, we encountered a great deal of despair and distrust towards parliamentarians. Having been one myself, this saddened me a great deal.

I know that most MPs generally work hard and try to do what they can to make New Zealand a better place.

However, we both know that most Kiwis do not evaluate their MPs on the basis of their daily activities but on events like this, when there is a clear choice to be made between listening to the wishes of the people or following ones own ideas or political agenda.

Given the current political landscape where both the Government and the ‘Queens Loyal Opposition’ MPs in this country are refusing to listen to the voice of the people and stand up for democracy, it is entirely possible that you may be able to disregard this referendum and survive politically for a few more years.

I am absolutely convinced however, that you will do almost irreparable harm to our democracy, and strike a deep wound in the hearts of so many of your countrymen and countrywomen.

I humble urge you to reconsider your current position,

Yours sincerely

Larry Baldock

Democracy in danger?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The Kiwi Party
Press Release

“The final results announced yesterday by the Chief Electoral Office show that more New Zealanders took part in the Smacking referendum than the 1992 MMP referendum,” said Kiwi Party Leader Larry Baldock.

Compare smacking referendum with MMP referendum

Smacking Referendum
56.09%  took part
87.40%  voted NO

MMP  Referendum Sept 1992
55%  took part
85%  voted for change

Following the MMP referendum, Labour leader Mike Moore said “The people didn’t speak on Saturday, they screamed.”

“As a nation we changed our voting system with less of a mandate than was given to our politicians last Friday.

“Instead of sending troops to Afghanistan to fight for democracy, maybe we should send them to Wellington!

“Instead of Fiji being suspended from the Pacific Forum,for ignoring the Democratic will of the people, perhaps New Zealand should be suspended…..?

Ends

Contact Larry Baldock
021864833