A referendum will be held

Today is a dark day for Labour, and even darker for the social engineers (many within Labour) who are trying to build a PC nanny state regulating our lives. The people of New Zealand (not just 121 of them) are going to have a say on the Anti-smacking bill. And it will be very interesting to hear what they have to say. I suspect that they will vote in large numbers to repeal the Anti-smacking Bill.

I am proud to have my name amongst those 337 893New Zealanders who have signed the petition by Sheryl Savill asking the question “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” and look forward to voting “No” to the question when it appears on the ballot paper at the 2008 election. It is the biggest petition in new Zealand for twenty years (probably since the controversial one against the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in 1986), giving some indication of public opinion. Although the question is loaded, which reduces its credibility, the loading is not excessive, and in voting down the amendment proposed by Chester Borrows, Labour and the Greens explicitly voted to make a smack a criminal offence.The deleting of the word “good” before parental correction will make the question reasonably fair. Any question about legalising hitting or abuse would be loaded because that is not what opponents of the anti-smacking Bill like me want, what we want is merely to have a definition of reasonable force to allow smacking to be legal.

Dave at big-news blogs on a accompanying petition by former United Future MP Larry Baldock asking “Should the Government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse in New Zealand?” may not get to referendum as it only has 265 000 signatures, 20 000 short of whats needed. I have mixed views of this question, as any right minded government would do so, there is no obvious need for the question and it appears written largely to make the petitioners look good, so am not upset that it might fail.

No doubt the referendum will hurt Labour politically, as it will draw more attention to the issue, and asuming Labour don’t opt for a referendum on a date other than election day (which would add controversy) there will be an explicit reminder of the Bill to voters on the ballot paper of why not to vote Labour.

 The big question is if a majority of New Zealanders vote “No” to the question come election 2008, whether National will repeal the law and implement the Borrows amendment. National did support a compromise, which was actually a sell out on section 59, at last minute. However there are some signs National may actually repeal the Labour/Green changes to section 59, and prior to the “compromise” all the National Party caucus except Katherine Rich (who is leaving) opposed the anti-smacking Bill. I hope it does, as it will loose little support in doing so.

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