News release

22 March 2007
Labour shows contempt for New Zealanders

The Labour Government has shown utter contempt for New Zealanders and the democratic process with its plan to railroad the anti-smacking bill through Parliament, says National Party Leader John Key. "The Labour-led Government knows the measure is deeply unpopular, so it plans to act against the wishes of the majority of Kiwis and ram the bill through under urgency. "This is a deeply cynical abuse of power as Labour tries to clear the decks of this controversial issue. "Helen Clark has refused to let her MPs vote the way they really think on this bill. To ram it through under the cover of urgency shows just how out of touch her government has become. "Now, not content with riding over the top of the wishes of some of her MPs, she wants to ride over the top of the wishes of the majority of New Zealanders – while she's out of the country. "The Prime Minister also knows that she has been caught out saying one thing about the smacking ban before the election, and giving a different answer afterwards. "This is arrogant and cynical government at its very worst. This is not about good law, this is about Labour's political damage control."


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#1 - Anna Stewart 2007-03-23 19:19 - (Reply)

The government should not be able to dictate to parents how they have to raise their kids. Don't lump good, firm parents in the same catagory as child abusers. Sure, make laws protect our children but not at the expense of a loving parents right to teach their child right from wrong.

#1.1 - Jimmy Sales 2007-03-23 21:30 - (Reply)

Hi John Chester Burrows amendment on section 59 certainly makes sense whilst it is great to see that you will not dictate on conscience votes the electorate needs to know the National Party do not agree with Nanny State interfering with good parents!

#1.1.1 - Dale 2007-03-23 22:46 - (Reply)

I'm afraid i disagree with conscience votes all together. Nationals MPs (as should all MPs) should be voting based on what their electorate wants and the party votes should also be representing NZ'ers wishes. The members conscience has nothing to do with it if they are truely there to represent us. You too should be making a stand along with all he many NZ'ers who are not for this change too Mr Key. I have come too realise that democracy only means something to MPs when it's election time and they may lose their jobs/postions. It says alot about their ethics and morality sadly. This is one change the majority are saying NO to yet MPs refuse to listen and follow our cries for help. I had many spanks on the ass as a child and i dont resent my parents for it at all as i obviously required some hard and fast guidance. Nothing has changed in the years gone by and children still sometimes require a firm hand. Assault? Possibly in some way but then if some of the smart assed teens etc out there got some harsh justice meted out to them, maybe some might straighten out before causing damage to either other peoples property and to other people loved ones. For once, please do whats right for our families.

#1.2 - Garrick Walkinshaw 2007-03-24 06:26 - (Reply)

My wife and I have fostered many young children over recent years and we have some real concerns about this anti smacking legislation. We use with our foster children Love and Logic principles, which don't include smacking, (see and wonder why the government isn't following a policy of educating rather than legislating. There is no point in making something illegal unless you first educate about alternatives and with the way Labour is trying to rush this law through there is no time for that to effectively happen. A grave concern we have is that this law will empower Child Youth and Family Services to unfairly remove more children from families. A single smack will mean that CYFS can justify removing all the children from a family. With our work in foster care we have seen this happen too often even under the present law and we have ended up caring for children who should rightly still be with whanau or their extended families. John, you need to make sure every National member votes against fast tracking this law .... after all, if Helen Clark can direct her members to vote for this law (when it is meant to be a conscience vote) then surely you have a moral obligation to prevent such a mockery of the voting system.

#2 - Ross Nixon 2007-03-23 20:20 - (Reply)

What I would like to know is, if Labour/Greens manage to get this totalitarian anti-smacking bill passed... will National give an iron-clad promise to repeal it "by lunchtime"?

#2.1 - Sheila 2007-03-23 22:07 - (Reply)

The Labour Party are taking away the rights of parents to control their children. I was a child that was beaten on a regular basis and I agree with a smack on the bottom. This bill will not stop children from being killed by parents, guardians and caregivers, the bashing and abuse that are the cause of this occur behind closed doors, not in the public eye where it can be enforced. It will make criminals out of good citizens.

#2.2 - Roger 2007-03-24 07:01 - (Reply)

I agree with Ross and Sheila. This bill is totally unnecessary and a farce with being pushed through in such an unusual manner. It will not do any good other than make criminals out of good parents who want to keep their children under control and stop them from becoming hooligans. Children under 16 get away with too much and then all that happens is a "family conference" which has no effect whatsoever. I and my colleagues urge you to vote against it.

#3 - Barry Florence-Bennett 2007-03-24 05:54 - (Reply)

I used to be the best, smartest, most confident father in the world... and then my first child was born. I've heard it said that the top six women in 'power' have but one child between them (the one who pranged my Volkswagen under dubious circumstances), and I assume that tacking Sue Bradford onto that group doesn't change the score. I 'd estimate that I gave my daughter no more than 1 or 2 smacks over the last nine years (she really was easy to raise), but it's galling to think that the bureaucrats in Helengrad would now make me a criminal for having done that. When they can present me with their polite, balanced, immaculately-behaved, *unsmacked* offspring, I might listen to their ideological pap. Until then, they should just get on with what I actually thought I was paying them for - and I'll get on with being a good father.

#4 - Edwin Dando 2007-03-24 07:02 - (Reply)

I am so sick of governments feeling they have run our lives for us. What are we - a society of independent, capable people or a bunch of thoughtless morons who needs a "mother-knows-best" government to tell us how to raise our kids? Frankly, this entire situation is absurd and I feel like pinching myself to be sure that it is really 2007. Through decades of welfare dependency Labour has created a state of needy, dependent New Zealanders that flies in the face of our grass-roots ingenuity and initiative. Why cant we focus on our core competencies by maximizing the strengths NZ has? Look at Ireland – they have created a software industry that is second to only Silicon Valley. We have the brains, the balls, the ingenuity and reputation to do something like this. If kiwis backed a party that would invest in those who *generate* growth rather than those who cripple it this country would truly have a hope of making the top half of the OECD rankings.

#5 - Richard Goodwin 2007-03-24 07:24 - (Reply)

I note that this site is billed as a "conversation". I have seen several specific questions posted, such as will National give a water tight assurance that they will repeal the anti-smacking legislation if it is passed? John, you have not replied to this question. If this site is going to be a conversation, then you need to respond specifically to issues raised. I too want to add my voice to encourage National MP's to follow the wishes of the majority of their electorates and vote against the anti smacking legislation. While NZ has a major problem with child abuse, this will not address the issue and may in fact make it worse.

#6 - Redbaiter 2007-03-24 08:50 - (Reply)

John Key the National Party's Great White Hope? Forget it. He won't save us from socialism. A spineless appeaser too worried about breaching conventional socialist cultural mores to ever make any kind of difference. If he had any courage, any REAL leadership ability, even any understanding of the right's basic political position, he would ensure that those within his own party who are stating their intention to support this bill are dealt with. That some Nats think this way, and are ready to endorse such an arrogant attempt by the state to insert itself into the child rearing process at the expense of good parents everywhere is a clear sign they're in the wrong party, and that the Nats overall appear to be in a state of confusion regarding their political objectives. Its time the Nats got serious, and got rid of these leftist pseudo liberal ... [edited] whose intent is apparently to endlessly compromise the right's traditional position. They need to understand that its time to take a stand against the totalitarian left and their attempts to impose their political ideas upon NZ culture. People/ politicians whose ideas just keep giving the left another another plank to power and control over individuals and families have no business in the Nats. The enemy within is always the greater enemy.

#7 - Tracy Page 2007-03-24 11:06 - (Reply)

I believe If Helen Clark cannot get the smacking bill through under urgency, she will backtrack and tell the people that Labour is "listening to them" and allow her Labour caucus a conscience vote. This way if Labour politicians (who are tired of her dictatorial leadership) cross the floor and the bill is not passed, Helen will look as though she is still in control. Which she is not, she is a crippled leader, with no mandate or moral authority, time is running out and she knows it.

#8 - Alec Wilson 2007-03-24 11:30 - (Reply)

I do not agree with urgency, but wish to congratulate the National MP's who are voting for the repeal of S59, and Mr Key for his circumspect comments in respect of this unpleasant issue.

#9 - David 2007-03-24 17:42 - (Reply)

Sue Bradford's bill is a nonsense [omitted.] I think in a democracy every parent should have the right to bring up their children how they wish. If some parents are using extreme violence against their children, that is a symptom of greater social issues. No normal parent intentionally wishes to harm their children. Education is part of the solution, so is raising incomes, so is effective social services. If Sue Bradford is successful then many will undoubtably be prosecuted for good parental behaviour. Think of the disgruntled partners who will make false complaints to gain sole custody of children. The proposed bill also tells those parents who once smacked their children that they will soon be considered no better than common criminals. No doubt humans have used physical force to disipline their offspring for many hundreds of thousands of years. How dare Sue Bradford think she knows better than the many billion parents that have gone before her. What will the next bill be, prosecute parents for feeding their children junk food??? To bring in legislation because it will hopefully send a clear message is not a good enough reason. I don't think most parents will have the skills to effectively discipline their children once the right to use a good old smack is withdrawn. Look at the problems the banning of corporal punishment in schools has spawned. It appears Labour may only be supporting the Bill as it can be used as evidence that they are taking our poor record of violence against children seriously.

#10 - Neil 2007-03-24 18:04 - (Reply)

There are numerous issues for which urgency is needed, but Sue Bradford's ill advised attempt at gaining her moment in the sun is not one of them. As a child I was smacked and neither of my parents were criminals, rather they were loving caring parents intent on producing honest law abiding New Zealand citizens with the will to contribute positively to this country - and I am proud to say that they succeeded. We need more parents like them who are prepared to teach their children right from wrong and less intervention from social engineering politicians who have spent no time in the real world living real lives and are therefore ill qualified to have reasonable, considered opinions on anything!

#10.1 - mara 2007-03-24 20:52 - (Reply)

There are so many urgent issues that a good Govt.should be immediately addressing in NZ.But what are we getting instead? Arrogant meddling in social policy that is hacking-off even dyed-in-the-wool Labour supporters.The feeling that NZers are not being listened to is palpable and the public mood is sour.Surely Clark will be defeated at the next election,but how much more damage can she do between now and then?

#10.1.1 - william E Owen 2007-03-25 12:50 - (Reply)

My worry is, have we as a people, left it to late to be able to change government through elections? . MMP, boundary changes, bribes to the under 20s, and state beneficiaries has made it possible to win elections because of the seats in the major cities, "the list" and of course making deals with the greenies,etc etc, Combined- they don't need an election. Even if a MP doesn't win by his electorate votes, he is in, by way of the list .eg:Winston Peters and company, as well as the bribes between parties: I'm worried my vote is wasted because I live in a city held by labour, The only way to vote is to be united as a people! don't vote for the smaller parties.!!Thats the way i see it ! Vote for a government who has enough power to make laws without making deals ,with the other minor parties, I am 60 yrs old, I have voted all my life and now feel my vote is absolutely wasted!! because I live in a labour strong hold. Bring back First past the Post it was more honest! People in Politics were held accountable then.

#10.1.2 - Donald Boese 2007-03-26 09:16 - (Reply)

Lets not forget that there are 7 National MPs voting for this bill???

#11 - Luke Bailey 2007-03-25 19:58 - (Reply)

As a young person i find it hard to believe that the leaders of my country would perpetrate such stupid and ill-planned legislation.A governments first duty is to the wellbeing of the people it serves.I thought social enginnering and privacy violation went out with Stalin.What will our country be like by the time i have my own children? will there even be one? I finally understand why we say "God defend New Zealand" because Labour definately isnt interested in doing so.

#11.1 - william E Owen 2007-03-26 10:35 - (Reply)

I understand your concern, therefore- as a young person, its your duty to not waste your vote! Weigh up what the party's policys are going to do for new zealanders *and* the country ! help to bring back common sense to our laws, labour in my opion has lost the plot and you are right,. We seem to be declining not only into stalinism but Nazi ism as well. Bring back common decencies in all aspects of our culture. We have to accept to much today that it is perceived to be normal by a minority, all that is against our very being we now have to accept, I too am fed up,

#11.1.1 - Luke Bailey 2007-03-26 21:33 - (Reply)

dont you worry william, my vote wont be wasted

#12 - Matthew 2007-03-25 23:23 - (Reply)

Hi, John I would encourage you to read the blog sites on the issue of repealing section 59. It is generating an enourmous amount of comment. I for one (as a married parent) am pro retaining section 59 because it isn't violence, it gives parents a defence when needed when they need to correct their children. This current bill will outlaw any reasonable force in the CORRECTION OF CHILDREN. Incredible, as a nation are our MPs ready to OUTLAW CORRECTION OF CHILDREN?? Children need correction as they grow up to be taught what is appropriate behaviour so that they can be positive contributing members of society. John, I ask you to ask your MPs who are currently supporting Sue Bradford's Bill to consider whether they want to outlaw the correction of children. Think of the consequences of allowing your MPs to exercise their (not their electorates) conscience. Helen Ckark is no doubt forcing some of her MPs to vote against their electorate's conscience (what an abuse of our democracy). National should simply take the majority position that the electorate holds on this issue (which is retaining section 59), which is doing the right thing and sending a clear message to Parliament and the country what its position is on a policy of fundamental importance. Trust me, you will gain votes at the next General Election for this issue, and you can use that majority to repeal Bradfod's Bill with the support of the Electorate. What frustrates me is that you haven't taken what is a golden opportunity to utterly oppose Labour on this measure (and this Bill is passing because Helen Clark has decided it will, no because Bradford has decided it will). You will not get many opportunities to (a) do the right thing (b) have 83% of the electorate agree with you in the process (c) have a clear, simple and important policy differentiator that can be a part of your campaign to be PM in 2008. (d) be a true leader on a fundamental issue. The majority of Labour support this Bill, with some who don't. The majority of National support the status quo, therefore that gives you the freedom to really question the remaining MPs in your party (if any) who support a measure that is completely contrary to the public's viewpoint and Nationals' philosophy of limited government that supports not smothers people's lives. What are you waiting for! Please reply to us!

#13 - John 2007-03-26 11:57 - (Reply)

The fundamental aspect of National Party philosophy is: less government - more individual responsibility. The National Party must not let the nutcase socialists interfere any further in our lives. Anyway - there is already plenty of legislation to protect children from excess force. The National Party must not allow the anti-smacking bill to proceed.

#14 - Michelle 2007-03-26 12:11 - (Reply)

I think the majority of New Zealanders are sickened and deeply saddened by our Lillybings et al. Their short lives with violent ends challenge us all. I understand the intent of wanting, indeed, needing to say "no more". I understand the desire to sure up the moral climate about what is not acceptable. And in that sentiment, I join wholeheartedly with Sue Bradford. But ambiguous legislation that does not address the core root of child abuse is not the answer. This conversation should not be "to smack or not to smack" - it is a misguided sideshow, albeit an extremely important and contentious one, with far-reaching consequences and ramifications. Sue Bradford's stance on smacking (corrective discipline or restraint) is detracting from the harder conversations about child abuse and what we need to do to decrease it. Her bill also poses serious questions about the legislative process in this country; the resulting legislation and its application and interpretation in law. And for this reason, I simply cannot support the current bill, and register my opposition to its progression through the house. It is absurd that we should find ourselves, yet again, the subjects of highly questionable, ambiguous law-making. We need clarity and leadership, and most of all, to preserve the integrity of our judiciary and democracy. I join with other contributors, and ask that National communicates a clear and absolute policy on this issue, and curtails the bill's advance under urgency.

#15 - Simon 2007-03-26 13:16 - (Reply)

When I was a child I was given 1 - 2 smacks. After this, just the threat of getting another smack made me think twice. If section 59 goes, then so does the ability to use the threat of a smack as a deterrent. Also, I consider the bill to be a complete waste of time and will not accomplish what it is designed to do. The time, money and effort that has been spent so far on this bill would have been more wisely spent where it is needed - like education and health. Those parents/caregivers that do abuse children in their care will continue to do, and will not stop until their attitude is changed. This is up to us as a society and not the government.

#16 - David White said:
2007-03-26 21:09 - (Reply)

*WILL* *THIS* *BILL* *BE* *"GONE* *BY* *LUNCHTIME"?* Sorry for shouting, John. But we are waiting for the reply.

#17 - admin said:
2007-03-26 21:17 - (Reply)

REMINDER: This is a moderated blog. We ask that you keep comments reasonably diplomatic. For additional guidance, please read the "join in" section carefully. Thank you.

#17.1 - Neil 2007-03-26 22:04 - (Reply)

I suspect that for this issue, the time for *reasonable diplomacy* is long since passed. Answers to specific questions would be a nice touch John.

#18 - Andrew Atkin said:
2007-03-27 08:29 - (Reply)

This aggressive preoccupation with parental "rights" is is a bit excessive - remember that kids have rights too, and it is ultimately the state's job to ensure that kids are protected from pathological parents (not all parents are hugs and kisses - many are monsters). I don't know if smacking should be outlawed, but what I do know is that the cost of a parent having to finding another form of punishment is *nothing* compared to the cost of a life ruined by serious child abuse. For the most part, we should be thinking in terms of what is ultimately going to be best for the kids.

#18.1 - Neil 2007-03-27 13:32 - (Reply)

If we as a country genuinely wish for what is *"going to be best for the kids"* , we need as a people to step away from state control in every aspect of our lives and replace that with a return to responsibility for our own actions and pass that on to our children, so that *the kids* learn very clear guidelines from early on about what is right and wrong. Sue Bradford, by her own admission knows that her bill will have no effect whatsoever on child abuse, she and other backers of this misguided bill (including our Prime Minister) have however been quite happy to use the control of child abuse as a very *Red* Herring as sufficient justification for pushing through the legislation. Then we wake up this morning to the news that we, the people of New Zealand, have no proper understanding of the bill. If this is actually the case, this surely must mean either that the very person who made that comment has failed miserably in her ability to explain clearly, or that we have been deliberately misled for who knows what reason and now we must endure a period of spin doctoring to make the whole job look good. Something that may surprise the politicians at the top of the current heap - New Zealanders are nowhere near as stupid as they (the politicians) think we are, in fact most of us have a much richer set of experiences to draw on for reaching conclusions than any of current clutch of top politico's.

#18.2 - william E Owen 2007-03-29 10:32 - (Reply)

I agree that a lot of parents are monsters, but they are a very small percentage, where as a million of us(parents) are loving. Educate those minoritys and leave our private homes private. All parents know the diffience between a loving smack and child abuse. Doesn't the goverment ???

#19 - PoliTicKa 2007-03-27 13:18 - (Reply)

Has anyone addressed the idea of Helen Clark's agenda? Whatever one might think of her she is NOT stupid. She is well aware of what everyone is saying and the debate around the issue. Why would she try and push this through as a complete turn-around from her previous stance? It seems to me that she is trying to curry favour in the international forum (with recent visit to Bush, etc.) - buy brownie points with the UN. She knows her tenure here is coming to an end and she's planning for the future. What better way than to be seen as a pioneer for social change (especially as mandated/suggested by the UN)? Now THAT is something to be upset about - using NZ society for one's own personal gain...

#20 - Nicholas O'Kane 2007-03-27 15:37 - (Reply)

I'm interested in seeing a commitment from National to repeal this law if passed and National wins the 2008 election.

#21 - Peter McK 2007-03-27 16:24 - (Reply)

I appreciate the video blog and will regularly check in. In respect of Sue and Helen's anti-smacking legislation I have become very concerns about that invasion into my family life. I object to being made a criminal (whether or not I am prosecuted is beside the point) for bringing up my three children as I see fit. They are given a secure and solid foundation and this does include giving them boundaries. Very occasionally they are smacked. Will you be declaring that National when Government sometime in late 2008 will introduce Chester Burrows amendment to rescind this piece of social engineering? I certainly believe you should and it will show strong leadership (as you have on a number of issues already) and give you the chance to further enter into labours support base.

#22 - Michelle 2007-03-27 17:00 - (Reply)

The UN angle raised by PoliTick is definitely cogent. And just how persuasive, and for whom, is a very, very interesting question. I wish the opposition parties would (publicly) pose such questions. I wonder, is it the politicians or media setting the agenda that is effectively dumbing down the quality of democratic debate in New Zealand? I note the continued requests for John Key to actually deliver on this website's communication positioning and interact with contributors. Not a good look to over promise and under deliver ... l

#23 - Neil 2007-03-27 18:17 - (Reply)

Just on TV One News we see Ms Clark once again saying that this bill needs to be passed to stop the serious abuse of our children - once again using one very valid argument (we need to stop the violence against our children) to support something which will, as she and her colleagues know full well have no effect whatever on that particular problem.

#24 - admin said:
2007-03-27 22:15 - (Reply)

John has responded to this comment stream in a new video.

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