27 Aug 2008

Green MP against referendum at election time

2:01 pm on 27 August 2008

The Green Party MP who initiated the child discipline law, Sue Bradford, says a referendum on the issue should not be held at this year's general election.

Opponents of the law have gathered enough signatures to force a non-binding referendum, which the government will hold by postal ballot next year.

Ms Bradford says a referendum on the issue will help to clear up any public confusion - some people still mistakenly believe the law allows the police to arrest them for minor acts against their children.

Ms Bradford also says that if Labour had put the bill through as a Government bill there would and should have been a public education campaign to explain its implications.

Ms Bradford says she is confident no major party would overturn the child discipline law.

Justice Minister Annette King says the referendum will be held by postal ballot in the middle of next year.

Opponents of the law are angry the referendum will not be held during this year's general election.

Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock, who led the campaign against the law, says it would be easy to hold a referendum during an election. He will continue to pressure the Government to hold the two together.

But Ms Bradford says a referendum held during the 1999 general election resulted in a complete shambles.

She predicts a public referendum will not lead to the demise of the law.

Ms Bradford also says the debate should not be allowed to overshadow other election issues, such as climate change and child poverty.

An audit by the Clerk of the House has deemed 310,000 of the 390,000 signatures to be valid - 25,000 more than is required to initiate a referendum.

1999 referendums

Two non-binding referendums were held on 27 November, 1997. They were:

Should the size of the House of Representatives be reduced from 120 members to 99 members?'

The Yes vote was 81.5%. The No vote was 18.5%. Voter response was 84.8%.


Should there be a reform of our justice system placing greater emphasis on the needs of victims, providing restitution and compensation for them and imposing minimum sentences and hard labour for all serious violent offences?'

The Yes vote was 91.8%. The No vote was 8.2%. Voter response was 84.8%.