26 Aug 2009

National won't support member's bill on smacking

8:32 pm on 26 August 2009

Prime Minister John Key says the National Party will not support a member's bill which allows smacking of a child for correctional purposes.

A bill drafted by the ACT MP John Boscawen has been drawn from the ballot for debate.

The bill is designed to give effect to the recent smacking referendum in which 87% of those who voted said a smack as part of good parental correction should not be a criminal offence.

Mr Key said on Wednesday that National Party MPs will be voting against the bill.

"It's our view that the law is working. I've given New Zealanders an absolute assurance that if the law doesn't work, I will change it," he said.

"I want to make sure that New Zealanders understand completely (that) I take seriously the message they sent through the referendum.

"I'll be working with the police and Child, Youth and Family to make sure that the bill is administered as I think it should."

Mr Boscawen said he hoped the National Government would support his bill. He told Checkpoint he believed Mr Key is making a mistake in ignoring the results of the referendum.

Mr Boscawen referred to the 87% of voters who believed a smack as part of good parental correction should not be a criminal offence.

"They don't believe a light smack should be illegal and a criminal offence and to ignore those 87 percent, I think is a big mistake."

Green MP Sue Bradford said Mr Boscowen's bill is a trip back to the Dark Ages.

Ms Bradford, whose member's bill removed the defence of reasonable force in child discipline in 2007, opposes the latest bill.

"It's abhorrent in the sense that what Mr Boscawen seeks to do is to define the level and nature of force that it would be legal basically for New Zealand parents to use on their children. It would be a trip back into the Dark Ages."