Turei slams NZ First in child protection

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has strongly criticised NZ First for proposing a referendum on the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Winston Peters brought this up in a speech in March – see Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law? – but it resurfaced on Q+A yesterday, where NZ First MP Tracey Martin was interviewed along with Sue Bradford.

10 years on from the so called “anti-smacking” law – NZ First calls for a binding referendum

NZ First MP Tracey Martin told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the law change has had a “chilling effect” on NZ parents including herself.

“Well, we’ve always argued, for 25 years, around binding a referenda on issues like this, where our citizens need to speak. We have a representative democracy. 113 temporarily empowered politicians decided this for all the parents of New Zealand. The parents of New Zealand need to be able to speak on it,” said Mrs Martin.

“I remember me being a parent when this bill went through, and I felt that the language that was being used, the politicians that were telling me that if I lightly smacked my child, I was then committing abuse. I found that personally offensive. It had a chilling effect on my parenting. And I believe other parents out there feel the same,” she said.

However, Former Green Party MP and the architect behind the law changes Sue Bradford disagrees.

“For New Zealand First to want us to go backwards on something that’s so important for our babies, children and young people, I just find incredible.”

“From the point of view of protecting our children and babies and saying actually our young kids should have the right to grow up without violence,” says Mrs Bradford.

Turei responded: NZ First putting politics before child protection

NZ First has chosen to put political game playing ahead of the safety of children by proposing a referendum on the ten year old amendments to the Crimes Act.

NZ First MP Tracy Martin said on Q&A this morning that her Party wants to hold a binding referendum to repeal the 2007 amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act.

“I think it’s appalling that NZ First is willing to remove a basic protection for our kids in the hope it’ll buy them a few votes in election year,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This law change simply removed a legal loophole that had allowed people who assaulted children to escape charges by claiming it was ‘parental correction’.

“Parents aren’t being prosecuted for lightly smacking their children. NZ First is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

“It’s sad that a political party would choose to use its resources to campaign on removing child protections rather than finding solutions to child abuse,” said Ms Turei.

But it’s election year and populist vote pandering seems to take precedent over protection of children from violence.

 

Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law?

NZ First wants to repeal the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Or probably more accurately, they want to attract some votes from people who strongly opposed the law change. It’s hard to imagine either National or Labour (or Greens) wanting to go through another smacking debate.

This morning NZ Q+A will look at this with Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford.

It’s 10 years this month since the so-called “anti-smacking” law passed. NZ First wants to repeal the law. We’ll debate the issues with New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the bill.

It’s curious that Tracey Martin is representing NZ First here.

I can’t see NZ First spokesperson roles on the NZ First website, but the last Justice news is from Darroch Ball (although Denis O’Rourke feature’s on their Justice policy page),  and the last Law and Order news is from Winston Peters. Martin features in Education news and policy.

In March Peters stated in  a speech at Waipu (and repeated in ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’):

We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

I think that claim is highly debatable, albeit typically vague. I call it button pushing bull.

Peters followed up a few days later in New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants referendum on anti-smacking law

“From the word go, we said this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“I said very clearly that we’ve got young people running amok up here and around the country. They can’t be touched. There’s a hundred reasons given by sociologists and apologists for what’s happening, but these people know what’s wrong, know what they’re doing is wrong, know they can’t be touched, know there’s no consequences.”

“What’s happened since then has been an explosion in violence towards children, the very antithesis of what these people argued would happen,” Peters said.

Without any evidence supplied I call bullshit on this.

The party’s policy was to put the matter to the people and repeal the law, he said.

I can’t find any mention of the anti-smacking law in NZ First’s policies.

Family First praised Peters’ commitment:  NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

Family First NZ is welcoming NZ First’s pledge to repeal the anti-smacking law, and will be clarifying with the party as to whether it is a non-negotiable bottom line for any coalition agreement after the election.

In a speech on Friday in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.”

In 2014, NZ First said “NZ First policy is to repeal the anti-smacking law passed by the last parliament despite overwhelming public opposition. Accordingly, we will not enter any coalition or confidence and supply agreement with a party that wishes to ignore the public’s clearly stated view in a referendum on that issue.”

But Bob McCoskrie has linked a commitment made by Peters in March this year to a bottom line made for the last election. perhaps Martin will say whether this bottom line will also be in place this election.

McCoskrie also  implied links between the law change and increased violence.

“the smacking law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness”

It’s certain that that claim can’t be substantiated, as I expect we will hear from Bradford.

If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now.

Proving something like that – or the opposite – is very difficult with such a complex issue.

“A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents,” says Mr McCoskrie.

That report was done by Family First, who are about as biased as you could get on smacking law. The author was Bob McCoskrie, so he is quoting himself.

While he links the law and “significant or sustained improvement” and “the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents” he makes no claim about a verifiable link between the law change and levels of violence.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

That proves nothing about the impact of the anti-smacking law. McCoskrie is linking the two by association but not with facts.

Sue Bradford also responded:  Winston Peters a ‘dangerous old man’ – Sue Bradford

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

“He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

So it could be an interesting discussion this morning between Bradford and Martin.

It will be especially interesting to see if either of them produce any evidence of impact of the law change.