Right leaning NZ First voters may be disappointed

Going by comments here, at Kiwiblog and at Whale Oil during the campaign there may be a few right leaners who voted for NZ First who may be more than a little disappointed with their choice.

Most notably Cameron Slater promoted voting for NZ First heavily, thinking they would push National right on selected issues (despite most NZ First policies being far more to the left).

Winston Peters is very experienced at pandering to potential voters on populist issues, knowing that as a smaller party he will never be able to deliver. This looks especially true by the look of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.

Not with National

It was common to see people saying they would vote NZ First to reduce National’s clout in a right leaning government.That NZ First decided not to do a deal with National is neither surprising nor good news for right leaning  supporters.

Maori seats referendum

One of Winston’s bottom lines/promises was to have a referendum on the Maori seats to ‘eliminate them’.  This policy was eliminated by Labour, who couldn’t countenance losing their grip on all seven Maori seats..

Immigration

Winston has campaigned for years on drastically lowering immigration numbers, often erroneously and deceitfully describing what we had as ‘mass immigration’. Jacinda Ardern has stated that Labour immigration policy remains intact, that will mean some reduction in numbers but nowhere as drastically as Winston promised.

The UN resolution on Israel

This was an issue pushed hard at Whale Oil but no one else cared about it, but has made it into the coalition agreement:

Record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government’s sponsorship of UNSC2334

This is just a criticism of the process used, of not referring the decision to sponsor the resolution to Cabinet. It does nothing to criticise or oppose the resolution.

Smacking referendum

Family First press release on 28 september: Anti-Smacking Law On Coalition Table

In a speech in March 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.” He then further clarified his position in an interview on Newstalk ZB saying that 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. This position was backed up by senior MP Tracey Martin.

It may or may not have ever got onto the negotiating table, but neither Labour nor Greens would have supported it.

Climate change

All of NZ First, Labour and greens supported much stronger action on climate change, and it was included in both the Labour-Green deal and also the Labour-NZ First agreement:

Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on therecommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

If the Climate Commission determines that agriculture is to be included in the ETS, then upon entry, the free allocation to agriculture will be 95% but with all revenues from this source recycled back into agriculture in order to encourage agricultural innovation,mitigation and additional planting of forestry.

It even allows for agriculture to be included in the ETS.

Anyone thinking that a vote for NZ First would deliver a more right leaning government may now be ruing their judgement. However the outcome was fairly predictable so they shouldn’t be surprised.

Tracey Martin on referendums

In an interesting interview during the election campaign Tracey Martin gave an indication as to how she thought referenda should be used.

It gives a good insight into Martin’s and presumably NZ First’s preferences on the use of referendums.

Martin has been a member of the New Zealand First Party since 1993. She was on the party Board of Directors from 2008 until becoming an MP and the party’s deputy leader in 2011. She dropped to party #3 when Ron Mark challenged her and took over as deputy. She is expected to become a Cabinet Minister in the incoming government.

NZ First have promote referenda as a way of allowing the public to decide – from their Social Development policy:

Protect our social fabric and traditional family values from temporarily empowered politicians, by requiring so-called ‘conscience issues’ be put to comprehensive public debate and referenda.

The have proposed a number of referenda. Winston Peters promised a referendum on the Maori seats in the recent election campaign, although it looks like that has been lost in negotiations with Labour.

Family recently publicly reminded NZ First Promised Anti-Smacking Law Referendum:

(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.”)

That was for a previous election.

In a speech in March 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.”

He then further clarified his position in an interview on Newstalk ZB saying that 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.”

This position was backed up by senior MP Tracey Martin.

It would be surprising if Labour or Greens supported this. We may find out today if it’s another casualty of negotiations or not.

During the election campaign Martin explained how she saw referenda being used in an interview at the University of Otago, starting at about 20:15

Question: “One thing we’ve noticed is that New Zealand First seems to call for a lot of referendums on different issues, and you think that it should be the people deciding rather than a group of Parliamentarians. Why is that?”

Martin replied :

First of all there’s some things, they’re quite big social shifts, you know there’s some stuff that makes quite a big difference to society.

Lets take euthanasia as one that’s a biggie at the moment, and also legalising recreational marijuana. Split that off from medicinal marijuana, New Zealand First has already said we support medicinal marijuana through a prescription regime.

As an aside it’s not marijuana, it’s cannabis. It’s unusual to here it referred to as marijuana in New Zealand. The bill currently in Parliament is Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment.

But if you take those two issues, they’re issues that we think New Zealanders have the right to discuss, and my vote shouldn’t be worth any more than your vote…and so you need to have the same information I have, and then the country needs to vote.

“Do you see that I have a vote, and I vote in a Parliament, surely that is my reflection of those people making decisions on my behalf?”

So we have a representative democracy, and I would say that if every single bill that went through that House was a conscience vote then you might be right.

Euthanasia was not a topic that was campaigned on at the last election, so how would you have been able to vote on the political party, if you had strong beliefs on that particular topic, how would you have been able to vote for a particular party on that issue, which is a big issue for a nation.

It’s not the tweaking of a, it’s not Uber. It’s a large piece of legislation that is going to make quite a substantial change to country.

NZ First proposals to radically change our economic system is far more substantial – should any policies changing our economic system go to a referendum?

“If parties were campaigning on it this election and setting out their values on the issue which I think a lot of parties have been, it is coming into the discussion a bit more and I chose to volte on that issue, would it then be a rule for Parliament to make that decision rather than putting it back to the people again who have just voted?”

Well I think again it would be fine if it was a representative democracy.

That’s what we have.

…that’s just what New Zealand First believe, there are particular issues that should be laid in front of the New Zealand people, and the New Zealand people as a whole should be able to have a discussion about them out in the open in a transparent way, and then a vote on it.

“Is this a call for more direct democracy in New Zealand?”

Well basically yes, that’s what, I think that’s principle number 15 of New Zealand First, is about direct democracy.

If we haven’t campaigned on it, if we haven’t had a position on it, on a big item, then it’s something we think we need to go back to the constituency which is the public.

15. The People’s Policies

All policies not contained in the party manifesto, where no national emergency clearly exists, will first be referred to the electorate for a mandate.

This is an oddly NZ First-centric principle. Why should it only apply to things NZ First has no policy or campaign position on? Why shouldn’t things of public importance that are NZ First policies not go to referenda?

My also hope is that it might actually make feel connected too.

Here’s a very interesting and important point.

So if I put a bill in front, and I don’t think a referendum should just be a question. I think that’s a really easy way to manipulate direct democracy is to have a single question that is worded in a way that well how could you say no to it, or how could you say less to it.

I believe that you have the same intelligence that anybody sitting in that House has, and so you should see the piece of legislation, you should get the regulatory impact statement, you should get the full Parliamentary blurb that we get, and then after twelve months you should vote on it.

I think that in principle this is a good idea. I have suggested this sort of process for legalising or decriminalising cannabis – a bill should be passed through the normal parliamentary processes, and then go to the public for ratification or rejection via a referendum.

There are some potential down sides, especially if one referendum is held to put a number of issues to the public. There could be a lot of material to distribute and to digest.

Instead of handing out the full legislation plus regulatory statement and any other blurb perhaps a fair summary should be written and distributed. Those who have the time or inclination could obtain all the material online or request it all to be posted out.

I don’t think giving everyone a big pile of legislation will encourage participation, it is more likely to deter engagement.

But generally I think that this is a promising approach to contentious issues of public importance, write the legislation and if it passes through Parliament put it too the people for ratification or rejection.

This would encourage our Parliamentarians to write and pass legislation that made sense to the public and addressed public concerns.

I think this would work well for both euthanasia and for recreational cannabis use.

I don’t think it would be a good way to decide on the Maori seats. That would enable a large majority to make a decision that really just affects a relatively small minority.

I also don’t think it would suit the smacking issue.

The use of referendums could be a significant issue in itself this term.

Last term the flag referendums were a democratic disaster, with political game playing and deliberate disruption making a mess of the process. Somehow that has to be avoided in the future.

I’m encouraged by what Martin said in this interview, albeit with a concern about their principle of only applying referendums to things NZ First hasn’t written policy on or campaigned on. They aren’t the only party in Parliament or soon to be in Government.

Something Peters campaigned on was ‘a change in the way this country is run both economically and socially’.

That suggests major change to me. Should any major change to the way we run the country economically or socially be ratified by the public via referenda?

Peters has been quite vague about what changes he wants. Once he clarifies and suggests specific changes should we the people get to decide on whether it should happen or not?

Smacking issue again

The smacking issue has come up again.

Newstalk ZB:  One third of mothers still smack their kids – study

The University of Auckland longitudinal study Growing Up in New Zealand shows a third of mothers used smacking as a form of discipline and regularly screamed at their kids.

Research Director Dr Susan Morton told Mike Hosking the trend has been going on for a while.

“I think what we’re seeing with studies like this is actually what’s going on in the home. We know that the law has changed but potentially behaviour at home hasn’t, and that’s what’s concerning.”

That the number of parents who smack their kids seems to not have changed suggests that the ‘smacking’ law hasn’t been effective in changing attitudes to smacking.

It also suggests that one of the fears of opponents of the law – scaring people off smacking due to fear of being prosecuted and ‘made a criminal’ hasn’t eventuated either.

Dr Morton said we are seeing in the home potentially what’s happening in the wider society.

“And the problem is that if violence is tolerated in the wider society and then at home, children are learning that physical punishment is okay and that’s something that’s likely to be perpetuated to them throughout their lives.”

That’s a problem with physical punishment if it is a normal way to deal with problems in the home (rather than an occasional last resort minor sort of punishment).

Those who promoted and voted for the law meant well, they wanted to reduce violence in the home, and they wanted children to be protected by the same laws that adults are protected from. But the law ended up being a muddled compromise, with a key part being left up to police discretion on whether to prosecute or not.

Those who opposed the law have probably sent a message to parents who have learned to use physical punishment as a normal means of discipline that it is normal and no problem.

Most parents who have smacked their children mean no real harm, they think that it will benefit their children by teaching them right from wrong. But the problem is that some parents have different ideas on the amount of violence that is appropriate and hurt their children.

And a parent who learns to use physical punishment as normal is at greater risk of doing harm if they lose control under stress and take their violence too far.

Of course it’;s election time and It’s up for debate again, but should it be?

Conservative lobby group Family First has long campaigned for the right of parents to discipline their children using smacking. On Wednesday, spokesperson Bob McCoskrie told The AM Show the law is a “complete ass” and “parents are sick of politicians telling them how to raise their children”.

This election year, he’s not the only one calling for change. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants another referendum on smacking.

But while the likes of Family First and NZ First insist a smack is part of good parenting, child advocate groups like UNICEF say disciplining children without hitting them “is part of creating a society with less violence in the home”. 

Domestic abuse charity Shine says a repeal of the law would be a “terrible step back for our country.”

Client services manager Jill Proudfoot says fewer new generations of parents are smacking their children, but one piece of legislation can’t change a culture of violence and people still need lots of good advice about dealing with challenging behaviour.

It would be good if all the time and effort put into quibbling over a largely ineffective law change was instead put into helping improve parenting skills including promoting effective non-violent discipline them more kids would be better off.

What is a smack?

Smacking is commonly understood to be an open-palmed sharp slap which would leave no mark or injury on a child.

That definition is problematic. An open palmed slap on the bum or on the hand is unlikely to cause any harm – or be very effective as a punishment.

But when does a ‘smack’ become a potentially dangerous hit? Some parents have seen a smack round the ear as fine because it’s just a smack and leaves no visible mark or injury, but brain damage is invisible.

Here are four things you need to know about child discipline law in New Zealand.

1. The law is designed to give child abusers no excuse

The law granted children the same right to protection from assault as adults.

In cases where caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children, the change in law means the defence of “reasonable force” cannot be used.

The introduction to former Green Party MP Sue Bradford’s Bill explains its purpose was to “stop force, and associated violence being inflicted on children in the context of correction or discipline”.

It says the law in its previous form acted “as a justification, excuse or defence for parents and guardians using force against their children”.

2. Children will not be removed from parents who smack lightly

Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, says it would not act on reports of a light smack to a child, unless a report of smacking is part of wider concerns for the child.

On its website, the agency says it is concerned “with the abuse and neglect of children, not incidents of light smacking,” and an open-palmed light smack is “most unlikely to constitute abuse”.

The Ministry says its working definition of physical abuse hasn’t changed since 2001. It remains:

“An act, or acts that result in inflicted injury to a child or young person.”

A child would not be removed from their family unless they are subject to harm, abuse or ill-treatment.

3. The law does allow smacking under some circumstances, but it can’t be used for ‘correction’

A parent cannot smack a child for the sake of discipline or correction, but a smack may be used in some circumstances, such as protecting a child from harm.

Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 now reads:

“Every parent of a child and every person in the place of a parent of the child is justified in using force if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances and is for the purpose of:

  • preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person
  • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence
  • preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour
  • performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.”

4. Police are unlikely to prosecute cases of light smacking

Police can choose not to prosecute complaints against parents where the force used is inconsequential or where there is no public interest in prosecuting.

Most parents do not deliberately harm their children, and most parents are not harmed by the ‘smacking’ law.

 

Winston Peters ‘a dangerous old man’

On Friday in a speech at a business breakfast in Waipu – transcript here – Winston Peters said under WHAT NZ FIRST WILL DO:

  • To battle this problem New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility.
  • We will change social welfare to demand parental accountability.
  • We are not going to spend taxpayers’ money on parents who won’t keep their side of the deal.
  • We will make sure there are far more police – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.
    After all, the last time we had a chance we trained 1000 front line police in three years flat.
  • We will return this country to what other generations knew: That 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.

Anti crime, which presumably means anti-violent crime, but pro smacking.

Peters/NZ First also put out a media release titled ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’

To battle widespread criminal behaviour by young people socially DNA-ed for destruction as seen in Kaikohe last weekend, New Zealand First will, among other measures, repeal the anti-smacking law.

“We live in a ‘PC age’ where there are more rules on the teachers and the police than young offenders and their parents,” said Mr Peters in a speech at Waipu this morning.

“We no longer hold these little ‘tow-rag’ offenders responsible for their actions.

“Instead we hear 100 different reasons why it’s not their fault.

“That’s rubbish.

“They’re old enough to know exactly what they’re doing.

“They know they will get away with it and that there will be no repercussions.

”Meanwhile, the old parties in parliament want the age of criminal responsibility raised.

“Many of these politicians have no idea how the other half live and don’t venture into the real world.

“Besides repealing the anti-smacking law, which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children, New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility; change social welfare to demand parental accountability and will make sure there are far more police on the frontline – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.

“We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay,” said Mr Peters.

Calling young people toe-rags and encouraging the bash may appeal to populist votes but it is unlikely to solve youth crime.

Does Peters have any evidence to support his claim the the anti-smacking law “doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children”? He has habit of making unsubstantiated claims.

Sue Bradford has called Peters a ‘dangerous old man’:

Winston Peters has been labelled a “dangerous old man” who’s “really past his prime”, after vowing to repeal the so-called anti-smacking law.

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.”

Ms Bradford said: “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?”

Conservative lobby group Family First says there have been massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began, but Ms Bradford says repealing the anti-smacking law won’t fix that.

“As the truly dreadful levels of family violence in this country continue, they cannot be laid to this law. No law can stop that.”

Massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began? That seems like a massive exaggeration, and I’d be surprised if they have evidence of a direct connection between the law change and levels of violence against children.

Family First have always strongly opposed the law change. They have put out a media release in support of Peters: NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

This makes some claims about violence levels.

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.

But that does nothing to prove cause and effect. There are alternative claims that a greater awareness of violence against children has led to greater levels of reporting of abuse, which may be a positive effect rather than a negative effect.

In the past excessive smacking (more than a tap on the bum) and bashing tended to get swept under legal and social carpets.

I think that it’s very difficult to prove the effects of the law change on offending rates.

I believe that any moves to encourage less violence, and less smacking while encouraging effective alternatives, has to end up being better for children in general in the long run.

Peters may get some votes from his support of smacking law repeal, but I think it will come to nothing more than that.

I think it is very unlikely that there will be enough votes in Parliament to just repeal the smacking law. The old version was seriously flawed.

The only chance of change is if someone comes up with an improvement to the also flawed current law – but at least it signals that violence against children should be reduced.

No indication from Peters whether he would add smacking law repeal to his list of coalition bottom lines.

Spanking gets spanked in US study

A US study that looked at half a century of research has found that spanking was generally ineffective and counter productive in disciplining children,  and “both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.”

This will be looking at physical punishment rather than the occasional tap on the backside.

University of Texas: Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.

The study, published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

Hitting kids teaches the kids that hitting is an acceptable way to deal with behaviour they don’t like. It’s not.

“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” Grogan-Kaylor says.

Parents and ex-children will cite situations and childhoods where physical punishment has been effective, and in some cases it may have the desired immediate effect, but in general it has negative consequences.

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems.

They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

This shouldn’t really be surprising. It has become socially unacceptable to hit partners and friends and people on the street or wherever, and the same should apply to children – in fact more so. A powerful adult hitting a vulnerable child just doesn’t look good, nor does it make sense.

Many of us grew up in an age where physical punishment at home and at school was normal (I got whacked a lot at school but not at home). We have had to learn better ways of disciplining – and there almost always are better ways.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs. As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. Gershoff notes that this persistence of spanking is in spite of the fact that there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development.

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

That may alarm some people, especially those with some guilt about their own methods of disciplining, but we can and should all learn from our mistakes and our mistaken belief in the use of old fashioned violence.

Gershoff also noted that the study results are consistent with a report released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that called for “public engagement and education campaigns and legislative approaches to reduce corporal punishment,” including spanking, as a means of reducing physical child abuse. “We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline.”

All parents are imperfect and make mistakes and do things we may regret, especially under pressure. And there is a lot of relentless pressure on parents.

But we should learn to do better and to teach our kids (and grand kids) better ways of behaving, by example. We should now accept that spanking and smacking and whacking and other forms of physical punishment are outdated and inappropriate – and generally ineffective.

When smacking becomes slapping, punching, kicking

Consternation over the so called anti-smacking laws seems to have largely faded away as the sky remained unfallen.

The law change, flawed as it was, was intended to protect children more from when smacking goes bad.

This case seems to show the law working as intended, where a mother admitted a representative charge of assaulting her child.

ODT: Woman admits assaulting daughter

A woman was sentenced to six months’ supervision by Judge Bernadette Farnan in the Queenstown District Court on Friday, after she admitted assaulting her child over a period of four years.

The woman, who was granted final name suppression, initially denied four charges against her, of assaulting the girl, now aged 11, by slapping, punching and kicking her about the body between April 21, 2011 and April 30, 2012; and between December 1 and December 25, 2015; punching and kicking her about the body between January 1, 2014 and November 30, 2015; and assaulting the child with intent to injure her by slapping and punching her in the head on several occasions.

Perhaps this mother simply ignored the law and ignored a general social abhorrence of inflicting violence on children.

But when smacking is promoted as being ok it can send signals to some that it is a normal way of disciplining and punishing a child.

And one person’s smack can easily become another person’s slap, and if physical assault on a child becomes a normal behaviour it doesn’t take much for that to slip further towards punching and kicking, especially in stressful situations.

The simplest safest approach is to not smack or hit children at all so there is less chance of escalation.

This doesn’t mean a total hands off approach is necessary, but if there is any chance of hurting then it should be avoided.

Smacking fans back Laws without facts

The Herald has reported on police investigating a child assault complaint laid against Michael Laws – Michael Laws accused in child-smacking case.

The incident allegedly happened at Whanganui Hospital last year.

The Herald on Sunday understands the alleged smack was witnessed by a nurse in the assessment, treatment and rehabilitation ward. She reported it to the DHB and complained to police.

The Herald on Sunday asked police whether Laws was under investigation for allegedly hitting a child.

A spokesman replied by email saying: “Police can confirm they are investigating a child assault complaint made against a 56-year-old Whanganui man.

Scant information.

But that’s enough for some at Kiwiblog (Laws investigated for smacking) to jump to Laws’ defence regardless of what actually happened. They have also ripped into the nurse, accusing her of being the guilty party.

“That nurse should be awarded the Order of Lenin, for advancing the cause of socialism in aoteroa.”

“Sue bradford will no doubt proclaim that laws is a vicious child beater in the league of of the worst murderers and violent offenders.”

“So Laws and his kids are in hospital to see the kids mother who has had a STROKE, and a lefty nutbar nurse thinks its important to dob Laws in for smacking a kid who was playing up. It’s good when nurses concentrate on the important stuff – we need more like her. Not.”

“The nurse is a member of the Wanganui Branch of NZ Labour!”

“Seems strange how Wanganui DHB and a nurse find time to get involved in this ridiculous waste of time, when they have a deplorable record for patient care! Seems they must concentrate on trivia, not fact.”

Etc. The last comment “they must concentrate on trivia, not fact” was particularly ironic. Typically on a blog the facts never get in the way 0f jumping on your favourite bashwagon.

Laws has previously blogged:

“Yes, I smack. The singular swift slap on the bottom is applied by myself – in public – if my kids cross the line.”

That’s not a sign of a parent in control or well versed in child discipline. It seems ego driven, like it’s all about himself and little to do with good parenting or the good of his children.

Interesting that it seems that the most vocal people proposing parents should not be dictated to by the state laws are those dictated to by historic religious rules. So it’s not so much no rules versus some rules, it’s one set of archaic religious dictates versus modern and evolving laws.

Colin loves me, this I know

Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the beating tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong

I posted that verse in a Kiwiblog discussion about Colin Craig and smacking, with one word changed from the song.

It was deliberately provocative but I followed it saying “Apologies to the majority of Christians who are good parents and who don’t like hurting their children.”

Further down the thread graham obliged with a response.

Funny; one story I recall about Jesus was how he STOPPED a bunch of people from stoning a woman caught in adultery. And once they all slunk away, he told the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”

No beating. No scolding. Just a plea with the woman to mend her ways.

But, if it makes you feel better, continue making stuff up out of your warped imagination.

Funny, the stories I recall about Jesus depict him as a non-violent, caring person. No beating. No scolding.

So why do some Christians still insist on the Old Testament approach of beating and scolding their children?

Colin Craig has chosen smacking as his opening campaign strategy for the year – Provocative remarks central to Craig’s plan.

Newly media-trained and backed by a fresh team of spin doctors, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he will continue to offer provocative views to the media and public this year, but only where it advances his cause at the ballot box.

His comment comes after his admission this week that he smacks his daughter.

He said he did not prepare an answer on the specific question about whether he physically disciplined his daughter with his advisers.

Nevertheless, “we have thought about how we present on this and I think I just need to be the typical New Zealand parent on this which I pretty much am”.

He is not “the typical New Zealand parent” on this. I very much doubt very much whether he is the typical New Zealand Christian on this.

Would Christ have kept smacking his child as it grew up?

How big an issue is smacking?

Colin Craig has generated a lot of media attention in promoting his anti smacking law campaign focus. There has also been discussion in social media. But how much of an issue is smacking for the wider public who don’t bother about what’s going on in politics?

‘Dime’ at Kiwiblog suggests:

Its pretty clear this is still a huge issue for a lot of people.

That’s not clear at all. If Craig didn’t keep bringing it up most people would have forgotten about it. Most people won’t have noticed Craig’s attention seeking and still won’t care. A bit of media and blog reaction is not representative of wider public interest.

In the last Roy Morgan poll in July 2013 to look at “Most Important Problem Facing New Zealand” smacking didn’t figure at all.

  • Economic issues totaled 51%
  • Social issues totaled 18%,  and of that:
    • Child Abuse/ Lack of Care of Children/ Bringing up Children Wrongly 2% (down from 5% in January 2012)
    • Breakdown of Family Unit/ Family Violence 1%

It’s possible that Craig’s attention seeking will raise the profile of the smacking issue, and Craig only needs 5% support to reach the MMP threshold – he may need to make the threshold if he scares off National support for his Conservative Party.

But will that many people vote for a single issue that isn’t actually affecting their lives?

The next Roy Morgan poll on party support will be interesting, it should be due out soon. Craig may well have timed his media campaign to coincide with the polling period. The Conservatives have failed to make an impression on polling late last year despite Craig getting media to promote him then.

Craig’s efforts may eventually be enough to win poll support. Or he may cement in place a “Crazy Colin” perception.

National could get smacked

Colin Craig targets anti-smacking law and puts National in a difficult position. The could end up getting politically smacked by Colin Craig’s campaign.

Prime Minister John Key, deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Justice Minister Judith Collins were unavailable for comment.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they are ducking for cover. But Craig looks determined to force National’s hand on this.

Craig has been obsessed with overturning Section 59 (smacking law) since the march he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on in 2009.

He has spent millions setting up the Conservative Party and campaigning, seemingly with the primary aim of overturning Section 59.

National won’t be able to avoid being drawn into Craig’s smacking campaign. They will have to state their position on repealing or replacing the law, or leaving it as it is. They can’t keep ignoring it, Craig won’t let go of it. He seems as determined to keep pursuing this as he is to keep smacking his daughter.

In what is predicted to be a tight election Craig is pushing his own agenda on smacking as his main bargaining tool.

It’s possible that one man’s obsession with one law that has annoyed many but is inconsequential for most could have a major influence on the outcome of the election.

This poses major risks for National. There is nothing for them to gain from it, and much to lose.

John Key said he would announce National’s preferences and approach to potential support partners early this year.

If he signals support for Craig he will associate National closely with Craig and the smacking issue. That’s unlikely to gain support for National.

If the Conservative Party gets a few percent of the party vote that’s certain impact on National more than Labour or Greens.

If Craig gets a seat or the Conservatives make the threshold it looks like Craig is determined to push his hobby horse smacking repeal in any coalition negotiations. NZH reports:

Political hopeful Colin Craig has made repealing a controversial anti-smacking law a condition of his support for a National-led Government after the election this year.

Mr Craig told APNZ the referendum “overwhelmingly” pointed to changes being needed in the law.

“I can’t think of too many other laws that have … had such an overwhelming vote by the public to get rid of it.”

Craig seems overwhelmingly determined to get rid of it.

His single issue obsession will backfire if he gets rid of a National government. Will smacking supporters see this risk? How many will take this risk?

National could end up being the ones getting a smacking at the ballot box.