Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in NZ?

Without even knowing the context, would you see this question as ambiguous? Unlikely.

Yet according to the NZ Herald, both John Key, the Prime Minister, and Phil Goff, the Opposition Leader, find this straightforward piece of English to be ambiguous. I think rather that it's their behaviour that's ambiguous. Only last year the National Party was supporting the collection of signatures to get the referendum off the ground. And prior to that, "47 of the 48 National MPs opposed to the bill."

And if we want to talk about ambiguous, back in June Sean Plunket interviewed Sue Bradford, the MP who was so keen to see the Bill go through in the first place.
After some very confusing answers to questions from Sean Plunket on National Radio on Thursday, Sue Bradford finally admitted that it was true that any smack for the purpose of correction - no matter how light and inconsequential - was in fact a criminal offence. This came as a surprise to Mr Plunket, who, like many other journalists, had been assured since the beginning that no one was being made a criminal if they smacked their child lightly on the bum.

Methinks it's the MPs who are 'ambiguous' - they've shifted ground considerably over this matter. Perhaps it's because they don't want New Zealand to lose face: going back on its 'word', not doing something that that most enlightened of countries, Sweden, does do, or getting themselves in schtuck with the United Nations and its proclamations as to how everyone should run their family.

Cam Calder said he was voting "no" on the literal wording of the referendum, rather than because he thought the current law was not working. Ambiguous?

Nikki Kay: "My worry is that many people I talk to see a 'yes' vote as a vote to reduce family violence and a 'no' vote as a vote to stop the Government interfering and telling them how to bring up their kids. I believe in reducing family violence and Government interference in people's lives." Ambiguous?

Labour's Rajen Prasad - who headed the Families Commission when the law change went through in 2007 - said he could not vote either way with comfort, so he planned to spoil his ballot paper. Ambiguous?

Crikey, what's wrong with these people? No wonder they don't know what they're up to.

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