Here’s a tip for the child beaters at Family Fist – if you’re going to whip up a storm of fear and misinformation about a piece of legislation you don’t like, don’t peg your hopes on waiting two years for a referendum to get your revenge. That’s just enough time for your entire dishonest campaign to be exposed for what it is.
Everyone knows that the child discipline law is working. Everyone knows that it’s stopped abusive parents from getting away with punching their kid in the face or beating them with a soup ladle. And everyone knows that contrary to Family Fist’s scaremongering, no good parents have been convicted for giving their kids a light smack.
That’s why John Key has announced he has no intention of changing the law regardless of the outcome of the referendum. From today’s Dom:
“I think it’s important that governments listen to the public, but the test I’ve had is that if I don’t think the law is working I will change it,” he said. “To date I have not seen any evidence that it is not working.”
The question being asked in the referendum was ambiguous as it did not directly call for the law to be changed or repealed. The issue was of significant public concern two years ago but had died away, he said.
So that’s that sorted. Sure, Family Fist will still get their referendum. They may even get their desired result from voters confused by their deliberately misleading question. But the dishonest nature of that question means they’ll have no mandate for change. And as a result they’ll have no political support.
Because when it really comes down to it, the child beaters aren’t fooling anyone. Every day they’re being increasingly exposed as the religiously-motivated enablers of child abuse they really are. And once this $9 million farce is over they’ll have no more political relevance than the Kiwi Party.
UPDATE: Toad has a good critique of the referendum question over at G.blog.