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Referendum results

Written By: - Date published: 11:52 am, August 22nd, 2009 - 224 comments
Categories: child discipline, referendum - Tags:

I can’t say I’m all that surprised about the results of the ‘smacking’ referendum. As any good pollster will tell you, if you ask a leading question you’ll get the result you want.

And that’s exactly what we got. Contrary to what the beating lobby is claiming today, all this referendum tells us is that of the 54% of people who bothered voting, 88% think that “a smack as part of good parental correction” should not be criminal offence in New Zealand.

Unfortunately that tells us nothing about whether New Zealanders want to repeal the law.

I think it’s fair to say the results indicate a lot of parents are still confused or uneasy about the new law, and the Government is probably right to consider ways they can put parents’ minds at ease without re-introducing the kind of law that made it legal for people to viciously beat their children with riding crops or made them think it’s okay to punch their child in the face.

But I can’t help thinking we could have figured that out for ourselves without going through this wasteful $9 million PR exercise for the Christian Right.

224 comments on “Referendum results ”

  1. Herman Poole 1

    A lot less people are confused about this issue than they were about voting in MMP or their local body elections.

  2. DeeDub 2

    Reeeehh….hhehh…eally, Herman?

    And your source for this statement would be where?

    or did you mean to say “In my opinion . . .” before you said that?

  3. reid 3

    “…or made them think it’s okay to punch their child in the face.”

    You make it sound like every parent can’t wait to beat their children, if only the damnable law would let them.

    If you really think that and apparently, you do, it’s no wonder you’re confused about the referenda question.

    One thing that’s good out of this is that it’s focused parents’ attention on the issue. National will change the law but they won’t repeal it, they’ll allow for trifling, transitory physical discipline.

    I realise that to a suspicious lefty with aforesaid mindset that’s terribly scary, but I predict that just because they do that, there won’t be an outbreak of parents eagerly taking advantage of their hitherto suppressed urges.

    • bill brown 3.1

      Can you please privide you definitions of transitory and trifling.

    • Eddie 3.2

      Wow, there’s some anger right there. You know perfectly well that I was referring to old ‘punch in the face dad’ Jimmy Mason.

      Criminal law is made to target people at the margins, not the law-abiding majority. When I argue for laws against murder you don’t scream “You make it sound like everyone can’t wait to murder, if only the damnable law would let them!” Although perhaps I’m giving you too much credit.

      The Prime Minister has already said he won’t change the law as a result of this referendum. He repeated that statement today (see the linked article). You’re free to call him a liar, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

      • Gooner 3.2.1

        Eddie, the Judge in the Mason case said the s 59 defence would have had no bearing on his decision. It simply didn’t apply. In other words, Mason would have been found guilty irrespective of what law applied – the ‘old’ s 59 or the new amending provision.

        • Spectator

          You should share your pearls of wisdom with Larry Baldock, then; it was he who holds that mindless thug Mason up as an example of “good parenting”

      • Swampy 3.2.2

        You know as well as anyone that Jimmy Mason would have been prosecuted under the old law, and he could have been convicted. There were only a handful of cases where people escaped conviction for serious violence against children. The riding crop lady, I seem to recall, was convicted for some other offence against children, under the old law.

        The law change, as it has well been pointed out, is not going to do a thing for child abuse, because child abuse and smacking are light years apart.

      • Michael 3.2.3

        ‘Criminal law is made to target people at the margins, not the law-abiding majority. When I argue for laws against murder you don’t scream “You make it sound like everyone can’t wait to murder, if only the damnable law would let them!”

        If the law provided a defence for parents that weren’t “at the margins”, then your argument would be valid.

        Even in the case of murder there are situations, such as self-defence, where it is acceptable. For that reason, if you are charged with murder while you were defending yourself, you have a legal defence. This defence exists because Goverment accepts that people have a right to defend themselves.

        In the case of smacking, the public of NZ overwhelmingly believe that it is acceptable for a parent to smack their child. Yet, if you are charged under this act you have no defence. If the Government accepted that people have a right to discipline their children, there would be a defence.

        Yes, criminal law is made to target people at the margins. However, if it’s written in such a way that it can be used against everyday people, then it’s better if it doesn’t exist.

        • Pascal's bookie

          The liquor laws say you can’t sell someone a beer if they are intending to get pissed, or are pissed already.

          And the law as it stands most certainly does not outlaw people disciplining their children. Just hitting them.

          • Michael

            And the liquor laws are another example of the Government over-stepping its reach. If you commit any other offence while pissed, you should be prosecuted. Simply being pissed shouldn’t be a crime.

            NZ’ers believe it is acceptable for a parent to smack their child for the purpose of discipline. You may try to spin the referendum, claiming that people may have voted otherwise if they understood the current law (although I reject that argument), but I’d like to see how you spin it to say that it doesn’t show clearly that NZ’ers consider it acceptable for a parent to smack a child. The law as it stands makes that an offence.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Being pissed isn’t a crime.

            • Michael

              I meant, I don’t think it should be a crime to sell someone a beer if they’re pissed. People’s actions should be their own responsibility, not that of the shopkeeper.

              I’ll admit I don’t know much about liquor laws, I don’t drink myself. If you want to address my main points, go ahead. If you want to make cheap shots, don’t bother.

            • Pascal's bookie

              The point is that sometimes, if you want to catch a certain behavior as illegal, you have to make some things technically illegal that you are not intending to punish.

              Selling liquor to pissed people is illegal because pissed people sometimes don’t know when to stop, and can drink themselves to death. But that doesn’t mean we arrest every bartender in the land.

              Any way AB’s are about to play, so I’m out.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      National will change the law but they won’t repeal it, they’ll allow for trifling, transitory physical discipline.

      That’s already allowed for in the present law so what you’re saying is that National won’t change the law.

      • Swampy 3.3.1

        No it’s not. All that is allowed is that the police won’t prosecute if it is considered inconsequential. Doesn’t say anything about any other government agency e.g. CYFS

      • Swampy 3.3.2

        No, what he is talking about is Chester Borrows’ amendment that Labour voted down.

  4. outofbed 4

    As I didn’t vote because Key said nothing would change and the question was stupid
    I would be more then a little pissed off if that stance was changed

    i therefore propose” A keep the bastards honest referendum’ along the lines of
    Should a minister of the crown be able to sell his home to his wife so that he can rort the taxpayer?
    it should be easy to get the petition numbers and would i imagine be extremely successful
    or on another tack
    Should it remain illegal to hit cuddly kittens and puppies as part of good New Zealand pet care ?

  5. Herman Poole 5

    Mt Albert by election turnout – 48%

    1992 – Indicitive referenda to change the electoral system. – 55% turnout 70% vote for MMP

    1993 Binding Referenda (held with general election)
    85% turnout 54 % MMP

    So in total 39% of voting NZ’s voted to change the electoral system to MMP in 1992
    46% of voting NZ’s voted for MMP in 1993 in a general election
    48% of voting NZ’s voted NO in 1009 (when it should been in the general election)

    • bill brown 5.1

      “voted NO”

      To what?

      Right; so now what, goverment should pass a bill that says simply:

      “A smack as part of good parental correction is not a crime’

      Will that make you and your fucking happy slapper friends shut up and go away?

      • Herman Poole 5.1.1

        Everybody not playing the fool knows what it means.

        BTW 27% of voting NZers voted for Labour in 2008 and 6% for Greens.

        Should they shut up and go away also? Did they not understand what they were voting for?

        • Eddie

          If it was that simple Herman, the Christian Right would have asked a question directly calling for repeal so the Government would have been in no doubt of the electorate’s intentions. But they chose a deliberately loaded and confusing question instead. Why do you think that was?

          • Swampy

            There is nothing confusing at all about the question. It is just the latest excuse and attack being made by people who oppose the idea that anyone should even have a referendum on the subject. Along with all the other attacks like that it was going to cost $9 million. If that was such a big deal then why didn’t the previous government hold it at the election and save a lot of money. I don’t believe any of the excuses they gave, they knew it was a deeply unpopular measure and wanted to get it off the election agenda.

            Now here’s a question. Which party is calling for a referendum in Auckland on the Super City proposals and isn’t there a lot of hypocrisy in that. I bet you they want that referendum to be binding on the government as well.

            The truth is that Labour is not innately a democratic party, they believe in democracy when it suits them, which is when they can get a political advantage from it.

          • Swampy

            No they did no such thing, this is all a load of rubbish, and merely the latest of a long series of excuses that Labour and Co have put up against the No campaign.

            The question is quite reasonable, as it focuses on the key issue in this case. Smacking is a criminal offence since the legal exemption of it was removed in Section 59 of the Crimes Act. Hence the question is very clear and obvious, and the wishes of the participants quite clear also.

            • Jeremy

              The question is indeed quite clear and reasonable. It just doesn’t have any relation to the legislation you’re complaining about.

        • bill brown

          FFS – I give you the option to get what you asked for, all I want in return is for you to shut up and go away, but now you want to change the question – a bit late for that I would have thought

        • Frank Macskasy

          If that were true, Herman, why did the pro-Referendum lobby feel the need if full page ads in various newspapers, like this one: http://www.actoncampus.org.nz/files/simplereally.jpg

          Perhaps because it wasn’t quite as simple as made out?

        • Frank Macskasy

          If that were true, Herman, why did the pro-Referendum lobby feel the need if full page ads in various newspapers, like this one: http://www.actoncampus.org.nz/files/simplereally.jpg

          Perhaps because it wasn’t quite as simple as made out?

    • Eddie 5.2

      Yeah but the Mt Albert by-election and the MMP referendum gave clear mandates for change. One was a clear mandate to make David Shearer the MP for Mt Albert, another was a clear mandate for MMP to replace FPP.

      Yout wee referendum tells us that most people who voted think “a smack as part of good parental correction’ should not be criminal offence in New Zealand. I’m sorry, but that’s constitutionally meaningless. There’s no mandate there to change any law.

      Them’s the breaks comrade. The Christian Right made their choice.made its question deliberately vague and confusing to get the result they wanted, and as a result they’ve lost their ability to demand concrete action.

      • Herman Poole 5.2.1

        Go listen to your fellow New Zealanders.

        Everybody knows exactly what the referenda was about.

        An amendment or repeal will be tolerable. If Key does neither he will suffer dramatically in polling.

        • bill brown

          But that’s not what the question asked for.

          Looks like you need to start a petition;

          • Swampy

            The question asked was very clear. It is very obvious what the petitioners want.

            Maybe people should be required to take an IQ test to be registered as electors in future.

        • mickysavage


          I have spoken to a few ill informed people today who are rejoicing that the referendum passed and that people will again be allowed to slap their children. When I say to them that this reflects the current law, that over a recent 6 month period there were 8 complaints to the police of parents smacking their child, and that of these complaints there were NO PROSECUTIONS, they get confused. They seem to think there are all these terrible cases where god faring kiwis are being prosecuted and jailed for smacking their kids.

          Please name one case, just one, go on, prove me wrong.

        • Spectator

          There is no call for any amendment or repeal to any legislation, because “a smack as part of good parental correction” is not illegal, nor has it ever been illegal, in New Zealand. For anyone to claim otherwise would indicate either that they have been misinformed, or that they are lying.

          • ZenTiger

            “a smack as part of good parental correction’ is not illegal, nor has it ever been illegal, in New Zealand. For anyone to claim otherwise would indicate either that they have been misinformed, or that they are lying.

            You need to read the act some-time. Subsection 2 makes it very clear that it is illegal.

            Subsection 3 says that even though its illegal, the police can choose not to prosecute. That doesn’t make the action legal.

            • ZenTiger

              Sorry, Typo – Subsection 4 tells the police to pretend the law isn’t being broken, a really great way of setting legislation. Here’s the actual text:

              (2) Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies
              the use of force for the purpose of correction.

              (3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).

              PS: Look up the legal use of force – it even includes threats. As Sue Bradford says: While it is true that [the] use of force for correction will technically be an offence, this does not mean that our already very stretched police force will be taking this kind of action. [ref]

            • Spectator

              If, as you claim, it is illegal, then surely you can point to just one (1) conviction for something a normal person calls a “smack”. (Larry Baldock’s parading of Mason as one such does not count; all it shows is that Larry Baldock thinks a punch in the face is a “light smack”).

        • Frank Macskasy

          Herman, if everyone “knew” what the referendum was about, why did the pro-smacking lobby feel the need for these full pages ads in various newspapers: http://www.actoncampus.org.nz/files/simplereally.jpg

      • Swampy 5.2.2

        Wrong, wrong, wrong. There is nothing “vague” or “confusing” or “meaningless” about the question. It is clear and quite easy to understand as 54% of the population have just proved.

        The claims that the question is “confusing” were only thought up quite recently considering the petition has been going for several years, these excuses are fairly pathetic.

        • mickysavage

          Hey Swampy

          Do you have a life?

          All you keep saying is that the question is clear. To an idiot it may be. Hopefully our laws will not be drafted by idiots.

        • Pascal's bookie

          It’s 54% of the voting population, and they didn’t prove anything.

        • Jeremy

          I agree it’s not actually an ambiguous question. But if you’re going to claim there is any logical link between the referendum question and section 59 of the crimes act I’m afraid I have to disagree.

  6. lukas 6

    “But I can’t help thinking we could have figured that out for ourselves without going through this wasteful $9 million PR exercise for the Christian Right.”

    You can thank Helen for that, she could have easily done this at the same time as the election.

    • Ianmac 6.1

      The cost of a mail referendum was nearly the same as doing it at the same time as the Election.

      • lukas 6.1.1

        Bull crap, sending the papers out with return postage alone would have cost over 3 million.

        • Marty G

          Not bullcrap, the Ministry of Justice released it’s official advice saying have it separately, the cost is virtually the same and that way the count of the general election won’t be delayed like in 1999.

  7. Ianmac 7

    Herman. I think that you misunderstand what the Repeal was all about.
    Danyl McLoughlin (Hope you don’t mind pinching your words Dayl) wrote a succint summary. Herman read it twice:
    “The way I see it, the good news is that the amendment was originally designed to close a loophole in the crimes act that a small number of people were using after seriously assaulting their kids; that points been lost in all the screaming and hysteria over ‘child abuse’ and ‘nanny states’ but the loophole is closed and all the signs indicate that Key has no intention of opening it.”

    • Herman Poole 7.1


      I think you misunderstand what the repeal was all about.
      Otherwise more than 10% of voting NZers would have voted YES.

      • Ianmac 7.1.1

        Herman. Post exactly why you voted NO. (Please relate it to the purpose of the repeal which was to withdraw the legal right to use reasonable force to defend assault on children.) Convince me.

    • Herman Poole 7.2

      For me,

      And I am not arrogant to believe I speak for all NZ’ers.

      The key message here is ‘you went about it the wrong way’

      By all means close the loopholes, but do it and present it in a way that does not make normal parents feel like they are criminals.

      I would like to see an amendment, not a straight repeal.

      Also, I believe a very significant portion (including myself) do not smack or intend to smack their children. They simply believe it is inappropriate for the government (any government) to be legislating in this way and labels such as sickos, happy slappers, want to punch children in the face, does not communicate the YES perspective very well.

      • bill brown 7.2.1

        Hey read the legislation instead of listening to talkback radio, you may be surprised to find that there’s nothing in it that says anything about making normal parents criminals.

        • Swampy

          That is absolute rubbish, The law says that parents cannot use force for the purposes of correct. That means that the use of force for the purposes of correction is illegal. The law we are talking about is the Crimes Act, the piece of legislation that defines criminal offences and gives the police powers to take criminal prosecutions, just as they did under the old law.

      • Ag 7.2.2

        Big deal. We get this same rubbish again and again when it comes to child rearing.

        A majority of people say that the government should not interfere and that parents have an absolute right to raise their children in any way they wish. There was a similar case years ago where some hippies were trying to stop their kid getting cancer treatment in favour of some “alternative” quackery. Most people I knew supported the parents, even though they were putting the child’s life at risk.

        The same people will be shocked and horrified when poor parenting makes the news, and will demand that “something should be done”. Yet again people want to have their cake and eat it too.

        Look, everyone thinks they are a good parent, but some people aren’t, and even the best parents make mistakes. That’s why child welfare laws are imposed on the public. The education system has already been ruined by parental interference.

        • Janice

          Are you for real Ag, the same idiotic thinking could be applied to politicians some believe they are right, but all to often proven wrong.
          “Look, everyone thinks they are a good politician, but some people aren’t, and even the best politicians make mistakes.”
          So apologies Helen if your Man enough.

          • Derek

            Helen doesn’t need to apologise, she Knows best and I bet she wont because she knows best and all her friends no what’s good for you also, so shut up and do as you are told, be quiet, we said you can’t understand a question in a referendum and we mean it. This is a democracy and if you don’t like what we tell you you’re nothing more than an ignorant part of the vast majority of New Zealand.

            “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it’

        • Rex Widerstrom

          The education system has already been ruined by parental interference.

          Excuse me? You’re not usually one for off-the-cuff generalisations of that magnitude, Ag.

          I happen to think Tomorrow’s Schools was one of the best ideas of the Lange Labour government and, if anything, didn’t go far enough in giving parents governance powers over their local schools.

          And I speak from experience – a three year term as Deputy Chair of a board and around two years as Chair of a Transition Committee (formed from the boards of two secondary schools which were to be merged).

          Amongst other benefits parents were able to prioritise non-core spending (money not spent on teacher salaries, support staff salaries and educational resources) to reflect the wishes and preferences of the community. When negotiating the capital investment for the “new” school, for instance, I am particularly proud of the fact that I managed to establish a “Gifted Kids” program – something I very much doubt the Ministry would have thought suitable for a place like Wainuiomata*.

          Similarly other parents managed to get a second gymnasium (I voted against, but that’s the beauty of democracy) to reflect the strong community participation and success in sports.

          And you’d prefer to go back to having these decisions made by unelected Ministry mandarins?

          * The support and enthusiam of Trevor Mallard should be acknowledged here.

          • Swampy

            Let’s go further than that and put “unelected union leaders” in there with Ministry mandarins. Why it is that those unions are busy calling for the end of Tomorrow’s Schools. It’s pretty obvious when you think about their political agenda in schools.

          • Ag

            Parents are not competent to make such decisions. It is rather like giving regular people power over local doctors. Your average parent, even if they have a university degree (even one of the joke ones we hand out in New Zealand) is simply no more competent to run a school than they are to oversee a health board. In the end we have to give up our fantasies of control and realize that expert jobs require experts, and if any oversight is required, then other experts must be hired to do that.

            To be fair, there are other problems with teaching, the main one being an inability to attract gifted people to the profession (some of this has to do with the lamentable amount that teachers are paid).

            But the people who get involved with school boards are not representative of the local community, and they have their own interests. I recently learned that the small rural primary school I had attended had had its principal and some of the teachers forced out by the board. The reason was pretty clear according to my sources. The board members were yuppies who had bought farmlets in the area (something that was not the case when I was a pupil) and who wanted the school to be run for the benefit of their children rather than all the children.

            This is not unique to New Zealand. The middle class propagates itself through education, and thus members of the middle class have an interest in gaming the system to favour their children over the children of others. Hence things like the “gifted” kids program.

            The same debates happen in the UK and the US and all it comes down to is people trying to game the system to advantage their own children.

            • Rex Widerstrom

              Thanks for the disclaimer below Ag, but I didn’t detect any “agenda” amongst members on either of the two boards I worked with either. As for “middle class”… well we were all from Wainuiomata, where middle class means being able to buy the lean mince for dinner. There were PI people, Maori people, blue and white collar people. Heck, I even had to work co-operatively with a policeman!

              The “gifted kids” program – at least the one I established – isn’t some nursery for the offspring of rich middle class Pakeha. The inaugural cohort looked to me to be substantially a mix of PI and Pakeha, with some Asians – it was the PI kids who were disproportionally represented when compared to the broader school population, reflecting, I think, their parents’ emphasis on education.

              The situation you describe with your old school I find appalling, and I’m surprised there isn’t some means by which it could have been headed off. Asking the Minister to appoint a Commissioner perhaps?

              I also find it extraordinary. When a male teacher hit a female student in the face, I was given the task of “negotiating” his future. It was only my determination to get rid of him that prevailed over the red tape and fear of a PG, and I had to trade off the Principal not being able to tell anyone seeking a reference why he’d resigned.

              Like any example of democracy in action, school boards aren’t perfect. But like every other example of democracy in action, it’s a damn sight better than any of the alternatives.

          • Ag

            btw way Rex, from my experience you would be an atypical board member.

        • Swampy

          As you put it, or as I read your views, the education system is educationalists at war with parents. Now of course, educationalists have an agenda, and a lot of it is political. We know this is important because there are two strong teachers’ unions which enjoy a privileged legal position that their colleagues in tertiary education don’t. Since those unions represent predominantly a left-wing political agenda it is obvious that their members in the educational sector want this agenda promoted through the school system.

          This is why parents should have a completely free choice of where they have their children educated, so long as the school complies with Government requirements i.e. it is registered with the Ministry etc which all schools have to do, even private ones.

          The amount of harm being done by the previous law was trivial when compared with the real harm being done by child abuse, which the law change will have practically no impact upon.

          • Ag

            As you put it, or as I read your views, the education system is educationalists at war with parents. Now of course, educationalists have an agenda, and a lot of it is political.

            No. It is a conflict between those who wish for an impartial education system that ensures equality of opportunity for all students (despite what some people say, the NZ education system has never promoted equality of outcome) and those who wish for an education system to advantage their own children at the expense of others.

            The teachers never controlled the old system anyway. They would quake in mortal fear when the school inspectors showed up. As students, we liked seeing that.

    • Swampy 7.3

      There was no loophole in the law. The law was drafted that way. A very small number of people managed to convince a jury in quite serious cases that they should not receive a conviction on the grounds that they used reasonable force. This only applied to the criminal prosecution, CYFS and other government agencies are not affected and therefore were not restrained at all from taking action in such cases.

  8. outofbed 8

    All this will do if this manages to change the current law
    is open the flood gates to stupidly worded with leading questions. referenda
    I don’t think that is a great way to Govern.
    However if it happens I propose that we do just that I am sure with a couple of thousand activists all getting a 200 hundred signatures each It should be just about possible to get a yes vote majority
    Should the selfish self serving company telecom be put back into public ownership so we can remove the barriers to building a truly great telecommunication system in NZ?

  9. Derek 9

    It is apparent to me that only 12% of New Zealanders had problems with comprehension, anyone capable of reading at a year 5 level can understand the question. I would suggest it is more appropriate to continue adult education classes so Sue Bradford and the other New Zealanders struggling with English get the much needed help they so obviously require. And to those who voted YES and have the required level of understanding of the question, the purpose is democracy, if you are unhappy I am sure there are numerous countries where you would be happy to do as you are told by their current regime, vote with your feet and leave.

  10. lprent 10

    Not a particularly inspiring turnout. Mind you I didn’t vote because I’d moved and the electoral people were trying to open a dialogue using snail-mail. That wasn’t sorted by the time the vote was closed.

    Also I’d have probably voted for the wording of the referendum if it wasn’t for the ‘Christian’ child assaulters supporting it. I really don’t want to be associated with such trash. It’d be nice if people who act christian rather than just profess the label, took more care of the brand.

    The truth is that the actions the referendum asked asked about are not ‘illegal’ anymore than hitting another person is. The police have always been able to and have charged people over it. What was removed was the ability of people to thump kids with lumps of wood or riding crops and to claim that was ‘reasonable’. Noone would have voted for that apart from a few maniacs.

    • Swampy 10.1

      I’m assuming here you are not a “Christian” in which case, in reality, you have no idea what Christians are, you are just imposing your own ideas of what “Christians” should be onto the community which is unreasonable.

      “What was removed was the ability of people to thump kids with lumps of wood or riding crops and to claim that was ‘reasonable’.”

      No, what was removed was the ability of a jury to interpret that law in a way that resulted in a “Not Guilty” verdict in a very few cases where a conviction should have been entered.

      Now, every day in a court, a jury enters a verdict that people may not agree with, but in the vast majority of cases the legal system works and convictions are entered or not as the case may be, just as the law intended.

      This law was original written to allow people to smack their children. It is this fact, unpalatable to Sue Bradford and her kind, that has been targeted in the repeal of this law. No more and no less. There is nothing at all that will stop some child abusers in the future from being able to persuade a jury that they did not commit the serious offence, just as they have in the past.

      There was only one “Riding crop” case which has been trumpeted at large, and CYFS subsequently have taken custody of that children, as they are not bound by Section 59 or the Crimes Act at all.

    • reid 10.2

      “It’d be nice if people who act christian rather than just profess the label, took more care of the brand.”

      Every single Christian I personally know does exactly that, Iprent.

      It’s amusing to me that even in this politically correct day and age, some people still continue to express caveman-like stereotypical views on a social group about which they obviously have no understanding. I would have thought that someone intelligent enough to want to comment regularly on a political blog, would have been more alert to that trait in themselves.

      • Pascal's bookie 10.2.1

        Reid, I’m no longer a Christian, for a number of reasons, but I’ll second Lynn’s comments. I’m constantly amazed for instance, that the mainstream of Christianity has so little to say about Destiny Church and it’s importation of the American ‘prosperity gospel’ teachings.

        Nowadays the church is mostly represented in the public sphere by groups like Destiny and Family first, to many non christians, that’s what ‘christianity’ has come to mean. In as much as that is not a true reflection of the church, it is only the fault of the broader church which has done nothing to counter such an impression.

  11. Tom Semmens 11

    Are we to believe that just because you can get 88% of 54% of voters to say that it should be legal to rape your wife as part of a loving relationship, we should change the law? Are we to believe that just because you can get 88% of 54% of voters to say that it should be illegal to indulge in homosexual acts between consenting adults as part of a loving relationship, we should change the law to make homosexuality illegal again?

    How many people would want the smoking ban reversed?

    How many people would agree marital rape should be legal?

    How many people would like to see homosexuality re-criminalised?

    All these changes were hugely unpopular when they were introduced. The Christian fundies like McCroskie and Baldock in particular saw the end of civilisation in homosexual law reform. Yet the sky didn’t fall and today most people support these three law changes.

    Sometimes politicians have to lead; Sometimes they have to follow – that is the nature of politics. On moral issues politicians normally have to lead. If we’d waited for a majority, women still wouldn’t have the vote, women could be legally raped inside marriage, slavery would still be legal and the death penalty would still be with us.

    Like most other moral decent and morally right law changes, it has been fanatically -yes, fanatic is the right word for the sky fairy believers who led the pro-child beating lobby – opposed by those who have a vested interest in holding up social progress.

    In ten years we’ll see this law change HAS led to a sea change in attitudes to child abuse, and everyone will wonder what the fuss was about.

    • reid 11.1

      “…and everyone will wonder what the fuss was about.”

      You mean like Labour was wondering what the fuss all about ever sine it was first mooted?

      Those three questions you ask above, actually have nothing to do with the issue.

      The issue is: it was a ubiquitous intrusion into an area that was never a problem in the first place. That is why it has such traction. In people’s minds, the fact that the occasional bad parent got away with something they should not have, did NOT mean that all parents had to be policed.

      It already HAS lead to a sea-change in people’s attitudes, Tom. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed it.

      • bill brown 11.1.1

        So you’re happy that the occasional bad parent can get away with beating up their kids so you don’t feel uncomfortable.

        I know what would make me feel more uncomfortable

        • reid

          “So you’re happy that the occasional bad parent can get away with beating up their kids so you don’t feel uncomfortable.”

          No and I’m not sure how you inferred that from what I said.

          Do you seriously imagine this was ever about stopping bad parents? You can’t be serious.

          • Swampy

            Reid, it is just like the current “moral hysteria” that is being put about over provocation as a defence in certain criminal cases, particularly this is a cause of the gay community who just don’t seem to understand that heterosexual men do not want to be sexually propositioned by gays.

            If you don’t agree with that view then understand that it is already hard enough for women being sexually harrassed by men without heterosexual men being sexually harrassed by gay men.

            • felix

              Swampy I completely agree. If a gay man propositions you, you should be allowed to kill him.

            • Richard

              Swampy, like Felix, I see your point.

              If my son refuses to stop changing the channel with the TV remote, then I should thrash him. That way he won’t turn gay when he grows up, and that way he won’t be later killed for fondling a straight man.

              It’s good parenting.

            • reid

              Swampy, I rather think there’d be less gay homicides if older gay men stopped getting their kicks by inviting tough young men back to their hidey hole.

              Notwithstanding, getting rid of the provocation defence is an idiotic political move – quite unnecessary and futile because the legal system needs it for reasons to do with justice and fairness.

              I read it as a Key special: scanning the market, which way is it moving? Pounce.

              Hello, Simon? John here.

              Fucking idiots. I generally support Key cause he’s better than any other alternative, but he makes some dumb mistakes.

    • Ianmac 11.2

      Tom: Agree with all of your post. Well said.

    • Swampy 11.3

      That’s all a pathetic load of excuses for being undemocratic and having a sham democracy like we do in New Zealand where politicians can completely ignore the views of the public and put through laws to suit their own agenda and ideology.

      Now, in a number of countries (the US and Switzerland come to mind) they have referenda which are binding, and in those cases, these are a far more democratic system than the Westminster system provides for.

      MMP incidentally being a complete joke, it was the campaign of the Green Party to have a system introduced so they could get elected to Parliament, which just goes to show how self serving most of our political parties are.

  12. Quoth the Raven 12

    Very disapointed with the result. With so many giving a ‘no’ vote this obviously not just the christian right. There are much wider societal issues with parenting and it’s something the left don’t discuss enough that’s why I found this interesting:

    [A]s a psychoanalyst one is faced with the difficult task of calling attention to the poison producer by the early exercise of parental power, a poison we have been storing up inside from the very beginning and then inflicting on our own children. Further, it is our task to recognize that it is not a matter of assigning blame to individual parents, who after all, are themselves victims of the system, but of identifying a hidden societal structure that determines our lives, like practically no other. Once recognized, it can be found in a wide variety of society’s forms. To take this step will necessarily cause us anxiety if we have been raised according to pedagogical principles, which is no doubt the case of most of us. It is understandable, then, if fear of our introjected parents’ anger, the child’s fear of losing their love, compels us to overlook striking societal patterns for the sake of sparing our parents.

  13. Herman Poole 13

    So the message I am getting from some posters here is The Standard knows better than Democracy.

    If you hold a belief about what is best. Listen to the result, learn and try again.

    Getting stuck into democracy and its participants is not the way forward.

    • Quoth the Raven 13.1

      Democracy is not about the removal of rights for whole sectors of society by dint of majoritarian edict.

      • Herman Poole 13.1.1

        All that has happened Quoth is a question was asked of the people and an answer was given. All healthy enough at this stage.

        • Quoth the Raven

          I agree with that. I supported the right to have this referendum no matter the question and I voted (Yes). I’m disappointed that some here didn’t. The key point is at this stage. We have to see what will come of this. The balls in Key’s court now. Key seems thickle to me and I wouldn’t put it past him, despite his earlier comments, to change the law.

      • lukas 13.1.2

        as Sue Bradford has clearly demonstrated by taking away the right of parents to choose how they bring their kids up…

        • Zepher

          Yeah that nanny state’s so bad.I should be allowed to smack my kids in the face. I’d also like to add thank god for National, maybe now I can drink and drive.

          It’s appropriate that the anti-spam word I got is confusing.

      • Swampy 13.1.3

        Nor is it about the imposition of a minority viewpoint by government decree (the way the law was passed two years ago, and the way many laws are passed by governments).

        Somewhere in there you have to accept that democracy is about a majority viewpoint, because at the most fundamental level that is how people are elected to Parliament and how laws are passed.

    • felix 13.2

      Key said the referendum wouldn’t change anything. I believed him and didn’t bother voting. Why would I?

      Should I spend my time answering other people’s questions when the Prime Minister says nothing will come of it?

      Where is the democracy in this situation, Herman? Am I being anti-democratic if I decide not to answer a Facebook quiz?

      Do I have to do the crossword in the paper every day too? Am I being anti-democratic if I don’t answer those questions?

      And as Key has plainly and clearly stated that he will not act to change the law on the basis of the results of the referendum, how is the referendum question any more important in a democratic sense than a Facebook quiz or a newspaper crossword?

      Seriously, how?

    • Ianmac 13.3

      Herman. If you hit your naughty kids with a whip to teach them a lesson, should you be able to defend yourself legally by saying you have the right as a parent to do so?

      • Swampy 13.3.1

        People can legally defend themselves on any grounds in a court case, what is at stake is how the jury chooses to interpret the evidence and reach a conviction. In the vast majority of cases under Section 59, people have been convicted of child abuse.

    • Herman

      Please explain what difference there is between the current law and the law that the referendum seems to want to achieve?

      Please also list all god faring parents who have been prosecuted for smacking their kids by way of good parental correction?

      • bobbity 13.4.1

        Has anyone got the Bradford wording pre the Clark – Key amendment – I’m having an argument with a colleague that the main reason this is such a shambles and caused such a public hue and cry was due to the original wording and poor “selling” of the rationale behind the ammendment by Sue B.

        • Herman Poole

          Thats what I think also bobbity.

          I think a change to close the loopholes would have accepted but Bradford et al entirely fucked up the process.

          • bobbity

            Aye I noted that she couldn’t resist on the TV last night again when she said something along the lines of ……” blah blah parents don’t need to worry a trivial assault on children was never going to be illegal blah”

            Is she retarded or can she not fathom that most people on either side of the debate don’t really believe that a smack on the backside is equivalent to assault and that the continued use of the assault terminology is not doing her cause any good.

    • Frank Macskasy 13.5


      Democracy is fine. It may be flawed – but it’s better than all the rest.

      The problem with referenda is that they are not necessarily democratic and can actually be anti-democratic. Especially where complex matters are put to Question in a simplistic format.

      Or where the rights of Minorities can be infringed by the “will” of the Majority.

      The recent Proposition 8 in California is a classic example: the Majority decided to remove a right (marriage) from a Minority (gals & lesbians), based on nothing more than sexual orientation.

      Considering that 51% of the NZ population is female, that puts us blokes into the Minority category. How would you feel, Herman, if a Referendum were held, asking,

      “Should a Curfew of 10PM be imposed on all men to reduce the incidence of , rape, public disorder, drunkeness, vandalism, and general disorder, etc.”

      If 51% voted YES, would that make it democratic?

      Of course not.

      Removing the rights of a minority is never democratic. It is a travesty of democracy.

  14. gingercrush 14

    You know what I find most disgusting. That some of the most well-heeled and liberal electorates in this country did not vote. Auckland Central a crappy 43.52% turnout. Christchurch Central (my electorate) 46.98%; Dunedin North 47.28%; Mt. Albert 45.41%; Rongotai 46.84% and Wellington Central 43.20%.

    There is no excuse regardless of your opinion about this referenda for such electorates to have such lousy turnouts. Also would appear the “Yes Vote” couldn’t get their people out to vote.

    That doesn’t invalidate anything. After all, its still better than local election turnout. Its about the same as the turnout of Maori Seats in General elections. Its still better than the Mt. Albert by-election turnout.

    The government now needs to find out what the country really want. If 88% voted No to the question. Then they need to find out the reasons these people said no. To ignore the referenda makes democracy a farce. To merely clarify the law isn’t enough. I’m not saying change the law because that isn’t what the referenda question set out to do But what is evidently clear is there was strong opinions around this referenda and the government must now find what people really want. If that means forums, enquiries etc. go for it.

    • Ag 14.1

      Democracy is a farce, ginger.

      I hate National, but give the Prime Minister some credit. He does not appear to be going to cave to this exercise in mob mentality.

      And that seems to be the end of it.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.2

      There is no excuse regardless of your opinion about this referenda for such electorates to have such lousy turnouts.

      Yeah, I tend to agree with that. Actually, I’m disgusted that so many people didn’t vote at all.

      I have a solution to this. Make all voting have a default answer. I’m pretty sure that this would encourage people to vote if they didn’t like it

      Then they need to find out the reasons these people said no.

      That’s easy, they were misinformed by the pro-abuse lobby.

      • Richard 14.2.1

        DTB: “I have a solution to this. Make all voting have a default answer. I’m pretty sure that this would encourage people to vote if they didn’t like it”

        I don’t think that will make any difference. In fact that was precisely the problem with the question in this referendum. It had a default answer. The default answer to “Should… good parental correction, be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” is No. That was why the child-beaters worded it that way.

        • Draco T Bastard

          No, that was the answer that the question led to. When I say default answer I’m talking of an answer that is already filled in for you, is legally binding and that answer would be for keeping the status quo. Under these conditions the default answer for the referendum would have been yes</i? (assuming that yes is to keep the law as is) meaning that ~52% of the population voted to keep the law as is with a 100% turn out.

          It kinda removes the uncertainty that is inherent in voting when you don't get full turn out and encourages people to actually vote if they don't like the status quo.

          • Jeremy

            In the case of this referendum and current legislation: “No” is the vote for status quo.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Gah, reply in spam trap?

  15. Eddie straight up, does David Shearer hold Mt Albert?

    Think carefully about what the reasoning you set out above entails before answering.

    • Pascal's bookie 15.1

      Madeleine, the by election was a binding vote, everyone knows that. Non binding referenda a different kettle of fish entirely. The fact that it is not binding influences not only turn out, but how people vote.

      • gingercrush 15.1.1

        Yes and PB it got a lower turnout than a non-binding referenda. What does that tell you? Of course when anybody on the right suggested the right stayed at home in Mt. Albert. We kept getting knocked back by those on the left decrying an absolute trashing. Yet you people who are capable of justifying just about everything believe this vote is somehow invalidated. Such thinking is atrocious.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Yes and PB it got a lower turnout than a non-binding referenda. What does that tell you?

          Not much in and of itself. I suppose it suggests that the ‘no’ voters were highly motivated to vent their spleen, and good for them. It suggests that in Mt Albert the Nat candidate was such that the Nat voters weren’t prepared to vote for her, even though they knew the vote was binding and that by not voting Labour would win. They seemed to prefer that outcome to Lee winning. What does that tell you?

          Of course when anybody on the right suggested the right stayed at home in Mt. Albert. We kept getting knocked back by those on the left decrying an absolute trashing.

          That’s because it was an absolute thrashing. See above; Nat voters stayed home rather than vote for the Nat candidate, even though it was a binding vote and that meant they’d end up with a Labour win.

          Yet you people who are capable of justifying just about everything believe this vote is somehow invalidated.

          I don’t think anyone is saying the vote is invalid, or at least I’m not. I’m just saying it doesn’t mean much. The PM said it was confusing at that he wouldn’t be bothering to vote, and that he wouldn’t be changing the law based on the outcome. That’s a fairly strong reason for ‘yes’ voters to stay home. It’s a non binding vote, and the govt has strongly signaled that there will be no change. So why bother voting if you don’t want change?

          I know you desperately want this vote to mean something, but that’s no excuse for saying it’s just like something it bears no resemblance to. That’s atrocious thinking. 😉

          • Swampy

            Tells us nothing. The one thing that is clear in Mt Albert is that, like any other electorate, we don’t know how many National voters there actually are, which means any claims about how National voters turned out are pure guesswork. We do not have the system in the US where people register their political affiliation.

            • Pascal's bookie

              We know how many voted for the National party list at the last election though swampy.

              And in any case, you miss the point. The point is that voters behave differently in non binding referenda than they do when the result actually matters. So it’s stupid to talk about the results in the same way.

        • logie97

          One is tempted to question the strength of the arguments of a “blogger” when they have difficulty with English usage. (I don’t think you have to be a Latin scholar either.)
          As I understand it we have just had a referendum – didn’t know there were several referenda. And the plural of forum is usually fora.

  16. vto 16

    reid said it best above.. “The issue is: it was a ubiquitous intrusion into an area that was never a problem in the first place. That is why it has such traction. In people’s minds, the fact that the occasional bad parent got away with something they should not have, did NOT mean that all parents had to be policed.”

    That is what gets to me. Its like being back at freakin’ school and the teacher holds the entire class back because one moron threw a dart. F..k that used to f..k me off. Shouldn’t be surprised though I guess given the over-heavy weight of school teachers in the labour govt, and left wings in general.

    (now thinking about that has got steam spouting from my ears. best go catch a fush. later).

    • Quoth the Raven 16.1

      So the authoritarianism of the school teacher is bad, but the authoritarianism of the parent is just fine?

      • reid 16.1.1

        What it is about people who fail to recognise that state intrusion is not something that people take lightly.

        We all accept traffic laws and other laws because almost all of us clearly recognise and have institutional-quality evidence for the fact that they work to protect us and improve our lives.

        This law, didn’t. It was never going to, and that conclusion was a fucking no-brainer from the start, to everybody except those who think the state is the oracle to every little itch under the sun.

        Luckily, only some of us are like that on a permanent basis.

        • Quoth the Raven

          I don’t know why you are replying to my comment. I’m an anarchist I don’t like state intrusion full stop. This issue is about human rights. Authoritarianism is wider than the state and includes the authoritarianism currently in familial relations. I oppose both the authoritarianism of the state and the authoritarianism in the family. You’re grossly trying to simplify this issue making it out to be just a case of state intrusion.

          Anyway this was a repeal not simply adding another law.

          • Swampy

            “This issue is about human rights. ”

            True. It is about parental rights vs child rights. The United Nations produced the Rights of the Child convention which they wished to force on countries. New Zealand Government signed this without any consultation with the public or mandate.

            Parents are charged by society to bring their children up to have respect for the social order and the laws and so on, that means at some point the parent has the rights to impose discipline (correction). You call that “authoritarian”, most people call it common sense.

            Sue Bradford and Co obviously believe that their point of view on this issue and that of the United Nations that they are kowtowing to, supersedes democratic rights in countries like New Zealand. This Left Wing ideology is of course very dangerous and in reality is just a front for breaking down the political power of Right wing institutions in society so that socialism can be brought in which is what the UN is about of course.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Yeah, that’s not mental. The victors of WW2, notably the US, set up the UN in order to establish global socialism, defined as not being allowed to get away with thrashing your kids.

        • Draco T Bastard

          This law, didn’t.

          From my reading of the MSM it already has. People who would previously got off a charge of assault on the children are now being held to account. People who wouldn’t have been charged still aren’t being charged.

      • Swampy 16.1.2

        The teacher is responsible in school time. Parents are responsible outside school.

  17. gobsmacked 17


    I voted “Yes”, and I’m disappointed with the result, but I don’t dismiss it out of hand. The turnout was pretty good for a postal ballot. It will be interesting to hear what John Key (i.e. Cabinet, it’s the same thing) announces on Monday. I’ll reserve judgement until then.

    But you’re quite wrong when you say:

    An amendment or repeal will be tolerable. If Key does neither he will suffer dramatically in polling.

    He won’t suffer in polling, and he knows it.

    I keep asking this obvious question to “No” voters, and never get an answer:

    Who are you going to vote for instead in 2011? If it’s ACT, how does that hurt Key? If it’s not ACT, then who?

    • Voted NO 17.1

      Hmmm, Winston peters sounds good. We would all love him back…..

    • Swampy 17.2

      Key hopes that it will all be forgotten about by the next election, just as Helen Clark hoped that by postponing it, she would not lose the last election. The truth is that the people behind the referendum haven’t got any political representation in Parliament except through National, Key knows that so he believes, rightly or wrongly that there won’t be any political penalty for the National Party. Labour gambled a similar way on the Foreshore and Seabed Act, except that they lost out to the Maori Party.

      Key making the deal with Clark in the first place was pure political expediency. He could see that Labour was deeply divided by the process and he saw that National would be divided the same, and that would be bad for the National Party. Now that the result has come in it is business as usual, try to sweep it under the carpet and hope it will all go away, after all it is only one small issue that doesn’t mean much by itself. Unless you think that John Key is a political novice and that National could still lose in 2011.

  18. Adders 18

    Weird picture in the Herald (via link in the post) of Larry Baldock celebrating by orgasmically girding his loins in public at the prospect of . . . what? Getting stuck into a defenceless child?

  19. singularian 19

    The irony of some of the most partisan commentors on this site saying they didn’t vote because John Key said he was going to ignore the result has not escaped me.

    The smiling assassin strikes again? heh

    • Adders 19.1

      Yes, how silly to have thought that he might have been telling the truth.

      • singularian 19.1.1

        Well sorry Adders, they’ve spent the last 3 years smearing him as a lying, thieving, no good rich prick and now they’re crying foul.

        Excuse me if I find the cries of ‘ but John said ‘ a little shrill for my taste.

        catchpa – finger – Oh Yeah.

    • felix 19.2

      That’s not irony. It might be “Alanis irony” but it’s not irony.

      • singularian 19.2.1

        sigh, in my world its called irony.

        • felix

          Call it what you like, doesn’t make it ironic though. Of course if you knew how to use the English language you would’ve seen the obvious flaws in the referendum question. Even Key saw them and he’s barely “littrit”.

          Serious question – funny as you might find it, John Key has said repeatedly that he would not be changing the law based on the outcome of the referendum.

          What would you think of him if he were to turn around now and renege on that?

          Cool by you, Alanis?

  20. Eddie – why the obsession with “the Christian right”? Christian parties will NEVER get enough traction in New Zealand (in my humble and considered opinion) to be a viable political force, and I think that you will find that most Christians (myself included) will continue to support the mainstream political parties on both side of the divide. I wonder if you’re seeing shadows where there aren’t any.

    • Ianmac 20.1

      A decade or so the Christian Right fell back unelected. (Before MMP.) Their spokesman said at the time, if they couldn’t win outright they would have a different approach. Stealthy. The Families First, Sensible Sentencing Trust, and umm? may represent that stealthy approach. And good on them in a democracy. But do not be surprised if the group is treated with suspicion. Anti-smacking is their finest hour.

      • presz 20.1.1

        Oh no the Christians the christians are coming quick man the barricades !

        Cripes you’re a twerp

  21. Mac1 21

    New referendum. “Should a whacky half-baked referendum be enacted by a responsible government?

    “Whacky” because the smacking referendum was badly worded and ‘half-baked’ because only 54% voted.

    Anti-spam-word “condition”. Beautiful.

  22. outofbed 22

    I didn’t bother voting as they was absolutely no point as it has already been stated that the law was working and nothing was going to change.as stated by Key (who has gone up in my estimation as a result)
    Just a complete waste of 9mil Just think what could have been done with that amount of dosh

    • Inventory2 22.1

      “Just think what could have been done with that amount of dosh”

      I agree oob – so why did Helen Clark refuse to hold the referendum concurrent to thast year’s general election then?

      • mike 22.1.1

        Because she didn’t want to remind everyone on election day what a bossy-boots, nanny state, control freak labour was – it could have saved $9000’000 but she would have been smashed in the polls – another fail from hels..

      • Swampy 22.1.2

        Put it in perspective, this is a very small amount compared to the total Government spend annually, probably only a week or two of the cost of running Parliament and arguably a lot better value on this particular piece of legislation.

    • Swampy 22.2

      If you believe that then you believe that all democracy is a waste of money/

      We have legally mandated, extensive consultation in local government. We have the select committees for the Parliamentary legislative process. All this costs lots of money.

      Democracy costs money, and I wish people would stop putting up pathetic arguments about the cost of the referendum, all it does it look like yet another excuse for not having it.

  23. outofbed 23

    Mr Baldock said his proposal, unlike the Boscawen bill, would let parents hit their children with instruments such as a wooden spoon.

    “I’m not opposed to the wooden spoon or ruler because you can control things with that better than you can with an open hand.”

    • bobbity 23.1

      No the WTF moment is this comment …….

      “It’s important that people understand that the referendum is only stage one. Stage two is getting the law changed,” he said. “Stage three is targeting the real issues of child abuse. So we’ve got a long way to go. We’re just warming up.”

      Methinks he’d won more kudos if he reversed his stages somewhat……. another tool who engages his mouth before he thinks.

    • Pascal's bookie 23.2

      Tasers are good. No harm, no foul.

  24. reid 24

    Yes, I’m surprised Key’s ruled out any change. Thanks Eddie for pointing that out.

    It’s against his best political interests to do so and he’ll find that out as he watches the reaction over the next few weeks. I wonder why he didn’t just say nothing and wait to see what happened.

    Key is a very quick reactor and also I’ve started to sense, unwilling to back down from a position he’s taken. You can see his former occupation coming through, can’t you.

    I’ve always thought, that deal he did with Helen to get this through, was the strangest thing I ever saw. He had his opposition on the ropes, and he threw them a lifeline, which did nothing but compromise his own support base. I mean, this is not a conservative vs liberal issue, it’s a state-vs-family issue and you woulda thunk Key woulda had the nouse to work out that elementary equation.

    • gobsmacked 24.1

      As I pointed out above, No-voting Nats have nowhere else to go. The Kiwi Party has less support than Bill and Ben – even when the National candidate is hopeless, like Mt Albert.

      John Key will make soothing noises and then quickly leave it behind, because he knows the No crowd will thump their keyboards on Kiwiblog and shout at the “traitor” and do … nothing.

      He’s worked that out, even if they haven’t.

    • Swampy 24.2

      Key has done it for political reasons, to avoid dividing his own party which is what happens on any of these contentious issues that go on for a long time.

      Think the Contraception, Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1977, hugely divisive for Parliament at the time, and the main reason why no changes have been made to the abortion laws since then, just the convenient fiction that the law is working is much preferable to another debate.

      This is why National wimps out on any moral measures, the unity of the party is more important to them. Labour doesn’t care as much and it has bitten them in the bum a few times (Foreshore and Seabed etc)

      OK, John Key says “the law is working” etc and he doesn’t want to do anything because he doesn’t want the debate continuing, in that sense he is truly a slave of the Parliamentary system, whereas the people behind the referendum are outside the political process.

      Remember on this law, it resulted in the destruction of the United Future coalition which has cost Peter Dunne dearly, and Key wouldn’t want that sort of threat against his leadership in National.

      • reid 24.2.1

        Swampy, I’m not saying you’re not correct, but I find it hard to believe that Key had a split caucus on this issue.

        I mean, why would anyone in the Nat’s caucus actually want this patent idiocy?

  25. Steve 25

    Key will save this result for a carrot at the next Election.

    • Ianmac 25.1

      Yep. Can see it now. “Vote for me and you get to hurt your child, legally.”

      • presz 25.1.1

        Congratulations that’s the kind of dickhead comment which caused an overwhelming No vote.

  26. outofbed 26

    I quite like the idea of an adjustable cattle prod,type thing Larry
    You could dial in just the right amount of pain to inflict different level for different misdemeanours
    A wooden spoon is sooo last century

  27. rolla_fxgt 27

    But I can’t help thinking we could have figured that out for ourselves without going through this wasteful $9 million PR exercise for the Christian Right.

    I’m offended to be lumped in with the Christian right, when I’m not Christian, & frankly think all religion is the biggest organised con in the world.

    You can disagree with the outcome of the vote (just like I can disagree with the outcome of that All blacks game against the French at a particular world cup), which is your right in a democracy.
    But what you shouldn’t be doing is belittling those who voted No in the referendum, by calling us stupid (as Sue Bradford did, I’m actually quite capable of understanding questions & the meanings of them, even quite complex ones), deriding us as child abusers who all want to severely beat our children (I had 3 wooden spoons broken on my ass as a child, didn’t do me any harm for more than a few minutes, but made me stop doing what I was doing), when all we really want to do is occasionally smack our children if they’re misbehaving & wont stop via other means such as warnings, or ignoring them, without fearing that some do gooder/nosey parker will ring the cops/cyfs. Its not all about prosecutions, but also the unnecessary stress caused by investigations.

    But hey if you want to say that 54% of those eligible to vote voting in a referendum isn’t enough to create an outcome worth worrying about, then cool. Lets on monday throw out all the list MP’s from parliament & have a smaller parliament consisting only of electorate MP’s as FPP would be, since the vote to choose MMP didn’t have a high enough turnout. Wouldn’t look good for the political left would it?
    But I wouldn’t be stupid enough to suggest that, as it would only hyperbole, and I respect the decision of those who voted. So should you.

    Debate what the vote means by way of changes to the law, but there’s no use deriding what has been.

    I’d like to see a post on what any or all of the standard authors would like to see happen, as the status quo obviously isn’t popular with the general public.
    Is a full repeal necessary or good idea? Should it be made clear that 1 or 2 light smacks on the hand or bottom with an open palm is okay, but anything more is illeagal? Should legally enforcable investigation guidelines be made for the police & CYFS?
    Would be good to see a post on this & see the views of others. Personally, i’d like to see it amended to say that smacking as a punishment or prevention is allowed, as long as they are of a short duration, with an open hand, and no implements or such were used. Means no one can get away with physical beatings, but parents if needed, can discipline children if other measures don’t work.

    • gobsmacked 27.1

      “Debate what the vote means by way of changes to the law, but there’s no use deriding what has been.”

      That’s the whole point, right there.

      A referendum is meant to resolve the debate. Choose MMP, or FPP. Clear question, clear answer. End.

      “Should the law be repealed?” – a clear question. So why didn’t they ask it?

      • rolla_fxgt 27.1.1

        They did ask a clear question. Should an action (a smack) in a particular circumstance (part of parental correction) be illegal? The word good prefaced parental correction, but could of been omitted, but didn’t really matter either way.
        Don’t know how much clearer it could be.

        Very similar to the MMP question, which from memory was along the lines of ” do you want to change the electoral system to MMP, or keep the FPP system?”

        Both just ask what you think about something.

        • Ron

          The point, rolla, is that the question is meaningless. So what if a majority of those that voted think that “a smack …blah blah blah ” ?
          Now if Baldock and his friends had any intergrity they would have asked – “do you think the law should be changed?”
          Then we could have had a debate about the actual law – and not the imaginary situation that Baldock and his fundy mates put forward to get the populace to vote No.
          That’s the difference between the question in MMP which clearly asked – “do you want MMP or not” This one simply asked an irrelevant question.

          • Swampy

            There is nothing meaningless about the question at all, that is just nonsense. It is a criminal offence as of now to smack your children.

            And I am sure if the question had been worded the way you suggest, you would have some other excuse to think up. Bradford coming up saying it was confusing is a bit rich coming almost at the point that the referendum was announced, she must have been living in a cave not to have known that that question was chosen right back at the start of the petition.

            Essentially what you are saying is that the public were brainwashed – well if that is true then every other political campaigner and all the major parties are doing it as well. Including the Yes campaign who keep smearing no-vote parents as child beaters.

            • Ron

              No I’m nt saying the public were brainwashed. I’m saying the No campaign were gutless and couldn’t face a real debate about the real question – is the law a good law and does it work?

            • presz

              No the law is a damp squib.

        • Quoth the Raven

          The word good prefaced parental correction, but could of been omitted, but didn’t really matter either way.

          It does matter. It’s called loading a question.

          • reid

            No it doesn’t, unless you’re an idiot.

            It’s called: Yes Minister.

          • Swampy

            To believe that the question is loaded, you have to believe that smacking isn’t a criminal offence in New Zealand.

            In fact, force for the purposes of correction is specifically made a criminal offence by Section 59 of the Crimes Act.

            The question is not loaded.

            • Pascal's bookie

              No, the question is loaded because it presupposes that ‘smacking’ is a part of good parenting.

              The question asks, effectively, ‘should good parenting be a criminal offense?’

              Which is about as loaded a question as you can get.

    • Draco T Bastard 27.2

      But what you shouldn’t be doing is belittling those who voted No in the referendum, by calling us stupid

      Yes I should because it’s obvious that they were being led around by the nose and that they let it happen.

      • reid 27.2.1

        “Yes I should because it’s obvious that they were being led around by the nose and that they let it happen.”

        That is so funny.

        Do you really believe that?


        • Draco T Bastard

          From your replies you don’t actually understand the question so, yes, I believe you and other like you were being led around by the nose and that you let it happen.

    • kelsey 27.3

      Yes, you summarized my position nicely. I was in two minds about it, but it was the constant condescending behaviour from the left/yes vote that convinced me to vote no. The notion that anyone who votes no is a child abuser is dishonest, and I didnt want to be associated with that.

  28. “Should the law be repealed?’ a clear question. So why didn’t they ask it?

    Perhaps because some people were prepared to amend the previous law, to end all doubt about child abusers getting off because a judge can’t understand “reasonable force”. Some NO voters were happy with the Chester Burrows amendment, for example.

    Therefore, the issue that smacking should not be illegal was a sensible question. The anger many of the NO voters felt cover a spectrum of reasons, one being that conflating a smack with child abuse is offensive, particularly if a smack is rarely used and is part of a range of options.

    Personally, I think the law is bad because it makes parents technically guilty for even a minor smack for the purposes of correction. It’s suggesting minor physical correction (discipline) is bad and should be illegal by default. You don’t improve parenting skills using the State to make laws in this way.

    • Ron 28.1

      Do you think we improved paternal skills by giving blokes’ wives the vote? What about community skills by banning smoking in pubs? What about employers’ skills by making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexuality? I guess we don’t improve drivers’ skills by legislating on their behaviour either……get a grip.

      • AngryTory 28.1.1

        No, ron, we don’t.

        And now that Labour is consigned to the wilderness you will see ever single Nanny-state commie initiative you have listed being demolished by ACT and National.

        It’s called freedom. Get used to it.

        • Ron

          That’s a joke right? You want to take away the vote from women? Hilarious.

        • Armchair Critic

          Hang on Angry, NACT have already legislated powers to tell people what they can and can’t wear, and they are strongly considering extending their powers to confiscate and destroy your (and my) private property. Sounds like nanny state commies to me.

    • Draco T Bastard 28.2

      It\’s suggesting minor physical correction (discipline) is bad and should be illegal by default.

      Research has shown that smacking a child causes irreparable harm to the child. So, yes, it should be illegal by default because it is actually bad.

      Go read this.

      • presz 28.2.1

        You call that research …..ye Gods if that’s what passes for research these days we’re all stuffed

        • Draco T Bastard

          No, I didn’t.

          • presz

            “Research has shown that smacking a child causes irreparable harm to the child”

            So you did not actually make that statement ……do you have tourettes ?

            Or are you just thick enough to actually believe that smacking a child causes irreparable harm to the child, what next telling a child off causes irreparable harm ? …. making a child do their homework causes irreparable harm ?

            The obvious solution is to ban all parents and children …. keeping it real.

      • Swampy 28.2.2

        Professor David Fergusson of Otago Medical School, with the longitudinal study, statistically proved that no harm resulted to children in the study who were smacked.

        • NickS

          Study please, as in please provide a link to the peer reviewed, published study. So one may input it into the joy machine that is google scholar + cite search, and look at what the rest of the literature says. Because a paper in isolation aren’t as useful as a paper put in the context of the rest of the body of research.

  29. ROFLcopter 29

    Nice post Eddie… I agree 100%.

    Just remember that it wouldn’t have cost $9m if the previous gov’t had rolled it into the election day process.

  30. ricdict of the people.hgraham 30

    What is it with you lefties – why do you hate democracy ?
    The people have spoken in this referendum, very clearly. But you will not accept it.
    Therefore I am obliged to conclude that you are anti-democrats.
    Whether you agree or don’t agree ith the result, it is clear, so if you do not then support the required change in the law then you aren stating you are ana\ anti-democrat.
    Your cause is hopeless if you do not accept this ver

    • gobsmacked 30.1

      Memo to Rip Van Winkle

      The “lefties” are not in power. Please address your concerns to the people in charge.

      Are you saying John Key hates democracy?

      • Swampy 30.1.1

        This is a left wing blog, isn’t it?

        The Law was passed by Labour.

        • Pascal's bookie

          No it was passed by parliament, with a huge majority, and the bill was sponsored by a Green. Nothing to do with Labour actually.

          • kaya

            “Nothing to do with Labour actually”
            That is obfuscation at it’s finest. Clark ordered all MP’s to vote along party lines because she needed to keep the Greens onside so she could cling to power for another few weeks. Just one of many lowlife tricks pulled by Labour in their death throes. National doing a deal was another story again.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Umm, not really kaya. Once the bill, which was a Green members initiative, came in to play, Labour’s hand was forced.

              labour has some party rules you see. If members pass a remit about a policy, then the MP’s are bound to follow what the party members have decided. There was such a remit in place about s59. So once it came up labour had to follow the direction set out by the labour party members. Nothing to do with appeasing the Greens, who weren’t a part of the last government, if you were paying attention.

              National’s ‘deal’ then. Care to talk about that? As I remember it there were many tories making great play about the nasty Labour party whipping this vote, (which as I explained above, quite dishonest of them because the LP’s hands were tied by it’s party membership, not the leadership). Then, for political reasons JK changed course completely and whipped the National caucus along so that they had to vote for bill that they had all been vehemently opposed to..

              How do you remember it?

  31. Swampy 31

    What a load of hypocritical hogwash. If you didn’t believe in the referendum you shouldn’t have campaigned for the No vote. If the referendum had gone your way it would be hailed as a triumph for democracy but because it’s gone against you it is all sorts of bad bad things.

    This whole issue is about how the Labour Party has repeatedly given away, sold or ignored people’s democratic rights, how they rammed through this law change against public opinion. You can play with the numbers any way you like, but if this had been an election, that result would have been perfectly reasonable and acceptable and that is democracy.

    Obviously you don’t really believe in democracy, it can be abolished if the truth is a bit inconvenient or contradicts your political beliefs.

    • felix 31.1

      By “no” do you mean “yes” Swampy?

      Isn’t that just a beautiful illustration of the stupidity of the question?

      And btw, I didn’t campaign for the “no” or “yes” vote. Did you? Are you sure you got the right one?

      • presz 31.1.1

        must attack the messenger, felix = spambot

        • felix

          Yeah I am a spambot but I’m not allowed to talk about it.

          Where am I attacking the messenger?

          I was just pointing out that Swampy has been up and down the thread telling all and sundry that the question was plain and simple and that we must all be idiots if we think it’s misleading or confusing – then he goes and gets the answer backwards himself.


    • Pascal's bookie 31.2

      What part of ‘Non Binding’ confuses you swampy?

      • felix 31.2.1

        Considering the trouble he’s having with “no” and “yes”, I’d guess it’s the “non” that’s confusing him.

  32. bobo 32

    Judging by the result Labour voters voted no as much as National, I don’t see this issue as a left vs right thing, I voted no so i’m an evil child beater I guess.

    Labour should have always keep this law as a conscience vote instead of turning it into ad-lib party policy.

  33. outofbed 33

    Green election 2008 by % league table on left
    Yes vote league table by % on right
    Nothing unusual apart from Maungakiekie, Mangere, Manukau East

    1 Wellington Central 1
    2 Rongotai 2
    3 Dunedin North 6
    4 Auckland Central 3
    5 Port Hills 8
    6 Christchurch Central 11
    7 Mt Albert 4
    8 West Coast-Tasman 30
    9 Nelson 16
    10 Ohariu 5
    11 Mana 10
    12 Ilam 17
    13 Dunedin South 31
    14 Hutt South 14
    15 New Lynn 15
    24 Epsom 7
    38 Maungakiekie 13
    69 Mangere 9
    70 Manukau East 12

  34. Cheeky 34

    Corporal punishment in the home:

    * Austria – illegal since 1989
    * Bulgaria – illegal since 2000
    * Croatia – illegal since 1999
    * Costa Rica – illegal since 2008
    * Cyprus – illegal since 1994
    * Denmark – illegal since 1997
    * Finland – illegal since 1983
    * Germany – illegal since 2000
    * Greece – illegal since 2007
    * Hungary – illegal since 2004
    * Iceland – illegal since 2003
    * Israel – illegal since 2000
    * Latvia – illegal since 1998
    * Moldova – illegal since 2009
    * Netherlands – illegal since 2007
    * Norway – illegal since 1987
    * Portugal – illegal since 2007
    * Romania – illegal since 2004
    * Sweden – illegal since 1979.
    * Spain – illegal since 2007
    * Ukraine – illegal since 2004
    * Uruguay – illegal since 2007
    * Venezuela – illegal since 2007

  35. Ianmac 35

    Cheeky well done. In Germany 2000, I believe that when the law was passed there was not a ripple of discontent. What is happening to our country? I wonder if here in NZ there is a connection between those who are the loudest NOes, and our high child abuse rates? Denial? (I will keep your list thanks.)

    • Swampy 35.1

      WHat is happening to Germany, is a better question. I think that can be answered fairly easily since World War II.

      • felix 35.1.1

        Yeah that place has really gone downhill since the end of the third reich eh Swampy?

        You’re showing your true colours tonight, mate. Keep it up.

  36. RedLogix 36

    No countries with an Anglo Saxon heritage on the list. I could see the Canadians getting there (the French influence perhaps), but certainly not the USA, or Australia anytime soon.

    No Asian, African, or Polynesian nations either. Indeed my personal experience with the Samoans (and I may be way off base here) is that they are especially protective of their child beating habits.

    This whole thing does seem to have an especially cultural thread to it.

    • Ianmac 36.1

      Redlogix:”This whole thing does seem to have an especially cultural thread to it.” Good point. Religious? Though I think that in China it is an unwritten law that they don’t hit kids.
      And the true Koran believers are opposed to violence.
      Maybe the Christian ethic has a lot to do with it. The missionary influence in Polynesia and historians would say that before the missionaries came to NZ, violence against children was unknown.

      • Swampy 36.1.1

        If anyone (child or otherwise) broke a tapu or rahui they were killed immediately. Is that not violent? Tariana and Co conveniently gloss over that.

        • bobbity

          “And the true Koran believers are opposed to violence.”

          Just don’t suggest anything negative about the prophet or Islam – and don’t think about changing religion.

          That Mohammed what a joker never raised arms in anger once.

          What’s with you Ian you seem to think that Christianity is the only religion with skeletons in the closet and that Aotearoa was all milk and honey and happy pixies until the evil Europeans came to town.

    • RedLogix 36.2

      Maybe the Christian ethic

      But that conclusion is not directly supported by the list of countries above. Something of the Christian Protestant/Puritan heritage? Or does it date back earlier to the traditional of self-denial, the self-loathing misogyny of the monastic traditions? Certainly in modern times it is represented by the fundamentalists who interpret the Bible in an grossly illegitimate and literal fashion.

      Perhaps for me is the greatest dissapointment in all this has been the response from the non-fundamentalist, mainstream Churches, many of whose members fully support the S59 repeal, but have been bullied into silence in the name of ‘Christian Unity’.

      • Ianmac 36.2.1

        Redlogix: Yeah right. Maybe they lacked the “moral” courage to speak out or maybe they new that the divisions cut across the congregation. “Hells bells Father. Lets just hand out the usual esoteric rhetoric and avoid upsetting anyone.” Over on Public address Mark says that he totally supports the Repeal and is happy with its operation but he voted NO. That would be interesting if there were significant numbers who so vote eh?

    • Richard 36.3

      Redlogix: “No countries with an Anglo Saxon heritage on the list…”

      Angles and Saxons came from Germany.

      Saxony is a state in Germany. Saxons colonised parts of the Netherlands, and Translyvania (Romania).

      So some countries on the list have a Saxon heritage at least.

      Bear in mind that NZ *is* on this list too. Corporal punishment in the home *is* illegal. The referedum has not changed that. Apparently, the National party does not see the result of the referendum as a reason to change this.

  37. So, to be quite clear the new law will read
    Spare the Rod – spoil the child?
    we’ll need pamphlets and line drawings! Saatchis can do those,
    Love marks or some such shizer

  38. Tom Semmens 38

    Well, well well. it looks like New Zealanders have been assessed – rightly in this case – as a bunch of fools by hard right Christians.

    “…A group behind the “Vote No” bloc in the smacking referendum received around $1m over six years from a conservative American religious group…”


    That group is Dr. James Dobson’s “Focus on the Family”.

    Focus on the Family in the USA is chiefly notorious for its strident anti-gay homophobia, as well as all the usual fundamentalist clap trap like creationism.

    New Zealander were sold a dishonest crock over S59. A bunch of Christian crackpots, who took pains to hide their fundamentalist religious agenda before the referendum, have managed to co-opt a majority of New Zealanders with their lies and propaganda.

    I can see why Baldock is getting intoxicated on his success to the point he feels he can threaten the Prime Minister. He reckons he has got all the money he needs from his fundy bagmen in the USA.

    Personally though, I get the feeling the heat has gone from this issue. After all, if key does nothing, who else have they got to vote for?

    • Ianmac 38.1

      Yes Tom. Well spotted.Thanks. As I dimly remembered from the distant past the Christian lobby found that they couldn’t directly make a dent in the Electoral Process in NZ so they said that they will tackle influence in a different way. As the article says funding came from the far right “Christian Focus on the Family” USA. And scarily the money was well spent from the NO point of view. I suppose exposure might dampen their effectiveness?

    • NickS 38.2

      Oh not those utter idiots.

      Thanks for that Tom, here’s hoping this has much the same impact as Hager’s reveal of the Exclusive Brethren contributions to National’s election campaign.

    • Ron 38.3

      And typical this comes AFTER the event.
      I remember the expose of United Future and a fundy group AFTER the election. What is the story with journalists these days – gutless? incompetent? What?
      I think New Zealanders would have been interested in the fact that the No vote campaign was being bankrolled from the US.

    • felix 38.4

      After all, if key does nothing, who else have they got to vote for?

      The immediate implementation of all old testament law.

      Nah, just kidding. One step at a time.

  39. Tom Semmens 39

    “…I suppose exposure might dampen their effectiveness?…”

    You know, the Herald must have known about this for ages. This is hardly a new issue, the funding has gone on for FIVE YEARS. It wouldn’t been hard to look at where a Charity gets it’s money from, I imagine it is a matter of public record or at least easy for a journalist to discover.

    It is interesting the Herald sat on it until AFTER the referendum result. My take on it is the Herald editorial board – which after all is the mouthpiece of the Auckland business community (A.K.A. The National party in a pin-stripe) – don’t want Key to be to badly damaged when he does not change the law, and the timing of this story is all about taking the heat out this issue and putting it to bed.

  40. Ianmac 40

    True. I wondered why it was placed well down the list 16th of topics rather than a headline?

  41. Tom Semmens 41

    “…I wondered why it was placed well down the list 16th of topics rather than a headline?”

    They are probably to stupid to work out they’ve got a humdinger of a story, right there.

    The silence from the right is amusing though. Imagine if Hugo Chavez had given Sue Bradford a million dollars to campaign for a yes vote.

    Trevor Louden would be collecting his guns, donning his DPM and removing the camouflage from his bunker, Half of the aged posters at nominister would be in ambulances on their way to hospital with aneurysms and DPF would be demanding we allow US Marines to guard parliament to save us from the incipient Chavezista coup.

  42. Ianmac 42

    Were there question being asked earlier this year on the Standard about the possible funding of Sensible Sentencing, Family First and other groups, with the possibility that the funding was coming from USA for political reasons?

  43. GlobalWarmingBollix 43

    Wasteful exercise for the christian right? Everyone that voted was mobilized by the christian right? Are you sure?

    • infused 43.1

      Exactly. I couldn’t care less. They didn’t have any influence. Left is trying hard to justify a crushing defeat.

      • Ron 43.1.1

        Hmm. “Crushing defeat”. 80 something percent of 50 something percent is hardly crushing. More to the point defeat implies losing something – that something will happen to change the status quo – and because everyone knows the law is fine and working well – nothing will actually happen.
        Me – I’m gutted.

    • felix 43.2

      Na, but it means this referendum probably wouldn’t have even existed for people to mobilize behind without the American fundamentalists paying the bills for the local nutters to organise it.

      Of course, someone else might have started one anyway.

  44. GlobalWarmingBollix 44

    Once you have labelled someone you have marginalised them.

  45. Maggie 45

    Only two churches in NZ came out in favour of a “No” vote – the Muslim church and Ratana.

    It is indeed enlightening to learn that 87% of 54% of Kiwis hold views on parenting which are closer to those of the Taliban than any of our modern spiritual leaders.

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