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MP Who Wants To Change Smacking Law Faces Heavy Defeat

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Boscawen
John Boscawen

NZPA political reporters

Wellington, Aug 27 NZPA - An MP who wants to change the law that bans smacking is facing a crushing defeat in Parliament.

ACT's John Boscawen says he drafted his member's bill to meet the wishes of more than 87 percent of voters who took part in the referendum on the law.

His amendment would make it legal for parents to lightly smack their children but Prime Minister John Key has set himself against it and National will oppose it when it comes up for a first reading vote.

Labour, the Greens and the Maori Party will almost certainly oppose it as well and Mr Boscawen will find it difficult to gather more support than ACT's five votes.

"I think it's very disappointing because 87 percent of New Zealanders said they don't believe a smack for the purpose of correction should be illegal," Mr Boscawen told NZPA last night.

"The prime minister and the National Party make a grave mistake when they ignore those 87 percent of people."

The referendum asked the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

More than 1.6 million people voted and 87.4 percent said "no".

Mr Key reacted to the result on Monday, saying he would strengthen assurances that there would be no prosecutions for a light smack.

He said yesterday the law was working the way Parliament intended it to.

"If the law doesn't work I will change it," he said.

"I think all the statistics we see now tell us the law in its current form is working. We've had 33 complaints, we've had one withdrawn prosecution."

Mr Key said the message from the referendum was that parents were uneasy about the law.

"It didn't ask the question about whether the law should be changed. I think that's a more difficult issue."

Labour leader Phil Goff said he thought most of his MPs would oppose Mr Boscawen's bill.

"They feel that the current law is working and that the guarantees are there that good parents won't face sanctions from lightly smacking their children," he said.

The Greens are sure to oppose it because it was one of their MPs, Sue Bradford, who drafted the bill that banned smacking.

The Maori Party strongly supported the ban when it was passed by Parliament.

The bill isn't likely to be on Parliament's agenda for at least two weeks.

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