Controversial 'anti-beating bill' negotiates first hurdle
By Ainsley Thomson
New Zealand Herald, July 28, 2005

The bill the Green Party has dubbed the 'anti-beating not anti-smacking bill' passed its first reading last night and will proceed to select committee.

Green MP Sue Bradford's controversial bill to scrap parents' right to use "reasonable force" to punish their children by repealing section 59 of the Crimes Act, was hotly debated last night before eventually being passed 65 to 54.

As had been predicted Labour, Progressives and the Greens voted for the bill. Two New Zealand First MPs, Brian Donnelly and Peter Brown and Maori Party MP Tariana Turia also voted for the bill to progress.

National, Act, United Future and 11 New Zealand First MPs voted against it.

The bill has been labelled "anti-smacking" by opponents and criticised for being heavy-handed and for interfering in parenting.

But Ms Bradford says her bill is not intended to criminalise parents who lightly smack their children and is aimed at removing section 59 which provides the defence of reasonable force for parents who assault their children.

Last night, several MPs spoke of their personal experience of disciplining their children.

Some, including Labour Cabinet minister Marian Hobbs, New Zealand First MP Dail Jones and Labour MP John Tamihere, admitted to physically disciplining their children.

The Government said it would support the bill to select committee so that the issue of the physical disciplining of children could be debated.

Ms Bradford said she was "wrapped" that her bill would advance, but said it would face a further challenge when the next Parliament formed, as they could decide to reject any private member's bill.

United Future MP Larry Baldock withdrew his Marriage (Gender Clarification) Bill yesterday because he said it was unlikely to even be debated.

Mr Baldock said he hoped to reintroduce the legislation after the election.

He said Act, after previously agreeing, had refused to remove one of its member's bills from the order paper, meaning it was uncertain if the marriage bill would have been debated tonight.

Act had also said it would support the bill, but had then refused to put that support in writing.

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