Sue Bradford Sue Bradford CREDIT: New Zealand Green Party

Kids win out over petty politics

Wednesday 2 May 2007, 6:41PM
By Infonews Editor


Today is a great day for New Zealand’s children, who will soon be afforded the same protection from violence that adults are, the Green Party says.

Both Labour and National put aside petty politics and have come together to support Sue Bradford’s Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill, following an amendment that assures parents that police have the discretion not to prosecute when very insignificant or inconsequential offences come to their attention.

“I am delighted that both major parties have put petty political point scoring to one side and come together to support an amendment to my bill which will allow the vast majority of MPs in Parliament to vote for it this evening. It looks as though the debate on the committee stages of my bill may well finish tonight, which means the final third reading will take place on 16 May, the day before the Budget is delivered.

“This new amendment, put forward by Peter Dunne and announced by Helen Clark and John Key this morning, gives parents the reassurance so many of them are looking for on the vexed issue of criminalisation,” Ms Bradford says.

“I hope the amendment means that some of the scaremongering around the fear that when my bill passes tens of thousands of ordinary parents will suddenly find themselves in court for lightly or occasionally smacking their children will be put to rest.

“This amendment is not like those put up by National’s Chester Borrows and John Key - both of these attempted to define the level and nature of force that it would be OK to use on our children. This new amendment does not do that. If a Borrows-type amendment had received support in Parliament I would have withdrawn my bill, as such a step would have undermined the core purpose of what I’m trying to achieve - that children should have the same legal protection from violence as adults do.”

The new amendment simply affirms existing police guidelines that police do have the discretion not to prosecute when very inconsequential offences come to their attention.

“It is tremendous that my bill is going to pass with such strong support from the New Zealand Parliament. This shows what can be done by small parties in an MMP environment when major parties are not willing or able to pick up potentially difficult or controversial causes.

“I am very pleased that New Zealand will finally be living up to its UNCROC obligations. The fact that both major parties and others are now behind the bill shows there is a significant body of public opinion on side that has till now tended to be overshadowed by a very vocal minority. Support comes from people who understand what the bill is about. This is a great day for the children of New Zealand.”