Smacking debate: a failure of leadership from the left

by Jake Quinn

(Pic by Kenny Rodger, NZ Herald)

Simon Collins reports that:

Kiwi Party leader Larry Baldock, who organised the petitions that forced the referendum, told about 40 jubilant supporters at Ellerslie last night that he would settle for nothing short of repealing the ban on parents using physical force for correction.

“Reapealing the ban”, what ban?  People are so quick to forget that the only thing that happened when section 59 of the Crimes Act was repealed was the little section that had allowed about half a dozen violent child beaters (remember those ones that used riding crops, whips and chains against their kids) to get off in court each year was removed. Gosh, doesn’t that sound sensible.

The problem with this whole damn “smacking debate” debacle was that Bradford and Clark allowed the above, that is, the sensible removal of a clause used only by the lawyers of very violent child beaters, to be turned into a debate about whether or not smacking your kids was OK, this should never have happened.

This “debate” was always going to end up with the people telling the government to fuck right off.  I can understand Bradford’s desire to see the removal of this little bit of law warped into a much more significant debate about smacking, but I cannot understand why Clark let it happen.

Clark didn’t nip it in the bud so we ended up with a referendum asking a ridiculous question which could have only (unless one was protest voting) be answered one way.  An unfortunate and uncharacteristic failure of leadership from Clark and the left.

It is now John Key’s problem and it will be very interesting to see how he deals with it.