22 Nov 2008 Excellent opinion piece in Otago Daily Times

“A referendum of no consequence” - a good summary of the current situation in New Zealand on physical punishment of children.

Author of the opinion piece, Otago Daily Times Assistant Editor Simon Cunliffe states that:

  • the referendum will be non-binding
  • those promoting the referendum and opposed to the law suggest that the law was  intended to do something entirely different from what it was in fact intended to do (it was not intended to criminalise mild mannered smacking but rather reduce violence to children)
  • the referendum is framed to favour the idea that use of mild physical discipline will result in criminalisation
  • writing sensible law is a complex matter ill-suited to “yes” or “no” answers (in this case to the question Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?).

He also comments that the question could have been equally framed  "Should it be legal for New Zealand parents to  assault children? "  The referendum will be non-binding and, as Mr Cunliffe suggests, it is unlikely that the new Prime Minister will want to be stigmatized as "the Prime Minister who made it legal to beat defenceless children".