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Anti-Smacking Campaign Dishonesty

Anti-Smacking Campaign Dishonesty

Stephen Franks

Friday, 10 June 2005 Press Releases - Crime & Justice

ACT Justice spokesman Stephen Franks today renewed his attack on the Crimes (Abolition of Force As a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

"Closer study suggests that Sue Bradford’s incomprehension of the existing law might be a better explanation than deception for her false claim that she would not necessarily criminalise people who smacked children.

"Repeal of section 59 would leave parents completely exposed to the common law definitions of assault. Any intentional and unwelcome touching can qualify. Of course that is what the zealots want, so that they can select unfortunate victims for show trials.

"But Ms Bradford may not understand what she is doing. Her bill's title and its purpose clause 3 say that it is to amend the Crimes Act to "abolish the use of reasonable force by parents as a justification for disciplining children". Section 59 has never said that reasonable force is a justification for discipline. What it says is that a child discipline purpose is a justification for applying reasonable force. These are not just technical quibbles. They mean quite different things.

"On the other hand I am not inclined to excuse entirely the falsity of her claims. I have debated these issues in public with Ms Bradford in at least five different forums. A detailed paper records the rebuttal points in one of those debates at

"Her only answer to fears of a misuse of her new criminalisation is that we should trust the police not to apply the new law in the wrong sort of cases. It seems she has never heard of private prosecutions. It is a pretty odd answer anyway, for a usually police-paranoid Green to want the police to have the power to choose who should be punished.

"Leaving the power to punish with the police is even more bizarre given that the whole purpose of her change is to remove choice from the courts and jury because she thinks they are not zealous enough. I'm sure she will want the Attorney General to demand prosecution if the police prove too sympathetic to normal parents.

"ACT will defend the rights of parents against these self-anointed experts.” Mr Franks said.


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