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National to seek amendment to Section 59 bill

Chester Borrows MP
National Party Associate Welfare Spokesman

11 October 2006

National to seek amendment to Section 59 bill

National MP Chester Borrows will seek to introduce an amendment to Sue Bradford's Crimes (Abolition of Force as Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill.

"It is clear from listening to submissions and comments in the media from proponents that both sides want the same things:

* To send a message that child abuse is wrong while accepting that legislation alone won't stop it.

* To stop parents who moderately and seriously assault their children from hiding behind Section 59 when they should be convicted.

* To not criminalise good parents who occasionally smack their children, because it is not in the best interests of children for this to happen.

"The real debate is whether protection afforded to parents and children should be enshrined in legislation or left to government agencies to make social policy by way of guidelines.

"It's our job to make laws that are clear and concise and that work, not to abrogate the responsibility for lawmaking by handing it over to unelected officials.

"My first amendment will make it the role of the judge to decide if Section 59 can be applied in the circumstances of the case, and then the jury would decide if the force used was reasonable.

"This provides a filter so juries cannot misapply Section 59 out of sympathy.

"My second amendment restricts reasonable force to no more than 'transitory and trifling discomfort', which drastically lowers the bar on the level of force that can be justified by Section 59 - currently the law allows injury to be justified.

"The public are screaming out for a common-sense and moderate approach to be introduced to this debate. I believe this is fairly represented in the proposed amendments," says Mr Borrows.


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