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Bradford responds to referendum petition

23 June 2008

Bradford responds to referendum petition

Green MP Sue Bradford is calling on political parties and the voting public to reject calls to turn back the clock in response to the launch of the extra signatures on the petition opposing changes to the law on child discipline at Parliament today.

"It would be sad if any major political party were to campaign this year on a platform of re-legalising violence against children in the name of parental correction," she says.

"I am of course aware, as the petition shows, that there are still all too many people who believe that the right of parents to physically assault their children in the name of discipline is more important than the right of babies and children to grow up free from violence.

"However, I call on politicians and the public to think twice before doing what no other country before us has done - reverse legislation of the type the vast majority of our MPs voted for a year ago when assault for disciplinary purposes was outlawed in this country.

"Anecdotal and research-based evidence shows that over the past couple of years more and more New Zealanders are turning away from using violence in bringing up their children.

"No one ever pretended that the law change achieved through my private member's bill on section 59 of the Crimes Act would end child violence in this country - but what it has done is send a message that our children deserve the same protection against violence as we adults receive.

"Opponents to the Bill predicted that if it passed good parents would be locked up in droves and have their children removed from them. More than a year on this fear is clearly unfounded.

"I call on all major political parties in this election to clarify where they stand on this issue, above all National, who seem to be sending mixed messages to voters on this at the moment.

"If New Zealand were to reverse last year's law change we would be an international disgrace among the other 22 nations who have put child protection above parents' rights to assault their children, and we would be betraying the right of our babies and children to grow up without the ever present threat of violence," Ms Bradford says.


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