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Bradford's Intentions are Irrelevant

Press Release
For Immediate Publication

Bradford's Intentions are Irrelevant

Family Integrity published material months ago claiming that repeal of Section 59 would not only make smacking a crime but would also criminalise the pro-repeal group's favourite alternative to smacking, "time out". Since then many strands have come together confirming our predictions.

A letter from the Police Commissioner's Office August 11, 2005, confirmed that any smacking at all would become an assault if Section 59 was repealed and that "parents would not be authorized to use reasonable force by way of correction," totally undermining their authority and criminalizing virtually any act of hands-on parenting.

Children's Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro opened a forum on effective child discipline in Wellington on February 9, 2006, with comments dismissive of the claim that repeal of Section 59 would criminalise parents. She closed the forum that same day saying that the criminalisation of parents was an issue that could not be glossed over but had to be dealt with.

Investigate Magazine just published an article in the June 2006 issue in which Queen's Counsels Stuart Grieve, Grant Illingworth and Nick Davidson all confirm that repeal of Section 59 would define any smacking as assault and would criminalise even the enforcement of "time out".

Sue Bradford now disingenuously claims it was never her intention to make a light smack a crime, although her Explanatory Note in the Bill makes it clear that was always her intention.

In an effort to sound big-hearted about it, Bradford now says she'll probably re-word the Explanatory Note of the Bill to make clear her intentions. So what? She may "intend" that pigs should fly, but who cares? Her intentions in the Explanatory Note are totally spurious and irrelevant when it comes to the wording of Acts of Parliament. As the Institute of Policy Studies has said:

"Legislative intention" is synonymous with "whimsical nonsense." What matters is what Parliaments "enacts", not what anyone "intends" to see happen.1

Public opinion is against Bradford's Bill: academic research as well as popular polls consistently show 80% of New Zealanders do not want Section 59 repealed.

Police opinion shows Bradford's Bill will criminalise parents as well as reduce their authority.

Top QCs' opinions agree that Bradford's Bill will also criminalise even "time out", meaning even most supporters of this Bill will find it coming back to bite them if it ever passes.

It is high time Sue Bradford quits wasting Parliamentary time and resources on a dead duck of a Bill and do the honourable thing: withdraw it and dump it.

The critical element remains "what Parliament has enacted" rather than what Parliament (or anybody else) intended to achieve. (It has been suggested that "legislative intention" is synonymous with "whimsical nonsense".)
End of Quote.
(From the Institute of Policy Studies Newsletter, August 1997, No. 51, p. 8, "Regulatory Management: Achieving Intended Results with Minimum Compliance Costs".)


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