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Committee Affirms commitment to child safety

20 November 2006

Select Committee Affirms commitment to child safety

Sue Bradford, sponsor of the private member's bill to repeal s59 of the Crimes Act, this morning has welcomed, with reservations, the Select Committee report which has just been tabled at Parliament.

" My Preference all along has been for simple repeal, and still is. Right from the start my goal has been to abolish the defence of 'reasonable force' that under current law allows parents to sometimes get away with quite severely beating and hitting their children in the name of discipline or correction. The Bill as amended, achieves that goal," Ms Bradford says.

"As long as we have S59 on our law books in its current form, parents can feel legitimised in any physical violence they inflict on their children

"The Green Party believes that our society should offer babies, children and young people the same protection from violence as we offer to adults and to pets. The Select Committee recommendations mark a huge step forward in achieving this. My bill, as amended, is a key step in helping to end the culture of violence against children which permeates our society.

"I am pleased that the Select Committee has not adopted the type of amendment suggested by some submitters and supported by the National Party, which would see 'reasonable force' for the purposes of correction defined.

"On the other hand, the committee has also chosen to amend the bill so that it is clear no parent will be prosecuted for restraining theirchildren when - for example - they are acting to prevent a child from hurting another person or themselves, or to stop a child from continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour.

" I do not think for a moment that police were suddenly going to start prosecuting parents for these kind of activities - but the level of concern from the public meant that some of my fellow MPs felt it necessary to provide reassurance by amending s59 to this effect.

"The Commentary to the Bill as reported back is also significant, as it makes clear that prosecution of parents for use of force against their children will continue to be guided by police and court practices which do not encourage prosecution for very minor incidents.

"However, even with the amendments which we've made as part of the democratic Select Committee process, I believe my bill, should it pass, sends a very clear message that it will not be in any way, shape or form a license to go on hitting kids.


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