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Law Commission clarifies S59 position

13 March 2007

Law Commission clarifies S59 position

Green Party Sue Bradford welcomed the support from the Maori Party caucus, from NGOs and from select committee chair Lynne Pillay at a press conference today, at which she released a Law Commission legal opinion on her amended Bill.

"I welcome the opportunity today to release the legal opinion by Sir Geoffrey Palmer that firmly rebuts what Peter McKenzie QC said via Gordon Copeland just over a week ago. In the words of Sir Geoffrey -'We disagree with the assertion that the effect of the draft will be to prohibit time out, by exposing parents who use it to the risk of prosecution.'"

"In the expert opinion of Sir Geoffrey Palmer and the Law Commission, it is extremely unlikely that police would ever prosecute, or any jury would ever convict, any parent who placed their child on a time out mat.

"Attempts are being made to tinker with and amend the bill at the eleventh hour. If 60 percent of MPs fail to support the Bill, some of my opponents now want to force the country into a hugely expensive, socially divisive and totally unnecessary referendum. The proposed amendment by United Future MP Judy Turner is in that sense, an insult to the sovereignty of Parliament.

"I'm sure that the majority of MPs will reject the proposed Turner amendment on principle. It is the job of MPs to both represent their party and to have the courage of their convictions when making decisions on controversial issues like S59. It is the job of MPs to show leadership at such times.

"My preference was to see the Bill go through without the new parental control amendments introduced at the select committee stage. Ultimately, those changes were felt necessary to reassure parents they wouldn't be prosecuted for removing their children from danger, or for putting them into their room for time out.

"I remain steadfastly opposed to the Chester Borrows amendment. In fact, it would create a worse situation than we have at present, because it would implicate the State in endorsing and legitimising violence against children. This runs counter to the purpose of my original bill.

"If the Borrows amendment ever became law, all of the good work of church and community groups in helping parents learn alternatives to violence would be undermined by the law sending the message that hitting kids is OK - while hitting adults isn't," Ms Bradford says.


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