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Collins Comments - 30 March 2007

Judith Collins Clevedon MP 30 March 2007

Share your concerns on rising building and compliance costs, leaky homes and other issues at a Housing Forum which Maurice Williamson MP and I will be hosting on Monday 2 April at 7:30pm. Bob Clarkson MP for Tauranga will be addressing this meeting. Bob is the National Party's Associate Spokesman for Building & Construction and also the Associate Spokesman for Housing.

Bob has had an extremely successful career constructing commercial buildings particularly in Tauranga. Bob built the Bay Park sports stadium and was awarded the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2003 for his services to Philanthropy, Industrial Properties and the Sports Stadium in the New Years' honours for 2003. He entered Parliament in 2005 winning the seat of Tauranga for the National Party. He is a practical exponent of good building techniques and a person of rare common sense and practicalities. For further information about Bob, link through to .The venue for this Forum is at Point View Primary School, 21 Kilkenny Drive, Dannemora.

The Anti-smacking bill will affect good parents but it won't make a scrap of difference to the people who beat, maim or kill children.

I have received thousands of emails from people telling this Government to let them run their own homes. I agree that we need to let responsible parents be responsible for their own children, because they are their children. Under this bill, a parent who smacks a child's hand for being naughty, by way of correction, will be a criminal. The same is true for a parent who smacks a child's hand to stop that child reaching up onto the stove or kitchen counter. I'm amazed that Michael Cullen, in Parliament yesterday, repeated Helen Clark's words when she said that " I cannot see how those who are demanding the right to be able to thrash and beat children can possibly then turn around and profess concern about what is happening to our children". A light smack on the hand with a hand to warn a child not to do something that could be dangerous is hardly "thrashing and beating". My colleague, Chester Borrows' amendment to the Bill would make it clear that a light smack on the hand with a hand in those circumstances would not be criminalised. Yet Helen Clark has refused to let her MPs vote for that amendment. Instead, she has continued to categorise the 83% of New Zealanders who oppose this Bill as wanting to be able "to thrash and beat children."

Before the last election, Helen Clark said "absolutely" she would not support a ban on smacking. Since the election, she has done an about turn and now is supporting the criminalisation of good parents who don't wait for their children to pull a jug of boiling water onto themselves but teach their child not to do so, in the first place. The arrogance of this government, in telling the 83% of New Zealanders opposed to the bill that they are unfit parents, is staggering.

Parenting is, in my opinion, the toughest job in the world. It is also the most rewarding. Many of us have chosen to be parents. It's frankly a bit rich for those who have chosen not to be parents to tell parents who do not abuse their children that if they have used physical discipline, that they want the right "to thrash and beat" their children.

Having failed to put Parliament into urgency, it is now clear that Helen Clark is trying to adopt this Bill as a Government Bill. That means that she would be able to push it through Parliament next week. In the normal course of events, as a private Member's Bill, it wouldn't be able to pass until May or June. The Police have said that they will have to investigate every complaint. The Police Association has made it plain that their members will be caught in the middle.

To expect the Police to use the sort of discretion to prosecute cases with no legal defence, (because Labour and its allies have removed any possibility of a defence) puts enormous power and responsibility with the Police with little counterbalance available to a Court. Unfortunately, this legislation, if it goes through, will open up a whole new avenue for fathers or mothers to be accused of smacking their children in custody and access disputes. It will not affect the children who are today, already abused. The adults who do that now, are already breaking the law. They will not stop because of this law change.


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