Prominent Lawyers dispute Labour and Green ‘spin’ on Smacking Bill

The NZ Law Society and two top QC’s are disputing the effectiveness of the ‘anti-smacking’ bill being pushed by Labour and the Greens.

In opinions obtained by Family First NZ, Grant Illingworth QC has labeled the bill “an unmitigated piece of nonsense” and believes that the proposed amendment being supported by Labour and the Greens will criminalise conduct that most members of the public would not believe was wrongful – the end result being that the law is brought into disrepute.

Simon Maude, Chair of the Family Law Section of the NZ Law Society said in a media release from January that the proposed bill is a prescription that actually widens rather than narrows what is permissible, and will enable a more indiscriminate use of force than had otherwise been justified under the old legislation.

Stuart Grieve QC agrees with the assessment of Family First that the amended section does not actually prohibit parents from smacking at all because parents smack to ‘prevent’ bad behaviour which may avoid the ‘anti-correction’ clause, an opinion also supported by a retired Judge who did not wish to be named.

“NZ’ers have made it quite clear that they do not want this bill to be passed,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First, “and now the legal fraternity are also questioning its purpose and effectiveness.

Mr McCoskrie says the proposed law change will simply sow confusion into good parenting practice.

Mr Grieve echoes the sentiments of Family First and many NZ’ers when he says “the community would be better served by Parliament voting for increased resources for the Police and the courts to process more prosecutions for family violence, combined with better social services to support families where alcohol and anger cause violent outbursts impacting particularly on children.”

“Banning smacking is a failure to deal with the real causes of child abuse,” says Mr McCoskrie.

(statements in full follow)

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