Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Episode 42 Anti Smacking Bill Fallout

Episode 42 Anti Smacking Bill Fallout

Hello and welcome to episode 42 of Jay Wont dart's podcast, where I talk about being one of the Invercargill 1915. I'll explain that later. My intro was a youtube video called Flight of the Hummingbird, I just ordered the book, about doing whatever you can, no matter how small, to make the world a better place.

Its been over for a while now, I'd decided to hold off covering the results of the Anti Smacking Bill Referendum, in hope that an answer would come at the end of it. So far, nothing has changed, the referendum has been for nothing.

To go over the Anti Smacking Bill again quickly, Sue Bradford, an MP of the minor Green Party proposed a bill, that the defense of "reasonable force for the purpose of correction"could be used by parents charged with assaulting their children. This was very upsetting to many parents who believed in physical discipline of their children, they were for smacking, and saw the law as taking away their right as parents to smack their children. The bill went into law 2007, a petition was to be held in 2009 once enough signatures were reached.

Ok, so that was simplified, but it gets us to this year at least. The question being asked was "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

People have been very confused about what this actually means, and people against physical discipline have said that the question is very loaded, its designed to make you vote NO, that a smack is part of good parental correction, not something that parents should be recieve a lethal injection over. I totally agree, I think the question is over the top, its literally saying that something good parents do could now be turned into a "criminal offense", making good parents equal to murderers. I think a question like "do you think physical discipline of children is acceptable" would have been much better, although I guess people for smacking could say that "physical discipline" sounds scary, and that they would prefer smacking. I dont like the word smacking, because I see it as another loaded thing, in NZ, smacking generally means a light slap on the hand or the bottom of a child, people who believe in smacking dont agree that its violent, they see it as a correction thing and quite acceptable. The word smacking is a way of hiding the violent aspect of hitting another person, I think, so I'd prefer not to use the word "smacking". "Prime Minister John Key said of the question [The question] "could have been written by Dr Seuss - this isn't Green Eggs and Ham, this is yes means no and no means yes, but we're all meant to understand what the referendum means. I think it's ridiculous myself."

The referendum went ahead, and most of the country seemed very angry their right to smack their children was being taken away, most polls had about 80 percent support for smacking. I'll mention that people FOR the law change say that you could still smack your children, but others focus on moving away from physical discipline, so even I am confused as to whether smacking is banned or not banned! Sue Bradford, who came up with the bill, has been quoted mentioning "this doesnt make smacking illegal" but also "this makes smacking illegal" type comments, so who really knows what the bill means. For this episode, Im focusing on the "anti smacking bill" as meaning its against smacking full stop, as its physical discipline, and thats what the bill is focused on.

Most of this episode will be clips.

The first things I'll play will be people asking you to vote for their side in the referendum. I'll play two, this is Sue Bradford who wrote the law change, and Deborah Morris-Travers of Barnardos, a New Zealand child welfare group.

Here I have a radio debate I quite liked, remember, the Yes side is essentially against smacking, the No side is for smacking.

People generally were for smacking still, most polls were somewhere over 80 percent FOR smacking children, so thats a No vote. It became clear that the referendum would go the No voters side, allowing parents to physically discipline their children. This was mentioned in this news piece while the votes were being checked.

Things were not looking good for my side, against smacking, a Yes voter. Overwhelmingly , the final results of the nine million dollar referendum, that took place two years after the law was changed to supposedly ban smacking, were 87.6 percent voting No, for smacking, just amazing, absolutely overwhelmingly for smacking. Thats basically 9 out of 10 New Zealanders, who voted in this referendum. Voter turnout was 54%.

Just over 1.6 million votes were cast, about 1.3 million were for smacking. The places most against smacking, were Auckland and Wellington, the two largest cities in New Zealand, both had about 30 percent of people against smacking, only about 70 percent for smacking, which is VERY high compared to the rest of the country, where 80-90 percent were for smacking.

The places with the highest proportion of no voters, for smacking, were rural areas, including the Clutha Southland area, which is rural Southland, the province I live in. Invercargill city, where I actually live was different, but by less than a percentage point. My city, Invercargill, had 57.4% voter turnout, with 92.17% for smacking, and just a tiny 7.48% against. Amazing. 23,596 people for smacking, and just 1,915 against smacking here in Invercargill. So thats how I am one of the Invercargill 1915. I think I'll have to make "1 of the Invercargill 1915"t shirts, so we can recognise each other in public.

I knew this referendum would go this way, but its still shocking to see how outnumbered my position was. Im sure the question itself has much to do with this, but even then, people feel smacking is a parents right, and that not being allowed to smack children is giving the child yet another right, and taking away from the parents power. Thats a common feeling in New Zealand, that the bad people are running amok, and hard working people are being held back by a PC nanny state.

However, the big thing about this referendum, it was non binding, even if 100% of the voters wanted the law changed back, to supposedly allow smacking again, then the government of New Zealand didnt have to change anything! And, so far, John Key has said he wont change the law! People are VERY annoyed! Apparently, the no vote leaders are very upset, but looking out my window, 92% of my city hasnt formed a mob with pitch forks to get me, yet.

So, John Key, the new prime minister of New Zealand will no doubt have lost an enormous amount of support thanks to not changing the law. He says he feels the law is working, the man on the street says he is being arrogant and not listening to roughly 90% of the voting public.

However, even if the law were to be changed, would another referendum need to be held? How much would that cost? AND, the side for smacking, the leaders have different idea about what smacking should be, At least one right wing MP believes in using a tool, what I'd call a weapon, like a wooden spoon or ruler, as he believes it gives the attacker, or in his words, parent, better control of what they are doing, in my words, better striking abilities over the child they are hitting.

I'll play this news piece about a new possible law change.

This bill was thrown out, it came to nothing, just like the 9 million dollar referendum.

So, most people in New Zealand are for smacking, apparently, and yet the government wont change back the law that supposedly bans smacking your children. Nothing seems like it will change, except perhaps the people who voted right wing MP John Key into power, will not vote for him again, thats certainly what they are threatening to do. But, who will they vote for? Theres really only the minor ACT party against the law change, its hard to believe ACT getting in by itself. Who knows, its sure going to be interesting to see the government try and win peoples support again.

My outro will be special clip from Deborah Morris Travers.

Thank you for listening.

You can find the script for this episode, as well as downloads for every episode of Jay Wont darts podcast at

If you want to contact me, even just to say you listened, send an email to, j a y w o n t d a r t @, I'd appreciate it.

Have a super happy day, bye.


1 comment:

  1. I meant to comment on this episode weeks ago. I found it very thought provoking. I realize parents feel like they have a sort of "ownership" of their children, especially in the way of discipline methods. But I fail to see how perpetuating the idea that "might makes right" is good. (?)

    The best I know from speaking to all contemporaries who had "smacks, whacks, and some *beatings*" - Children don't learn because they focus more of the fear rather than the "lesson". And it reinforces the idea that to get your way, all you have to do is be bigger than someone else. It's a terrible way to teach a child morals and values. But I think we can see the result of corporal punishment all around our society. - Yes?

    Thanks for another great podcast & interesting topic! :)