Guest Post – Smacking Referendumb

Checking my letterbox today I came across a piece of mail that incensed me no-end. We all get one.  It’s a reminder to be enrolled to vote in a citizen-initiated referendum. I’m all for being enrolled to vote. However, I do have a problem with the ridiculous question for the referendum “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?”

There is no Government that will return this issue to the way it was – they aren’t going to reinstate a loophole that lets parents use “parental correction” as a defence for hitting kids. It just won’t happen. The train has left the station and it ain’t coming back. In real life, I know very few parents who would use a smack. I do know many that, as a result of this legislation, have actually modified and specifically learned other methods of correction other than use of force – and they are from all political persuasions. They don’t see the need to have smacking in their parenting toolbox.

I am all for Government getting out of the private affair of parenting but reinstating a law that makes it ok for parents to get off for a physical assault on their child just seems a little crazy to me.

I also wonder if the thousands who signed the petition would actually sign it again today. Many of the average Joe and Joanne who signed against the “anti-smacking” legislation were more interested in using their voices to say they were against a nanny state and a Labour government. They got the change of Government – can’t we just leave it at that?

And then there is the part that irks me the most… the cost to run the referendum is around $10 million. An utter waste as there will be no change to legislation. First, citizen-intiated referenda aren’t binding (thankfully, if this is the type of question that is posed). Second, did Family First, Family Integrity, Liberty United et al fail to notice that it wasn’t just Clark who signed up to the legislation but it was Key as well. Yet they still think it’s a great idea to waste tax payer money so that people get a “say” but bugger all else.

Just think for a moment what $10m could be spent on. For those that believe in targeted spending it could go on programmes that do actually make a difference in the areas of child abuse and protection. Better still, it could stay in the coffers, or be returned to tax payers.