The Dim-Post

August 26, 2009

A conversational history of the section 59 debate

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 8:53 am

Richard Long accidentally wrote something interesting in his column today:

In the early parliamentary battles the anti-smacking law was promoted as a measure to prevent appalling cases of child battering. But of course that was a nonsense. The law has not made a blind bit of difference and there have been several high profile cases since it was passed.

The original intent of the law change was to close a loophole that had been used in a small number of child abuse cases to avoid prosecution, somewhere along the way the supporters of the bill decided that they could use New Zealand’s child abuse epidemic as ammunition to support the law and then made the argument that all smacking was child abuse, which gave opponents to the law change an unbeatable populist platform with which to oppose the Bradford amendment. I think it went a little like this:

Sue Bradford: This amendment to the Crimes Act will close a loophole that a small number of people who assault their children use to avoid prosecution.

Larry Baldock: Does this mean you’re banning smacking?

Sue Bradford: No, the purpose of the bill is to prevent defense lawyers from claiming that clients who have beaten their children . . .

Larry Baldock: Because parents have the divinely appointed right to beat their children.

Sue Bradford: Okay, so we disagree on that, but this bill has the support of all the child welfare agencies . . .

Larry Baldock: Beat the sin out of them, that’s what I say. Thrash them within an inch of their life.

Sue Bradford: . . . can cite a number of pertinent cases . . . Wow, I really do hate you. Maybe I do want to ban smacking.

Larry Baldock: Watermelons! Lesbians! Proverbs 13:24!

Sue Bradford: Yeah, you know what? Fuck you, asshole. This bill bans smacking! If you smack your kids it’s child abuse and you’re going to jail. How d’ya like that?

Larry Baldock: Witch! Witch! You can’t do this!

Sue Bradford: Oh can’t I? I have our popular and competent Prime Minister supporting this bill.

Helen Clark: This anti-smacking bill does not outlaw smacking it merely makes it illegal –  I want to be very clear on this. There is nothing wrong with parents giving their kids a light smack but it is evil.

Larry Baldock: You’ll never get away with this Bradford.

Sue Bradford: Yeah, whaddya gonna do? Transform this into a national debate? Win overwhelming public support? Use it to turn popular sentiment against the government and cost them the election? Ha! I’d like to see that!

John Key: Closing a loophole that let’s people assault their children seems like a reasonable thing to do. The National Party will support this bill after a few minor amendments.

Helen Clark: This new bill is identical to the previous bill but it is different in every way. I want to be very clear on that.

John Key: Only a maniac would oppose this very reasonable compromise.

Parliament: The bill is passed with the ACT Party, New Zealand First and Gordon Copeland opposing.

John Key: That’s the end of that then.

Helen Clark: The police and CYFS will not prosecute parents for a light smack, but they will prosecute parents  for a light smack. I want to be very clear on that.

Larry Baldock: Mainstream New Zealand is still bitterly opposed to this law and we blame Labour and the Greens.

Sue Bradford: What do I care? My party doesn’t rely on any of those voters to get elected.

Helen Clark: That’s right! No . . . wait.

Customs Officer at La Guardia: Welcome to the United States Ms Clark.


  1. Can we please have a return of Public Eye with you writing the scripts?

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — August 26, 2009 @ 9:07 am

  2. OMG that was quality. Love it.

    Comment by Boganette — August 26, 2009 @ 9:58 am

  3. *suitably fawning comment*

    Comment by david c — August 26, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  4. *another suitably fawning comment*

    Comment by Clunking Fist — August 26, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  5. What david said. I can’t really be bothered applauding the funny stuff any more – where’s the ‘like’ button?

    Comment by StephenR — August 26, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

  6. Perfect, if only La Guardia wasn’t a domestic only airport… Change it to JFK or Newark…

    Comment by kyotolaw — August 26, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  7. I wonder, if the judges in the court cases had been more activist and had instead convicted those parents that used the original section as a defence for some appalling acts of ‘discipline’ would the bill have introduced anyway?

    I know we will never know, but what if ….. ?

    And yes, I found this a great piece of writing too.

    Comment by Christopher Thomson — August 26, 2009 @ 3:14 pm

  8. that’s good, real good.

    Comment by JakeQuinn — August 26, 2009 @ 3:30 pm

  9. Pedantry alert:

    kyotolaw: if you go to America the short way (i.e. over the pacific), its impossible to reach New York without first landing elsewhere in the US. Thus, domestic airport is the appropriate destination.

    Christopher: Juries, not judges. The riding crop and 4 x 2 parents were let off by juries, not judges.

    Comment by Eddie Clark — August 26, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

  10. Pedantry alert:

    kyotolaw: if you go to America the short way (i.e. over the pacific), its impossible to reach New York without first landing elsewhere in the US. Thus, domestic airport is the appropriate destination.

    To be extra pedantic, Cathay Pacific offer HKG-JFK, and United Airlines offer NRT-JFK. So, not impossible. You could go from Auckland via Hong Kong or Tokyo. But very unlikely, especially if you’re Helen Clark and on a mission to head the UN’s largest agency.

    Comment by georgedarroch — August 26, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  11. […] is all (oh and read this). Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Life and Politics welcomes another author and […]

    Pingback by Growth and reflections « Life and Politics — August 26, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  12. Quite superb Danyl – there was an interesting letter in today’s Dompost from someone who voted “no” but doesn’t want the law changed. That might be the fabled “informed voter”.

    Comment by llew — August 26, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

  13. I seem to remember landing at LaGuardia a few times when I was working in France, but maybe I was transferring there from someplace else.

    Comment by danylmc — August 26, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

  14. Nice work (as usual). You definitely nailed it with this one.

    Comment by Zoo Neeland — August 27, 2009 @ 1:49 pm

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    -Рассылка на E-mail (только по Вашим базам подписчиков) 20$ на 150000 адресов. Можно на меньшие объемы но не меньше 10$
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    Изготовление сайтов, интернет-магазинов как на готовых шаблонах так и на шаблонах “с ноля”.
    На сайт можно поставить аудио,видео,слайдшоу,формы,регистрацию,фотогалерею,форум,
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    Comment by kernats — January 21, 2010 @ 9:15 am

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