Saturday, February 24, 2007

Vain hope

There have been a couple of surprises in where support for Sue Bradford's bill has come from. For me, one was Paul Holmes, and today, The Press. Here's their editorial in its entirety. What do you think? You could let The Press know at

I will.

A ban on smacking is the right way forward for New Zealand
The Press | Saturday, 24 February 2007

The passing of the anti-smacking bill through its second reading at Parliament was a welcome step towards dealing with child abuse. It is to be hoped that the law change's tentative progress signals a new responsibility in the way New Zealand children are treated by their parents.

But the measure still faces major hurdles in its remaining parliamentary stages, notably from a proposed amendment in the name of National MP Chester Borrows, which would render Green MP Sue Bradford's bill almost meaningless.

Those MPs who had the courage to support the bill's second reading should not now allow its anti-smacking message to be diluted as it works its way through the crucial stages to becoming law.

Smacking children is an issue which can arouse strong emotions. The opposition to Bradford's bill is derived from a "spare the rod" mentality and the fear of the intrusion of State authorities into the rights of parents to discipline their children.

Just how far the most extreme and irrational opponents of the bill will go was shown by the CYFS Watch website death threat against Bradford this week.

But MPs have an obligation not to be cowered by the fear of a middle-class or religious backlash against them if they vote for the bill. In this respect, Labour adopted the smart tactic of block voting on the issue, making it more difficult for any of its individual MPs to be targeted for supporting the measure.

Other MPs who supported the bill's second reading but are now wavering should also stand firm.

They must regard the bill as an opportunity to demonstrate their own boldness and leadership by doing what is right for society, not what might seem politically expedient for themselves. That is part of the responsibility which should go with being a member of Parliament. They should not contemplate supporting the weak-kneed compromise being promoted by Borrows, which would still allow a parent to administer a trifling slap, defined as one which causes redness but only for a short time. In effect, it would create the logical absurdity of inserting a smacking provision into an anti-smacking bill and is simply an attempt to curry favour with those who want to retain the parental right to administer corporal punishment.

Trying to define what is trifling or transitory physical punishment has the potential to become a legal minefield. More importantly, it goes completely against the intent and the spirit of Bradford's bill. She quite correctly says that if Borrows' amendment is passed, then there is no point in her bill proceeding at all, and it should be withdrawn.

Those MPs contemplating supporting the Borrows amendment should be reminded of the recent Unicef report which found that New Zealanders ranked towards the bottom of developed nations in taking care of their children. The report was simply the latest in a seemingly endless stream of evidence of the extent of child abuse in this country.

By itself, the anti-smacking bill is not a complete answer to New Zealand's child-abuse problem, but it is one necessary measure in tackling this social ill. It sends a clear message about what is acceptable in the treatment of children – and that violence is unacceptable.

Those who raise the spectre of the police intruding into law-abiding families and asking trivial questions about the discipline of children are being far-fetched; they should reflect on another scenario, that perhaps the police will be able to use a law change to more effectively intervene earlier in families suffering domestic violence.

Smacking is a form of discipline which belongs to another age. Other forms of legalised violence have been outlawed, including the administering of corporal punishment in schools, which was banned almost two decades ago. The home should be at least as much a sanctuary to a child as the classroom.

Bradford's anti-smacking bill will not prevent the worst cases of child abuse, such as the death of the Kahui twins, for the origins of this sort of violence lie deep in our society. But the bill will play an important role in driving a change in attitude towards the treatment of children. It should be passed without amendment.

Other people paying for your choice is not freedom

During the week the DomPost featured a story about a couple with four children. The mother was complaining about the Working for Families package making it viable for her to cut her hours from 51 to zero and only be $58 worse off. She obviously enjoyed working and didn't like the idea of paying tax so other women could stay home.

This morning a handful of letters took her to task. They questioned why she had had four children if she didn't want to stay home, told her "money isn't everything", praised the new choice for mothers thanks to WFF, and reminded her parenting was working too. She got a telling off.

Moralists and busybodies. Good on Josephine Kent for being a hardworker and preferring the honest rewards of her efforts.

I have sent the following;

Dear Editor

I support Josephine Kent (Work less, earn more with subsidy scheme, Feb 20) who thinks it is crazy for the government to pay people not to work. Because, make no mistake, that is what they are doing with their Working For Families package. They are actively decreasing productivity as (mainly) women drop out of the workforce.

The pie isn't getting any bigger. The money being paid to those who stay home has to come from working people. That limits their choices. That is anti-freedom. Whether or not children should be in daycare or at home is a decision for their parents to make and their parents to pay for. Not for government to make and taxpayers to pay for.

Friday, February 23, 2007


For pities sake. Mark Blumsky has been in Parliament 5 minutes and he's whingeing about not being able to make a difference. I can think of someone who stood against him in 2005 who really wanted to be back in Parliament, who knew why he wanted to be there, how to influence people and get attention. Backbench list MPs have to make their own luck. But if you don't know what you stand for, what it is you are trying to achieve, if you're there simply because you have made a career out of politics...well. Forget it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

One in and one out

Heather Mills is going to be a guest on the US Dancing with the Stars and Georgina Beyer has just pulled out of an on-stage adaptation of Dancing with the Stars causing the plug to be pulled on the entire show.

It's enough to make you scream

If I read this claim one more time I will scream (while it's still legal).

Repeal of Section 59 will lead to a reduction in domestic violence in New Zealand, domestic violence experts say. "By making violence illegal we can help families to live free of violence and this has got to be good for the whole community."

This from the National manager of National Network of Stopping Violence Services.

Rape is illegal, burglary is illegal, bashing women is illegal, arson is illegal.

And they are all on the wane, right?

"Cultural sensitivity" overrules individual rights

Yesterday Andy Tookey took his daughter to Parliament with a 1600 signature petition. They appeared before the Health select committee to promote Jackie Blue's Human Tissue (Organ Donation) Amendment Bill which seeks to prevent family members overriding the wishes of those who have indicated they want to be donors.

Last night I caught a snippet of Tariana Turia addressing Mr Tookey, whose daughter will need a liver transplant by age 10. Her words went something like, you seem to have no regard for Maori cultural sensitivity...and spirituality. Mr Tookey more or less nodded his agreement.

Here is a man fighting for his daughter's life and Turia is banging on again about Maori cultural sensitivity.

This is what she previously said about the bill, which the Maori Party will not support;

Many Māori are uncomfortable with organ donation following death. The tüpāpaku is tapu. To interfere with it in any way is abhorrent to our

Many Maori are in need of organs. If a family member wishes to donate one is that taboo? Would they turn down a Pakeha organ? Does Tariana really speak for all Maori?

If an individual wants to donate their organs NOBODY has the right to override their wishes.

I apologise in advance if I have offended some readers for not showing regard for Maori cultural sensivity. My values are respect for the wishes of the individual and the preservation of life.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Results of vote on Sue Bradford's anti-smacking bill

Sue Bradford's bill will be read a second time after passing 70 votes to 51.

Labour 49 for
National 6 for 42 opposed
NZ First 3 for 4 opposed
Greens 6 for
UF 1 for 2 opposed
Progressive 1 for
Taito Field 1 opposed
ACT 2 opposed
Maori Party 4 for

If at the final stage the National, UF, and NZ First 'for' votes reverse the bill will be defeated. Those MPs are in for some pretty heavy lobbying.

Both vicitm and offender

Here's a tricky one to get your head around. A 13 year-old girl has consensual sex with her 12 year-old boyfriend and gets pregnant. She is charged under Utah law with both being a offender and a victim. If she was 14 or 15 their closeness of age would have been a mitigating factor and the charge a lesser misdemeanor - not sexual abuse of a child. For similar age 16 and 17 year-olds the act wouldn't have been a crime. But, For adolescents under 14, though, there are no exceptions or mitigation and they are never considered capable of consenting to sex.

Quite clearly they were.

Saving up for a light bulb

Eco bulbs are 7 times the price of budget-brand existing bulbs. For people on very tight budgets, this will be a burden. If eco bulbs become the only option, I predict we will see more people using candles, as is already the case when poor people can't pay the power bill. It's no good preaching long-term savings when people live from hand-to-mouth, benefit day to benefit day.

(The Lower Hutt fire station has just moved its base north to Avalon. This to be nearer to the poorest suburbs where most of the fires occur. I was told that by a fire officer.)

Idealistic priorities

Doctors etc would prioritise health spending on the young and prevention but this isn't reflected in actual spending. An international survey is summarised at NCPA;

The values expressed by the health professionals in the study transcended national and sectoral boundaries, say the authors. Yet this preference is at odds with the actual spending priorities in most countries throughout the world--most governments spend more on curative than on preventive health care services.

Well of course they do. Immediate health needs should take priority. And most health systems have little left for prevention. Having paid taxes all your life and desperately needing a hip replacement, how would you feel if the money was diverted into anti-smoking initiatives? In my limited experience many health professionals have divorced the funding from the patient. They see funding as govt spending rather than tax-payer spending.

Which is why as much of the health system as possible should be private. People should have private health savings accounts which would enable the doctor to clearly see it isn't his money to prioritise. It is his patients.

It wasn't me, M'Lord

One of life's 'victims'. I think I'd rather behold 'staunch' than listen to this little toadie.

Chance to vote

The NZ Herald is running a poll today,

Should parents have the right to smack their children for discipline?

So far the 'yes' vote is 90 percent.

The question, unlike many poll questions, is well-worded. Go and vote and then see how your representatives vote tonight.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

There is none so blind....

Sue Bradford is of course defending her bill in the run up to tomorrow's vote. Defending it very badly I might add.

"Thirty years ago, it was common to regard domestic violence by husbands as a man's right within the sanctity of his own home to 'discipline' his wife. Few people now hold such antiquated views, which were based on the notion of women as property. In time, I believe we will come to see violence against children in the same intolerable light."

There is a glaring problem with this piece of reasoning. Violence towards women has escalated, despite 'few people (now holding) such antiquated views.' So by the time we 'come to see violence against children in the same intolerable light' child abuse will also have escalated further? It appears to me, based on reports from police, women's refuge, and crime statistics, that we have domestic violence levels above any we have ever previously experienced despite all the laws intended to protect women.

Apart from which I very much doubt that in 1977, when I was 17, domestic violence was regarded as a man's right. I left home at 18. Lived with my boyfriend and hung out with his rugby mates and their girlfriends. One young man, an Islander, was suspected of giving his de facto the biff though I never witnessed it. Nobody accepted it. Nobody thought it was his right.

Sue Bradford's life experience must be very different from mine.

How women vote

Isn't this a bleat? An American SAHM (stay-at-home-mum) explaining why women vote on their gut instincts.

The terrifying truth about too much telly !!

If you don't have enough to worry about read this. Too much TV is being linked to cancer, autism, early onset of puberty, diabetes, obesity, dementia and much more.

Economic violence

Last week's UNICEF child report caused a political storm. There were statements from nearly all political parties and child advocates. I missed this from the Maori Party. Here's a few words from Tariana Turia;

“It is obvious from the plethora of research linking economic violence to family crises, that the depths of extreme poverty and severe hardship amongst families are placing us in the lower ranks of developed countries”.

Economic violence. What does that mean? It's a term often used by feminists to describe violence practiced by men against women. In concrete terms this is what the Women's Refuge describes as economic violence;

Economic violence is about:

• Stealing your money and belongings
• Controlling the money so you don't have a say
• Giving you an “allowance” that doesn't cover the bills while they spend all the money on themselves
• Checking all your receipts and the mileage on the car
• Keeping your money card and bank book
• Refusing to pay child support, or be named as the father
• Using your name for loans, credit cards, WINZ grants so that you get the debt
• Forcing you to sign a ‘prenuptial agreement'
• Forcing you to work
• Forcing you to sell drugs, or steal
• Making you go on the benefit illegally
• Not letting you go out to work or study
• Not letting you have your name on the house and other property.

Some of the effects of economic violence for women and children are:
• Poverty
• Not having food, clothes, money for doctors, phone, transport, furniture etc.
• Debt
• Bad credit rating
• Can't rent a flat, get a loan, get the power or phone on because previous bills were unpaid
• Criminal record and fines
• No access to money to enable them to leave
• Not being able to have a career or study
• Unwanted involvement in illegal activities
• Plus all the effects of psychological violence.

But, based on the way Tariana's mind works, I don't think this is quite what she meant. At least not the same parties.

Here is an earlier explanation from her;

Economic violence is when people are impoverished by being deprived of access to power and resources, putting human dignity at danger.

My question is, who is Tariana Turia blaming now? Exactly who are the perpetrators of economic violence? Is it men, is it government or is it colonisers?

If there is a problem with children the place to start is with their parents or whanau.

Monday, February 19, 2007

We are all idiots

Family First ran full page ads in the Sunday papers which made some claims about Sue Bradford's removal of section 59 bill. Beth Wood, of EPOCH (End Physical Punishment of Children) has issued a release rebutting these claims. I am not impressed. Here is just one;

Claim: Kiwis know the difference between smacking and child abuse.

There is no evidence to support this claim.

That sums up the high regard in which busybody, nanny-statist, do-gooders hold you.

Consensus? What Consensus?

The Environment Commissioner is calling for politics to be put the one side to achieve a consensus on climate change. Isn't this a little naive?

Whatever the issue, most people can agree on what the problem is. Where they disagree is how to resolve the problem or at least improve matters. And that's called politics.

In addition the Commissioner uses superannuation as one of the "gnarly" problems there is consensus on. I don't think there is. Certainly it seems many young people are quite convinced they won't be looked after under the current system so surely are somewhat resentful about paying taxes to support present super payments. The argument about compulsory savings for retirement is also brewing again while the Cullen fund continues to be controversial.

Another pen!

At the risk of seeming ungrateful isn't it a bit of an anachronism awarding pens for letter-writing? A new keyboard might be more useful.

Seriously, the recognition from the Sunday Star Times is very much appreciated;

Footnote; An Adelaide-based study, "the most comprehensive of its kind" published in the latest Medical Journal of Australia finds foster children suffer up to five times more mental health problems than children living with their own families. "Severe disruptive behaviour is of a particular concern....."
DomPost, February 19, 2007