I have observed the politics of the Conservative party from afar ever since I got to know the Conservative spokesman for Napier during the 2011 election. He was a nice, personable chap who hadn’t a hope in hell of getting into parliament but he gave it everything on the stump during candidate debates. He wasn’t a particularly persuasive speaker, nor did his arguments make that much sense, but he was passionate and I respected that. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Colin Craig.
Anyone who states that a major policy priority when in government, and a potential coalition deal breaker, is the repeal of a piece of legislation that eliminated a travesty from the law books, surely cannot be taken seriously.
At a time when much debate has raged back and forth about male attitudes towards women, a politician who strongly advocates for the legal physical abuse of children needs to be banished to the pages of political history once and for all.
I found it fascinating that Mr Craig was ranting about greater parental control over children as a fix to the sort of behavior perpetrated by the roast busters, and yet in the same breath he was advocating for the ability of parents to beat the living crap out of their kids… Did he not see the hypocrisy of his words?
Let’s recap what the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 actually did. Before the law change (which passed 113 votes to 7) there was a legal defense around the definition of the use of ‘reasonable force’ when beating a child. It should be noted that there is no such defense for an assault on an adult – or an animal for that matter; but there was for a child. The way that juries interpreted this test was inconsistent, and I remember there was outrage when a jury acquitted a woman who beat her dyslexic child with a horse whip. So the law change removed the ‘reasonable force’ test.
What was also interesting is that there was clause in the amendment that stated
“To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”
What this means is that the police are not going to prosecute a parent or caregiver unless there is a very good chance of gaining a conviction for physical abuse. With this in mind, remember when Bob McCoskrie and Family First gathered signatures for a referendum that posed the totally disingenuous question…
“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
This is not what this law did and nor does it read as such, which really did make me wonder if Bob even read the new law…. In any prosecution (and I believe there have been only three contested trials…) the judge has the discretion to take into account any mitigating factors that s/he may consider to be material.
So, Colin Craig wants to return the country to a place where people can literally beat their kids, but it’s okay if they use ‘reasonable force’. What type of message does that send to our young people? Certainly not the type they need to learn in this day and age. If Key does end up doing a deal with the Conservatives, then he does so at his own risk; however, not even John Key believes that a return to the past is wise. Lets just hope that Colin’s 10 minutes will soon be over and election 2014 will see him disappear from the political landscape forever.