PM not keen on smacking referendum

  • 19/06/2017

The Prime Minister isn't ruling out holding another referendum on smacking, if that's what it takes to form the next Government.

New Zealand First has called for another referendum on the controversial issue, leader Winston Peters saying it should be up to the public because they are "far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians".

In 2009, 87 percent voted "no" to the question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

The Government ignored the result, and critics said the wording of the question assumed that smacking was "good parental correction", which most child welfare organisations disputed.

The Bill, introduced by then-Green MP Sue Bradford, removed the defence of "reasonable force" for parents facing prosecution for assault on children. It passed into law 113-8, with the support of four of NZ First's seven MPs. Mr Peters voted against it.

He hasn't said whether a referendum on the matter would be a bottom line for his party's support in any post-election coalition, but Mr English isn't keen.

"There is too much violence against children," he told The AM Show on Monday.

"We've got a pretty focused programme on reducing child violence and family violence, and I don't think a referendum that might lead to allowing more smacking is the answer to too much violence."

But when asked if he'd rule it out, or give Mr Peters the referendum he wants in order to get his backing to form the next Government, Mr English wouldn't say.

"We're not negotiating through the media three months before the election."

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll whoever NZ First sides with - National on one side, or Labour and the Greens on the other - will form the next Government.