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In an effort to improve child health outcomes in New Zealand, the Government introduced anti-smacking legislation in that prohibited the physical punishment of children. New research, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, examined how the prevalence of child physical punishment changed in the year period between and — before and after the legislation came into force. The parents studied were members of the longitudinal Christchurch Health and Development Study which started in The study's findings showed a decrease in the rates of both minor and more severe physical punishment.

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The New Zealand corporal punishment referendum, was held from 31 July to 21 August, and was a citizens-initiated referendum on parental corporal punishment. It asked: [2]. Voter turnout was The result of the referendum was non-binding and the New Zealand government did not change the law in response to the outcome. The petition for the referendum was launched in February in response to the Crimes Substituted Section 59 Amendment Billwhich would remove parental correction as a defence for assault against children.

The bill, introduced by Sue Bradfordwas passed its third reading in Parliament by votes to 7 on 16 May Meanwhile organisations and individuals led by Larry Baldock continued to collect atures to initiate a referendum. They fell short by about 15, atures many were invalidand they were granted two further months to make up the difference.

In Junethen prime minister Helen Clark announced that the referendum would not take place alongside the election as the organisers had been hoping. Instead, a postal ballot was selected, starting 30 July for eligible voters and closing on 21 August In Junethen Prime Minister John Key said that the government would change the law if it was not working, but that he believed the current law was working well.

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The wording of citizens-initiated referendum questions was ultimately the responsibility of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, David McGee. Under the referendum legislation, the wording of the question is required to "convey clearly the purpose and effect" of the referendum. I think it's ridiculous myself. The referendum question was interpreted by some to assume that "a smack" can form part of "good parental correction".

Murray Edridge, Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand, claimed that the question "presupposes that smacking is part of good parental correction" [11] which he described as "a debatable issue". Leader of the Opposition Phil Goff expressed concern that the question "implies that if you vote 'yes' that [sic] you're in favour of criminal sanctions being taken against reasonable parents — actually nobody believes that.

Both John Key and Phil Goff stated that they did not intend to vote in the referendum, with Key calling the question "ridiculous". Sue Bradford introduced a private member's billthe Citizens Initiated Referenda Wording of Questions Amendment Bill, deed to prevent future citizens-initiated referenda from having poorly worded questions, and the National government considered adopting it.

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On this bill, she wrote: [14]. An example of an approved referendum question that is both leading and misleading is the NZ Referendum on Child Discipline proposed by Larry Baldock. The question approved for that referendum "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand? People answering the question will be drawn to answer "no" on the basis that what is "good" cannot be criminal. Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has made this argument: [16]. Mr Smith says the upcoming referendum will not provide clarity on the question of child discipline, because it is possible to support the amendment while voting either Yes or No to the referendum question: Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

However, Caritas recognises that in the political context of the referendum, a 'Yes' vote is seen to be a vote for the status quo, while a 'No' vote is seen to be a vote against the amendment.

However, the wording of the question is so ambiguous, many New Zealanders who support efforts to reduce violence against children, may in good conscience still feel obliged to vote 'No'. It will be hard to understand what the outcome of the referendum may mean," says Mr Smith.

He says Caritas will be writing to the Prime Minister and other relevant politicians, expressing concern that the ambiguous nature of the question will result in an outcome that cannot be understood as either supporting or opposing the amendment. The "Vote NO" campaign website was launched on 22 June ACT leader Rodney Hide said he would vote no, believing parents have the right to lightly smack their children.

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Prime Minister John Key promised to bring forward the planned review of the law. By coincidence, Government coalition and ACT MP John Boscawen had a private member's bill legalising smacking drawn from the ballot less than a week after the referendum. Prime Minister John Key said his National Party would vote it down, with the Labour Party and Green Party also opposed making it likely to be lost after the first reading of the bill. Dissatisfied with the government's response, the Kiwi Party has put forward another referendum to make referendums legally binding.

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A protest against prime minister John Key's response to the referendum was held on Saturday, 21 November in Auckland. The New Zealand Herald estimated that between 4, and 5, people attended. On 24 March it was reported that New Zealand First and Winston Peters will take to the election a policy of repeal the anti-smacking law passed by the last parliament despite overwhelming public opposition.

New Zealand corporal punishment referendum, "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand? Ministry of Justice. The Chief Electoral Officer. Retrieved 25 August The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 October The Dominion Post. Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Archived from the original on 23 July Retrieved 21 July Retrieved 10 June Elections New Zealand. Retrieved 3 October Archived from the original on 21 October Retrieved 6 September Retrieved 9 February One News.

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