Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Compromise

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Barnett certainly condemned the bill (I don't think he condemned the compromise so much as pointed out that he was in agreement with Clark and Bradford that it didn't really change anything that he had been opposing the previous night).

    And he hardly predicted the falling of the sky - just that it will be illegal to lightly smack your children (which it will) and that it sends a rather confusing message to everyone that smacking is illegal, but don't worry the cops won't do anything (which it does).

    He wants to parent within the law, and he'd like a situation where if he lightly smacks CYFS won't get even a chance to hold it against him. I doubt I agree with all his views, but he articulated his case brilliantly last night, and I suspect a lot watching agreed with just about everything he said - and I thought the request that Sue Bradford promise to resign in the event that the sky does fall down was pretty funny.

    As far as the compromise goes, I'd have preferred Key's amendment of a week ago, I suspect so would Key, but he didn't have the numbers.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I'm glad the bill will pass, but for once I think the kiwibloggers have a right to their hysterical wrath: Key is leader of the opposition and it's his job to hold the governments feet to the fire when they're trying to pass wildly unpopular legislation. He's effectively traded in that right (on this issue, at least) for the sake of a few minutes standing next to Clark at a press conference and looking Prime Ministerial. If you ask me that's a really bad deal.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    With all due respect, Russell, could we draw some meaningful distinction between the Police Association and the New Zealand Police Force? One of the more delightful ironies of the last twenty four hours is the' U-turn' on the part of folks who had little, if any, confidence in the Solomon-like exercise of discretionary powers by the Police -- at least when it came to breeches of electoral law, 'prina facae' cases against senior politicians, the recent resurrection of 'sedition' as a catch-all for people you can't mail any other way, allegations of rape and sexual abuse against senior Police managers...

    Hey, you've got to admire the adroitness with which both Clark and Key kicked for touch. But please don't expect me to applaud the latest round in what's been a three ring circus of spectacular intellectual and political dishonesty from all sides.

    I just hope we're not going to hear any bitching and whinging when the Police don't exercise their discretion to politicians' liking. And I do hope we're not going to be back here in two years wondering why breeches of this law are so much more 'inconsequential' when you're a white,middle-class, tertiary education professional. You know, like the good old days when a law student with a joint in his jeans pocket would get diversion, while the brownie from Otara would have no such luck?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, and another cynical thought: Isn't it funny how the NZPF never seems to consider it 'in the public interest' to prosecute politicians -- or political parties -- for any damn thing? Perhaps I've just answered my own question...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    As I see it, the only meaningful difference between the old law and the new law is that we've shifted the responsibility for deciding whether a conviction is justified from juries to cops.

    I call that a backwards step.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    With all due respect, Russell, could we draw some meaningful distinction between the Police Association and the New Zealand Police Force?

    I was actually thinking of Howard Broad's comments, so this would be a better story to link to:

    http://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/default.aspx?id=72699

    But is there any outcome you'd be remotely happy with?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Oh. I guess Craig sort of already said that, though more eloquently.

    It does tend to make one despair watching everyone congratulate themselves for having done such a great job resolving the standoff, when all they've done is end up with legislation that is, IMO worse than the original.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As I see it, the only meaningful difference between the old law and the new law is that we've shifted the responsibility for deciding whether a conviction is justified from juries to cops.

    I call that a backwards step.

    If that's your objection, you ought to have been agin the bill from the start, because that was always the case with Sue Bradford's bill.

    See me fretting about that fact but moving on the first time I posted on it in February:

    I'd be dishonest if I said I was completely comfortable with Bradford's bill. On principle, I'm wary of laws whose enforcement is a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But is there any outcome you'd be remotely happy with?

    This might sound strange, but I'd actually have been a lot happier to see the amendments proposed by Key and Burrows either voted up or down, and if it passed Sue Bradford followed through on her threat to withdraw the bill. (Then again, I could have done without the whole Fawlty Towers-esque exercise of kinda-sorta pretending the whole exercise wasn't designed to ban smacking depending on who you're talking to. IMO, Bradford and other S. 59 repeal advocates did their own cause a profound disservice by not arguing their own cause honestly and unambiguously.)

    I agree with Graeme Edgeler - who is very far from a far-right fundie child killer. And I'd add this, which I don't think GE is totally on board with, there is a case for Police having discretionary powers. But they should be strictly limited, and are no substitute for the legislature actually legislating in as clear and unambiguous a manner as humanly possible.

    I'm not uncritical of the Police, civil servants (such as the Auditor-General and Chief Electoral Officer) and the judiciary by any measure, but I do feel a lot of sympathy when they're pissed on from a great height by politicians (of all stripes) when they've got to clean up the mess their political lords and masters leave behind.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    On the subject of the Bishop: did we all see him on Campbell Live demonstrating what he would consider "light smacking"?

    Fantastic. He did it three times and admitted twice that he didn't know.

    I thought Miriana Hond (please excuse if mispelt) was a little cheeky in her interview, at least until they showed the Destiny Church media guy. What a smary bugger! "Excuse me Bishop there has been an unprecidented development" ugh.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Fantastic. He did it three times and admitted twice that he didn't know.

    Which puts Brian exactly where? Oh, in the same boat as everyone else.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Nigel Caughey,

    John Campbell had a good interview with the Police Commissioner last night, basically he re-iterated what Russell said, which was the original Bill provided latitude for judgment calls, but the new bill provides more clarification.
    He also mentioned that they will be guided by Court decisions and potentially the Police Complaints Authority decisions regarding the definition of acceptable force, but that any use of instruments for punishment is no longer acceptable, nor indeed any contact with the head in punishment, all reasonable stuff.
    Regarding the John Key/Helen Clark aspect I think it was a draw, both showed commendable willingness to compromise and work together in the better interest of the country as a whole, there should and will be points of differentiation, but there are also areas of common good & for the political leaders of the two main parties to recognise that enhances I think the reputation of the political process ( which has taken a beating over recent years ).

    Paihia • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Damian White,

    . . . but . . . but . . . but . . . but Simon Barnett was like a 'big brother' to a whole generation of us ex-'What Now' watchers.

    A generation that all now have keyboards . . .

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    If that's your objection, you ought to have been agin the bill from the start, because that was always the case with Sue Bradford's bill.

    I was, but I copped so much negativaty that I just shut up about it pretty quickly.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    Helen Clark re-learnt her political craft and adapted to MMP - something National's leaders to date have spectacularly failed to do. Its early days so its hard to tell, but now National has a leader who came into parliament in the MMP era, maybe a whole new, MMP NZ style of politics in evolving where the opposition can win a few, lose the most and occassionaly get an honourable draw for the good of the country? If thats the case, then the emergence of what effectively will be a one party, two wings centrist MMP consensus environment will be Helen Clark's lasting legacy. The biggest winner will be the country, the biggest losers are going to be Garth George, the people who contribute to the Herald's "your views" section and the religious/political extremists everywhere. As for the crazy new righters who infest the blogsphere - well, I want to be there when it dawns on the folk of Sir Humphreys they are dinosaurs of a past era we aint ever going back to...

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    He also mentioned that they will be guided by Court decisions and potentially the Police Complaints Authority decisions regarding the definition of acceptable force...

    Oh, Jesus, Joseph, Mary and all the angels and saints... did Broad really bring the PCA get into it? (The PCA which, I think it's fair comment to say, has much more serious operational and credibilityissues to deal with than playing grandmaster-level pass the (ticking) parcel with the Commissioner of Police. )

    It would have been absolutely fabulous if (sorry for sounding like a scratched record) if the legislature has the testicular fortitude to actually legislate "the definition of acceptable force". Instead, the more I think about it the more I suspect we're being handed the worse of all possible worlds.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    Craig and Graeme et. al.,

    Sure police discretion isn't perfect (despite the fact that we live with it in all sorts of areas of our lives already - without the sky falling) but, in this case it, is the least worst option. The current law, riding crops and all, needed to change. And if your aim is to reduce violence against children by sending a strong message via the law, an amendment which defines just what sort of hitting is ok, seems pretty counter productive to me.

    Danyl,

    Granted it's their right to vent their spleens over at Kiwiblog but that thread is one of the ugliest things I've ever read in the NZ blogosphere. Particularly, when a "father's rights campaigner" gleefully admits to earlier threatening to beat up a 15 year old blogger. It's not the only threat of violence on that thread either.

    Personally, I think that if these are the sort of people that John Key has alienated by taking a moral stand, he's done his party a favour.

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    oh my misplaced commas! there oughtta be a law against that...sigh...

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    With all due respect, Russell, could we draw some meaningful distinction between the Police Association and the New Zealand Police Force?

    Why? The Police Association like to pretend there isn't any - at least when its convenient to them.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Oh, and another cynical thought: Isn't it funny how the NZPF never seems to consider it 'in the public interest' to prosecute politicians -- or political parties -- for any damn thing?

    Our police are natural authoritarians. Rather than kicking the arse of those in authority, their natural instinct is instead to obediently sniff it. It's not an attitude that has any place in a democracy; unfortunately the last vestiges of feudalism die hard.

    I thought Miriana Hond (please excuse if mispelt) was a little cheeky in her interview, at least until they showed the Destiny Church media guy. What a smary bugger!

    That "smarmy bugger" is the leader of Pope Tamaki's political party. Which shows how much independence they would have had in Parliament...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    3410:
    I was, but I copped so much negativaty that I just shut up about it pretty quickly

    Ditto. I guess it's rather amusing being slagged off as a tool of the far-left anti-family "Liarbore dykeocracy" and a glove puppet o Far-right Amerikkkan Kristian fundamentalist child killers - but it got really tired, really quickly. Russell is absolutely right about one thing: This whole debate did bring bring some very weird people roaring into the limelight. I just respectfully disagree with him that National is the only party to this that should have a good hard think about the company it keeps. As I'll be asking in my PA Radio slot, when do we get the law banning the long-term abuse of the public's intelligence that was coming from all sides.

    Hey, one bright spot: Perhaps froth-lubricated BDSM gang-bangs can now return to the boudoirs, chat rooms and *cough* erotic emporiums of consenting adults where they belong.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This whole debate did bring bring some very weird people roaring into the limelight. I just respectfully disagree with him that National is the only party to this that should have a good hard think about the company it keeps.

    I knew you'd say that ;-)

    But who, exactly, do you mean? I genuinely can't think of anyone as weird on Bradford's side as the "Timaru Lady", or the lovely people posting to CYFSWatch, or the guy who declared in Your Views that he'd just have to hit his kids so hard that they wouldn't be able to tell tales. Or indeed, a great many of the nutters who have railed against the bill.

    It was the classic issue on which reasonable people could, and did, disagree. But some of the bill's opponents were really quite scary. And not, as I have observed, the kind of people you would trust to know the meaing of "reasonable force".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    And to stop the snark for a minute: I was very impressed with last night's debate, particularly the speeches by Shane Jones, Rodney Hide, and Brian Donnelly. And like Tom above I hope that this will lead to a shift to a more MMP style of politics.

    There are opinion pieces today criticising John Key for forgetting that the Opposition's job is to oppose. That's FPP thinking. The job of any political party is to advocate its cause. Inmany cases, opposition is the best strategy. But if the government is doing something you actually agree with, I'd rather the politicians said so (and voted for it) than adopt a position of mindless opposition for the sake of it. Though to be fair, this actually happens rather more than you might expect - the politicians just keep rather quiet about it.

    On police discretion, its well-established, and would be applied whether Parliament legislated a specific level of acceptable force or not. Though arguably they already have, in the Crimes Act 1961. While that definition is ridiculously low (pointing my finger at someone in a manner as if to poke them is clearly assault; wiping the arse of a geriatric patient probably is), its intentional precisely to avoid the sorts of issues we saw with s59: intolerable assaults slipping through the cracks. We've been happy enough to rely on police discretion over assault for 46 years, and I think its a bit odd that people suddenly think it is a problem now.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    I don't really understand your objection to what Simon Barnett has said, Russell. He simply wants to raise his children without interference from those who would make him a criminal or some sort of social pariah. It ain't really that unreasonable - he's just asking you to leave him alone.

    I've seldom seen more disingenuous advocacy than that shown by the supporters of this legislation. The truth is that any competent lawyer could have redrafted s.59 to effect the change that most people agreed was necessary.

    So yeah, I am not happy that Bradford's controversial and self-righteous intuitions about smacking are to prevail over the beliefs of rest of the community. The sky might not be falling, but I doubt I'm alone in being really unimpressed by what has happened here.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I don't really understand your objection to what Simon Barnett has said, Russell. He simply wants to raise his children without interference from those who would make him a criminal or some sort of social pariah. It ain't really that unreasonable - he's just asking you to leave him alone.

    And so is the Timaru Lady. As Bradford pointed out, Barnett was basically objecting to the very principle of a complaint being investigated. It's a shame no one thought o ask him what he would say to the child whose life was blighted out of respect for any parent's right to be "left alone".

    Society already intervenes in the interests of children - as it bloody well should. This just lowers the bar so that people can't thrash their kids and have a defence for that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

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