Smack the Kiwi Government

I’ve said before that I believe Australian citizens should have a means to over rule their elected representatives when it comes to the existance of legislation. I think our constitution should include a mechanism where by if enough citizens sign a petition objecting to a specific law then a referendum is triggered (perhaps in conjunction with the next general election) to consider repealing the law. Now New Zealand has a classic case where such a mechanism would be relevant.

Two years ago the Labour Party in New Zealand passed a law turning parents who smack their kids into criminals. In a non-binding referendum just held the people of New Zealand made it clear they want the law repealed. In fact a whopping 88% of voters are against the law. However in an appalling disregard for the will of the people the National government says the law is staying. New Zealand like Australia needs a constitutional mechanism where by the people can through a binding referendum repeal the laws of parliament. At the end of the day sovereignty should lay with the people and parliament should merely act as their agent.

11 thoughts on “Smack the Kiwi Government

  1. I thought they had a vaguely libertarian government now in NZ, now that Hulun Clark is gone and there is some sort of coalition with ACT?

  2. ACT oppose the law but National are defending it. National is the larger coalition partner.

  3. “At the end of the day sovereignty should lay with the people and parliament should merely act as their agent”.

    Something is missing from this sentence, the object or predicate of a transitive verb. What should sovereignty lay with the people?

  4. Obviously, Sovereignty should lay in bed with the people, since they’re the ones paying.

  5. Sovereignty should mean that we lay governments down ‘to sleep’ permanently, in a garden bed. We can then turn that bed into a Memorial Park, and get governments to finally deliver a profit!

  6. Some points:

    * Smacking was never illegal in NZ. Rather the government removed parental discipline as a defense against the charge of assault.

    * The way that the question was posed was pretty much a textbook perfect example of how not to write a question.

    * Your proposed changes wouldn’t work in this case. The Labour government made the change by repealling a law, not adding a new one.

  7. “Smacking was never illegal in NZ. Rather the government removed parental discipline as a defence against the charge of assault.”

    …and the material change in the actual operation of the law was that…parents are afraid to discipline their children. The defence must always have been used within reasonableness. Breaking bones, using a cricket bat etc wouldn’t be covered by such a defence.

    “At the end of the day sovereignty should lay with the people and parliament should merely act as their agent.”

    Nor do I agree with this. Individuals, not a majority should have sovereignty. I think CIR should be used to strike down bad laws. This doesn’t condone mob rule. Clearly any law which is unconstitutional should be invalid, and any change to a constitution to deprive someone’s rights should take several years to take effect.

    If we ever went mad an legitimately elected a totalitarian regime which tried to change the way we were governed, the rest of us would have time to pack up and leave.

  8. Ken, what the Labour government did was very clever and well suited to it’s agenda. It put the ultimate power of deciding right and wrong into the hands of public servants and bureaucrats, especially the police, and left the citizenry in a difficult spot of needing to discipline their children but living in fear of the government prosecuting as there aren’t any protections for reasonable behaviour under law.

    It works like this: If your case gets to court then you’re guilty – all the jury needs to decide is that you actually struck the child. So, according to the law, your intentions, purpose, the situation, even the level of physical force to some extent, is beside the point. If you hit them you’re guilty (as demonstrated by the well known cases that bought this referendum about). So what happens now is the power is devolved to the police and civil agencies. If they decide that you acted reasonably then they won’t bring a case against you and you’re right to go. If they do decide you’ve crossed the line and need to be charged, it’s all over because you’re going to court and will be found guilty. The same type of power sits with child welfare agencies who can engage the police to do the same thing for them. So every parent is now beholden to these agencies to be allowed to discipline their children – and needless to say plenty of civil servants in these agencies will ensure that political correctness is upheld. It’s a statist’s wet dream – you’ve got the government bureaucrats right into the control of the family.

    And this is the argument that was being used to justify the law prior to the referendum – if you’ve acted reasonably the police will use their discretion and let you off!

    A civil society has the rights and obligations of a citizen enshrined in law in a way that all reasonable adults of sound mind can understand, comprehend and live by. It is completely uncivilised to have a citizen’s guilt determined on the whim of civil servants.

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