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Smacking group in funding complaint
By MARTIN KAY – The Dominion Post
Last updated 05:00 28/07/2009
Supporters of the smacking referendum which kicks off this week are crying foul over what they say is the use of public money to back a vote supporting the present law.
Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie said the Families Commission was campaigning for a “yes” vote in the referendum, which asks whether a smack “as part of good parental correction” should be a crime.
Commission chief executive Paul Curry rejected the claims, saying the commission had long made its views on the law clear, and was not doing so in a way that encouraged a vote either way.
Mr McCoskrie said campaigning by the agency included an editorial in its latest newsletter, written by chief commissioner Jan Pryor, and material on its website.
He said the material flew in the face of the Government’s decision to keep the law intact regardless of the outcome of the referendum, which will be held by postal ballot between July 31 and August 21.
“One minute the Government’s saying they’re going to take no notice of the referendum, but then the Government’s coffers are paying for newsletters and organisations running courses to basically promote the law.”
But Mr Curry said the claims were unfounded. “We have not and will not and have no intention of advocating one way or the other for the referendum or encouraging people one way or the other on how they should vote.”
He said the commission had had material on its website for two years making clear it supported the 2007 law change, which removed the statutory defence to assault for parents who physically discipline their children.
The spat comes as electoral authorities prepare to send out voting papers to about three million people from Friday. People who are not enrolled have till Thursday to do so.
Prime Minister John Key has said National would not amend the law unless it could be shown good parents were being criminalised for lightly smacking their children.
However, he has said the referendum result could be taken into account if evidence that the law was not working as intended led to it being revisited.
Onward – Jim
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