Hands Up For A Smack

New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly to overturn a law that prohibits parents from hitting children, according to the results of a nationwide referendum, but the government says the law is working and won’t be changed. Opponents of the 2007 law won the right to hold the referendum – which is not binding – by signing up 300,000 eligible voters in support of it. They also drew up the question. In a postal vote that closed last week, 87.6 percent of voters responded ‘No’ to the question: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?” But the ballot measure has drawn widespread criticism, with Prime Minister John Key and opposition leader Phil Goff refusing to vote. Both said the question was so skewed as to make the results meaningless. Key said he would take note of the referendum result but won’t change a law “that is working.” Deborah Morris-Travers, a spokeswoman for the Yes-vote coalition, was “unsurprised” by the result. “We always expected it would go in favor of the no-vote because of the way that the question was phrased – it was loaded and misleading … suggesting that good parents are being criminalized when in fact they are not,” she said.


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