Campaign targets pro-smack petitioners

By Simon Collins

The official organiser of the petition for a referendum on the "anti-smacking" law has disowned a letter-writing campaign urging people who signed the petition to vote for the fledgling Kiwi Party.

Sheryl Savill, who works for the Christian group Focus on the Family, said the Kiwi Party did not consult her before writing to many of the 390,000 people who signed the petition.

"I got an email from the Kiwi Party asking if I wanted to help with it, which I didn't because I'm not interested in campaigning for a party," she said.

Bob McCoskrie of the Family First lobby group, which also backed the petition, said he was not consulted and did not endorse the Kiwi Party.

But the party, led by former United Future MP Larry Baldock, says it got a legal opinion from an unnamed "highly regarded Wellington-based lawyer who is one of New Zealand's experts in privacy" before launching its bulk mailout on October 24.

Its Auckland regional co-ordinator, Bernie Ogilvy, another ex-United Future MP who is organising the mailout, said the party was taking care to write only to people who signed the second of two petitions.

The first petition, in Mrs Savill's name, asked: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?" It gained 390,000 signatures and a referendum will be held next year.

The second petition, in Mr Baldock's name, asked: "Should the Government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse?" Only 300,000 people signed it, falling short of the valid signatures required for a referendum.

"The first petition has been approved for a referendum and that means it's the property of Parliament," Mr Ogilvy said. "The second one belongs to the petition-holder himself [Mr Baldock]."

The tiny Kiwi Party, which claims 2000 members, is struggling to make an impact in the election on a practically zero budget. It missed out on even the minimal allocation of free broadcasting time that went to other electoral minnows such as the Legalise Cannabis Party and the Workers Party because it failed to apply by March 19.

Party secretary Kevin Stitt, an unpaid Mangere-based volunteer, said the party had not received a single donation of $10,000 or more that would have to be declared to the Electoral Commission. The party finally began to show up in the last HeraldDigiPoll survey taken from October 15 to 22, jumping to 0.5 per cent from an average of under 0.1 per cent in the previous four polls.

KIWI PARTY
* Formed in February.
* Based on "timeless Judeo-Christian values", promoting family and "a positive marriage culture".
* Sees itself as a centre party, rejecting the "socially liberally" policies of Labour and the Greens, but also defying the right-wing views of Act, which it says ignores the poor.
* Would work with National, but criticises it for not taking a stand against the Government's "social engineering".

- NZ Herald

www.thekiwiparty.org.nz

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