Anti-smacking bill becomes law

Green MP Sue Bradford's controversial child discipline bill was tonight passed by Parliament, with only seven MPs voting against it.

The bill removes from the Crimes Act the statutory defence of "reasonable force" to correct a child, meaning there will be no justification for the use of force for that purpose.

The legislation also carries an amendment agreed earlier by Prime Minister Helen Clark and National leader John Key that says the police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent where the offence is considered to be inconsequential.

The bill was passed today almost two years after it was introduced in June 2005. The at times acrimonius debate on the bill has seen Parliament and the public sharply divided between the bill's supporters and its opponents.

But with the compromise amendment, most of that opposition faded away.

The Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill was tonight given its third reading by a vote of 113 to seven.

- NZPA

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