Smacking petition may go to referendum

Two petitions with a total of more than 600,000 signatures opposing the anti-smacking law have arrived at Parliament.

At first glance, both appear to have the signatures of 10 per cent of voters, making it likely each will lead to a Citizens Initiated Referendum.

These would probably be held at the time of this year's general election.

Backers want the smacking of children to be legalised again, and for the Government to give urgent priority to addressing child abuse and family violence. Petition organiser, Larry Baldock of the Kiwi Party, says it is regrettable they had to go this far.

He says Sue Bradford knows that her anti-smacking bill never had the support of ordinary people.

The two petitions are now subject to a certification process, checking signatories to ensure the 10 per cent hurdle has been reached. There is an opportunity for the submitters to go back to the public if they fall short, allowing a further two months to get the numbers up.

Once an approved petition has been filed, it has to be presented to the House of Representatives, after which the Governor-General has a month to set a date for the referendum, or to specify that the referendum will be conducted by postal voting.

The law says the referendum must be held within 12 months of the petition being presented to the House, unless 75 per cent of MPs agree to a different date.

Citizens Initiated Referenda are not binding on the Government.

- NEWSTALK ZB

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