Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

Conservatives would seek repeal of anti-smacking law, says Craig

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Colin Craig says the Conservative Party won't be pushing for the repeal of the gay marriage law or legalised prostitution after next year's election, but would try to get the anti-smacking law overturned.

The party's position is that such issues should be decided by referendum. The smacking issue had been put to a referendum but the gay marriage issue and legalising prostitution had not.

"Until we have had referendums on those other two, I can't see how we can overrule the conscience vote in Parliament.

"The real mandate to change those things has to come from the people," Mr Craig told the Herald.

The 2009 referendum asking should a smack "as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand" resulted in a 56.09 per cent turnout with 87.4 per cent saying no.

It was a response to a 2007 act which abolished the use of reasonable force by parents as justification for disciplining children, although police have the discretion not to prosecute in the use of force against a child when it is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in prosecuting.

"I do think there is a mandate from the people to change that and I do think that is something we could reasonably ask for a change."

Mr Craig said the smacking law was clearly not working because child abuse rates had not gone down.

On the questions of same-sex marriage, he said it would be "rather naive to think you are going to change the redefinition of marriage" given the overwhelming vote in the House on it in April, with 77 votes in favour and 44 against.

"The only way it would change is if it went to a referendum of New Zealanders and they said by clear majority 'change it'."

The law legalising prostitution was passed in 2003. A petition to force a citizens' initiated referendum was begun by two former United Future MPs and now Conservative Party members, Larry Baldock and Gordon Copeland, but they failed to get the requisite number of signatures.

Read more: Inside the mind of Colin Craig

- NZ Herald

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