By hokey I'm grumpy this week. What makes me grumpy? First, losers who stand behind reporters doing pieces to camera on the 6pm news and wave to mum or phone their friends to watch.

Secondly, six months have passed too quickly and my lovely pigs are in the departure lounge, returning as pork and bacon, and if I don't get grumpy I'll cry.

Thirdly, and most importantly, is this dastardly referendum on smacking, organised by grown men who should know better. In the middle of a deep recession it is costing taxpayers $9 million to ask the loaded question: "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Here we go round the mulberry bush. Again. First, a smack is not good parental correction. There is no such thing as a loving smack, just as there is no such thing as a hateful hug.

It's no wonder children are not valued as individuals in this country, but instead as some sort of chattel belonging to adults until they reach some magic age - 16 or 18 or 20. We do not own our children, a fact that has yet to be driven home to those selfish individuals who fight their way through the Family Court over who has the offspring, ensuring any remaining family happiness is destroyed forever.

Sadly, I don't ever see a future in this country where all children are treasured, despite all the good work done by many organisations and individuals.

It's not just about eliminating the beatings, it includes respecting young people's presence. I hate it when parents don't introduce their children to me, as if they don't exist.

And why do parents allow kids to tear around shops and cafes, annoying staff and customers? It's not fair on the children to not set boundaries and neglect teaching manners and respect of others' feelings. Eschewing a brief initial explanation and strict conditions is what usually ends up resulting in frayed tempers and a so-called "loving smack" on the bum.

In some ways I blame childcare - oops, sorry, "early childhood education" - but that's a column for another day. In these modern times, littlies spend more hours of the day with strangers than with their parents. They're so confused they don't know which way is up. No wonder they're hyper and badly behaved.

The referendum is a waste of time because John Key has confirmed the law won't be changed, and three cheers for that. But that's not the end of it. Act's John Boscawen has a bill to amend Section 59 - again - so it will be "no longer a crime to use reasonable force" if parents discipline a child.

Here we go, loop de loop. Boscawen says he's sick of nine years of Labour's nanny state telling parents what to do, but isn't this more of the same? You can use a light smack, but not a hard smack? Why not a good, old-fashioned razor-stropping like my father used to give me, followed by Mum with the wooden spoon, and while you're at it John, bring back six of the best in schools for bad girls like me - never did us any harm, did it?

Truth is, no matter how hard politicians try to flannel, they're always telling us what to do. Paula Bennett said she didn't think a smack as part of good parental correction should be a criminal offence and she didn't want to go into homes and tell people how to parent.

Oh really? Not even when they're disciplining with the jug cord or vacuum cleaner pipe?

Maybe she should focus on more serious issues than National women's shoe-shopping expeditions. To her credit, in the latest Listener, Bennett now says she backs the Prime Minister on child discipline laws.

Ten years ago I didn't give much thought to Section 59. Then I wrote a story on the death of James Whakaruru, interviewed his extended whanau, and realised how normal it was for discipline to include beating children - little children too small to walk - with belts, fists, cords, wooden posts or vacuum cleaner pipes and I changed my mind. Changing legislation does change behaviour - look at seatbelt-wearing.

It was once considered legal for a husband to rape his wife, or vice versa, because marriage was taken as consent.

How would you react if we were campaigning to change that and a referendum was being sent around the country with this question - "Should forced sex, as part of a good marriage, be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"