Parliament has just started the committee stage of Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill. The bill is being debated clause-by-clause under SO 298 (3), which means speeches are supposed to be relevant to the clause being considered. Currently, they're debating the title clause - and the debate is drifting already. There will be an interesting debate on clause 2, over Judy Turner's attempt to require a supermajority or a referendum for the bill to pass, but the real fight will be over clauses 3 (the purpose) and 4 (which replaces s59 of the Crimes Act). Chester Borrows' SOP amends both of these clauses, and we will get the first indication of the numbers on clause 3.
Taito Phillip Field seems to be taking a big role, and is trying to present it as a diversity issue - smacking being a cultural practice which should be protected. I wonder if he'd say the same about female circumcision?
Clause 1: The usual political posturing and game-playing. Maurice Williamson admits beating his kids (wanker). Gordon Copeland tries to scare everyone with the Crimes Act. Phil Heatley talks about prostitution and drugs and accuses Parliament of undermining his family. Heather Roy claims the public have no idea what the bill is about, and that people will pay no attention to it (ignoring the fact that if they don't, the police will now be able to pay attention to them). Nick Smith froths at the mouth and calls the bill "social engineering". Passed 62-58. The House rose and will resume at 19:30.
Clause 2: Judy Turner argued for her amendment requiring either a referendum or a supermajority for the bill to pass. Given the referendum also requires a supermajority, this is simply a transparent attempt to stack the deck and lock in the status quo. Sue Bradford argued that MPs have a duty to represent and show leadership, rather than dodge the issue; she also argued that a referendum would ignore the interests of children (interesting; do the Greens support lowering the voting age?). Nicky Wagner thinks the public isn't ready for the bill, and therefore argued for indefinite postponement of the bill coming into law. Chester Borrows and Steve Chadwick opposed a referendum. Taito Phillip Field called Bradford "misguided", and that the commencement date was "far too soon", hence his attempts to delay it. He accused the state of interfering with the "god-given" right of parents to raise their children and teach them discipline. Rodney Hide also admitted beating his kids - and was proud of it (another wanker). Maurice Williamson made an ironic point about Labour's use of the whip for a bill opposing smacking (and of course National's whipping its members to support Chester Borrows' amendments is completely different). He also denied the right of people without children to legislate for parents (somehow I don't think he'd appeal to the same principle over gays, though). Peter Brown supported a referenda in principle, but opposed United Future's attempts to stack the deck. Colin King advocated a delay to allow for an education program. John Carter blamed Helen Clark. John Hayes blustered about the decline of "discipline" (by which he really meant deference) under Labour. Jill Pettis forcefully asserted the right of people to have a view about domestic violence and smacking, and pointed out that this bill is essentially about equality under the law. Gerry Brownlee continued National's theme for the day, and complained about Graham Burton. Judith Collins said "I smack my child, and I'm damn proud of it" (I wonder how her children feel about that pride?). Lynne Pillay decided that if she used the word "commencement" loudly and often enough, people wouldn't notice that she wasn't talking about it at all.
After 23 speakers, some of whom actually addressed the point, debate was finally closed. Judy Turner's SOP failed 115 - 6. The first of Taito Phillip Field's 50 amendments, which delayed the commencement of the bill by a month, was agreed to, and the rest (as well as various silly amendments by national MPs) were subsequently ruled out of order. The clause passed 63 - 58, with the support of 2 NZ First MPs and Peter Dunne. Following this, Maurice Williamson tried to argue that his amendments were in order by appealing to the monarchical fiction that the Royal Assent might be refused.
Clause 2A: By this stage the pretence that MPs were even debating the clauses had broken down completely. Instead they were standing up and flinging shit at each other across the chamber about the bill in general. About four people were able to speak before the session ended. It looks as if the committee stage is going to take at least another member's day, and maybe overflow into a second.