S59 & Citizen’s Initiated Referenda

Grrr – the S59 Citizen’s Initiated Referendum petition on Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking law (that tightened Section 59 of the Crimes Act to remove parental ability to use physical force to discipline children except in very limited circumstances) has fallen short on numbers.

This is not the cause of my Grrr – that stems from the appalling methodology of the beauracrats who ‘counted’ the petition. This issue has been commented on by bloggers from the left (No Right Turn) and right (David Farrar), the latter noting the ‘valid signatures’ count came from a “large random sample” of the signatures delivered.

This seems sound enough technique, so long as the estimated signature count is either well over or well under the required threshold of 10% of eligible voters (285,027 valid signatures).

When the claimed valid tally (269,500) is close to the margins of error of any such sampling though, closer inspection is required. This petition fell short by 15,527 or 5.4% of the requisite total. When you get this close to the error (typically around 3%), I would be more comfortable if such petitions had a fuller count.

Of course, the petition organisers may just collect another 15-20,000 signatures over the allowed next 2 months, but it may not be necessary if a closer check finds the original sampling was an underestimate. Point being, when the gap is that close, the officials need to check their methods more closely (which does not imply anything wrong with their methods, just that their ‘microscope’ can’t distinguish between actually tally and required threshold accurately enough).

Hence, the grrrr!

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3 Responses to “S59 & Citizen’s Initiated Referenda”

  1. tracey Says:

    Good point. However I wonder how many people have actually read the new substituted legislation. I ask, because on my reading of it, rather than being anti-smacking it is quite specific about when you can use force on your child. I would have thought this would be solace to those wanting to retain their right to assault their children, when such actions by the same person on me, would be criminal. I’m sure I can be quite annoying and disobedient at times too

  2. squaredrive Says:

    From my experience, very few people have actually read the new S59 law, Tracey. It is here.

    You are correct – clause 1 of the new S59 is the bulk of the law change, and talks about when you can or cannot use ‘reasonable force’. Clauses 3 just restates clause 2, and clause 4 says police can use their discretion as to whether they prosecutre or not. Given police have always had such discretion, clause 4 is totally redundant. Which leaves clause 2.

    Clause 2 of the new S59 is the crunch point – it overrides clause 1 (which allows reasonable force in some circumstances) and bans use of force for ‘correction’, but does not define correction. So, the public, police and judges all have to try and decide what correction is, versus “offensive or disruptive behaviour” (clause 1(3)) or “good care and parenting” (clause 1(4)).

    Add to that, the fact that clause 1 still uses the phrase “if the force used is reasonable in the circumstances”, which is identical to the original ‘get out of jail for smacking’ phrase that Sue Bradford objected to as ‘allowing child abuse’.

    So, I’m afraid there is no solace in the new S59 at all. In fact, if it were taken literally, even the lightest of unwanted physical contact would constitute assault, with up to 1 year in jail… crazy, surely!?!

    But the main beef of the post was the undemocratic officials attempting to block a referendum based on shonky ‘counting’ methods.

  3. FeaniaVema Says:

    Cool page., bro

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