In a regular column for the Doubtless Bay Times I have written:
We should give the members of parliament a pat on the back, without risk of prosecution, for the manner in which they have at last resolved the legal hassle over prohibiting violence toward children.
It was interesting to see that in the final showdown all parties seemed willing to turn away from the public outcry, go against the results of the polls, and to do what they considered was best for the country.
It was the representatives of the Maori Party who first made the call. They recognised when push came to shove, that they had to come out against family violence, for the good of the people.
The other critical move was by John Key, when he asked for talks on the subject. I would guess that in his own wealthy, well informed circles there was no clamour to beat up the kids. It must have been quite politically embarassing to be associated with the fundamentalists of the Christian right, and enthusiasts for traditional discipline, when he was so keenly moving the image of his party away from Don Brash’s brand, characterised by Maori baiting and financial support from religious cults.
It would be not comfortable in well educated and informed circles to be associated with “Bishop” Tamaki and that strange mother with the horsewhip.
I applaud this decision, by Helen Clark and John Key to be seen together, working toward an agreement, when the public was being rarked up into a mob frenzy by a few extremists and most of the newspapers.
I think the incdent shows that this country is being very badly served on such issues, by our media, especially the major newspapers, but also of course talkback radio and much television.
Our major newspapers are now almost exclusively owned by overseas interests, and the Australian and British style of right wing and irresponsible journalism is becoming the norm.
Quite clearly, throughout this public controversy, there was strong support for the bill from all the professionals who actually dealt with violence toward children. Social workers from government agencies, independent social agencies and churches, who actually work with these problems, were united in support of a change in the law.
Police and lawyers had concerns about confusion that might arise, but were generally in favour, but were also not given little space in the news.
In the haste for television ratings, or in greed for the dollars of Sunday morning shoppers, the journalists ramped up the opposition to the bill, and virtually shut out the voices of good sense and responsibility.
Finally our political leaders stepped up and resolved the problem, without too much concern for their egos, or the sound and fury of the violently disposed.