Sue Bradford's Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill is back before the House today, and we're seeing more last minute wobbles, with Labour MPs apparently proposing an amendment "to reassure parents they will not be prosecuted for minor smacking".
I haven't seen the amendment yet, but my initial reaction can be summed up in one word: "chickenshits". By allowing force to be used against children, no matter how minor, it will both undermine equality under the law in its most important area (protection from violence), and effectively reintroduce section 59 by the back door. And in a bill whose stated purpose is to abolish the use of parental force for the purpose of correction, that is simply Orwellian.
Such an amendment is not even necessary - the bill presently has the numbers. Instead, it is purely about spin control, about Labour trying to limit the political damage it has taken. But the damage has already been done, and the votes already lost. Backing down at the last minute will not get them back. Instead, it will simply reconfirm the fundies' belief that they have a right to assault their kids.
Finally, it would be nice if, just for once, Labour put its principles first. Instead, it seems that the one thing they can be relied upon to do is betray you.
Update: The amendment, via the Herald:
To avoid doubt it is affirmed that police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against parents of any child, or those standing in place of any child, in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in pursuing a prosecution.
So, essentially a statement of the existing situation, and which doesn't weaken the bill. It's strictly redundant, and it shouldn't be necessary to say it at all were it not for the fearmongering of the fundies and the National Party (and to anyone who thinks that is unfair - go read their speeches in Hansard and then try saying it with a straight face). Importantly, it has Sue Bradford's support, and seems likely to improve the chances of the bill sticking - so, actually an improvement. I'll leave the post in place as a reminder of the perils of blogging on breaking news.
Update 2: The Supplementary Order Paper in the name of Peter Dunne, with explanatory note,is up here.