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Scoop Audio: PM lays into “smacking” referendum

Published: Mon 22 Jun 2009 08:01 PM
Scoop Audio: Referendum question could have been written by Dr Seuss - PM
Report and Images by Spike Mountjoy


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Scoop Audio: Audio on Demand of NZ Prime Minister John Key's weekly press conference. The PM laid into the upcoming child discipline referendum today saying the question could have been written by children's book author Dr Seuss. He said the referendum wasn’t Green Eggs and Ham, and described the question as both “pretty weird” and “ridiculous”.
“Yes means no and no means yes but we’re all supposed to know what the referendum means," he said.
“Some people that vote 'no' will be voting no on the basis they want to see the law continuing to work as it is today - in other words, that good parents aren’t criminalised for lightly smacking a child.”
Asked whether he would act on the referendum result Prime Minister Key reiterated his support for the current legislation.
“I think it’s a bit harsh to say I would totally ignore a referendum, I think you do have to listen to people. My view’s always been that the law in its current form is working."
The PM said he was relaxed about comments from controversial Families Commission appointee Christine Rankin in Investigate magazine, where she restated her opposite to the current legislation.
The Families Commission has come out in support of the current law and discussion of this tension occupied a fair amount of today’s conference.
On a related matter, the PM initially said his government would pick up the Green Party’s bill bringing greater government control into the wording of referenda, but quickly corrected himself.
Press Gallery “So the Government’s going to pick up this bill?”
Prime Minister “We are - Well we’re in discussions with the Green party about that, but I see some real merit in it”.
In other news, the PM said the dole queue is growing by 1000 people a week, which is slightly quicker than predicted. He said most of those newly unemployed live in Auckland.
Key, who also holds the Tourism portfolio, said swine flu risks damaging our tourism industry in the short term. However more than one million people visited from Australia in the year to May setting a new record.
The Prime Minister’s upcoming speaking engagements include an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, but he said he is unlikely to attend climate change discussions in Copenhagen at the end of the year.
The PM also commented the state of New Zealand’s economy, the country’s growing prison population, the validity of recent elections in Iran, and the possible closure of his old primary school, Aorangi. When asked about the Christchurch school's closure the PM noted that he was once struck by the bell while on duty as bell monitor.
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Prime Minister Key: says he was once struck by a bell
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