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Anti-smacking law petition handed to Parliament

Thursday 24 Apr 2008 12:00a.m.

Anti-smacking law petition handed to Parliament

Opponents of the law that bans smacking are waiting anxiously to find out whether they have collected enough valid signatures on a petition to force a citizens-initiated referendum.

If they have, the referendum will be held at the same time as the next election and will put the question: Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?

The petition was handed in to the Clerk of Parliament on February 29, with 324,316 signatures on it.

That was well above the required 285,027 – 10 percent of the total number of registered voters on that day.
The Chief Registrar of Electors is now running an audit to certify the signatures – and a lot of them will not make the grade.

Petition organiser Larry Baldock, leader of the new Kiwi Party, said today there would have to be a "success rate" of 87.99 percent for the petition to succeed in forcing a referendum.

"A random sample of 29,501 signatures was taken and checked individually against the electoral role with 25,754 qualifying," he said.

"If I did my own simple maths on those figures we would estimate that we had a success rate of 87.29 percent."

Mr Baldock said he had been told the Government Statistician would use a complicated mathematical formula to officially ascertain the number of certified signatures and it would take 90 hours to complete.

"I have no idea why this must take so long and whether there will be any great variation from my simple maths," he said.

"It begins to look like the Duckworth-Lewis system of determining the results in rain-shortened one-day cricket matches and we all know how they turn out – usually in the other team's favour."

The official result of the certification process must he given to Parliament's Speaker, Margaret Wilson, no later than next Tuesday.



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