The section 59 debate, for the first time in a long time, lifted the lid on the New Zealand “family”. What we found was a fight waiting to happen: the core of the debate was not smacking, it was the nature and role of the family. How should we balance the competing interests of the family, its individual members, the community that surrounds it, and the state which we rely on to intervene when necessary and butt out the rest of the time?
How the 2008-2010 government would address that gulf fascinated me. It seems so intractable, yet addressing it is so necessary.Â National have chosen Christine Rankin, they have chosen to make the Families Commission incapable of progressing this.
It’s not Rankin’s support of the pro-smacking referendum, it’s not her links to the conservative Christian lobby, nor her links to the crime and punishment lobby, the anti-transparency brigade, or the right wing political donors. It’s her track record of divisiveness, or polarising issues and debates.
By choosing Rankin National may have discharged their debts or paid back their supporters, but in the process they’ve sacrificed progress, safety, and growth for our families.