Sue Bradford receives death threats

WORRYING TIME: Sue Bradford has received death threats.
Sunday News
WORRYING TIME: Sue Bradford has received death threats.

Anti-smacking campaigner Sue Bradford has received chilling death threats and been warned she could be New Zealand's "first political assassination".

Police are looking at stepping up her personal security after the vile warnings on Twitter. The Green MP said: "There has been a whole lot of stuff. Some of it is pretty nasty."

She told Sunday News: "I was on Twitter and someone sent a tweet saying, 'Sue Bradford should be the first candidate for a political assassination’.

FAMILY SUPPORT: Sue Bradford with supportive husband Bill.
FAMILY SUPPORT: Sue Bradford with supportive husband Bill.

"There is another email that was really ugly a few weeks ago that we referred to police."

Bradford, the architect of the anti-smacking legislation, added: "I have become the iconic symbol for the opponents, for the people who want to change the law back."

Voters have been bitterly divided over the issue. Opponents argue that the law prevents parents from disciplining their kids and prosecutions can rip families apart.

Bradford, an MP for 10 years, received a backlash of threats and abuse after the bill was passed on May 16, 2007.

She told Sunday News this week: "I have been copping it for four years. I copped it for many years earlier on for standing up for unemployed people and beneficiaries and being a street protestor. It is what happens when you stand up for what you believe."

She has moved house several times to protect her privacy. She also has special dispensation from Parliament to leave her name and address off the electoral roll.

The issue still rumbles on despite the $9 million referendum when 87.6 per cent voted 'No' to "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Bradford said that as well as being abused and intimidated, her office had been flooded with letters and emails from parents telling her they would go on whacking their children.

She is worried that she will again be forced to live in a climate of fear. In 2007, she was targeted with menacing taunts on the CYFS Watch website.

One hateful opponent threatened to make a sawn-off shotgun to take out Bradford and any MPs who supported her.

Another nutter, intent on teaching her the difference between a smack and a serious assault, threatened to punch her, "hopefully breaking her nose or jaw".

There were also threats to publish her home address unless she backed down.

She said at the time: "I think it's indicative of some of the people that are campaigning against me.

"I think it's disgraceful that they would threaten a member of Parliament in this way.

"It's [the website] got a horrible description of graphic physical violence against me, this sort of stuff is quite scary."

Bradford was in Palmerston North on Thursday to receive the New Zealand Psychological Society's prestigious Public Interest Award for her work. She also got a $500 donation for the Child Poverty Action Group her chosen charity.

Bradford, married to devoted Bill, spokesman for the National Distribution Union, vowed to carry on her work. "It is nice, after four years on the frontline.

"The award is an honour but I would like to stress that I stand beside 112 other MPs who passed this landmark law," she said.

"The timing was amazing and odd from our point of view. The Psychological Society certainly understands the benefit of what we have achieved."

She accused her opponents of double-standards. Bradford said the same people who were saying it was okay to assault a child, would be horrified at the prospect of a law allowing anyone to use physical force against their wife.

"I don't know if people really do think about that, that it (should be) okay to do that to children but not to adults," she said.

"There are a lot of people that are absolutely dedicated to getting my law overturned; they want the right to beat their kids, they want the right even to beat them with implements. The true agenda here is to able to beat their kids again legally."

She said the question asked in the referendum was "flawed".

"There are any number of questions they could have asked. It could have been ... 'Do you think that there should be a defence of reasonable force for the force of correction?' or 'Do you think it should be legal for parents to use force as part of physical discipline?"'

PM John Key has rejected a law change in the wake of the referendum. Police and CYFS will instead review their guidelines to ensure that parents aren't criminalised for a light smack.

Sunday News