Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Issue 20 - Evidence for June 4, 2008 - Evening meeting

OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children), met this day at 6:31 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.

Senator Joan Fraser (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Honourable senators, this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is continuing the committee's study of Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children), and we have the great pleasure of having with us by video conference, from Auckland, New Zealand, Mr. John Hancock, Senior Solicitor, YouthLaw.

Mr. Hancock, welcome. We are very glad you could take the time to be with us. If you have an opening statement, we would love to hear it and then we will ask you questions.

John Hancock, Senior Solicitor, YouthLaw: It is a privilege to talk to you and address you on this important issue. I have not prepared an opening statement per se, but I will give a bit of background to my work and the sorts of work that I have done in this area.

I am the senior solicitor at YouthLaw, which is a community law centre for children and young people that provides legal services for people under the age of 25 across New Zealand. I am also involved with the non-government reporting on New Zealand's compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. That provides a bit of background to some of the impetus to the changes to section 59 of the Crimes Act, the equivalent section to your section 43. I was part of the NGO delegation that went to Geneva in 2003 that presented submissions to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The UN committee made a strong recommendation about section 59 in New Zealand. They recommended that it be repealed or it be amended. This was the statement of the UN committee about New Zealand's section 59 of the Crimes Act:

The committee is deeply concerned that despite a review of legislation, the state party has still not amended section 59 of the Crimes Act, which allows parents to use reasonable force to discipline their children. While welcoming the government's public education campaign to promote positive nonviolent forms of discipline within the home, the committee emphasizes that the convention requires the protection of children from all forms of violence, which includes corporal punishment in the family and which should be accompanied by awareness raising campaigns on the law and on children's right to protection.

That provided a basis, if you like, or at least a context for the amendment bill that was introduced a year or two later, although there had been a private member's bill introduced to the House by Brian Donnelly MP a few years earlier, that I do not think got to committee stage. The corporal punishment in schools in New Zealand was banned in 1990 in an amendment to the Education Act. That is some of the historical context leading to New Zealand's repeal of section 59.

As part of the work I was doing in this area I did a study on some of the case law and some of the legal cases dealing with child discipline issues, which were in regard to section 59. To summarize: essentially, what became apparent from looking at the case law was that section 59 in New Zealand was not compatible with the concepts of family law and family law jurisdiction generally. Within the context of the Domestic Violence Act, which is the legislative basis for protection orders in New Zealand, there was a disconnect between the two acts.

In one case it was found that even though a child could be protected from an abusive parent by way of a protection order, section 59 of our Crimes Act could still be raised as a defence if that parent breached that protection order by using physical discipline against their child.

In addition, the Care of Children Act, which came into force in 2004, amended our guardianship laws to provide an explicit statement about protecting children from violence in the home. Therefore the jurisprudential and legislative basis in our family jurisdiction was incompatible with section 59 and had moved on from that more antiquated law. So there was definitely momentum behind the need for a law change. There were a number of cases that were reported in the newspapers. These were jury trials where the defendants were being acquitted for using what one would normally consider to be severe uses of physical discipline on the children. One case involved someone being acquitted for beating a child with a hose pipe; another involved an acquittal by a jury when a person used a piece of wood to physically discipline their child.

There were these cases that were being heard by juries in which the defence was being successful in raising the section 59 argument that reasonable force was used. I believe from the legislature's point of view that that was not an acceptable situation.

Where it became controversial was around the parameters of whether the defence should be fully repealed or whether it should be given some prescribed limitations. That is where many of the arguments were.

As you might be aware, there has been a lot of controversy in New Zealand around the repeal of section 59. There is currently a referendum being promoted, that almost had enough signatures needed to present to the House. I do not know if it has been formally presented yet, but there has been a strong movement against the amendment. After much negotiation, the amendment was passed by an overwhelming majority of the House. The law commission and others were integral in drafting a compromise section 59. This, whilst it outlawed the use of force for the purpose of correction, placed a number of provisos whereby a parent of a child or someone acting in loco parentis would be justified in using force or reasonable force in a number of circumstances. These would include, for example, preventing or minimizing harm to the child; preventing a child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; preventing a child from engaging or continuing to engage in events of disruptive behaviour; or when performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting. The new subsection 4 set out the discretion of the police not to prosecute, if they felt the offence was to be so inconsequential that there was no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution. That was the amended section that was passed by a vote of 114-6 in the New Zealand Parliament. Its future is secure politically, given the overwhelming majority with which it was passed. However, it is still a controversial issue, given that a citizen's initiated referendum is still on the table which has created a certain amount of political momentum for certain new political parties that have formed.

Overall, it is interesting to see the development of this law and to see how the courts have approached it. Prior to the amendment, the courts have found section 59 difficult to reconcile with the principles of New Zealand family law. In criminal courts, the juries tend to have a lower threshold for "reasonable force'' than judges. A judge alone, either at a trial or on appeal, would have a high threshold that someone would have to cross to convince a judge that the force was reasonable. The jury trials showed that, depending on the make up of the jury at the time, it was easier to get severe forms of physical discipline passing through as "reasonable force.'' Underpinning this is the human rights issue for children about having an equal right to protection of the law; protection from assault.

That is an ad hoc opening statement, but I hope it gives you some sort of context.

The Chair: It certainly does. If that was an ad hoc, ad-libbed statement, you have my congratulations. It was an interesting history of how you got to where you are. We are grateful to you. I am sure you can understand that in our proceedings studying the bill before us now, the New Zealand case comes up again and again as something that we must study. That is what we are turning our attention to at this time.

Senator Andreychuk: Thank you, Mr. Hancock, for appearing before us by videoconference. I have a few questions by way of information and clarification.

Is the citizens' initiative like a referendum? Is that in the law? How did that come about, or was it a policy?

Mr. Hancock: Under the Citizens' Initiated Referendum Act, if an organization or petitioner can collect 300,000 signatures in New Zealand, they can then proceed to Parliament with a non-binding citizens' initiated referendum. If the referendum proceeds to Parliament and goes through all the various procedural requirements of the House, the petitioners can put a question to the voters in the next election. When they initially presented the petition to Parliament, my understanding is that it was rejected. There was a recount and they found a number of signatures had been duplicated and there were a few bogus signatures, so it did not quite get to the 300,000 threshold. The group that put together the referendum has gone back to get the required number. There are certain time frames that they must adhere to but if they present the petition within the required time frame, then that question will be put to voters.

The initial question was to be whether or not a slap should be tantamount to a criminal action or should be allowed to criminalize. That is not the exact wording but it was to that effect. However, it may have been amended or slightly toned down since then from being so prescriptive about the use of force.

Some of the people involved with the group that put this petition together have formed a political party that will be standing at the next election. It was a highly politicized issue in New Zealand. From my perspective, it was sad to see that happen. It was inevitable because it drew the issue away from the position of children, who are obviously the subject of this law and whose welfare is at stake, ultimately. It became more of an issue about parental rights and obligations than about children's rights or children's rights to protection from violence.

New Zealand does not have a good track record of late in terms of child abuse. When you talk to Dr. Hassall and Ms. Noonan later, they will be able to give you a more detailed run down of those sorts of issues. In New Zealand, I am sorry to say, a lot of children have died from injuries inflicted in the domestic context. I think that part of changing behaviours and attitudes is looking at the way that children are children are treated in the home, but it is difficult because many parents use light physical discipline from time to time. No one wants to see those parents criminalized. That was an issue for everyone. It was not the crucial issue in terms of the way this matter was sold to the public or brought before the public; unfortunately, it became less about how we should be valuing our children and rights of children to be free from harm. It became more about, "Will I be criminalized? I am not a criminal because I might have administered a light slap to my child at a certain time.'' It was inevitable but unfortunate that the debates got clouded from the rights of the child to protection from harm and also trying to produce a climate in our community where violence against children or the use of force generally is not considered acceptable.

The Chair: Mr. Hancock, this is fascinating but we only have half an hour or so left in our session with you. There are some more questions that senators want to put to you, so I will arbitrarily cut off that answer here and go back to Senator Andreychuk for her next question.

Senator Andreychuk: Are you aware whether Australia has a similar section 59? I understand that they have not had recently the kind of debate that New Zealand has had.

Mr. Hancock: I believe it varies from state to state in Australia, but I do not have an exact understanding of it. My understanding is that their law is similar to what ours was except that there may be variances from state to state in the way that it is applied. When we were looking at section 59, the New South Wales example was used.

Senator Andreychuk: Perhaps that is what I am looking for. New South Wales made some changes, but my understanding is that the rest of Australia still recognizes corporal punishment as justifiable.

Mr. Hancock: My understanding is that of the common law countries, New Zealand is the only one to have removed the defence.

Senator Andreychuk: Of the common law countries, you have removed it. However, I have spoken to some of your parliamentarians and I understand the climate in which this was finally discussed in Parliament. I believe it was one of the coalition members in the government that introduced the bill. It received some debate and when the parliamentarians started to examine it, they started to think there should be an exemption to support families for whatever reasons. Hence, you ended up with this list of exceptions, if I can call it that, to what you started with.

Mr. Hancock: Yes.

Senator Andreychuk: In that debate, all parliamentarians seemed to have been involved.

Mr. Hancock: Yes. It was a private member's bill. The government sponsored it through to the Select Committee stage. The main debate was around whether the defence should be removed entirely. Another argument suggested by the opposition was that a limitation of "trifling and transitory'' force would be a way of defining reasonableness. Whereas those opposed to this wanted to remove the defence of reasonable force altogether. That was the main delineation in the way the issue was debated at the committee.

Senator Andreychuk: Those were the outer limits, but I understand in the actual debate suggestions were given from all sides how to change the initial text.

Mr. Hancock: Yes, a number of suggestions and wordings considered from straight repeal through to the "trifling and transitory'' definition of reasonable force. In the end, we kept the current wording that I understand was drafted mainly by Sir Geoffrey Palmer. He is at the Law Commission in New Zealand.

The most powerful point regarding the new wording is that it removes the use of force for the purpose of correction. That was passed overwhelmingly and it was the difference between where the two sides were positioned during consideration in the Select Committee. It brought them together to decide to remove the use of force for the purpose of correction, but ensure that police discretion was spelled out.

The police have discretion anyway. However, police discretion is spelled out in the legislation. The way I look at it, you are essentially legislating the de minimus principle to an extent with subsection 4. Then subsection 1 looks like a code for the common law defence of necessity. That would be a situation where your child runs across the road, you need to grab them to prevent them from being harmed by oncoming traffic and it prevents the possible criminalization of their conduct.

Senator Oliver: Thank you for your excellent overview that traced the history of what happened to section 59 and how the courts and the legislators in a vote of 114-6 came up with this new law that you have.

One of the things that interested me in your remarks was you telling us how the courts are having difficulty grappling with this. You said a case tried by a judge alone would be different from one tried by a judge and jury. I would be interested to hear the types of questions that would be put to a jury. Would they be a question like whether one found the amount of force used reasonable or would a typical jury question be whether the force was justified to protect the child from danger or prevent damage to property.

That is some of the language in your newly amended law there. Are those the kinds of questions that the jury would have to determine and decide upon?

Mr. Hancock: The cases that I have looked at were in relation to the previous section 59. I am not aware of the new defence being raised in the courts since the amendment has occurred. There was a case reported recently, but that was using the old defence where the information was presented in court prior to the amendment coming in.

Looking at the old cases, the judge was directing the jury around the wording of section 59 at the time. All that dealt with the reasonableness of the use of force and providing some of the case law or common law rules and reasoning that had been built up in relation to what could constitute reasonable force in those circumstances.

This is a personal observation, but looking at the different outcomes it would appear that perhaps given a jury may have a number of different people with differing attitudes about what constitutes acceptable force. There was a greater likelihood that someone would be acquitted when using an implement against their child to discipline them, whereas I have not seen that happen in any of the judge alone cases or family court cases.

The family court was looking at section 59 not as defence to a criminal charge, but as to whether force used was reasonable in the context of a protection order application, a custody dispute or a child protection action by a child protection agency.

Basically, I think that juries in certain cases were being directed by judges on how to apply reasonable force, but their interpretation of reasonableness was not consistent. Therefore, some juries were acquitting far more severe forms of child discipline. Others were not. Some were convicting people for lighter forms of physical discipline. There was a lack of consistent outcomes.

However, that is another issue.

Senator Oliver: That is fairly consistent with jury verdicts.

I have another question. I am interested in the word "correction.'' You have told us that they took that word out. There are many other exceptions, but no discipline was permitted for purposes of correction. What is wrong with the use of the word "correction'' and what were their concerns with that particular word?

Mr. Hancock: It is correction in relation to disciplining a child or correcting their behaviour. That is, using force for disciplinary purposes to correct behaviour. The interesting thing about section 59 was that it was the only situation in which force can be reasonably used. It was the only defence that was there.

The new section 59 removes that. No common law now justifies the use of force for correcting a child's behaviour. Therefore, it is about disciplining for the purpose of correction.

It was interesting that in the case law prior to the amendment, the judges were directing that for the defence to succeed, it needed to be for the purpose of correction. It could not be out of anger. If a child was struck by a parent as a result of the parent's anger, not related to any need to correct the child for any misbehaviour, then the defence could not be raised. It was not applicable. It was very much prescribed to those situations where a parent was using it specifically for the purpose of correcting the child's behaviour.

Senator Oliver: If a child was in a school and the child was acting out badly, and it appeared to the teacher and the others in the room that this child was going to take a chair and start breaking windows or something, would the teacher be allowed to touch the child and try to restrain the child physically or would that be caught by your new section 59?

Mr. Hancock: Since 1990, section 59 has not applied in schools. For 15 years, there has been no section 59 defence in schools in New Zealand. However, there are common law defences of necessity that would apply — for example, where someone may harm themselves and some force is needed to intervene to prevent that person from doing so.

It is a difficult issue for schools. They have to be very careful about the policies and procedures that they have in place for dealing with those sorts of incidents. I have been involved in cases myself. My organization does a lot of work in relation to legal issues in schools, and it can become an issue where a student may have a behavioural problem or is prone to outbursts and damaging properties or others. It is very difficult.

However, there are best practice ways of being able to deal with those situations. Most schools that are well organized will have procedures in place that have been verified by the ministry for dealing with a situation like that, using procedures for restraint that are appropriate.

One of the situations for schools, too, in a situation that is occurring is that, depending on the child, they may have to call the police. It depends what the circumstances are, but it still is an issue and a difficult and vexing one for schools. However, there are legal defences related to applying force in a situation like that.

Senator Di Nino: You bring back a lot of wonderful memories of a visit I had to New Zealand too long ago. I must come back soon.

We have had some testimony that included a great deal of discussion on your section 59 and the changes that you made. Part of that was the three-month review of police activity, which you are probably familiar with. Are you familiar with the report of police deputy commissioner Pope on the three-month activity following the enactment of section 59?

Mr. Hancock: I have not read it, no.

Senator Di Nino: That was going to be my question.

Mr. Hancock: I have the police guidelines for administering it but I have not read that report.

Senator Di Nino: I was interested in your interpretation of this particular police report, which was issued three months after the enactment of section 59. I will come at it differently.

You have had now an experience of a number of months under this new section. What is your impression, and what is the general impression of New Zealanders, as to the effect that this may or may not have had on this issue?

Mr. Hancock: My general impression is that people basically are getting on with things. I think because of the political consensus under which the law passed, it gave it a certain amount of political legitimacy, if you like.

It is interesting because there is a referendum still in the pipeline that keeps the issue at the forefront of the media and in the public eye. However, I think there is a little fatigue around trying to go back to where the law was. To my knowledge, there has not been any attempt to judicially review the police for the use of their discretion to date. My impression is that the public has essentially accepted the amendments as getting on with things. We are sort of moving on from that debate.

We had a very fractious debate in New Zealand about it. It was a divisive debate but I think it was one that needed to be had. Generally, the public accepts where the law is now and it is ready to move on. That is where I see it. Others would have a different perspective, obviously, but that is my view.

Senator Di Nino: In the short period of time that it has been enacted, is the law achieving its objective? Has it resulted in improvement of the perceived need to have these changes?

Mr. Hancock: My understanding is that there has not been a flurry of prosecutions occurring. One of the concerns people had was that if the defence was removed, suddenly you would have all these parents being put before the courts for assaulting their children. That has not happened. My understanding is that it is having at least an initial positive impact in terms of our child protection statistics. These are referrals to child, youth and family services.

The longer term outcomes will be the most important to look at; how the statistics change in a decade and in a generation, whether or not there is significant change. It is still fairly new.

My understanding is that what happened in Sweden is that they experienced, over a generation, quite a shift in some of the outcomes. In New Zealand, I think you would have to give it time to see whether there is a dramatic shift in the decline of child abuse statistics, for example.

The main thing is that there has not been a rush of prosecutions and that was the main concern everyone was worried about when the debate was at its most vociferous — the good parent being criminalized, being brought before the courts. That has not happened yet and I do not think it will happen.

Senator Di Nino: My last question deals with the testimony given to us by a senior officer of our national police force, the RCMP. You may be familiar with them. The opinion of this chief superintendent was that in our case, if we removed the section that this legislation would accomplish if it is passed, there could very well be confusion on the part of the police officers investigating accusations of — I do not want to use the word "abuse'' — mistreatment of children. He felt that it would create a problem for the officers without the help of this particular provision or clause that we are talking about.

Have the police forces in New Zealand proclaimed any opinion on the issue and on the changes that you made? What were their observations?

Mr. Hancock: In New Zealand, there has been a policy in place — the police family violence policy — which states that if offenders are responsible for family violence, the offenders shall, except in exceptional circumstances, be arrested. In any cases where action other than an arrest is contemplated, the supervisor must be consulted. Because of the concerns about rates of domestic violence in New Zealand, the police had been given a directive, prior to the amendment, to take family violence cases very seriously.

Looking at the case law and the cases that go before the courts, even prior to the amendment coming in, you had a range of different situations where the police used their discretion to prosecute despite the fact that the defence was in place. Obviously, the police would always prosecute where someone had struck their child with an implement and caused injury. There were situations where the police used their discretion prior to the amendment to prosecute where a lighter form of physical discipline had been used also. It came down to the use of police discretion in the circumstances to prosecute, and I think that was always a critical issue in the debate.

Crown law office prosecution guidelines prior to the amendment also took into account the public interest, and that always has to be a determination when police arrest and prosecutors proceed with prosecuting a person in court. The public interest requires, and this is the definition here, where the seriousness or conversely the triviality of the nature of the offence determines whether the conduct really warrants the intervention of the criminal law, so that de minimis principle comes into play. That was in existence. I think that was one of the arguments raised during the debate in public and the media. There has always been an issue about whether or not the police in a particular situation should be prosecuting.

As I said, there have been a number of different cases prior to the amendment where you had people being convicted for a light smacking, if you like, and others being acquitted for more severe forms of physical discipline. As your colleague stated, that is part of the outcomes of jury trials. You will get inconsistent outcomes. The interesting thing is this is an outcome based on the jury determining what reasonableness is. Rather than the jury making a decision about whether or not someone did something, or based on the facts, it is a subjective determination by a jury on what constitutes reasonable force. It is a slightly different question for a jury to consider than whether or not certain evidence had been adduced to find someone guilty of a particular charge beyond the required standard of proof. One of the issues about the reasonableness is that it leads to these inconsistent outcomes.

Coming back one step from that, you have the police then dealing with a particular situation at hand, determining whether or not they should prosecute, or at least lay charges, and whether or not that conduct was such to warrant the intervention of the criminal law. That has always been the case. The amendments have set that out in the statute so it is very clear.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I am sorry to keep cutting you off, Mr. Hancock, but we are limited in time, and the clock is ticking.

Senator Merchant: Thank you for your presentation. There are many players here. We have heard from the police, the lawyers and individuals. However, there are also the children. How do we engage them, and how do we get their voice heard here? What did you do in New Zealand to bring in that element?

Mr. Hancock: That is a good question. There are various ways of getting children's views or having children participate in the debate. When the issue was at its most controversial, children's voices were largely missing from the debate in New Zealand, to be quite honest, but that is not to say that organizations, groups and the government did not seek children's views on this.

In 2002, the government released a document called The Agenda for Children that set out a number of action areas for trying to improve the situation of children in New Zealand. Part of putting that together was a very wide ranging survey and consultation process with children. Roughly 8,000 children were surveyed, a significant number. The vast majority of those children said that they opposed or did not agree with being hit, or with hitting or being struck at home. That is noted in the documents that accompanied The Agenda for Children. That was one basis of consultation.

My organization did some surveys as well. We have an outreach worker who would go to the youth expos in the main centres in New Zealand every year, so one year we surveyed many young people, high school age kids, 13 to 17, for their views on it. They were fairly overwhelming in their opposition to being subject to corporal punishment.

Another process I was involved with was the UN Secretary-General's study on violence against children, and a delegation from New Zealand was sent to the east Asia part of that. The delegation included three child delegates as well. That was not in the domestic context but it provided an international context for consultation with children from around the region on the subject of corporate punishment, not just at home but in a number of different sectors. In many countries, children face much graver problems, such as poverty, than New Zealand children, but there was a real consensus coming up from the children in that forum about being protected from all forms of violence at all times.

I found that the views of children and young people fairly overwhelming, unequivocal almost, in terms of wanting to be free from physical punishment. In terms of the actual debate and the public debate, their voices were not really there.

There was a lot of other work going on below in different areas. If you wanted to get a mandate from children and young people for repealing that, you could probably find one. Although not a particularly scientific way of gathering it, you can look at a number of different means of obtaining child's views. I think there was a good basis for saying children and young people in New Zealand would generally support the repeal. That is my view, anyway.

Senator Merchant: We are dealing with children here a little younger, two to thirteen. You said these children were a little older.

The UN has denounced Canada as a country that has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has not amended its legislation. Were you guided in what you have done by your obligation? Had you ratified the UN convention, and was this part of why you did what you did?

Mr. Hancock: I would say that that certainly formed a part of it. I do not know whether the legislators would necessarily agree. We have seen over the past few years a number of our laws that were not compliant with the UN convention coming further into compliance, so it could be seen as part of that. The legislature might view it slightly differently, of course. They might say that part of it was ensuring that we adhere to our international obligations under the convention, but I am sure that they would also say that it was much more than that and a decision by the legislature based on what they thought was in the best interests of New Zealand children. I do not think that the UN convention or the committee's decision was necessarily the driving factor. It is one of the factors.

The Chair: I will ask you a couple of questions but we do not have time for you to answer them. I would, therefore, ask you to send a very short email — not a legal brief, but a four-line email — in response, I would be very grateful.

You may already have covered this and, if you did, I missed it: What is the age limit at which this new section 59 ceases to apply? Is it 12, 16, 18 or whatever in New Zealand law?

The second question has to do with one of the exceptions. It has always puzzled me but it is always dangerous to draw conclusions about another country's legal system. One of the exceptions is that force is permissible if it is for the purpose of preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in "offensive behaviour.''

That is surprising to a Canadian ear. The question I am driven to ask is: Is this is a recognized concept already established in New Zealand law or have the courts already established what constitutes "offensive behaviour''? Is it something that is already part and parcel of the system or is it something that the parliamentarians, in their political wisdom, decided would be good to put into the law? I am not asking you to make political comments but simply wish to have your input on this definition.

On behalf of the committee, I want to thank you for your testimony. It has been very helpful. You are our first chance to speak with someone who has lived this and been through it. It has been very useful to us.

From all of us here to you and to all the people in Auckland who made this conference work, we express our thanks.

Mr. Hancock: Thank you for the opportunity. If the committee would find it useful, I can email the papers I have written, analyzing the case law.

The Chair: Yes. That would be helpful.

Mr. Hancock: I will email a copy of that, as well.

The Chair: We have the great pleasure of welcoming two witnesses from New Zealand, Ms. Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Commissioner, New Zealand Human Rights Commission; and Dr. Ian Hassall, former New Zealand Commissioner for Children, who will speak as an individual. Both witnesses are in Wellington, where it is 11:30 a.m.

I would ask that you present your opening remarks, after which we will move to questions from senators.

Dr. Ian Hassall, Former New Zealand Commissioner for Children, as an individual: As you will have seen from my submission, the change in New Zealand's law came about in two parts: The first was in 1989 when the right of teachers to strike children in schools was removed and, in another piece of legislation, was prohibited. The second was last year, when the defence available to parents who were prosecuted for striking children was removed. In addition to the removal of that right or that defence, there was a prohibition on the use of force for the purposes of correction.

New Zealand's section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961 was very similar to Canada's section 43 of the Criminal Code. We demolished section 59 in two parts. I understand that the aim of your Bill S-209 is to alter it in one sweep, so to speak.

Both the 1989 change and the 2007 change to the Crimes Act were accompanied by public controversy. There was more controversy recently in relation to parental correction of children than there was in relation to correction by teachers. Ms. Noonan, in addition to her present role, has been much involved in the teaching sector in the past so she will speak with you about what happened there. I am very familiar with what happened in relation to New Zealand's law change last year and what has happened subsequently. I suppose the main message I have is that Canada, if it follows the experience of New Zealand and about 23 other countries, has nothing to fear from this law change.

The change rested on and continues to rest on the rights of children to have the same physical integrity and to be free from violence and the threat of violence, as do adults to be free from violence or the threat of violence. Of course, a great many arguments have been raised. I wanted to speak to one that I read in the transcript of the testimony given a fortnight ago when Bill S-209 was introduced. It seemed to be most important, as it was for us as well. It pertained to what we would do about the argument raised by many people that restraining children would not be permitted if section 59 in our case or section 43 in your case were removed. We spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how we would get around that issue. In some respects, logically and rationally, setting the law aside, it was a non-issue. Obviously, holding a child to stop her from running across the road or holding a child to stop her from putting something into an electric light socket was not the same thing as striking a child. They were quite different.

How to ensure that in law this was made clear was a problem that we came up against. You might say that the long- standing legal principle of necessity, which of course you have also discussed, covered the point. However, many people thought that this was not so. For that reason, we have introduced into our law specific clauses that cover the situation of restraining a child, either for her own protection, for the protection of others, or in the ordinary course of parental care.

Some people said after we had done that that this would not change the law at all, that restraint or those things would be interpreted in the same way as correction had been interpreted in the past. Whether or not that happens depends a bit on what the judges have to say when these matters come to court. However, to make it quite clear that we were talking about something quite different — we were making a real change and not just a cosmetic change — it was specified in the law that force by way of correction was prohibited.

When you change a law in this way, it is necessary to have built in braces; to have both the removal of the ability to use force by way of correction and also to specifically prohibit it.

That is essentially what I had to say. I would be very happy to respond to any questions you might ask.

The Chair: Ms. Noonan, would you care to make your statement?

Rosslyn Noonan, Chief Commissioner, New Zealand Human Rights Commission: I will be brief by way of introduction so we can use the time for discussion.

I wanted to highlight the fact that the New Zealand Human Rights Commission has had the issue of physical punishment, corporal punishment of children on the agenda almost since its inception in 1978, so there is a body of work that has been undertaken by the commission, right up until the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act.

I also wanted to highlight that a major review undertaken by the commission that was published in 2004 on how well human rights are recognized and respected in New Zealand identified children and young people as the group most at risk of human rights abuses in the New Zealand context.

In terms of the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, which the commission strongly supported, I have provided you with our summary analysis because, at the end of the day, whatever the technicalities, you cannot get away from the fundamental human rights issue: Is there any human rights justification for treating children and young people differently from adults in terms of the ability of adults to hit or punish physically? It is such a fundamental question that, in the commission's view, and in the submission we made, it is important to consider all of the rights, responsibilities and duties involved, including those of parents. The commission also had a considerable discussion around issues relating to culture and tradition, which of course the Convention on the Rights of the Child highlights in its preamble.

None of them adds up to a justification for being able to hit children and not adults. None of the logic prevails. The experience in New Zealand has been that the earlier removal of the ability of early childhood centres and schools to hit children as punishment or correction, did not prove to be a great difficulty. Both of the major teachers' and principals' organizations indeed were part of a long campaign to remove corporal punishment from the law. There were a handful of objections from traditionalists, but since the removal of corporal punishment, with the exception of a couple of Christian schools who believe for religious ideological reasons that they should be able to hit children, there have been no other attempts to bring corporal punishment back into the school. No call for it from teachers or principals at all. Indeed, I think they would be horrified at the suggestion.

There is often a lot of concern at these sorts of changes but over a relatively short time they become accepted and we wonder, with curiosity, how we ever allowed them to occur in the first place.

At that point, I will stop and leave you to ask questions or raise issues.

The Chair: Thank you very much, indeed, and, of course, we do have questions.

Senator Oliver: Thank you both for your excellent presentations. At the root of your presentation, Ms. Noonan, is the fact that children are entitled to the same human rights protections as adults. I agree with you entirely. In your paper you say your submission recognizes that the need to ensure parents are not inappropriately criminalized for reasonably disciplining their children constitutes a significant objective, but consider that there are ways of achieving this that do not intrude on the child's right to be free of corporal punishment and also that enshrines their human rights in the same way that adult human rights are enshrined and protected.

What are those ways of achieving this, if it is not by any type of touching or force?

Ms. Noonan: The commission always accepted the ability of parents to reasonably constrain or restrain their children in dangerous situations, in situations where they might have been about to harm themselves or others. We would not have been suggesting prosecution in those cases, and the doctrine of necessity would have applied. As Dr. Hassall has said, for the avoidance of doubt, the commission is comfortable with the wording that was finally achieved in the New Zealand law change. It believes that that wording that spells out that restraint is clearly still a possibility where required is a practical and pragmatic solution to something that was causing a high level of anxiety in the wider community and amongst decent and caring parents.

Senator Oliver: What are the parameters of reasonable restraint on the part of a parent?

Ms. Noonan: The New Zealand legislation reads:

(a) preventing or minimising harm to the child or another person; or

(b) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in conduct that amounts to a criminal offence; or

(c) preventing the child from engaging or continuing to engage in offensive or disruptive behaviour . . .

It also reads:

(d) performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting.

It goes on in (2) to read:

Nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction.

Obviously, we will have to await case law to be able to say exactly in any particular set of circumstances what that means. New Zealand police, New Zealand officials and the wider New Zealand community will interpret that in a way that puts the interests of the child as the primary consideration.

Clearly, having loving, caring, concerned parents who make sure you do not harm yourself or others is in the primary interest of the child. We do not see any likelihood of arbitrary criminalization of parents through this law change.

I perhaps should ask Dr. Hassall to comment also in terms of experience.

Dr. Hassall: As I said in my opening statement, there is a perceived difficulty in distinguishing between restraint and correction. I say "perceived'' advisedly because I think ordinary people do know the difference between holding a child and striking a child.

Unfortunately, even after the law was passed and after all the discussion we had, there were still some journalists who seemed to be unable to conceive of a child being restrained without that child being struck.

To me, that is a matter of education rather than anything else. Being able to hold a child so that she will not run out on to the road is not at all the same as striking a child in order to intimidate her into not running out on to the road. Those are different things, but for some people they were being interpreted as the same thing.

I hope that is helpful. I am not sure that I have answered your question.

Senator Oliver: That was very helpful. Your law came into effect in 2007, and this is now June of 2008. Have there been any cases interpreting the "reasonable restraint'' at all that you could tell us about? Any cases before the courts or otherwise?

Dr. Hassall: No. There are a couple of cases pending before the courts. There have been no cases that have been heard before the courts to date.

The Chair: I turn now to Senator Hervieux-Payette, who is the sponsor of this bill.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Thank you to Ms. Noonan and Dr. Hassall. I may not have your accent — I have a French one — so I hope we will be able to understand each other.

I will ask two or three questions, to which either or both of you can answer.

The rights of parents from different cultural communities would apply in this case. The law would apply differently for different cultural backgrounds. Did you look at this aspect?

Dr. Hassall: Yes, we do have different communities in New Zealand. Of course, the indigenous people here are the Maori people. We have taken the position that each community has had to argue this whole issue through in their own way, but in the end we have a law which covers all communities. It is not a matter of imposing on other communities what the majority says. It is a matter of everyone coming to a position.

One of the interesting things that occurred some time before the law was passed was that the Maori Party that represents many Maori in our Parliament unanimously came to the conclusion that this was a good law change for their people. There has been considerable support among Maori people for this, before and since the law was passed.

In other communities there has been the same kind of discussion and general support or arguments against it. That has been our position.

Ms. Noonan: The Human Rights Commission addressed this directly in the submission we provided to you. Our view is clear that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and indeed other documents, protect diverse traditions and cultures. That does not mean that, first, traditions and cultures are static. Second, it does not mean the assertion that it is a traditional practice to hit children, in the process of balancing rights, overrides the right of the child to be free from physical assault of any kind, just as an adult is.

The work that has been done in New Zealand included the Maori communities, who, as Dr. Hassall pointed out, came out in numbers after very significant debates within their communities in support of repeal of the legislation. It also included the Pacific people's communities in New Zealand. We found that the stresses of poverty, inadequate education, and often alienation from traditional ways of life, are much more likely to be behind what, in some instances, really has been a sort of post-colonial development of hitting children.

The mere assertion that it is tradition and culture needs to be looked at, but discussions within those communities themselves — which certainly went on in New Zealand — should be encouraged and supported.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: When you went ahead with the new legislation, was there any implementation mechanism? Was there an educational campaign for the general public or social services for the police force so that people were aware of the new way of treating these individuals who were not adults? At the same time, was there was a gesture on the part of the government to ensure that it was meant for everyone but, at the same time, that there are other ways of correcting a child other than hitting?

Dr. Hassall: The answer to that is complicated. Some years ago, there was a push to get the government to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act. The government felt at the time that the New Zealand public were not ready for that, so they established a program of parent education called SKIP. That became popular and reached a majority of parents around the country. It was delivered by a range of different service organizations to parents. That has done something towards providing parents with alternatives to striking children.

As far as the police go, they had a rather equivocal view of repeal right up until just before the law was passed. Their reason was that some of them at least saw it as something of an imposition on them to have to make decisions which they felt were best made by the law and by the courts.

However, I think they embraced the new law on the grounds that it was in fact going to leave them in no better or worse a position than they were in relation to adults who, daily, have to decide whether they will proceed with some action when a complaint is raised or somebody is seen to be behaving in a way which might be against the law.

When the police knew that the law was to be passed they issued instructions to the force around the country. I think that has been pretty clear. There seems to have been no big problem in the event among the police in administering this law.

As far as public education on the law itself and its meaning, regrettably, there has been no official public education in New Zealand. I think perhaps officialdom were a little wary, given all of the controversy there had been, of stirring it up again by issuing statements about what the law meant and so on. It may be that they thought because it had been so well publicized with the controversy, that everyone understood what it meant. I think there is some justification for that view.

We have had a survey done since showing that a large proportion of the population have come to the view, or at least there has been a trend in the direction of fewer people striking children and of people understanding what the law means. There will be more monitoring. There has been a requirement placed in the law that the CEO of the Ministry of Justice should monitor the impact of the law, and there is to be a review two years from the law's introduction.

Ms. Noonan: I would add that for a number of years after corporal punishment was prohibited in schools, there was quite a focus in the professional development programs for teachers on positive, constructive and alternative methods for discipline in schools. I think that has been a continuing element of professional development, as well as a considerable focus in the initial teacher training programs.

Senator Andreychuk: Welcome to the panelists. We have read many of your reports in another committee I work on, the Human Rights Committee. I pass on greetings from Senator Pearson, whom you both know, as I understand.

We have had a major Supreme Court decision that severely curtailed the use of corporal punishment and certainly prohibited it for children under the age of 2 and over the age of 12. Did you have any similar Supreme Court decision before you repealed section 59?

Ms. Noonan: No.

Senator Andreychuk: Following that up, it seems to me that the first initial reaction was to abolish section 59, but Parliament then reinstituted a number of sections.

Are you aware whether the courts have ruled on the difference between keeping section 59 and what you have replaced it with? Has the court determined what the difference between the two is?

Ms. Noonan: No. It is too early, as Dr. Hassall said. There are two cases pending in the lower courts, but there certainly has not been a sufficient passage of time for any of them to work their way through.

Senator Andreychuk: I was interested when you said there had been a significant debate or discussion in the Maori community. That took place before the repeal of section 59. If I understand, therefore, there was a consultation and awareness of your Aboriginal community, the Maori community especially, as to what the repeal was and how it might affect them, and then you received feedback from them. Is that correct?

Dr. Hassall: Yes, in all sorts of ways. I have mentioned the Maori Party, which is the political representation in our Parliament. There were meetings up and down the country in all sorts of forums and venues. I went to some of them. There was a very keen awareness in the Maori community of what the implications of the law change would be.

Ms. Noonan: A number of the big tribes actually took a position on the bill.

Senator Andreychuk: Would it be fair to say they were involved in the process so that they could translate it to families within their communities?

Dr. Hassall: Yes.

Ms. Noonan: Yes.

Senator Andreychuk: Finally, you have made the distinction between striking a child and holding a child, saying it is inappropriate to strike a child, while perhaps there are instances of where holding a child would be acceptable. I am inclined to agree with you, but you have used the example of a child running into the street.

Which category would you put a case of, say, a 15-year-old girl who has consistently run away from home? She has a boyfriend under a restraining order he or his family is not abiding by and is a very well known user of hard drugs, which he is now susceptible to and using. If her father drags her away from this home by physically pulling her away, putting her into his truck and driving away, would that be striking or holding, in your opinion?

Dr. Hassall: I am not a judge. Fortunately, I am not a judge. Cases like that are very difficult to determine.

At the time that I was commissioner for children, I had many such cases come my way where I was appealed to by parents in just the sort of situation you are talking about. When that happens, I do not think striking, restraining or any particular thing will really be the solution to that problem. You can say that, whatever went on before led up to that kind of behaviour on both the parental and young person's side.

By the time you are dealing with a truculent 15-year-old, it is too late to be talking about how you will prevent this kind of behaviour. I just think that is very complex and difficult. Fortunately, most 15-year-olds grow out of their oppositional behaviour and survive. That is an amazing thing, but it does happen.

I have four children of my own who are now adults, and they have each gone through that turbulent stage when any parent is in a quandary as to what on earth to do about them. I do not know it is a matter for the courts so much as a matter for how human societies deal with their young.

Senator Andreychuk: If I were to say the fact that he dragged her away, was able to calm her down and she actually changed her behaviour but the father was charged with assault, am I reading into your answer that it would have been better left as an issue to resolve in different ways? Or should there have been interventions into the family earlier by some other method?

Dr. Hassall: I appreciate what you are saying, and we do have to look at instances and the practicalities. However, it is really very hard to know what would have been the best thing to do or, indeed, whether I or anyone else have a right to intervene in this case.

I guess you need to apply the same rules of human rights to that situation as to any other. That would be my broad approach to it.

Ms. Noonan: Our position is that there will still have to be a case-by-case assessment, which the police will do at the level that they intervene and decide whether to prosecute and which the courts will then decide. Under the current New Zealand provisions, there will be a defence in that case. Whether the courts accept it will depend on the facts of the case and the impact of the actions, the affect they had on the young person.

It is not possible to say categorically what the outcome should be, but generally, the commission's view about many things is that criminalization is the end of the process and not the best automatic reaction in any given situation.

Senator Andreychuk: Finally, for clarification, what you have just said is as a result of the fact that your current law has the exceptions in it, so you are saying they might be charged but there might be a defence; is that right?

Ms. Noonan: That would be the case under the current law. I believe that in the case you describe, there may well have been a defence even if section 59 had been repealed and the ability to use restraint had not been explicitly provided for.

Senator Andreychuk: Under New Zealand law.

Senator Merchant: I have benefited a lot from your comments because you have had some experience and you are the first witnesses we have had from New Zealand who have described something that you are living. This is very helpful to us.

I am not sure if you mentioned whether, in the last year, attacks against children have continued in the same numbers or whether there has been a decrease. Have you said anything about that?

Second, someone suggested that in a family breakdown situation, one parent or the other can use the children as pawns and can accuse one spouse of having abused a child to benefit themselves. Have you had experience along those lines?

Dr. Hassall: As far as the numbers go, we cannot be sure. The numbers are supposed to be monitored by the Ministry of Justice. They are also monitored by the police. We had a report from the police some months after the law came into effect, and they said that there had been no increase in the numbers of prosecutions for assault by adults on children. Our child protection service also said that they had had no increase in the numbers of children who came to their attention, as a result of the law. Having said that, as in every country, the numbers of children referred to the child protection service is very volatile. It goes up and down according to publicity and so on.

The short answer is that the law has had no discernible effect on the numbers. That is both for good and bad. We might have expected that there would have been perhaps a modest increase because what was formerly permitted was no longer permitted, but that has not been the case. I think that has happened in every country where it has been introduced, which is interesting.

In regard to your second question, I think that is a likely occurrence, but it happens now anyway. It is commonplace throughout the world that some parents who have been involved in a hostile marriage breakup will use accusations of harm against children to get at one another. I do not believe that the law change in New Zealand has made any difference to that. Again, it is regrettable, but it is a fact of human nature.

Senator Di Nino: I have a couple of points for clarification.

Ms. Noonan, in response to Senator Andreychuk's question dealing with consultation with the Aboriginal communities, I believe I am quoting you correctly when you said some of the tribes took positions. Is that a correct quote?

Ms. Noonan: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: Could you share with us what those positions were, and if they are all the same or different.

Ms. Noonan: I know of no tribal group that discussed the issue and came out against the repeal, but three of the large and relatively well-organized tribal groupings came out in support of the legislation in one form or another after internal discussion.

Senator Di Nino: Thank you for that clarification. That is useful.

Dr. Hassall, you referred to a police report. We were given today, as part of testimony by one of our other witnesses, a document called Three-month review of Police activity following the enactment of the Crimes (Substituted section 59) Amendment Act 2007. Is that report you were talking about?

Dr. Hassall: Yes.

Senator Di Nino: I asked the previous witness and he was not aware of the report. Could you share some of the other findings of this report with us? Your brief comment, was that basically what you believed to be the result of their study?

Dr. Hassall: Yes, it is. I do not have the report in front of me at the moment. I did look at it some time ago. What I had to say to the committee was essentially what I gained from the report.

Senator Di Nino: That is fair enough. We can look at it. I just want to make sure it is the same report you were referring to so we can look at it to further educate ourselves.

My last question deals with the testimony we received from a chief superintendent of the RCMP, our national police force, who expressed concern about the elimination of the provision that we are talking about in our legislation. It may be different in yours, but I wondered if you could share with us whether you think the same concerns apply in New Zealand.

His concern for his officers was that without the assistance of this provision of the act, which would give some guidance, there might be uncertainty and clouding about the discretion that the police officers may have when they are confronted with these issues during an investigation.

Did you, during your hearings, hear anything similar from police forces in New Zealand or subsequent to the changes of the legislation?

Dr. Hassall: That was a significant point of discussion in New Zealand. I believe it has been resolved, and it has been resolved in a number of ways. One is that it has been made clear that the existing police instructions cover the point so that there are a set of instructions which do not relate specifically to this law but which are the background instructions that determine police discretion. Police are to exercise their discretion in a number of ways, in a number of instances, and that is quite clear. I think, in the end, the police did not believe that the change in the law really added or subtracted anything from their ordinary day-to-day exercise of their duties. That seems to have been the case. We have not had any concern expressed, that I know of, by the police about the operation of this law. They simply got on with it.

They did express misgivings; they did contribute to the discussion; they did ensure to their own satisfaction that these issues were covered.

Senator Di Nino: Were some of the changes that were made or the new provisions that were put in there with the repeal of section 59 inserted partially as a result of the concerns expressed by the police as well as others?

Dr. Hassall: I do not believe so. You are probably referring to the piece that says here, subsection 4:

To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against the child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.

Now, that subsection was inserted, in my view, primarily not to reassure the police but to reassure members of the public who had been, I think, misled into believing that there would be criminalization, that there would be widespread prosecution of parents and so on. I do not think the police believed for a minute that this was going to be the case.

Apart from the police instructions that I have referred to already, of course there is the de minimis principle in law which also applies here, and I think that in some respects that subsection 4 is just a restatement of that.

Senator Di Nino: Thank you. That was useful.

The Chair: I would like to pursue one more area myself with you, if I may, before we let you go with our heartfelt thanks.

You described what sounds like very thorough and rational, although I am sure they were greatly emotional moments, but a very impressive process of discussion of this change to New Zealand's law in the Maori communities. If I am interpreting some of what you have said, it sounds to me as if in the non-Maori community there was perhaps more focus on a heated media debate than on the kind of think-it-through discussion that I gather did occur in the Maori communities. As a former journalist myself, I can say that it is often true that media debates create a great deal more heat than light. I wish it were not true, but it is too often true.

It has struck me quite strongly that when your change to the law took place it came as a big bang. The law was passed and that was that. If I am wrong about that, do please correct me. The bill before us would include a one-year period between the time that it received Royal Assent until it actually came into force. I understand that the object of that one-year period would be to engage in a rather more rational period of public education — drafting of new guidelines for the police and the Crown prosecutors and all that kind of thing.

On the strength of your experience, which do you think is likely to be more useful — a big bang or a grace period of some duration?

Dr. Hassall: I think it depends very much on the kind of society you have and what has happened before. When you say New Zealand passed the law with a big bang and that was it, there was a period of almost two years from the introduction of the bill as a private member's bill into Parliament and then its passage through first reading and second reading and an intervention of a parliamentary committee taking submissions and so on. There was a lengthy process. It was very interesting.

If you are interested in the whole process, read our book. There is a chapter there entitled "The Media.'' We felt it a good idea to include that because the whole media involvement in this was fascinating. It began as an interest that was about child rearing and child rearing methods long ago. That was the rational part of it all, but once it became a political matter and was picked up by the political journalists, it became much more fierce and untidy, if you like.

In these things I am not too concerned about the untidiness. Things move this way and that, but in the end they arrive at a balance. It was very interesting to see the editorial comments on the law. In the first place it was, "Who needs it? It is a trivial matter. Why raise it?'' Then it went through a stage of saying, "Well, what are these people on about?'' Then we did get most of the major media organs saying, "This is a reasonable and reasoned thing to do.'' Finally now, a year later, they are saying, "Look, let us just get on with it and leave it alone. It is something which is passed and is no longer very interesting.''

It has become boring, as Dr. Noonan has said. It is like a lot of reforms. When you look back on them you say, "How come we got so excited about this? It was an ordinary thing to do.'' That may be the point we have arrived at now; but it is, as you are suggesting, a very interesting story.

I am not an expert in these matters, but in Germany where they introduced this, they had a substantial campaign of public education following the law, and it may be because they had somewhat less controversy than we had preceding the law. It rather depends on what page the public are on at the present time in Canada as to what may be necessary to bring them up to speed.

Ms. Noonan: I would like to add one thing to that. It was interesting looking at studies and research around the world about the abolition of corporal punishment in schools. There is no evidence that doing it one day and proclaiming it the next brings any less beneficial result than a period to introduce it to allow people to get used to the idea.

There is some interesting research that came out of Scotland. It showed that it did not make any difference. If it does not make any difference, then, from a human rights point of view, the sooner one sees that it is not acceptable to hit children any more than it is acceptable to hit adults, the better.

In the New Zealand context, I do not think the debate within the Maori communities was any less fierce than the debate within the mainstream communities. A whole lot of issues which were not simply about hitting children were part of that debate: The role of the state, the place of the state, was it a nanny state. There were a lot of things and it was divisive.

However, at the end of the day that is what a healthy democracy is about. We have to ensure that people do have space to discuss the issues without simply being pressured by particular groups or ideologies. I think that also happened. That is reflected even in the Family First poll results that show considerably fewer people smacking their children now than even a year ago.

One can argue about the validity of these polls but it is interesting evidence. The two public opinion research polls we have both show a declining trend in people hitting their children. I think that is, at least in part, because of the whole debate that occurred in the two years that the bill was before Parliament, during which a lot of people felt hit very hard in some ways and felt attacked by it.

However, at the end of the day, an open democratic process usually does come up with the right answer.

The Chair: Thank you. It has been an extremely interesting session. I do have the book and I suspect I will read the "Media'' chapter first.

We are grateful to you. You have helped us a great deal to clarify some of the issues and to grapple with some others. We appreciate it enormously. We would also like to thank the technical people in Wellington who have made this work for us. Not all video conferences go as smoothly as this one has.

Ms. Noonan: We wish you well in your deliberations.

Dr. Hassall: Yes.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

The committee adjourned.