Much clapping and cheering could be heard from Parliament, as the new bill passed on Wednesday night with 63 votes to 57. Green MP Jan Logie, who worked in a women’s refuge before she entered politics, has been working on the bill for seven years. She teared up when the bill was passed, saying the new legislation was the first step in tackling the country’s endemic and “horrifying” domestic abuse rates, and other countries should follow suit.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the developed world, with police responding to a family violence incident every four minutes. Family violence is estimated to cost the country between NZ$4.1bn and $7bn a year.
Logie also remarked that the bill was not just about changing the law but also about “changing cultural norms and saying ‘we all have a stake in this and it is not OK’.”
The new legislation will come into effect next year in April. It specifies that any person experiencing domestic violence will be entitled to 10 days paid leave from work, which will be in addition to standard holiday and sick leave entitlements.