Divorced dads fear rollback of parent laws
Caroline Overington | July 25, 2009
THE shared parenting laws that have given divorced fathers more time with their children will be rolled back because of the power of left-wing feminist women in Kevin Rudd’s cabinet.
That is the view of men’s groups that lobbied for the laws when the Howard government was in power, and who now fear “that 15 years of progress in getting fathers and children to spend time together is about to be undone”.
“I met with (Attorney-General) Robert McClelland a few weeks ago, and it was clear to me that these laws are being rolled back,” said Sue Price, of the Men’s Rights Agency.
“They (the Rudd government) say they are reviewing the law, but basically the law will change because in the Labor government there are a number of women who are well and truly indoctrinated in a 1970s feminist movement background, and they do not value the role of men in society.
“(Tanya) Plibersek pushes domestic violence based on incorrect data. (Nicola) Roxon dances a merry dance around men. The fact is that children are at far greater risk from their mothers. Mothers kill more children than fathers, and that’s a fact.”
Mr McClelland yesterday appointed former Family Court judge Richard Chisholm to review family law processes, using the case of Darcey Freeman, the girl thrown from Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge, allegedly by her father, as a reason to consider change.
In a statement, Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant said she supported the review of “how the courts manage the important issues of violence in family law matters. I welcome any suggestions as to how we can improve with system.”
Edward Dabrowski, of the Shared Parenting Council, was dismayed, saying: “Vocal minority groups, mostly women, have latched on to a few cases and are now saying the shared parenting laws are leading to situations that are loaded with domestic violence.
“That is not the case, and if there is to be a review, it ought to be a public review. They should have a full inquiry and let’s see what the public, including fathers, think about going back to the old days.”
Ms Plibersek’s spokesman said she was on leave but would perhaps comment when she returned to work on Monday.
However, NSW Acting Attorney-General Verity Firth entered the fray, saying there “seems to have been considerable problems” with the new shared parenting law in reconciling a child’s right to a “meaningful relationship” with both parents “and the protection of the child from exposure to violence”.
Ms Firth said there was some evidence that a “very strong pro-contact culture had arisen even where the safety of children couldn’t be guaranteed”.
Jen Jewel Brown, of the National Council for Children Post-Separation, welcomed the review, saying the new Family Law Act was working as a “wrecking ball for many damaged children and their parents, in particular, as they try to re-establish themselves after the breakdown of abusive relationships”.
She said mothers had grown reluctant to raise allegations of violence in the Family Court because they feared being “accused of raising false allegations or not promoting a meaningful relationship with the other parent”, which can mean they lose custody or face the entire bill for court costs. Maybe if they would not lie so much, they would be believe most of the time – Parental Rights.
The chairman of the Family Law Council, John Wade, said there was an “appetite for change” and “a feeling that we need to look at it again, and see whether it’s working”, but he said any changes were “bound to be controversial because it’s the area of law that most Australians have contact with, either themselves or through their relatives.”