I’ve never been big on the view that the Baby Bonus caused a surge in demand for flat-screen TVs. It’s a pretty insulting suggestion that women would decide to pop out a sprog for a few grand in the hand, none of which would be spent on buying the things you need to look after a child.
But thanks to an off-the-cuff one-liner from Gerry Harvey some time last decade, the myth persists that government assistance for new mothers is producing a generation of square-eyed, neglected children.
Today, family law expert Patrick Parkinson has blamed “paying 15-year-olds to have babies”, shared parenting laws and couples living together without getting married, for the “traditional family” being in crisis.
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As the 11-hour Parramatta siege was unfolding on Tuesday, with a 52-year-old man occupying a lawyer’s chambers with his 12-year-old daughter, allegedly claiming to have a bomb in his rucksack, a remarkable discussion was taking place in real time on social media sites among Australian men’s rights advocates.
Knowing nothing about the personal circumstances of the perpetrator, the consensus among these advocates was that the man who started the siege had to be regarded as the victim here. The victim of the Family Court, the victim of a system skewed against men, the victim of a feminist conspiracy.
Knowing nothing about how the siege would resolve itself, and indifferent to the risk of harm to the 12-year-old girl, police and office workers, there was even a sense among these men’s rights advocates that the man was something of a hero. Poor bloke, pushed to the brink, someone has to stand up to the system. Here’s some examples, with the names deleted:
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It hasn’t been a good week for disaffected fathers. Most weeks aren’t. Since Mick Fox disrupted half of Sydney to protest his custodial battle, we’ve seen the shocking case of Paul Rogers, who fatally gassed himself and his daughter Kyla, while the awful case of Ramazan Acar goes through the courts. Read the gruesome details if you dare.
As we all know, custodial battles over children are the common thread in these and many similar cases. But why do men snap? At what point does frustration boil over into mass scale public nuisance… or even to murder?
Let’s take a small picture view and a big picture view. The small picture, with a focus on the ass that is family law, comes from Barry Williams, president of the Lone Fathers Association. The wide view comes from social analyst Richard Eckersley, who regularly measures Australia’s pulse through a thing called the Wellbeing Index.
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Six-year-old Naomi wants to kill herself after being repeatedly sexually abused since the age of two.
Her mother Debbie says the bright and bubbly toddler has become a violent and aggressive girl who wants to throw herself in front of a car to end her suffering.
Last week, I interviewed Debbie on Radio 2UE. It was harrowing. Heartbreaking. But instead of expressing sympathy, talkback callers were angry.
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Pay attention all parents before the Family Court and any parent who has come to the attention of the Police or community services. Here’s the deal: your kids’ rights trump yours.
Last week the Government got a report suggesting that some parents think that a system that respects a child’s right to have the benefit of access to both parents means that they have a right, an automatic and overriding right, to equal custody.
If I may abandon the normal strictures of politeness for the sake of kids having their lives wrecked by selfish or abusive parents - stuff that.
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The planned rollback of the controversial Shared Parenting Law is not an attack on men’s rights. Nor is it a victory for the women’s movement.
It is a sensible response to the plight of children like Darcey Freeman, who was allegedly thrown from the Westgate Bridge in Melbourne. Rather than getting into the he said/she said of this prickly debate, this is the story of one man – a war veteran - who believes his grandchildren are at risk.
His letter was part of a submission to Attorney-General Robert McClelland, which concludes “it is relatively rare for a court to make an order that denies a parent contact with a child, including in cases involving allegations of violence”. You can read it here:
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The twin debates currently underway over marriage in Australia have at their core an arrogant and probably homophobic presumption that a miserable heterosexual marriage trumps a spectacularly happy fruity one.
Those who advocate the sanctity of marriage are unwittingly undermining the institution by arguing, on the one hand, that it should be harder for desperately unhappy couples to end their marriage, while also denying the wishes of couples who would be at their happiest if they were allowed to get married.
As a married person of some years, the whole issue leaves me cold, as marriage is the best example of an intensely private arrangement which is subjected to a raft of presumptuous external rules.
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A serious, if unintended problem has emerged from the last changes the Parliament made to the Family Law Act.
The changes were designed to improve shared parenting, but the safety of the child was meant to take precedence.
However it seems the courts are interpreting the changed law to mean that the right of the non-custodial parent to know the child or children is of greater consideration than the safety of the child.
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