Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Matters of Public Importance
I am so pleased that this matter of public importance is here to be debated on the floor of parliament, and it is One Nation that is driving this matter of family law reform in Australia. When I was first elected in 1996 it was the most important issue that came across my desk. Here I find myself elected again in 2016, and nothing has changed. If anything, it is worse. Australia's failed family law system is contributing to up to 21 male suicides and one female murder a week. These people are often dying lonely, depressed and frustrated and are left broke by today's dangerously hurtful family law system.
These are the non-custodial parents, predominantly male, who cannot see their children. And I do not take away from the females, the women, at all, because there are a lot of women out there who are not custodial parents of their children. But it is predominantly males who are the non-custodial parents.
I received a letter last week from a Queensland based advocate and support agency called End All Domestic Violence, who partner with the Australian Brotherhood of Fathers, who were denied the ability to support their client, a father who had no previous criminal history—nor did he have any prior involvement with the court system—while he was attending the Cleveland Courthouse on 24 July this year. I think most of us know how uncomfortable it is on your first day of work, being in an unfamiliar environment, all alone. So just imagine how difficult it is being a bloke, or a woman, on their own in a court environment, pleading their innocence in DVOs and other family law matters. I have to ask: was the gentleman targeted just for being male? The question has to be asked. To the legal aid worker, Linda Debenham, I say: shame on you. Shame on you for rejecting having a support person in a meeting with the person you are meant to help support.
There are many reasons why I have advocated a royal commission into family law. The pathetic domestic violence orders are just one of them, and I'm tired of the vexatious complaints that are lodged with the police because the non-custodial parent wants, in one instance, simply to speak to their kids over the phone or on Facebook. That warrants a domestic violence order against that person, just because they want to speak on the phone to their kids—pleading, begging! This is nothing but spiteful and inconsiderate.
I know this feeling because, for years, my own son faced these destructive allegations in an attempt to stop him having access to his young son. My ex-daughter-in-law claimed to police that my son was outside her home in Townsville, which led to a DVO being taken out against him. That was despite him being sick and on the Gold Coast, some 1,000 kilometres away. He was forced to defend himself, at enormous expense, and was dragged through the courts. She also falsely alleged—a soul-crushing claim—that my son had sexually abused his boy. Again, the false claim was designed to stop him having any connection with his son. No charges were brought against my son.
These are just a few small examples of the efforts some spiteful, inconsiderate parents will go to in order to prevent the non-custodial parent seeing their kids. It shows you how lies and perjury are leading to the failure of Australia's family law system and contributing to the death of 21 men by suicide and the murder of one woman each week.
When the tables were turned in my own son's family law case, and the court revealed the perjury by my ex-daughter-in-law, there was no punishment. There is no deterrent whatsoever. When the court reporter, whose evidence is taken very seriously by the court, suggested my son be given custody of his boy, his ex-wife was inconsolable to the point where they stopped proceedings and adjourned the case for another three months. Isn't it funny what happens when the shoe's on the other foot? Here was this spiteful partner who thought she could prevent the father from having anything to do with their child until he was a teenager—a child who is now five years old, and she has been stopping him from seeing his son since the child was 15 months old. Isn't it exceptional that, when the mother faced the same outcome she wanted to inflict on my son, she couldn't handle the thought?
How do you think the men feel about the reality of not being able to see their kids? This is what leaves them depressed, frustrated and unable to focus on a bright future. It's what leads to the thoughts of suicide—being ripped away from their own child's lives. We encourage men to be a part of every element of their children's lives. We don't think twice about the dad being in the birthing suite of the hospital. We actively encourage men to take paternity leave.
Loving, well-grounded children love both parents. Our family law system that we in this place have created is killing dads, leading to the murder of women and hurting millions of kids in the process. It takes a mother and a father to give life to a child, but when divorce takes place our system prevents equal parenting. The legislation clearly states fifty-fifty custody between parents upon divorce, but it's at the discretion of the judge. This has to end. The halls of this parliament should be haunted by the deaths of so many non-custodial parents. Family law deaths are not acceptable and have reached epidemic proportions. Family law is slowly killing good people, and I for one will move heaven and hell to get through to the lazy minds and do-nothing attitudes of many you in this parliament when it comes to family law matters.
Child support is part of the problem of the suicide of 21 men a week and the murder of one woman a week. We're seeing men unable to afford a fresh start in this out-of-touch child support regime. One immediate change we should be implementing is a quarantine on overtime earnings and of secondary wages over 38 hours already worked. If a parent chooses to put in the hard yards to better themselves or start a new family, what right does an ex-partner have to their money? Give these people an opportunity to move forward in their lives. Give them hope.
I must talk about grandparents. I'm one. Grandparents out there want to see their grandchildren and are denied that right. I make a plea to those mums and dads out there, if they are the custodial parent. Please think that at one stage you loved each other enough to bring a child into the world. That child does not belong to the one parent alone. That child has a right to both parents, and those parents have a right to see their children. If your spitefulness and hatred is because you don't want to see that person anymore, why deny the child the right to see their parent? Every child only ever has one mum and one dad. The kids today are probably so mixed up in their heads because there are so many divorces and families splitting up. Family units are broken. Yet break ups continue to happen, and the children have to deal with this. We can all work together and acknowledge this. Go your separate ways, but don't do this to the children. They are the ones who are suffering with this.
In this parliament quite recently, Labor were prepared to attack Angus Taylor, because he has a property, over his asking the department about natural grasses. I'm telling you now that I'm speaking directly to the Attorney-General with regard to family law. I've stated my case in this parliament; I am directly related with it. I'm affected by this and I will continue to raise the questions. I hope that you don't believe that you have the right to actually come down on me like a ton of bricks because I'm asking questions on behalf of the many constituents in this country who are just looking for a fair go and the right to see their children.