Senate debates

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Matters of Public Importance

Family Law

4:02 pm

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! I inform the Senate that at 8.30 am today seven proposals were received in accordance with standing order 75. The question of which proposal would be submitted to the Senate was determined by lot. As a result, I inform the Senate that the following letter has been received from Senator Roberts:

Pursuant to standing order 75, I propose that the following matter of public importance be submitted to the Senate for discussion:

That Australia's failed family law system is contributing to up to 21 male suicides and one female murder a week, and must be urgently fixed.

Is the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

I understand that informal arrangements have been made to allocate specific times to each of the speakers in today's debate. With the concurrence of the Senate, I shall ask the clerks to set the clocks accordingly.

4:03 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I want to speak on this matter of public importance, that Australia's failed family law system is contributing to at least 21 male suicides and one female murder a week, and must be urgently fixed. One Nation is deeply concerned about the large number of avoidable deaths through suicide and homicide that are directly related to the broken system of family law that currently is a blight on the Australian legal system.

Men on the tail end of broken relationships are at the end of their tether when they have limited or no access to their children as the result of the confusion, excessive costs and long delays that are a feature of the family law system in most of Australia. Many of these men are not able to cope and become further victims of this oppressive system by taking their own lives as a final solution to the unbearable processes of marital breakdown and the forced tribulations of dealing with the family law court.

There are multiple issues raised in this matter for discussion, ranging through the financial dramas of property settlements and child support, custody, guardianship and issues related to access to any children of the relationship. It is this latter issue that often leads to the most grief for fathers when the courts seem to take an often biased view of the father's needs and accept often unsubstantiated allegations aimed at limiting the father's access to his children.

The current system is broken, and it needs to be fixed. The Australian Law Reform Commission, in their recently released report, has suggested that the Family Court merge with the Federal Circuit Court so that all these issues can be dealt with at the same place. The current practices of the Family Court have resulted in lengthy delays, dragging out an already-flawed process. It can take up to 18 months or beyond to get to trial in the Family Court, and even longer to receive a decision of the court. Damaged relationships are being destroyed by the time and expense of resolving disputes in the Family Court. Domestic violence orders, sought often through the state systems, are given out in many instances on the basis of fabricated complaints made for the specific purpose of being used as a weapon to deny fathers access to their kids. Money-grubbing lawyers acting for women do this for leverage against fathers in divorce proceedings, either for revenge or to get more money in the property split.

Don't get me wrong: we recognise that domestic violence is real. But it operates in both directions. Dollar costs in the Family Court to get to trial average out at $110,000. It is cheaper in the Federal Circuit Court—around $30,000. An example of a more-efficient system is the Family Court of Western Australia—a state court, separate from the Family Court of Australia. The model as operating in Western Australia is considered much more efficient, utilising magistrates with wide-ranging family-oriented powers. In that state there is a three-month turnaround on decisions, and the system is much cheaper in operation. User satisfaction is high there, too.

Suicide is a terrible cause of death of men and women in Australia, but mostly of men. Of 1,966 coroner-certified suicides in 2017, where psychosocial factors contribute, 1,465 were of men and 501 of women. Suicide is the leading cause of death of people under the age of 45, with the number of men committing suicide three times that of females. There were 420 persons who suicided as a direct connection with disruption of family by separation or divorce. This is too many people who have taken their own lives because of the broken family law system that could not relieve their pain. These numbers are shameful. They relate to real people who should be still alive, whose needs for help were not met. The system needs to be fixed.

Then there are the stories of true violence as a result of anger, generated in the area of domestic violence and not effectively dealt with through the Family Court. These were homicides—deliberate killing. In 2018 there were 375 reported homicides in Australia. Of these 375 murders, 140 related to domestic violence breakdowns; 75 women were killed as a result of family breakdown. However, 65 deaths were of males. Where are the protections that should have prevented these terrible deaths—children left without a parent? Parents losing their adult children? These problems are so widespread. What about the grandmothers losing their daughters and their sons? Every time I go into the community I hear it as a major concern for people in the street and at all levels of our community. A better family law system will support and protect those who are affected by family violence and those vulnerable to its intrusive and coercive decisions. One Nation supports a complete review of the family law system to ensure an end to the unnecessary deaths through suicides and murder in the context of broken family relationships.

4:08 pm

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak on this matter of public importance as tabled by Senator Roberts regarding the family law system and in doing so I highlight that this matter touches on three very important issues close to my heart and close to the hearts of many Australians and indeed close to the hearts of this government. This government recognises that separation from a partner and a family breakdown can be among the most stressful and difficult circumstances in people's lives. As part of our constant consideration of these incredibly important issues and their interaction, if Senator Roberts could provide the government with the source of his statement, that would be greatly appreciated.

The first of the issues that Senator Roberts's matter of public importance touches on is that of mental health and ensuring that Australians who are suffering from mental health issues have the best possible access to care. The second of these is our family law system, and I intend to outline today just how the Morrison coalition government is strengthening and simplifying our family law system. And the third and perhaps most important issue is domestic and family violence. Again, I rise today to outline what our government is doing to both support these individuals and families who may have experienced domestic violence and, more importantly, invest in preventative measures and initiatives to ensure that domestic violence doesn't occur in the first place.

The Morrison government has made the mental health of Australians a priority. The tragedy of suicide touches far too many Australian families and, as Senator Roberts outlined, it is the leading cause of death of our young people. The statistics he mentioned in his speech just then are tragic. It is absolutely tragic that this many people are taking their lives each year. We as a government take the mental health of Australians very seriously and, more than any other previous government, we are seeking to safeguard the mental wellbeing of Australians so that we don't see these statistics climb.

We're delivering more frontline services that meet the specific needs of local communities through a record $1.45 billion investment in our primary health networks. We are providing long-term support for local psychologists, mental health nurses and social workers, ensuring that the right services are available in the right place and at the right time. In addition to our historic mental health package in the 2019-20 budget, the government has invested $79 million over the next four years in a range of national suicide prevention leadership and support activities and programs, including those that focus on Australian men who may be at high risk of suicide, as outlined by Senator Roberts. These projects include specific regional approaches to suicide prevention and are being implemented by primary health networks as part of their responsibilities for providing locally tailored mental health and suicide prevention support projects. They include at-risk and hard-to-reach groups.

Might I say, coming from Tasmania, it pleases me greatly to see this government taking so seriously the mental health of those people living in the regions. I have seen all too often in my own state just what the impact of mental health can be on a small community, particularly in the tragic event that a suicide occurs and the ripple effect that can have not only on the family impacted but also on the friends. In a small local area it's only magnified. So I'm very happy to see we're making progress in this area.

The government is also funding the implementation and evaluation of 12 suicide prevention trials in identified priority areas, again being led by primary health networks, to improve our understanding of what strategies are most effective in preventing suicide at a local level and for at-risk populations. Further, we are improving accessibility to mental health services by funding a range of telephone and online digital mental health services, either free of charge or at a low cost. These range from telephone and web counselling services through to web based treatment programs and peer forums. These include specific services for men.

In raising that today, as Senator Roberts said, we are seeing more often that mental health is impacting on young people. We know that young people are very connected people. They will not necessarily go to the doctor and have a face to face if they're having mental health problems, but sometimes something as simple as being able to pick up the phone or send a text message to someone and say, 'I'm not coping right now; I need a bit of a hand,' is really valuable. So I'm really happy that we are investing in both those traditional ways of dealing with mental health issues but also in some more technologically savvy ways. I think that is a really important way to reach out to young people struggling with their mental health.

The second issue that Senator Roberts touched on in his speech was family law reform. I have a law degree and firmly believe, through my study of the law, that it is only ever effective when the law is easily understood and when it can be easily navigated by those people who need to use it. So it's absolutely valid for us to be discussing today some of the troubles that people might have in navigating the family law system. This coalition government is committed to ongoing improvements to our family law system, to ensure that they help families separate in a safe, supportive and timely way.

Indeed, we have already committed to delivering a structural reform of the federal family law courts to help end the unnecessary costs and delays for thousands of Australian families that arise from a split federal Family Court system. This will allow families to have their matters dealt with as efficiently as possible and under a single set of rules and procedures. They will reduce the backlog of matters before the family law courts and drive timely, cheaper and more consistent resolution of disputes for Australian families. Our reform will create, in effect, a single point of entry into the family law jurisdiction of the Federal Court system and create a consistent pathway for Australian families to have their family law disputes dealt with in the Federal Court. With any hope, this vitally needed structural reform will allow many more additional family law cases to be resolved each and every year.

Not only has the government made a real commitment to review the court system that deals with family law matters but we also commissioned the first comprehensive review of the family law framework in more than 40 years. That review is currently under careful consideration by this government and front of mind in that consideration is how we can ensure the family law system works for Australian families, keeps them safe, and, as I said, allows for efficient and timely separations.

Above and beyond this review of the family law framework, you don't have to look far to see the efforts this government has taken to assist families that are separating. To date, this has included the establishment and extension of specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships; providing legal and social support assistance to vulnerable women experiencing family violence; establishing and extending the family advocacy and support services which provide duty lawyers at family law courts and provide services to families affected by violence; $50 million over four years for family law property mediation as part of the Women's Economic Security Package; $11 million to improve information sharing between the family law, family violence and child protection agencies, including the co-location of state and territory family safety officials in family law courts; prohibiting perpetrators of family violence from cross-examining their victims in family law proceedings—I think this is quite an important one; and providing $7 million to legal aid commissions to represent affected parties. These measures are on top of the $160 million per year for family law services to support people with family law disputes outside of court.

No-one ever plans for a family break-up, but unfortunately a sad fact of life is that almost 50 per cent of families do separate at some time. We owe it to Australians to make what is already an undeniably difficult and sometimes traumatic process just that little bit easier, be it by simplifying the system by which is law is administered or, indeed, reviewing the law itself.

Third—and I will try to address this as rapidly as possible, although it is a very important issue that would require far more time than I have today—is family violence. This government recognises that family and relationship breakdowns can be amongst the most stressful and difficult circumstances in people's lives, not just for the adults concerned but particularly for the children. One of the first events I attended as a senator earlier this month was the launch of a new publication by Huon Domestic Violence Service—a fantastic support service based in the Huon Valley, where I grew up. At this event, I was pleased to be able to launch the new Red Flags booklet on behalf of the Huon Domestic Violence Service. At the event, I heard a number of very touching contributions by those who have experienced family violence. There is so much that this government is doing to tackle the scourge of domestic violence and particularly violence against women. We have one clear policy on this issue: absolute, irrefutable zero tolerance for violence against women and their children. Women and their children have the right to be safe in their homes, in their communities, in their workplaces, but of course we know from watching the news each night that this doesn't always happen.

Even if only one person dies per year as a result of domestic violence and associated mental health issues, that is still one person too many. I understand that and the Morrison coalition government understands that. That's why we're implementing the policies and initiatives I've mentioned here today, plus so much more, to ensure that we prevent, address and end the scourge that domestic violence is in our society. Saving lives and ensuring families remain as they should be is simply too important to ignore. (Time expired)

4:18 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | | Hansard source

Labor agrees that there are significant problems with the current family law system which have led to unacceptable delays for vulnerable families and particularly for children. There are many factors which have contributed to this current state of affairs. They include the government's failure over the last six years to reappoint judges in a timely manner, ever growing funding shortages in legal assistance services and a number of inefficiencies in the family law system. There's no doubt that things have to change. Labor's priority is making sure that change is done right and for the right reasons.

The Attorney-General spent most of the past year pursuing legislation that would have abolished the Family Court system in this country altogether. This legislation was introduced without any consultation with the community or the legal profession. I know from personal experience of dealing with members of the legal profession and other members of the community who work in the field of family law and domestic and family violence that the legislation paid no regard to major concerns from members of the community.

Incredibly, the government tried to push these half-baked and damaging reforms through the parliament before the completion of a landmark review into the family law system by the Australian Law Reform Commission. That report is the most comprehensive review of the family law system in four decades, but the government appeared to be intent on ignoring it before the election. They have shown little interest in that report since the election. The ALRC has made 60 recommendations for reform, including that the resolution of family law disputes eventually be returned to the states and territories. As we finalise our position, Labor will carefully consider each of those recommendations in consultation with the many stakeholder groups inside the family law system, including Australian families whose have been through the existing system, family lawyers and judges. The Family Court of Australia was established by the Whitlam Labor government over four decades ago. Ensuring that the Family Court system works for Australian families is and always will be a priority for Labor.

I have listened to the contributions from other speakers in this debate. I do agree with one point that Senator Roberts made. That is that suicide, including male suicide, is a big problem in this country. That is something that deserves a proper response. I would like to think that in this term of government—its third term of government—this government might finally take some action to address the skyrocketing rates of suicide in our community.

I have to say that I profoundly disagree with the comments of Senator Roberts in relation to domestic and family violence. I profoundly disagree with Senator Roberts' repeated attempts to pretend that the experience of domestic and family violence of men and women is the same. This is a false equivalence, and it is dangerous. I have no doubt, and I know for a fact, that there are instances where men are the victims of domestic and family violence. But any fair assessment, based on the empirical evidence that Senator Roberts claims to care about, shows that far more women and children are affected by domestic violence and are the victims of domestic violence where the perpetrator is a male. If Senator Roberts is in any doubt about that fact, I invite him to join me to meet with the number of domestic and family violence services that I have worked with closely on the Gold Coast, in Brisbane, in Central Queensland and in North Queensland. I want to pay tribute to the incredible work that those services do, often without anywhere near the kind of resourcing that they need to cope with the influx of women and children fleeing domestic violence. I want to pay tribute to them for their efforts.

Domestic and family violence is a serious problem in our community, no matter how many times we talk about it. Men have a particular responsibility for changing the culture and for stopping domestic violence. There is no doubt that men are by far the major perpetrators of domestic and family violence. It's incumbent upon all male senators in this chamber to take particular responsibility and to show leadership to make sure that men stop doing it. It does Senator Roberts and men generally no favours to have One Nation continually perpetrate myths that the impact of domestic and family violence is the same on women as it is with men. They are vastly different. The sooner that One Nation can stop perpetrating these myths the better.

4:23 pm

Photo of Perin DaveyPerin Davey (NSW, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In rising to speak on this matter of public importance, I note that this is not my first speech. I thank Senator Roberts for raising the issues of our family law system, as well as suicide and women's safety, and providing me with an opportunity to highlight to the Senate what the Liberal-National coalition government is doing with respect to these issues. The coalition government is committed to ongoing improvements to the family law system to ensure that they help families separate in a safe, supportive and, importantly, timely way.

In 2017, the coalition government directed the Australian Law Reform Commission to conduct the first comprehensive review into the family law system since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976. That's the first comprehensive review in over 40 years. That review, released in April this year, contained 60 recommendations for the family law system. That's a big ask. We are carefully considering their wide-ranging recommendations across the whole family law system. As a government, we are intent on ensuring that the system works for Australian families in order to keep them safe and to allow for efficient and timely separations.

This government has already committed to delivering structural reform in the federal family law courts to help end the unnecessary costs and delay for thousands of Australian families that arise from a split in the family and Federal Court systems. This reform aims to allow families to have their matters dealt with as efficiently as possible and under a single set of rules and principles. The goal is to improve the family law system, reduce the backlog of matters before the family law courts and drive timely, cheaper and more consistent resolution of family disputes. It is estimated that these structural reforms have the potential, in time, to allow thousands of additional cases every year to be resolved. The Federal and Family Court of Australia will become in effect a single point of entry into the family law jurisdiction to the Federal Court system and create a consistent pathway for Australian families in having their family law disputes dealt with in the federal courts.

Thousands of families every year are involved in proceedings, and this issue touches on many lives. Thankfully, I've not had to go through the Family Court system myself, but we all know someone who has. This is not just an issue of evil husbands or greedy wives; this is an issue of friends, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews—everyone—who is touched and caught up in the legal wrangling of the Family Court system.

Our government is committed to improving this system. This is clear from a range of significant measures that the coalition government has taken in recent years. We've established and extended the family advocacy and support services, providing duty lawyers at family law courts to provide services to families affected particularly by family violence. We've established and now extended specialist domestic violence units and health justice partnerships, which provide legal and social support assistance to vulnerable women experiencing family violence. These recent measures are on top of $160 million per year for family law services to support people with family law disputes outside of the court. These services include counselling and education programs and were accessed by 70,000 men and 86,000 women last year alone.

White Ribbon Australia estimates that, on average, one woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner, often after a history of domestic violence, so it's very important that this issue is raised here today. Women have the right to be safe in their homes, in their communities, in their workplaces and online. Since coming to government in 2013 the Nationals, in coalition with the Liberal Party, have invested $840 million to address domestic violence.

Our government has zero tolerance for domestic violence in any form—be it against men or women. Yes, Senator Roberts, I am aware of men who suffer at the hands of domestic violence, but, as Senator Watt quite rightly pointed out, women vastly outnumber men when it comes to domestic violence issues. To this end, in March this year our government committed $328 million to delivering the fourth action plan to reduce violence against women and their children. This funding includes improvements to build on frontline services to keep women and children safe; prevention strategies to help eradicate domestic violence and family violence in our homes, workplaces, communities and clubs; support and prevention measures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, funded under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy; providing safe places for people impacted by domestic and family violence; and the important 1800RESPECT helpline, which is the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service.

Senator Roberts also made the link between the family law system and mental health and suicide. I acknowledge that mental health issues contribute to family breakdowns and family breakdowns in turn contribute to mental health issues. It can't be gilded over. The coalition government has also made the mental health of Australians a priority. The tragedy of suicide touches far too many lives in our nation. It is the leading cause of death in our young people, and that's particularly true in our regional and remote areas. The National Rural Health Alliance estimates that male youth suicide in rural, regional and remote areas occurs at almost twice the rate as in metropolitan areas. It is something that is particularly close to my heart. As the Nationals senator for New South Wales, I represent some of the most isolated communities in our state, and I know all too well that those living in our rural communities encounter barriers in accessing services that those living in the cities do not. Just like those who live in the city, those living in the regions experience symptoms of mental illness. However, they are more likely to struggle to find the right support, because there are fewer mental health practitioners in the country, and long delays can result. While we do have good telehealth services, sometimes that's not adequate for the seriousness that is mental illness.

Since coming into government in 2013, the coalition has done more than any previous government to safeguard the mental wellbeing of Australians, with an estimated $5.3 billion expected to be spent by the Commonwealth on mental health care this year alone. We are delivering more frontline services to meet the specific needs of local communities through a record $1.45 billion investment in our primary health networks. We are providing long-term support for local psychologists, mental health nurses and social workers, ensuring that the right services are available at the right place at the right time. The coalition government is also funding a range of telephone and online digital mental health services, either free of charge or at a very low cost. They range from telephone and web counselling to web-based treatment programs and peer forums—and sometimes in the regions that's all you can get.

I am especially proud of the work that this government is doing to address the mental health needs of those living in rural and regional Australia. The government is funding the implementation and evaluation of 12 suicide prevention trial sites in identified priority areas. These are being led by primary health networks and are targeting at-risk populations, including men, veterans, young people and Indigenous communities. I'm proud to say that in my home state of New South Wales these trial sites are located in regional areas. On the North Coast we've got the Clarence Valley, Tweed, Byron, Lismore and Kempsey communities, and in western New South Wales there is Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Grenfell and Walgett. All these communities seriously need the assistance.

Because of the complexity of suicide, this government recognises that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work. I'm proud of the work we are doing with our primary health networks to address suicide in our rural communities. The government is committed to keeping Australians safe in all areas of their lives, regardless of their circumstances. That is why we will continue to work on family law reform. (Time expired)

4:33 pm

Photo of Pauline HansonPauline Hanson (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | | Hansard source

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.