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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Family First party Wakes Up Prime Minister On Family Law Development

Two and a half years before, Prime Minister John Howard was considered by many as the patron saint in waiting for long suffering non-custodial fathers and children of separated families, having promised Australia 'genuine' change to the universally condemned "one size fits all" Family Law system.

But all the promises and hopes have vanished with the realization that the proposed Family Law Amendment Bill (to be debated in the Senate this week), a Bill that had been sold to fathers as the law that would finally make Shared Residence the 'norm' in Australia, was simply re-packaged legislation that has an international track record of failing fathers, failing children, and failing separated families.(1)

In spite of taking control of both houses of parliament at the last election in no small part due to the unparalleled levels of support from traditional blue-collar, Labor voting fathers, fathers have continued to rally behind Howard despite controversial anti-family workplace policies, because Howard was perceived as the only political leader who showed any interest in righting the wrongs in family law. .

On Friday, 24th March, 2006, Steve Fielding, Senator for Family First, indicated that he would table a desperately needed amendment to the current Family Law Bill to comprise a 'presumption of equal parenting time', as a starting point for child custody arrangements.(2) With the government controlling both houses of parliament, an Australian public overpoweringly in support of Equal Parenting Time after separation, (3) and a majority of Senators and MPs confirming that given the option, they would vote for an amendment to the Family Law Amendment Bill for a "presumption of equal parenting time", (4) fathers are now openly stating that if the Family First amendment fails in the Senate, they will be holding one man personally responsible for it. The Prime Minister!

With new disciplinary workplace reforms starting this week placing further pressure on fathers in particular to work longer hours and spend less time with their families, and with the passing of an flawed insufficient Family Law Bill that would continue to allow the Family Court to punish fathers who work longer hours by robbing them of their children, the Prime Minister's legacy will not be one of a patron saint for families, but that of a home-wrecker!

And at the next federal election, fathers will finally have a lawful option at the ballot. The Prime Minister will no longer be able to take father's votes for granted. Whether it succeeds or fails, the Family First amendment to the Family Law Bill will have a resounding impact, and not simply on the families going through separation, but in the minds of every parent and grand-parent come election time.

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