November 27th 2010

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The Greens' agenda, in their own words

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Lacklustre Gillard under fire from her own party

DIVORCE LAWS: Gillard Govt to curb fathers' access to shared custody

EDITORIAL: Why Labor could lose Victoria

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS: New Zealand's experience with indigenous land claims

GLOBAL ECONOMY I: Ireland's woes show depth of financial crisis

GLOBAL ECONOMY II: Currency wars and the rise of China

KOREAN WAR: 60th anniversary of a nasty but necessary war

MEDIA: ABC denigrates former ASIO director-general

NEW SOUTH WALES: Tribunal rejects homosexual vilification complaint

HISTORY: Euthanasia foundational to Nazi program

OPINION: The difference between conservatism and Labor


BOOK REVIEW: COLONIAL COUSINS: A Surprising History of Connections between India and Australia

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Gillard Govt to curb fathers' access to shared custody

by Colin H. Jory

News Weekly, November 27, 2010
Recently, I wrote in News Weekly (Letters, October 30) that if the pro-family political parties want to make huge gains in their vote, all they need do is make a sustained assault on the Family Law Act, the Family Law Court and the domestic violence industry. I stated that of all the factors which harm the Australian family and do draconian injustice to individual Australians, nothing remotely compares with these in scope or severity.

Now the Gillard Labor Government has revealed its intention to amend the Family Law Act to make it even more draconian and unjust.

In 2006, the Howard Coalition Government amended the act to require judges to approach custody cases with the "rebuttable presumption" that both parents are equally important in a child's upbringing. The presumption is rebuttable in the sense that if there is compelling evidence that one of the parents is likely to harm the child, access should be limited in proportion to the risk.

Unfortunately, as a sop to the feminists, the Howard amendments broadened the act's definition of what constitutes harm to children to include "physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence".

Those acquainted with the government-sustained feminist domestic violence industry - as I have been since a daughter brought home some of its hate-propaganda from her diocesan Catholic school - will know that this diseased cult always defines "family violence" to mean any behaviour by the father in a family which might vex the mother or a child

They will further know that the cult deems any friction between the parents to constitute psychological violence against the children. Indeed, it is now standard practice for interventionist social workers to seize the children in families in which the parents are quarrelling, purportedly to protect the unwilling captives from psychological harm, and to place them in foster care until the parents agree to break up.

The Gillard Government intends to incorporate the domestic violence industry's infinitely elastic definition of "family violence" and "abuse" into the formal lexicon of the Family Law Act. Thus, a father will be guilty of "family violence" not only if he physically assaults his wife or a child, but if he "torments, intimidates or harasses" them with "derogatory taunts"; if he "controls, dominates, deceives or coerces" them "unreasonably"; if he denies them money they need for "reasonable living expenses"; if he causes them "to feel threatened"; and so on.

Even if his behaviour is eminently reasonable, that is no defence against the charge of "causing" fear. Thus an explanatory note for the draft bill states: "The element of 'fear' would be a subjective test based on the victim's actual state of mind rather than an objective or semi-objective test of how a reasonable person in the street may react to the behaviour with or without the same history."

In practice, just as at present, this criterion will be applied selectively by "family violence" assessors. A mother who claims to have felt intimidated by the father of her children will be believed, and her alleged fear treated as a product and proof of serious psychological abuse, while a father who claims to have felt intimidated by the mother will either be disbelieved or his fear will be disdained as wimpish.

The pre-inquisition and pre-conviction of fathers for "family violence" will be, as now, conducted not by the Family Court judge in the court-room but by the court's sub-judiciary of registry managers, psychologists, counsellors, and "family consultants". Fathers are required to submit to the inquisitions but are not allowed to bring their solicitors: the pretence is that they are being impartially assessed, as if by their GP. If a father obdurately denies having committed physical, psychological or emotional "family violence" when deemed by a pre-inquisitor to have done so, and thus shows no remorse, the court is advised by its own March 2009 guidelines, Best Practice Principles for Use in Parenting Disputes when Family Violence or Abuse is Alleged, to interpret this as evidence that he is incorrigibly violent.

Basically, every father in a marriage or "relationship" is presumed by the Family Court's sub-judiciary, by many of its judges, past and present, and by the domestic violence industry which operates hand-in-glove with the court, to be a continuous threat to his children's welfare.

It is assumed that while the marriage or relationship lasts he will probably be committing "family violence" of some kind; and if a relationship breaks down, the court's sub-judiciary see their role as being to trawl back through its history to find proof of his physical or emotional violence. He will then be deemed to have psychologically harmed his children by creating an abusive environment, and to be likely to continue doing so if given the chance.

There is much more that needs exposing about the horrors of the Family Law Act, of the Gillard Government's proposed amendments to the act, of the culture of the Family Law Court, and of the domestic violence industry; but what I have said should at least give an idea of the nature and magnitude of those horrors. If there is one moral to be drawn, it is that every Australian father is in continuous peril from the act, the court and the industry, and thus, by extension, so is every Australian family and child.

Dr Colin Jory is a Canberra teacher, historian and pro-family activist.

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