Wed Aug 04, 2004 9:09 pm
Radio interview of John Howard - Prime Minister of Australia
Hello all this is an excerpt of an interview with John Howard and to me shows that he certainly is not worth voting for on this issue.
I got emailed this by MEN'S CONFRATERNITY WA INC
I got on to 6PR 882 radio here in Perth this morning whilst the Prime Minister of Australia was on and I got to ask him a question. Here is the transcript of the question and his response.
Let's move on, we'll agree on that. 92211 223 if you want to talk to the Prime Minister today. Brett in South Lake. Good morning Brett.
Yes, good morning Mr. Prime Minister. I just wanted to congratulate you on your announcement on changes to the family law system. I've followed this very closely for a number of years through my work with men's confraternity and now with the Australian branch of the UK protest group called Fathers 4 Justice. I wanted to put this question to you, is that although your changes are encouraging, they're still open to abuse and specifically I'm interested in whether there's going to be wording in the Family Law Act which specifically gives a child the right to substantially equal time with both parents. I'm also concerned about the fact that you say that entrenched conflict can then nullify the other parent's rights specifically when a parent need only continue to disagree and refuse to co-operate to be categorized as entrenched conflict.
Well, Sir, I don't recall saying that entrenched conflict should nullify the other parent's rights.
What I've said is that the new system will act as a shock absorber in the immediate aftermath of a break up and by people being forced, as they will be under the new system, to seriously participate in mediation and dispute resolution and not just go through a token form of mediation and attempt of reconciliation that they'll have to seriously confront the need to do it.
I think that will significantly reduce the number of cases that end up going to court and end up involving costly legal battles and that will be good for everybody because going to court is expensive and it's acrimonious and it does entrench bitterness.
As far as fathers are concerned, what we want to do and we haven't settled on the exact wording of it and this is something that will be part of the consultation process,
we want to make sure that the Family Law Act entrenches the right of both parents to be not only involved in decisions about the upbringing of their children but also entrenches the right of access of both parents.
Now we also intend to amend the act to entrench the principle of shared parenting responsibilities and that parents, no matter who has physical custody most of the time or majority of the time, that parents are jointly involved in decisions involving their children and their children's future. It's difficult in practice to have a situation where you have substantially equal custodial time because, and to put that precisely in the law because there can be circumstances where one parent lives in Perth and one lives in Sydney and the child is five years of age, well I mean that is just not possible. The child obviously has to spend most of his or her time with one of the parents.
The important thing is that the non custodial parent has got to be involved in important decisions, it's got to have a lot of access and has got to feel that the system is not shutting normally, but not in all cases, him out of that child's life.
This is very much the problem that was put yesterday by many of the men who called into the programmed - they like your intentions, they support your intentions but they're worried about how to work in practice.
Look, I do understand that.
They say in mediation, they say the very counsellors they reckon are the people who show the bias against men and that will just continue they're worried.
I don't believe that. That may have been the case in the past. We are proposing a level of counseling and mediation that has never before been offered in Australia.
What we're talking about here is the opening and (inaudible) government funded bodies across the country of 65 family relationship centres.
And that means you'll be bringing a large number of additional people into it, we'll be building on the resources of existing counseling services, many of which with fairly meager resources do an extremely good job.
Look, I do understand the attitude of some men, I do understand that and I think they have reason to feel that the current system has failed them.
But I'm quite hopeful that this change when it's up and running will go a long way towards meeting their concerns. We won't abolish acrimony, we won't stop some people behaving in such a despicable fashion.
But I think we will greatly reduce the number of cases where people can do that because the pressure of the new system and the requirement that you can't go to court until you've seriously attempted mediation, that will be a very powerful incentive.