Men’s groups must take responsibility
Once again there are complaints from men’s groups claiming rights and/or entitlements regarding Family Court decisions. Nijole Cork’s “The men hijacking family law reforms” (February 6-12) gives an accurate analysis of what has occurred since John Howard’s time when men’s groups came to the fore. As Cork says, the 5 per cent or so of couples who use the court system are the most conflicted and contribute to its negative reputation. The Family Court has always attempted to follow the adage of “in the best interest of the child”, and if the couple had not sought mediation prior to court they were sent to do so. Therefore the mandatory mediation mentioned in the reform of 2006 was a process already established. And the “shared parenting” and a “relationship with both parents” was interpreted as a 50/50 domiciliary arrangement. This reached a level of absurdity in one recent case when a child was enrolled at two different schools. I believe that rather than establish another layer, as Senator John Madigan and associates suggest, by sending parents to a local court, it is preferable to provide more support for the men’s groups who work correcting the balance back from entitlement to responsibility as a motivating factor, and to realise that children are not property.
– Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell, Vic
Need for Family Court reform
Nijole Cork’s article certainly “plays the man, not the ball”. My personal experience is that (despite the rhetoric otherwise), gender bias determines the Family Court’s preferred primary carer. Parental capacity is secondary at best. One parent can remarry into substantial wealth and as long as no income is in their name, the law supports claiming many thousands of dollars a year from the child’s other parent, even in an equal-share care situation. There is desperate need for Family Court and child support reform, but from those who see children and parents, not just genders.
– Michael Noble, Preston, Tas
Unconvinced by stop the boats mantra
I thank Martin McKenzie-Murray for his article on the High Court decision (“The lawful truth”, February 6-12), but I suggest that the argument that drowning at sea has stopped is no longer persuasive, if it ever were. Despite the secrecy of “on water” matters, we had credible reports that people died under Australia’s policy. When countries in the region followed Australia’s example, countless Rohingya died at sea. We now know people from Myanmar and Afghanistan risk all to cross war zones and die on the Mediterranean. Please, Australian media, stop allowing this fallacy. Coalition and Labor politicians, you have neither stopped deaths nor stopped people smugglers. You have only shamed Australia and caused great harm. Malcolm Turnbull, no amount of “look over here… border security” will stop thousands upon thousands of people trying to prevent Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sending 267 vulnerable people to despair, abuse, sexual assault, beatings and threats to kill. No ALP or LNP politician has the right to bounce a single child on an election knee or talk about violence against women until all asylum seekers who ran to Australia fleeing violence and unfair imprisonment are safe from both at our “outsourced” hands. People are not expendable.
– Annette Green, Rosebud West, Vic
Koraly Dimitriadis’s article (“Speaking with one voice”, February 6-12) eloquently exposed the muted voice of marginalised groups everywhere in our society. The megaphone freely handed to those with power provides the backdrop. For me, the case of Mark Latham was essentially a tragedy. Here was a man, promising so much, but brought down by a fatal flaw, and now retreating into a world of bitter and sad opportunism.
– Peter Wigney, Pakenham, Vic
Making hard choices
Larry Marshall now leads one of Australia’s most iconic institutions, but CSIRO is not perfect and must evolve (Editorial, February 6-12). Good governance is all about making the right choices. If no one is allowed to be worse off, then pretty much no one can be better off. It does not surprise me that those who have been cut by the new CEO are using every possible trick to restore their positions. Cries that scientists are inviolable and that climate change research cannot be redirected reeks of self-interest. Using commercial judgement to direct funding has proved a highly successful model and does not deserve the degrading description of a whorehouse. I have been delighted to see the political dialogue shift towards more agility and to driving innovation to create a much more prosperous Australia. Blindly fighting to protect jobs in one area may benefit incumbents but diminishes our capacity to free up talent and apply it to more critical activities thought to better underpin our future.
– Russell Yardley, Woodend, Vic
Get the senate in order
Paul Bongiorno’s “Double dissolutions of grandeur” (February 6-12) cites Senator David Leyonhjelm’s comment that Malcolm Turnbull could probably threaten to kill your first-born son and still get elected. Redolent though this crass bon mot is of Donald Trump’s “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters”, at least the senator had the sense to qualify his remark with “probably”. Be that all as it may, I believe Prime Minister Turnbull’s first priority should be to reform the way senators are elected. An early double dissolution without such reform would likely double Paul Keating’s “unrepresentative swill”.
– Ian Nowak, Subiaco, WA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 13, 2016. Subscribe here.