The Australian Greens are calling on the Attorney-General Robert McClelland to amend the Family Law Act as a matter of priority in light of the findings of the Chisholm report - highlighting that the Greens opposed the Howard Government's amendments at the time because of these very concerns.
"The Greens said at the time the Howard Government was forcing the changes through the Senate that the amendments would put women and children at risk," said Senator Rachel Siewert Australian Greens spokesperson on Family Law today.
"The amendments clearly put the rights of parents ahead of the interests of children. The Howard Government deliberately worded the amendments in such a way that there is a de facto presumption of equal time. That is exactly what the Howard Government wanted," she said.
"The notion of equal shared parenting as amended in the act reflects a commodification of children that fails to address the best interests of the child. It is no wonder that this is leading to very significant problems.
"It was also obvious at the time that the changes to the definition of domestic violence, together with the introducing of fines for making ‘unsubstantiated' claims of abuse, were going to put women and children at risk.
"Unfortunately the warnings of family law experts to the Senate inquiry were ignored and three years on what they warned of has happened.
"The Government must now amend the Family Law Act. Consideration of shared care is an important starting point for family law, but the Howard amendments went beyond the concept of shared care to a de facto assumption of equal shared care.
"These changes need to be reversed as a matter of priority," concluded Senator Siewert.
The Australian Greens dissenting report on the Howard Government changes http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/legcon_ctte/completed_inquiries/2004-07/family_law/report/d02.htm
Media Contact Chris Twomey 0407 725 025