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Why Committee Must Examine Shared Parenting

Biased Papers Show Why Committee Must Examine Shared Parenting

The Government is being accused of using biased and hastily put together briefing papers from the Ministry of Women's Affairs to stop a Bill on Shared Parenting being examined by a Parliamentary Select Committee.

The Bill's sponsor, ACT Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman, today said the briefing papers from the Ministry of Women's Affairs to the Minister of Women's Affairs only provide advice 'on the implications of the Shared Parenting Bill for outcomes for women'. "They put up no alternatives and merely support the status quo," she said.

"Given that the Bill clearly states that it aims to protect the rights of children when families break down and help them keep equal contact with their parents following separation and divorce, it is quite simply an embarrassment that the Laila Harre has even released these biased and hastily cobbled together papers to try to justify her Government's refusal to address this issue.

"The Ministry's "memorandum" demonstrates clearly the need for more debate on the issue that proper consideration of the Bill by Parliament through the Select Committee would allow. Importantly, it would also give children and fathers the right to have their voices heard, a right Laila Harre clearly wants to disregard.

Muriel Newman is hopeful that the Shared Parenting Bill will come before Parliament today for it's first reading. "It's estimated that up to 380 children a week are affected by family breakdown, making it urgent that the issue of Shared Parenting is addressed by Parliament. The idea that fit, loving parents should retain equal responsibility for the raising of their children, is an idea whose time has come.

"Almost every New Zealander knows children affected by separation and divorce. Sadly, there are, more often than not, tragic stories of conflict and despair, as one parent gets custody of the children while the other is sidelined, becoming a mere visitor in their child's life.

"This is an urgent issue and without any move from the Government to address Shared Parenting this Bill is the only chance for MPs and New Zealanders affected by family breakdown to work towards a fairer solution. With Labour and the Alliance having failed to signal any initiative to protect children from losing contact with their parents this Bill offers all Parties the chance to make this a priority for Parliament this year.

"It is the responsibility of all Members of Parliament to support legislation that strengthens parenting and provides better outcomes for children. This is a non-partisan Bill that addresses an difficult and urgent problem. I ask all parties, in the true spirit of MMP, to support this Bill so that New Zealanders get to have their say on this important issue," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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