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Care Of Children Bill Sells Families Short

Care Of Children Bill Sells Families Short

Tuesday 29 Jun 2004 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Social Welfare

The tabling of the report on the Care of Children Bill by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee marks a sad day for New Zealand children, ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"The Bill was meant to be Labour's answer to the problems in family law, which has resulted in New Zealand becoming a world leader in family breakdown and fatherlessness. Yet the Bill has failed to deliver the solutions that are so badly needed," Dr Newman said.

"In particular, Labour promised that this Bill would be its answer to the widespread demand for shared parenting - whereby just as two parents are equal before a relationship breakdown, so too they should be equal after the breakdown unless one parent can prove that the other is unfit. This equality of parental responsibility should have been incorporated into the Bill to replace sole maternal custody as the predominant outcome of family law cases.

"Instead, by failing to change the law in this regard, children, whose parents separate, will find that more often than not, they will eventually lose all effective contact with the their non-custodial parent - usually their father. The law as it stands will continue to ensure that after a separation, one of two people who love their child - more than anyone else in the world - will essentially be shutout.

"The Government had an ideal opportunity to rectify this legal discrimination against children and parents. But for ideological reasons, it has chosen to turn a blind eye to the damage caused by the present law.

"What is worse - as the police and judiciary will verify - is that by excluding fathers from the lives of their sons and daughters, all too often these children end up becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars attempting to reduce youth offending, Labour could have used this Bill to get to the heart of the problem and prevented fathers from being alienated in the first place," Dr Newman said.


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