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Govt slammed for refusing DNA paternity tests

5 November 2004

Government slammed for refusing DNA paternity tests

United Future MP Gordon Copeland today expressed his frustration and disappointment at the government’s steadfast refusal to use DNA-testing to prove paternity.

During debate in Parliament on the Care of Children Bill, Mr Copeland outlined a real-life case to the House.

“A young couple became the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. Not only the mother and the father but also the maternal and paternal grandparents bonded with the child. She became the apple of their eye.

“However the story did not have a happy ending. A couple of years later, for whatever reason, the mother showed the father the door and wanted nothing more to do with him.

“The distraught father, wanting to maintain long-term contact with his daughter, sought access rights. The mother blocked this by suddenly, for the first time, claiming that he was not the little girl’s dad .

“This came as a huge shock, both to the father himself and to the paternal grandparents. They were grief-stricken at being cut off from all further contact with the child.

“More than three years later and in spite of a string of lawyers, the paternity or otherwise of the young man concerned has not been established because a DNA test involving the little girl can only be done with the consent of her mother.

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“This is an unmitigated tragedy for the grieving father and the grandparents and even more so, in time, for the child who may never get to find out who her real father actually is.

“Yet none of this need happen. A simple Family Court-ordered DNA test would establish paternity once and for all.

“We have a clear-cut means of establishing the truth in these kind of situations, but the government refuses steadfastly with incomprehensible reasons to go there. In doing so they fail the families of New Zealand.

“We have more than 19,000 birth certificates involving more than 30,000 children where the father’s name is not recorded and yet we have a scientific means at hand to clearly establish paternity.

“The particular instance I am describing represents the tip of an enormous iceberg, a systemic problem which becomes bigger by the day.

“Since I entered Parliament in 2002, together with my colleagues in United Future, we have consistently urged the government to follow the science so that truth replaces confusion, suspicion, dishonesty and the financial impropriety which flows from the current system, but the government continues to stonewall.

“It’s just not good enough,” said Mr Copeland.

ENDS

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