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Barker "Head in the sand" on DNA paternity testing

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Barker "Head in the sand" on DNA paternity testing

UnitedFuture family spokesperson Judy Turner today quizzed Minister for Courts Rick Barker about why he has ignored recommendations from both the Law Commission and Law Society to empower the Family Court to order paternity testing.

"It is an outrage that many New Zealand kids are being prevented from knowing and having a relationship with their father because of an out-of-date statute that the Minister has been too lazy to update.

"But it’s contemptuous and insulting that Minister Barker is trying to justify his lack of action by arguing that he is protecting children’s, 'common law rights’ not to undergo a simple DNA test.

"Both the man and the children involved have an absolute right to know whether they are father and child. This takes precedent over the child’s right to be protected from a cheek swab."

Mrs Turner says that the Family Courts Matters Bill, which is currently before a select committee, is the perfect time to address this anomaly, but that Minister Barker has his head in the sand and is simply unwilling to do so.

"Paternity tests are cheap, easy and available - and yet unless the mother agrees, an estranged father has no right to prove whether he is or is not the parent," says Mrs Turner.

"If Labour really cares about families, they would empower the Family Court to order paternity tests to create certainly where doubt currently resides," says Mrs Turner.


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