The Prime Minister, John Howard said during a Cairns radio interview that the Government MIGHT consider new measures for the child support scheme in next month’s budget . “Fathers force PM to review child support”. The Australian 17/4/98

The inadequate Child Support reform legislation, as proposed in October 1997, has now reached the 2nd reading in Parliament, and despite calls for more meaningful changes, these pleas had been ignored to date.

The Australian Coalition Cabinet had refused to consider further changes and have rebuffed politicians who displayed any seriousness in calling for substantial change, by not including them in the newly formed CSA Taskforce. The new chairman is Larry Anthony, Member for Richmond.His email address is Postal address is: PO Box 1001 Tweed Heads 2485.

Tony Smith, member for Dickson, who is a dedicated advocate for change has been left off the “Taskforce”, Cabinet obviously preferring members who would more likely to “toe the party line”.

Not surprisingly, the two most notable speeches given to Parliament at the 2nd reading were from the independent member for Kalgoorlie, Graeme Campbell, and Tony Smith.

During the radio interview with David McKenzie, John Howard indicated his Cabinet had discussed the issue last week and we hope they discussed a proposal Tony Smith presented to the Taskforce on Monday, 6th April. This proposal suggests that changes to individual’s child support payment should be heard by a magistrate and access (contact) provisions should be considered at the same time.

Many complaints have been made by men’s groups that the Child Support Review Office has no jurisdiction to make determinations about the levels of child support ,as they are not a properly constituted judicial body and as such have been operating illegally.

The establishment of a tribunal type hearing before a magistrate may well alleviate the inequities experienced with child support reviews, providing the magistrates do not display the gender bias that is currently seen in their own courts in regard to domestic violence or in the Family Court when it comes to custody (residency) decisions.

Tony Smith also made the important point that the levels of child maintenance appear to have been structured to maintain a lifestyle for the receiving parent, rather than to provide support for the children only. No-one can, reasonably, have an expectation that standards of living will remain the same when they separate. The financial logistics of trying to divide assets and income, previously used to support the intact family, to now support 2 separate families, with a maintained lifestyle, is impossible.