Bettina Arndt: Back to the dark ages for the rights of dads | Daily Telegraph

Proposed changes to the Family Law Act could see a return to mothers being favoured in custody battles and dads missing out on seeing their kids, writes Bettina Arndt.

Bettina Arndt

October 18, 2023 – 11:54PM



Michaelia Cash in parliament

Proposed changes to the Family Law Act could see a return to mothers being favoured in custody battles and dads missing out on seeing their kids, writes Bettina Arndt.

Big news. Australia has become one of the world leaders when it comes to men suffering false allegations.

A new YouGov survey, involving 9432 people across eight countries, found Australia was the worst country, after India, when people were asked if they had been falsely accused of abuse.

What’s going on here? The answer is simple. It’s the feminist capture of our family law system.

The YouGov survey showed false accusations in Australia are more likely to be made as part of a child custody dispute than anywhere else in the world – they are 41 per cent of such allegations in this country.

Overall, the survey showed 80 per cent of victims of false allegations in this country are male and almost a third (30 per cent) of people surveyed know a victim of false allegations made in the last year.

For decades, feminist ideologues have been manipulating the family law system by claiming that all women and their children are at risk of attack by violent ex-partners.

This sets the scene for women to make false violence allegations — a tactic which works a treat to give women control of the divorce process, denying men any real role in their children’s lives.

Proposed family law changes could see more strained custody battles, with dads likely to lose out.

It’s a brilliant ploy, which feminists have been systematically cementing in place. Soon their ship will come in.

Labor’s draconian new family law bill is about to sail through the Senate, with the Greens joining forces with Labor to enshrine women’s absolute power to use false allegations to destroy men’s relationships with their children.

Having long been internationally celebrated for protecting the right of children to care from both divorced parents, this new Act will mean Australia will return to the grim days of mostly sole mother custody.

This is the most significant social change in recent history, impacting millions of families across the country. Current estimates suggest there will be more than 300,000 family breakups involving children in the next decade.

It is just astonishing that this is all passing unchallenged, indeed almost unnoticed.

Well, perhaps not. Given Australian feminists’ brilliantly orchestrated march through our institutions, we shouldn’t be surprised that these powerful ideologues have cowed most of our parliament and media into silence.

Silence, that is, about the truth of what is happening here, which is nothing to do with the feminist narrative that the new bill is about keeping children safe.

Their critical goal has been to set aside the many decades of international evidence showing it is harmful for children to grow up without dads.

That was the message enshrined in the Howard government’s landmark 2006 law act promoting joint parental responsibility.

It was passed with bipartisan support and proved a real hit with the public — “overwhelmingly supported by parents, legal professionals and family relationship service professionals,” according to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Feminist scholars were determined to resist this recognition of the vital role of dads in the family. They leapt into action pouring out articles claiming sharing care risked exposing children to violence.

This set the scene for Julia Gillard’s proudly feminist government to remove the 2006 penalties for perjury and place violence accusations front and centre of decision-making about sharing of care of children.

Her government also greatly expanded the definition of domestic “violence” to include emotional and psychological abuse, threatening behaviour etc, adding enormously to the list of families precluded from court-approved shared care.

Now the war was on, with magistrates’ courts overwhelmed with false violence accusations which most magistrates have acknowledged are being used to gain strategic advantage in child custody matters.

A survey of 38 magistrates in Queensland found 74 per cent agreed restraining orders are often used for tactical purposes.

Similarly, 90 per cent of 68 NSW magistrates agreed restraining orders are often sought as tactical devices in family law disputes, “serving to deprive former partners of contact with their children”.

In a national survey of over 2500 respondents, more than half agreed that “women going through custody battles often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence in order to improve their case”.

People know this is happening — even police are speaking out about the enormous amount of their time consumed by false allegations.

Two years ago the Queensland Police Union made a submission to a family law inquiry pointing out that false allegations of domestic violence are regularly used to gain advantage in family law disputes, with members of the police force sometimes finding themselves on the receiving end.

In some areas of Queensland, domestic violence takes up to 80 per cent of police time. Note that in NSW, domestic violence assaults make up only 4.8 per cent of major crimes but take up 50-70 per cent of police time.

That’s the current reality. But now, without any mandate from the electorate and ignoring recommendations from a series of inquiries, this Labor government is taking matters a huge leap further.

Senator Michaelia Cash during Question time in the Senate this week. Picture: Martin Ollman

They are wiping out any mention in the law of children’s rights to two parents in their lives, watering down the joint presumption of shared parental responsibility and ditching the requirement to consider shared or substantial care in parenting plans — the key elements which promote the sharing of parenting.

Under the new Act shared care is only to be considered “when it is safe to do so”.

What’s absolutely shocking is that these momentous changes passed largely unnoticed through the lower house of parliament, with remarkably little protest.

It wasn’t until the legislation came under fire this week with questions in the Senate that Michaelia Cash let fly with a devastating attack on Labor for stripping away the key parenting sections of the bill. Labor was caught with their pants down but the press gallery chose not to notice.

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And no one dared mention the war — except for brave Pauline Hanson, a lone voice daring to speak about false allegations.

Everyone else ignored the elephant in the room, knowing our feminist-led media would attack anyone who told the truth about what is going on here. The domestic violence card worked brilliantly to silence all proper debate about the bill.

Hanson was the only one with the guts to point out what every judge, magistrate, lawyer and police officer knows to be the case — that these changes to the law will bring poorer outcomes for children, a fresh flood of new accusations against fathers, more conflict between divorced parents, a huge surge in litigation as men pay out to try to see their children and more suicides for men as they realise that their chances of a fair hearing in an already biased court system will now be further reduced.

Bettina ArndtColumnist