Good Men Doing Nothing

Posted by on May 09, 2017

Ok, good men and women. Here’s our chance to resist the forces of evil determined to make life even more difficult for men in Australia. We can’t afford to do nothing while anti-male lobby groups take control of a vital parliamentary committee looking into the Family Court and domestic violence.

It’s all happening because Hetty Johnston has managed to lean on Malcolm Turnbull and his colleagues and convinced them that most of the allegations of violence and sexual abuse that fly around in the Family Court are actually true. In fact most family lawyers will tell you it is a known tactic to make such allegations to gain advantage in family court battles. Four years ago retiring Family Court Judge David Collier spoke out about false abuse allegations becoming a major court weapon – current judges say the situation has become much worse.

The trouble is Hetty Johnston, who has been a ferocious campaigner for children through her Bravehearts organisation, is determined to make the Family Court take all these accusations at face value. Apparently her hope is to persuade the parliamentary committee that the burden of proof should be shifted so that it isn’t assumed that someone is innocent until proven guilty but rather that the person accused of abuse must prove that it didn’t happen. And that is pretty much impossible.

This shift isn’t actually included in the terms of reference for the inquiry but what is there is bad enough. Like the idea that domestic violence accusations should have an impact on property division.

Just in case you think there’s no way this is all going to happen take a look at the changes that are creeping in across the country under the AVO laws. The classic case is Western Australia where the government has ignored the advice of the Law Reform Commission and changed the law to allow AVOs to be issued when a woman simply claims she fears violence, with no evidence required whatsoever. And we are not just talking about physical violence but emotional and even “banking” and financial abuse. Here’s an article from Augusto Zimmermann, a brave WA Law Reform Commissioner who has been fighting fiercely against such changes, arguing that innocent men are losing their homes and their children as a result of these dangerous laws.

Then there’s the rape laws in Victoria. That state is one of the most anti-male jurisdictions in the world according to law professor Ken Arenson who spelt out how this came to be in an article published in the Western Australian Jurist - The Demise of Equality Before the Law. Arenson showed the extraordinary influence of feminist law professors in framing the new legislation now making it so hard for innocent men to defend themselves against such charges.

Both Professor Zimmermann and Arenson are speaking at the International Conference on Men’s Issues Conference on the Gold Coast June 9-11, along with Mark Latham and I, plus many amazing international speakers.

But in the meantime we all need to get active and make sure this parliamentary committee doesn’t fall for the lobbying trying to persuade them to recommend damaging changes to Family Law.

The committee has an anonymous questionnaire which is being used to canvass the experiences of people about the way violence and sexual abuse are dealt with in the Family Court system. It’s a total snow job, carefully set up to promote the idea that all such accusations have validity. The women’s groups are lobbying their members to fill in the questionnaire which will then provide a really slanted view of this whole issue. We urgently need lots of people who have had experiences with false accusations to fill in this questionnaire, explaining that it misrepresents the real situation. Please circulate it widely.

Plus you can lobby members of the parliamentary committee. There are some with open minds like Tim Wilson, Susan Leys and George Christensen but Sharon Clayton and Emma Husar are likely to be pushing for some of the dangerous ideas. Sadly the chair Sarah Henderson has pretty much shown where she’s coming from in this interview with Sky News.

The Family Court has a long history of being biased against men. I was involved in various government committees during the John Howard era which introduced some positive changes but there’s a long way to go.

But we can’t afford to have this parliamentary committee snowed by a flood of anti-male propaganda disguised as protection for women and children. It’s scary how much our basic human rights have been undermined already due to the efforts of these powerful lobby groups. Help me take them on.

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