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Child custody reforms a disappointment for dads.



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Senator Len Harris Pauline Hanson's One Nation Senator for Queensland

MEDIA RELEASE Child Custody reforms a disappointment for Dads 27 December 2003

One Nation Senator Len Harris has warned of an electoral backlash if the House of Representatives committee investigating child custody arrangements rejects proposals for automatic 50/50 joint custody when parents separate.

Senator Harris, who spearheaded the campaign for family law reform in 2002 with his Joint Residency Bill, said his phone was running hot after media speculation that the Committee would quash the joint custody proposal.

“Rejection of joint parenting is a terrible disappointment for Dad’s, Senator Harris said. “It is the most significant reform that Father’s groups want.”

In August, Senator Harris took part in the National Strategic Conference on Fatherhood, which resolved to support joint physical custody and equal parenting of children.

“What is the point of having an inquiry and then ignoring the will of the people?” Senator Harris said.

“The perception among fathers is that the government is sweeping the big issue - Joint Residency - under the carpet. Genuine family law reform must be a national priority because it impacts the well being of Australia’s children, families, and communities,” he said.

“Joint Parenting would limit the extent of damage that is caused to all of the parties when family breakdown occurs. Both mothers and fathers make a significant contribution to child development. Caring for and being involved with the family is important for both genders,” Senator Harris said.

Senator Harris rejected proposals for a special tribunal to decide custody outside the courts. “It would be another layer of bureaucracy and red tape for parents and children to negotiate,” he said.

“Joint parenting is the most stable outcome for children and administrative arrangements are quite straightforward. Where Joint parenting is operating in various American states, the divorce rate is one third of the national average,” Senator Harris said.

It is widely acknowledged that Senator Harris’s advocacy of joint residency and work with Father’s groups, forced the government to initiate the inquiry into family law reform.

Senator Harris said he would be consulting constituents and father’s groups in Queensland and across Australia to further gage their reaction when the report is released on Monday.

Ends: Further Details: Senator Harris 07 4092 3194

Senator Len Harris Tel: 07 4092 3194 Fax: 07 4092 2755 PO Box 2206 Mareeba Qld 4880 Email: senator.harris@aph.gov.au

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