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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 92


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (18:33): I am supportive of both sides of the parliament—the minister for introducing the legislation and the opposition for putting this little rider at the end of it. I think both are very necessary developments. I think that all members of parliament should try and relate what they're doing and what they're saying to actual cases. I could select a number of cases, but I will select one. After 45 years of being a member of parliament, I've had many of these cases come through my office, but I'll select this one case.

In this case, the husband was a school teacher. He was living with two of his students in a house, and I mean 'living' in the bad way, if I can use that expression. So there was the wife and these two 15-year-old girls all living together and having relationships together. There were three little kids involved. The mother came to me a long time after the situation reached a hiatus. I learnt about the situation where the two 15-year-old schoolgirls were living with the school teacher and the mother at the same time. They were quite a prominent family, actually—it was like everybody knew the family—but very few of them knew what was going on with the two schoolgirls, and the school officials had a lot to answer for here.

The courts awarded two of the children to the mother, but the third child said he wanted to go with the father. The courts awarded custody to the father, and the mother came to me for help in appealing the situation. On top of this, the father drove his car at two of the kids, who were on horseback. He drove his car recklessly at the two horses. Whether he was attempting to kill them or just scare them, we don't know. When I rang the sergeant of police for the area, he said: 'Shut up, Bob; I know exactly what you're going to say and I have exactly the same feelings. If I learnt that the whole family had been wiped out tomorrow, I would not be surprised. I would be deeply upset but not surprised. We have a 24-hour watch on the house.' So we're dealing here with a bloke that was so arrogant and so personable and charming that he got away with, quite literally, blue murder.

Let me go back to the mother. Let's just say her name was Cindy. It wasn't Cindy, but I'll say Cindy. I said: 'Cindy, how could you have put up with this? For a whole year you accepted this situation?' And she said, 'Well, there was no "Cindy".' I said, 'All right; I can see what you're saying.' She said: 'When I did have the temerity to speak up against the situation, he punched me in the jaw, broke my jaw in two places and sent me flying through a glass door. And, both for physical reasons and for emotional and psychological reasons, I did not speak for nearly three months.' The woman then had to appear in court, and this is where I think the Dreyfus amendment is needed.

She had to appear in court. She didn't have any money, and legal aid said they'd contest the first case but they wouldn't contest this case—the appeal—so we had no legal aid. I did everything humanly possible to get some legal aid for her but couldn't. I applied to some of my friends to see if they would do it for free. They wouldn't. So I tried to school up the lady to represent herself. She said she would and I schooled her up, but, when the day came for her to appear in court, she was not game to appear in court. I suppose, who could blame her? She was terrified to appear in court.

The very sad sequel to this story was that a private school in Brisbane took him on as a teacher. He was a very charming, personable, good-looking sort of bloke, and they thought they had a good person there. Within a year and a half they realised what they had on their hands, and they agreed that, if he left the school voluntarily, they would not give him an adverse report even though they knew what he'd been up to. He then appeared at a school in New Guinea. I rang the headmaster of the school in New Guinea, and he said: 'That explains so many things. I will get rid of him immediately.' I said: 'I don't want you to get rid of him; I want the child back. The mother wants her son back.' So, seven years later, a lady rang up our office and said: 'There's a little boy here, and he's naked except for a pair of shorts. He is 13 years of age. He stands outside the house and looks out into the distance, and his father is having it off with a mother and the two daughters all at the same time in New Guinea.' And I rang the inspector of police for the area, and he said, 'He is a monster.' He said, 'I'm going to get him; I'm going to get him.' He said, 'I wish I was in the Highlands, because they know how to deal with these sort of people and I'd be out of town when they dealt with him!'

This little boy hadn't been to school for two years. He lived by himself and just looked wistfully out into the distance. What damage was done, I don't know and I don't want to know. But, after seven years, we were able to get the inspector of police to move and the child to be restored to his mother. Some would say it was all too late at that stage. But, whether it was or whether it wasn't, I tell the story because I think the Dreyfus amendment is needed and I would like the government, who have acted with all the right intent here, to take a further step.

I don't come here as one of the lily-pad lefts that jump up every time there is a problem and want to solve it by taking tax money and throwing it at the problem. But, in this case, I think there has to be legal representation provided, because the mothers are just too terrified. With the number of mothers in Australia that get murdered each year, there is no doubt at all that there is still a very serious problem, even though women may have become governors, governors-general, prime ministers of Australia and chief justices of the High Court—and leapt over every other boundary that they could possibly want to leap over. Mothers are the greatest people on the planet. They are mothers of children. But there are mothers that are married to men who are, to put it at its kindest, cowardly dogs. Where I come from, they would have taken a bashing until they started behaving themselves. Unfortunately, those days aren't over and the police have their hands very much bound in these cases.

To ask a mother who is terrified out of her mind—who is subject to continuous domestic violence of a very physical nature—to go into a court to fight the man who is terrorising her psychologically as well as physically, and to ask her to represent herself in the court or to be questioned in the court by the perpetrator of this brutality just can't be allowed. The government should take the place of those good men who, when I was a young lad, went around and bashed people that belted women. They deserved a good hiding and they got it in the good old days. If the government can step into the shoes of those good men from the past they must, but they also have to provide money. Money must be provided here.

I go back to the case of a mother who was deprived of her little seven-year-old child who was brought up by a monster that was living in the lowlands of New Guinea with a New Guinea lady and her two daughters—all living in sin, if I could use that expression. The inspector of police for that area was determined that he would throw him in jail and deal with him in the way he should be dealt with as speedily as humanly possible. When we got the phone call that the child had been returned to the mother, all seven employees of my office shouted out, screamed, clapped and yelled in happiness, because we'd fought the battle for seven years to rescue that little kid. We'd lost him for four or five years and we had no idea where he was. It was just that a lady in New Guinea felt so sorry for this little kid, she tracked down where he came from and who could help him. Thank the good lord they came to our office. I can give you a lot of cases like that.

We commend the government on making this move. I think they've done it for all the right reasons. We also commend the opposition and the initiative taken by the shadow Attorney-General, because I think in this case it is very, very necessary.