Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More misandry from a brainless NZ government :-(

All women to be questioned about abuse when at hospital

By Simon Collins

New Zealand has an alarmingly high rate of both domestic and child abuse.

All women entering New Zealand public hospitals will be questioned about whether they or their children have been victims of family violence - even if they are merely seeking treatment for an ingrown toenail.

Whilst in hospital women will be asked these three questions to see if she may have been abused:
* Has anybody hurt or threatened you?
* Have you ever felt controlled or always criticised?
* Have you been asked to do anything sexual that you didn't wat to do?

Health Minister Pete Hodgson and other ministers are expected to announce the radical move tomorrow in an attempt to clamp down on the country's appalling record of child abuse and other domestic violence.

It comes after a day of mounting anger over the latest two youngsters to be put in hospital by their families, and frustration over the lack of solutions.

Rotorua 3-year-old Nia Glassie remained in Starship hospital's high dependence unit last night.

It is understood she has been taken off a ventilator and is in a serious but stable condition.

A 12-week-old boy, also from Rotorua, remains in a stable condition at the same hospital with head injuries.

Four of Nia's relatives appeared in a packed court yesterday amid angry protests outside.

Politicians, meanwhile, united in calls for an end to violence towards children.

Tomorrow's announcement by the Government was planned before details of Nia's injuries emerged.

But the questions are aimed at catching child abuse as well as partner violence at an early stage.

Under the project - which has been piloted at National Women's Hospital - women are asked three questions about whether they have been hurt or threatened, whether they have felt "controlled or always criticised", and whether they have been asked to do anything sexual which they didn't want to do.

A woman who answers "yes" to any of the first three questions is then asked a series of further questions including whether she has children at home and whether she is pregnant.

Auckland District Health Board family violence co-ordinator Kathy Lowe said nurses were required to ask the first three questions of every woman aged 16 to 65 and every caregiver of children, regardless of what ailment brought them to hospital.

"That's one of the hard things. If someone comes in with an ingrown toenail it's just as relevant to ask them those questions," she said.

"They are not going to tell you unless you show them you are not scared of them [family violence issues]. We need to bring them out into the open."

The questions had already picked up several cases of child abuse since they were introduced in National Women's and community child health last year.

Nurses at Starship are now being trained to ask the same questions.

Anyone who is found to be at risk after answering the full set of questions is either referred to health board social workers or given contact details for the support agency Preventing Violence in the Home.

Advocate Jill Proudfoot said the agency had noticed a surge in self-referrals since the trial started.

Ministry of Health guidelines have also encouraged general practitioners to ask patients about child abuse whenever they suspected it.

The chairman of the Medical Association's General Practitioner Council, Dr Mark Peterson, said GPs could probably do better in terms of screening for family violence, but often knew the family situations well anyway.

Meanwhile, an $11 million advertising campaign aimed at changing attitudes and behaviour on family violence, which was to have been launched last Sunday, has been deferred until September.

Ministry spokeswoman Bronwyn Saunders said yesterday the launch date had been "a pretty moveable feast".

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reprehensible Shame from Helen Clark & Co.

I first alerted the Prime Minister and the Minister of Social Services Steve Maharey and Minister of CYFS Ruth Dyson early in the year 2002 about the existance and dangers of child abuse regarding my two estranged daughters ! They did not listen and the damage is done .

I am livid when I read the government's recent response to help victims of child abuse . They did not care then in 2002 , why should they care now ?

TRACY WATKINS and KERI WELHAM - The Dominion Post | Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Every New Zealander needs to act as a welfare agent, reporting any child abuse to counter a shameful culture of silence, political leaders and child welfare groups say.

A national outcry over the treatment of three-year-old Nia Glassie, allegedly spun on a clothesline and put in a drier, has drawn attention to what critics say are widespread failures in systems to keep children safe from abuse.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said yesterday it was "reprehensible" that neighbours were aware of Nia being abused but did nothing.

"It seems to me almost incredible that people were not aware within the wider family, neighbourhood and community."

Nia is in Starship children's hospital in Auckland with critical injuries, allegedly sustained in weeks of abuse at her home in Rotorua.

Days after the allegations became public a second Rotorua child, a 12-week-old boy, was admitted to the hospital with head injuries.

Labour MP Shane Jones said Nia's case highlighted the hopelessness of the plight of many children when adults failed to act.

"There is an element that we are losing in New Zealand, the view that `I am my brother's keeper'. I think a lot of people are genuinely afraid of these groups, these pockets of thugs."

Mr Jones said "kids need to be taken away" from parents in drug and alcohol-fuelled lifestyles.

United Future leader Peter Dunne threw petrol on to the debate by calling on Maori to sort out the problem.

"It is time to stop pretending that the kind of child abuse suffered by Nia Glassie and the Kahui twins is not a Maori problem. Within some families there is a culture of cover-up and collaboration that condones long-term child abuse."

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said abuse was not the Maori way and Maori had the ability to stop "the scandal" in their own communities. "We all need to take responsibility."

Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters said people should report any signs of child mistreatment and put aside concerns about politically correct behaviour.

"I want people to become nosy neighbours from now on.

"This is not a Rotorua problem. This is a New Zealand problem."

Family advocate group Jigsaw called on all people to come forward if they knew of child abuse.

"Many New Zealanders have turned a blind eye when they have witnessed child abuse in their community or have felt that they have no right to interfere in the way that other parents or families bring up their children," Jigsaw joint chief executive Liz Kinley said.

Unicef NZ executive director Dennis McKinlay said everyone had to become an agent for child protection.

Nia was in a stable condition last night.

Four of the five people charged with abusing her appeared again in Rotorua District Court yesterday as an angry crowd gathered outside.

A sobbing Oriwa Kemp, 17, her boyfriend Michael Curtis, 21 - who had a black eye - his father William Curtis, 47, and Michael Pearson, 19, were remanded in custody.

William Curtis is charged with abusing Nia over a four-month period, while the others face a joint charge of assaulting her in the three days before she was taken to Rotorua Hospital suffering convulsions and abdominal and severe head injuries.

Pearson is the nephew of Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, 34. She has not been charged but her partner of two years, 17-year-old Wiremu Curtis, has been charged and is out on bail.

The front row of the court's public gallery was taken up with kuia from the Maori Women's Welfare League, who said they were there to show there are enough surrogate nannies to help.

"We don't have to put up with this disgusting habit, or whatever you want to call it," said Ruthana Begbie. "It's not good enough for us to sit at home and feel sick about it."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Kerre Woodham: It's time to make a difference

Kerre Woodham: It's time to make a difference
5:00AM Sunday July 29, 2007
By Kerre Woodham

For all the criticism of John Howard, maybe we should be looking in our own backyard as yet another child is fighting for its life in Starship hospital.

The devoted mother is keeping a bedside vigil as the three-year-old is being treated for a brain bleed, and abdominal injuries so severe experienced police officers were left horrified.

Nice that the mother's nurturing instincts have kicked in. Better late than never, although from the child's point of view, it might have been nice if she'd noticed something was wrong three weeks ago, when it's believed the bashings started.

Neighbours reported on TV3 news that the little one was tied to the clothes line and spun until she flew off, that she was put in the drier and that she was used for wrestling practice by grown adults. Why these neighbours felt comfortable burbling away to the television reporter but couldn't summon the decency to phone the authorities is beyond me.

To paraphrase, it is necessary only for good-for-nothing gutless neighbours to do nothing for evil to triumph. And for the good people, those who do want to do something, who do want to make a difference, what can they do?

Most people become immune to news stories after a while. Emotional fatigue sets in and they find they simply can't summon the energy to care any more. Not when it comes to child abuse.

Despite the fact that there's an horrific, shocking story in the headlines every three months or so, the pain and the anger of the community is as intense and as white hot as it when the death of the last baby was reported, and the baby before that. It's expected this little one will recover - although what sort of life she can expect to have is doubtful. If she was a puppy found broken and battered, people would be lining up to adopt her and give her the sort of pampering and love that would go a long way to healing her after her dreadful start to life.

But she's not, so she'll probably be given back to her woefully inadequate mother and the misery will be perpetuated. And when it comes to drawing up New Zealand's 20 all-time most horrific child abuse cases, this wee girl probably won't feature.

Not when we've got Delcelia and Lillybing and James Whakaruru and Saliel and Olympia and the Kahui babies and most recently, Ngatikaura all vying for places.

And those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. I didn't even have to Google. It's a national shame and one that we are all going to have to do something about. I don't see child abuse in my neighbourhood - where I live the little ones go to baby gym and Montessori and are warm dry and well-fed.

The toddlers in my street are contented, confident little souls - quite happy to chat away to neighbours and passers-by, secure in the knowledge that they are loved.

So I can't do any direct intervention. But I can support other initiatives, such as the KidsCan In Our Own Backyard campaign. By donating $10 a month, you can help feed the kids at school and help provide them with raincoats and shoes.

And don't even think of telling me it's the parents' job to be doing this for their own children, because you know and I know that there are a number of parents who are not doing it. And to deny the children basic rights to food and clothing because of the sins of the parents is just plain wrong.

I spoke to a man last night who'd been abused as a child - he said he came from a good home, a respectable home, but his childhood had been blighted by abuse. And it was the intervention of a teacher that saved him.

So schools are good places to pick up some of the kids most at risk and try to repair some of the damage. And it was great reading of all the local initiatives by Auckland schools in the NZ Herald this week. Here were principals, teachers and parents, who got off their butts and made things better for the kids in their care.

So we can do something. And perhaps there's more the Government can do. Maybe it is time to start looking at tying the DPB to some form of proficiency in parenting. Failure to perform would result in a voucher system and compulsory parenting classes. Maybe it's time to take the children out of dysfunctional families and put them somewhere where they're safe - either state-run institutions or with families who are crying out for the children they're unable to have. And women need to stop getting up the duff to losers and start using contraception and stop seeing their babies as a meal ticket.

I'm sick and tired of women playing the victim card, because ultimately, these stupid women are not the real victims - it's their kids who are.

I know these suggestions sound draconian and all very back to the future but for heaven's sake.

So many children are dying and left damaged for life that maybe coming down hard is the only way to stem the tide of violence.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Calls for action on deplorable NZ child abuse !

Calls for Independent Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse
Media Release - Family First NZ | 27 July 2007

Family First NZ is joining with For the Sake of our Children Trust in calling for an official Inquiry into the unacceptable levels of child abuse in NZ.

The call comes after the horrific case of a Rotorua child fighting for her life as a result of abuse. Her step-father and other household members have been charged with assault.

"The ban on smacking was simply an admission by politicians that they could not and would not tackle the real causes of child abuse as identified by recent CYFS and UNICEF reports," says Bob McCoskrie of Family First.

"The 80% plus of NZ'ers who opposed Bradford's bill are not people who were demanding the right to "thrash and beat" children as suggested by Helen Clark. They were simply kiwis who were exasperated with the fact that politicians and supposed child welfare groups were more interested in targeting good parents and light smacking than tackling the tougher issues of family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, violence in our media, poverty, and weak family ties."

"The anti-smacking bill has been a spectacular failure because it has failed to identify and target the real issues. It was simply about a political agenda rather than practical solutions."

"An Otara couple who could be out of prison in only four years for the recent horrific abuse of their three year old shows that we simply aren't placing enough emphasis and resources on sending a clear message to child abusers that their actions are unacceptable. These type of people probably think section 59 is the main road into Wellington."

Since the passing of the amendment to section 59, there has been a continual stream of child abuse cases including:
June 2007
* Porirua mum and step-father charged with mistreating 3 children, including 5 year old admitted to Wellington Hospital with serious head injuries
* 16 month old Remuera boy dies after beating while in care of relative
* 28-year-old woman charged with murdering a newborn baby found dead in the backyard of a Te Mome Road property in Alicetown.
* Death of 22 month old Tokoroa girl from severe burns – being cared for by step-father. Claims was burnt in hot shower but 17 hour delay before arriving at hospital. Still under investigation.
July 2007
* Hawkes Bay father shoots daughter with air rifle. Convicted and jailed for 6 months
* Christchurch mum-of-two found at P Lab. Charged with failing to provide necessaries of life and allowing home to be used for manufacturing P
* 3-year-old Rotorua girl seriously ill after 3 weeks of abuse allegedly by stepfather and extended family

"This latest case is yet another wake-up call, following on from the high-profile Kahui case, that children will never be safe until we are honest enough as a country to identify and tackle the real causes of child abuse."

"An independent Inquiry would be an important first step," says Mr McCoskrie

Thursday, July 26, 2007

NZ is cess pit of child abuse and criminal debauchery!!

Abused child hung on line, put in dryer
Thursday, 26 July 2007

Police have not ruled out the possibility other people may be involved in the horrific beating of a three-year-old Rotorua girl which they say began two or three weeks ago.

The child is in a serious but stable condition in Auckland's Starship Hospital tonight. She has a serious head injury and abdominal injuries and is in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

So far four people, none of whom are the child's parents, have been arrested in connection with her three-week ordeal-- three men aged 21, 19 and 17 and a 17-year-old woman, all Rotorua residents, face joint charges of assault.

Tonight neighbours told 3 News the child was hung on the clothesline and spun around until she flew off.

They said she was put in an ice-cold bath and then in the clothes dryer.

They also said she was used to practice wrestling "like the men on TV".

Police say the girl lay seriously injured for 36 hours before anyone sought medical help for her.

On Sunday morning she was taken to Rotorua Hospital suffering from a head injury and later that night airlifted to Starship.

"Police inquiries to date have revealed that the little girl had been repeatedly assaulted by extended family members for up to three weeks prior to being admitted to the hospital," the head of Rotorua CIB, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper, said today.

"It appears that the assaults intensified over three days at the end of last week and medical treatment sought after at least 36 hours following the last event."

Mr Loper told the Rotorua Daily Post the toddler's mother was at Starship but her father had not been around for several years.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Gary Hawkins, told NZPA tonight that the child's condition remained unchanged.

He also suggested other people may have been involved in the beating.

"The investigation isn't finished yet so there may be other persons involved...we don't know," Mr Hawkins said.

"It is an horrific case."

The people charged with her beating have appeared in court.

The 17-year-old man appeared in Auckland District Court today and was released on strict bail conditions.

The other three appeared in Rotorua District Court and were remanded in custody until July 30.

A Child, Youth and Family spokeswoman said tonight that other children living in the Frank Street household were in care and "in a safe, secure environment".

"Child, Youth and Family continue to assist police in any way possible," she said.

The Daily Post reported a Frank Street neighbour as saying she believed two toddlers and an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old were among those who lived at the house.

Mr Loper said police would this week spend time talking to family members as well as organisations linked to the child, including her kohanga reo.


Custody mother refused flight .

By JOHN HENZELL - The Press | Friday, 27 July 2007
Two "screaming and hysterical" Christchurch children have been escorted by police to Australia and without their mother after she lost her last-ditch legal battle to keep them in New Zealand.

The woman, who cannot be named, obtained domestic protection orders on both sides of the Tasman against her allegedly violent former husband and claimed their children, aged four and two, would placed at "grave risk" if they had to return to Australia.

A family friend said the children were escorted on the flight yesterday by their father's mother but the airline refused to allow the mother to travel on the same flight because of the risk posed by the mother. She travelled to Australia on a separate flight today.

"The children were hysterical. They were crying and screaming and grabbing their mother," she said.

"We were of the understanding that they were to be picked up by child safety in Australia but we're of the notion now that the children have been returned to his care.

"We have grave concerns about these children being placed anywhere near (the father). We believe these children are at risk.

"The mother has no accommodation and no money and she doesn't qualify for anything in the way of financial assistance while she's in Australia."

The mother's court battled ended on Friday when the Supreme Court rejected her final bid to overturn the order for the custody battle to be decided in Australia.

Both parents are New Zealand citizens but were living in Australia when they split.

A Christchurch Family Court judge said the Hague Convention was clear that international agreements on custody battles had to be heard in the country where the dispute originated.

The decision to return the children to Australia was upheld at the High Court in Christchurch and then the Court of Appeal.

Chief Justice Sian Elias, sitting with Justices McGrath and Anderson in the Supreme Court, withdrew the court order preventing the children being taken to Australia and they boarded a flight yesterday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

NZ Government guilty of CHILD ABUSE !!

Breaking Through

Early last year a little boy was brutally beaten to death by his mother and her partner:

“The child's blood was also found throughout the house. In two rooms - the living area and his bedroom - the blood had splattered so high it hit the ceiling”.

Graphic photographs taken during his post-mortem showed three year old Ngatikaura Ngati’s body had suffered repeated beatings. His left arm was so badly damaged that it had swollen to twice its normal size. When pathologists cut it open they found all the tissue had already died from the beatings he had suffered.

The investigating Police Officer Richard Middleton said, "This is as bad as anything I have seen on a child or any human”.

Ngati’s mother had given him to childless relatives when he was a month old. They raised him as their own. But shortly after his third birthday, his mother wanted him back: “she was claiming a benefit for more children than were living with her and she was afraid of being caught out”. Three months later, the little boy was dead. (See From Happiness to Hell, Herald>>>)

This shocking case highlights the malevolent nature of child abuse in New Zealand – a vicious crime committed by a mother and her partner who were so hungry for benefit money that they placed their dependency on government welfare above the safety and happiness of their child.

For that reason, the second defendant in this case – and in most other child abuse cases in New Zealand - should be the State. The worst child abusers in this country are the government which has knowingly cemented in place social policies that create the environment for child abuse to flourish. Their social welfare policies lead to the disintegration of marriage, family and community as benefit recipients become hooked, realising that they are significantly better off if they stay single and on welfare.

Through unconditional state handouts to vulnerable women with children, whole communities have been created where the two-parent family has vanished, where work is rare or non-existent, and where social degradation – squalor, alcoholism, drugs, violence, crime - is commonplace.

Just last week, the Herald on Sunday reported on child abuse cases at Auckland’s Starship Hospital, stating that last year’s child abuse admissions were the worst on record. It also claimed that the figures for head injuries for Maori children are the highest in the world. (See Doctor Decries Staggering Level of Child Abuse>>>)

Yet the Government’s response to this national crisis is a shameful silence.

In contrast, the Howard Government in Australia has invoked a state of emergency to deal with their child abuse crisis - which is at a level similar to ours. They have introduced controls on dysfunctional families that include compulsory health checks on all at-risk children, linking benefit payments to school attendance, and quarantining 50 per cent of welfare payments to ensure that funds are used for children’s welfare, not booze, drugs or gambling.

The opposition Labour Party, recognising the seriousness of the problem, has pledged to put in place even tougher measures if they become the government, withholding all welfare payments from families that do not do the right thing by their children.

New Zealand remains the only country in the world that has wide open access to the sole parent benefit. Here, girl can get pregnant as teenager and literally have a benefit income for life. She can remain on the Domestic Purposes Benefit just so long as she doesn’t work, doesn’t marry, and from time to time has another baby to keep her eligibility current.

Yet life on a benefit is the very worst incentive that any government could possibly dangle in front of vulnerable young girls as it creates a perilous home environment for their children. Maori girls in particular are susceptible to the government’s anti-marriage welfare ‘bait’ with figures from the Ministry of Social Development showing that Maori teenage parents are on a benefit at a rate of 85 per 1,000, more than eight times higher the non-Maori rate of 10 per 1,000.

Just last week the Ministry of Social Development released a report showing that the number of children living in financial hardship in New Zealand has - incredibly - almost doubled in two decades from 12% in 1982 to 23% in 2004, with sole parent households with children being by far the worst off. (see MSD Hardship Report>>>)

That is why the government’s refusal to fundamentally reform welfare, in order to move sole parents off benefits into supported work and a decent life, borders on being criminally negligent.

In contrast to a situation here, politicians in the US took action over a decade ago: “The designers of welfare reform were concerned that prolonged welfare dependence had a negative effect on the development of children. Their goal was to disrupt intergenerational dependence by moving families with children off the welfare rolls through increased work and marriage... Ten years after welfare reform became the law those who have enjoyed the greatest benefits are the most disadvantaged single parents with the most significant barriers to employment. In particular, young, never-married mothers with low levels of education and young children”. (see The Impact of Welfare Reform by the Heritage Foundation>>>)

Figures from Statistics NZ confirm the dramatic move in New Zealand away from childbearing within marriage. Historically, only around five percent of babies were born outside of marriage. But largely as a result of the introduction of the Domestic Purposes Benefit in the seventies, the trend changed and by 1990 the rate had increased to 35 percent. As of last year, 47 percent of all babies born in New Zealand were born outside of marriage, which means that almost a half of all newborns in this country are being born into family structures that put them at an increased risk of child abuse.

That is not to say that all children born into de-facto relationships will be harmed; of course they won’t. Nor that all sole parents do a bad job; on the contrary many do an exceptional job and raise great kids. But just as there are no guarantees that children raised in two-parent married families will be happy and safe, on the balance of probability married families represent the safest of all environments in which to raise children, with un-married families the most dangerous.

Encouraging marriage is the approach that has now been taken by legislators in the United States in order to improve the outlook for children. It is also the conclusion that has been reached in “Breakthrough Britain: Ending the Costs of Social Breakdown”, a new report produced by the British Conservative Party’s Social Justice Commission. This report, which builds on last year’s “Breakdown Britain”, finds that the breakdown of the two-parent family and the decline of marriage is at the heart of the collapse of values in British society. It proposes a number of strategies to strengthen families and encourage marriage through adjustments to the tax and benefit systems. (see Breakthrough Britain>>>)

The report also discusses the significant contribution made by the voluntary sector, which works at the coalface of social dysfunction, and it recommends that it be liberated from the domination of state control.

According to this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator Peter Allen, who founded and headed the Prince of Wales Trust, the situation here in New Zealand is dire:

"During my eleven years of involvement with some of the country’s most complex young people I saw many valuable youth initiatives destroyed by the government’s youth policies and bureaucratic pressure. Unfortunately their loss is becoming increasingly apparent as we see more youth crime, assaults on elderly people, property damage, theft, drunken behaviour, increased drug abuse and more truancy from school than ever before".

He goes on to warn, "This Government’s destructive social policies have created divisions between cultures, within families, and across communities, and until there is a full realisation that the problems are politically motivated - and the people of this country demand appropriate action - the situation will continue to deteriorate". (To read Peter's article "The Bureaucratic Destruction of Private Sector Youth Support Services" click the sidebar link>>>)

Peter is right. Many of the complex social problems that we face in New Zealand – like the dreadful child abuse crisis – are being caused by politically motivated government policy. But until the public demands action, there will be no breaking though and as sure as night follows day, more and more innocent children like little Ngatikura Ngati will die.

Poll: The poll this week asks whether you would favour the introduction of policies to encourage marriage in New Zealand.
To vote click here>>>
[Comments received during the week on the column and the poll will be posted here>>>]

Last week's poll asked: Should the welfare reform proposed by the Howard Government in Australia should be adopted in New Zealand?
Result: 96% said Yes and 4% said No.
You can read the hundreds of comments that were submitted by clicking here>>>.

Housekeeping: Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to others who you think would be interested. A printer-friendly version is on the www.nzcpr.com website.

Don't forget that we are always keen to consider publication of opinion pieces for the website Soapbox Series - why not visit the page and send in your submission.

To contact Muriel about this week’s column please click here>>>.

NZCPR Weekly is a free weekly newsletter by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based forum at www.nzcpr.com for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas. You can reach Muriel by phone on 09-434-3836, 021-800-111 or by post at PO Box 984 Whangarei.

Dads' sea of tears :-(

The Sunday Times (WA)
21 July 2007

Dads' sea of tears
Special investigation by John Flint

High rates of migration and marriage breakdown have sparked a large exodus of children from Australia - leaving behind a sea of tears.

With the blessing of the courts, children are heading overseas with one parent, causing incredible heartache in the lives of the other parent, grandparents and relatives.

In special reports The Sunday Times and STM today reveal:

- The anguish of parents - usually fathers but in some cases mothers - who are paying high rates of child support for kids they never see.

- The ineffectiveness of court orders to protect ongoing access for parents who remain in Australia.

- The muddied approach of the courts to relocation applications, despite new shared parenting laws which were meant to protect the right of children to a meaningful relationship with both parents, in cases not involving violence or abuse.

State Government Minister Alannah MacTiernan has called for a process so that judges get to see ``what happens in real life'' after they make decisions.

Many court orders, to safeguard the rights of children and the parents left behind, were impractical, said the minister. She has spent the past six years fighting on behalf of one "childless father."

The Child Support Agency's international caseload has increased five-fold in the last six years. It collects millions of dollars from non-custodial parents in Australia for children who are overseas with the other parent. The agency currently collects and transfers on average 2,900 payments each month.

Many dads are paying high rates of child support for kids they never see.

And court orders that are supposed to give comfort and guarantee contact after their children have moved overseas are, in reality, ineffective.

The harrowing story of one Perth father's fight to remain in his daughters' lives after they were uprooted to the other side of the world is told in today's STM.

Ms MacTiernan said the Family Court of WA and the Family Court of Australia needed a reality check.

"I think there should be some process whereby judges who make these decisions then actually get to see what happens in real life," said Ms McTeirnan, who is dismayed by the experience of a father she's been trying to assist for the last six years.

In that case, the judge gave permission for the man's ex-wife to relocate to the UK with his children so she could be closer to her relatives. The devastated father, who spent $50,000 fighting their removal, was awarded "liberal contact" with his kids during holidays.

"Notwithstanding the Hague Convention, it has proved impossible for those orders to be enforced," said Ms MacTiernan.

The father said: "I haven't spent more than 36 hours continuous hours in the company of my children since 1999."

Ms MacTiernan said: "In any decision I make (as a government minister), I get to see what happens as a consequence, so that I can be better informed next time. What tends to happen in these court situations is that decisions are made and there is no follow-up, so judges presumably can be living in some fools paradise that these orders are actually doing the job."

Even if the orders worked, Ms MacTiernan said it was impossible for many fathers on moderate incomes to save up enough money to see their kids whilst paying high levels of child support, and having to support themselves in Australia.

She suggested one way around this Catch 22 was for the Child Support Agency to quarantine a portion of payments to fund access visits.

The agency doesn't categorise its overseas clients. But many would be mothers who have returned to their country-of-origin with their children after the collapse of their relationships in Australia. Another recipient group would be Australian mothers taking up overseas career opportunities or moving to be with new partners in other countries.

The agency indicated reciprocal arrangements struck with other countries had contributed to its burgeoning international caseload. "In recent years Australia has successfully negotiated with other countries to administer child support across borders," said a spokesman.

In all but the most extreme cases, the CSA does not take into consideration whether court orders are being breached - denying fathers and children contact with each other - when assessing child support liability. The CSA says it makes assessments ``based on the actual care arrangements rather than those ordered by the court.''

The Shared Parenting Council of Australia say this acts as an incentive for some mothers to obstruct contact. The less access fathers get, the more money they have to pay.

"You can distort the arrangements for the monetary gain," said federal director Ed Dabrowski.

Ms MacTiernan said the courts could anticipate many more applications for international relocation. "I think the potential for there to be many more of these cases is quite great because we are getting many young migrants and no doubt we are going to find families breaking up and one of the parties wanting to go back."

Barry Williams, national president and founder of the Lone Fathers Association said international relocation would be a key theme at its annual conference in Canberra next month.

He said: "I have invited the Chief Justice of the Family Court to come along or send a representative. We want to ask why they are allowing it?

"In some of these international relocation cases, it's like the courts are saying the child does not need a father."

Anglicare WA runs a Family Relationship Centre on behalf of the Federal Government. Jennie Hannan, executive general manager services, said interstate movement of children was much more common.

"We're such a mobile population in WA anyway. It's important to recognise that there are many families that manage to amicably negotiate contact, even from interstate.

"If you ever travel on planes at the beginning of the school holidays and at the end of school holidays, there are kids travelling all the time unaccompanied all over this country to have access to parents interstate. Only five per cent of cases ever get to the Family Court and it's really important to remember that."

At least one in four separated or divorced Australian parents live more than 500km from their children.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Scottish bishops urge PM .

Family, Scottish bishops urge PM - Catholic Online July 17th, 2007
Note from d4j: This is a very significant piece of news. As far as I know, this is one of the first times that religious leaders have had the fortitude to stand up for the principle of the importance of not writing off the importance of a father in the life of a child. This story concerns Scotland, but perhaps if enough people talk with their pastors, bishops and so forth, the same kind of pronouncements could be forthcoming in New Zealand .

Defend the rights of fathers, protect the traditional family, Scottish bishops urge PM - Catholic Online


Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

GLASGOW , Scotland (Catholic Online) – The state oversteps its bounds by attempting to write out in law and in social policy the role of the father in the raising of children, said the Catholic bishops of Scotland.

In a July 13 letter written to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Scotland’s two most senior Catholic officials, Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh and St. Andrews and Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, the president and vice president, respectively, of the Scottish Bishops’ Conference, called for an urgent review of the timetable for the ongoing public consultation on the “Human Tissue and Embryology Bill,” arguing elements of the draft legislation could be extremely harmful to the long-term welfare of children.

“The draft legislation proposes to remove the current reference in legislation to a child’s need for a father,” the prelates said.

“The proposals, they stressed, “constitute a sweeping attempt to rewrite traditional concepts of parenthood and the family.

Cardinal O’Brien and Archbishop Conti noted that passage of the draft bill would mean “that, prior to provision of fertility treatment, there will no longer be any requirement, nor guidance, to consider the child’s need for a father.”

They suggested that the draft provisions were “devised to accommodate the huge variety of new technologies that have followed in the wake of in vitro fertilization, and which facilitate the creation of children without any deference to historical social traditions or indeed to natural biology.”

While noting that the draft bill is “under scrutiny” by a joint committee of the two houses of Parliament and is “a complex and lengthy document,” the Catholic bishops’ officials said that section three, which addresses the child’s lack of need of a father, has had “very little public airing.”

The joint committee’s consultation on the bill will only last “for a mere two months, over the summer and during the parliamentary recess,” calling the prime minister to act now to ensure “that these very important considerations are given the time they merit.”

“We do not believe that there has been anywhere near sufficient widespread and informed public consultation on the matters in question and that to proceed in haste with regard to issues of such grave importance is both improper and dangerous,” they concluded.

Michael Hickman traumatised by unwarranted injustice .

Here is an updated report on victimisation and revenge as it is taken out on victims of the German State Apparatus

Please distribute this report as widely as possible so that the world can know what is going on in Germany. Please take action against Germany if you are in a position to do so


My sixth anniversary report on Germany practices in regards to victims of International child abduction to Germany

For over 11 years since my children were unlawfully abducted to and retained in Germany in January 1996 I have been systematically mobbed and threatened by the German State Apparatus because I dared to speak out publicly against violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights, because I dared to speak out publicly against violations of civil and legal rights because I publicly spoke out against blatant crimes that we being committed against my minor children who had been unlawfully abducted to Germany, children that were being denied access to their entire English speaking family by German officials of the Jugendamt in Wilhelmshaven in collusion with the German family court.

Today the 13 July 2007 is the sixth anniversary of my arrival in Berlin, Germany to join Olivier Karrer of CEED INTERNATIONAL and a group of other protesters to protest the fact that German officials in particular the Germany Jugendamt were deliberately preventing us access to our children who had been unlawfully abducted to Germany. Our protest was in the form of a three week long Hungerstrike at the Alexanderplatz, Berlin.

Since then I have gained very much valuable personal knowledge as to exactly in every possible detail how the German system operates. As to how German authorities blatantly and deliberately mistreat and terrorise foreign parents who are victims of international child abduction to Germany.

Since then I have had ongoing dealings with Germany at every possible level from both within Germany as a resident as well as more recently from abroad. These dealings have been with German authorities in particular the Jugendamt, with the German justice system, with German politicians, with German officials such as the Jugendamt and immigration officials, with German organisations and with ordinary members of German society. These dealings have been with large numbers of German individuals at all levels.

In addition I have surveyed and sounded out over 30 thousand separate German individuals from all walks of life as to their views in regards to the way foreign parents who are victims of child abduction to Germany are being routinely treated in Germany. In particular I have surveyed the views of German politicians from all the political parties, police from all the German states, university professors in particular in the faculties of law and psychology, the German Press and TV, German attorneys of law. Last but not least I have surveyed a broad cross section of ordinary German society. The results of my surveys have been consistently uniform in their results, all have reacted in the same inhuman German manner, mostly they have either ignored me, or have attacked me, or have corrected my grammar, all appear to be more than happy with the disgusting inhuman way that foreign victims of international child abduction are routinely treated, how their rights are routinely violated in Germany. The most frequently asked question in response to my survey has been "what have you done wrong to be treated in this manner", the most uttered statement has been "what did you do wrong, as you would not have been treated in this manner if you had not done something wrong". The attitude in Germany is that you would not have been treated by German "officials" in the manner that you have been if you had not been in the wrong. The concept that your fundamental freedoms and human rights have been violated, that your civil and legal rights have been violated that heinous crimes have been committed against you appears to go totally unrecognised by all and sundry. It appears to be automatically accepted by German society that one as a foreigner deserves to be treated in this manner, that you have no rights whatsoever, because if you had not been in the wrong in the first instance then you would not have received such treatment in Germany. In addition xenophobia appears to be a key component in the attitudes displayed, how could a foreigner possibly be in the right? and a German be wrong comes through time and again. Most of those who I have had dealings with to date appear to have no regards for my human rights or legal whatsoever.

My experiences with all categories of German involved in my case in particular officials and politicians have been consistently uniform, the only exception has been a very small number of ordinary members of German society who have recognised that the manner in which I have been routinely treated is totally unacceptable and have given me support in one manner or another. Some of these German people have become very good friends of mine, friends who continue to supply me with valuable help and information.

The rest without exception have all acted in undivided unison to collectively deliberately and blatantly violate my fundamental freedoms and human rights in every manner possible, to violate my legal and civil rights in every manner possible. They have all acted with German system in the disgusting "German manner of doing things" well known to the world, they have all acted in close co-operation with one another to systematically, blatantly and deliberately deny me and my victim children our rights, to deny me and my victim children justice. I have been persecuted at every turn because I have dared to stand up for my rights and those of my children, because I demand justice. These individuals collectively with German precision have and continue to mob me to take out their revenge against me because I a victim of the German State Apparatus and it’s terror campaign against me have dared to and continue to publicly suggest that even I a foreigner have rights in Germany, that I a foreigner have any rights no matter where I may be.

The more that I have publicly protested my rights and those of my children the more that I have demanded to be treated justly the more the German authorities and politicians have gone out of their way to take out revenge against me, the more blatantly they have denied me my rights and have committed crimes against me as is well recorded. This form of intimidation and state sponsored psycho-terror very closely borders on the practices of Germany under the National Socialist Regime and the Communist Regime of the former East Germany, which is totally unacceptable in a so called free democratic society.

How I have been treated in general by the German State Apparatus and it’s proxies can be no co-incidence, certainly not such well orchestrated and systematic violations of human rights, violations of civil rights, violations of legal rights and outright crimes that have been committed against me. Such well planned and executed violations of human rights can only be possible with the fully approval and support and of the entire political and government structure of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The present situation is that with the fully knowledge and obvious fully approval, of the entire political and Government hierarchy of the Federal Republic of Germany most probably on direct orders from these individuals. Applications to the family court go unprocessed or are simply ignored. Crimes against me and my family go unprocessed or are simply ignored. Charges against prominent politicians for involvement in criminal collusion go unattended to or are simply ignored. Charges of criminal collusion against German family court judges go unprocessed or are simply ignored, Applications for residence go unprocessed or are simply ignored.

The most alarming aspect of what I have to report regarding the way I have been systematically and routinely mistreated by German officials etc. is very familiar to me as I was born and raised under the former Nazi National Party Regime in South Africa (Apartheid Regime), what I have experienced and continue to experience at the hands of all these German individuals is nothing different to the way that people of colour were blatantly and deliberately violated and abused by the Nazi Nationalist Party Regime and it’s agents in South Africa. Alarmingly what I have experienced and continue to experience in Germany could just as well have been happening under the National Socialist Regime (Nazi Regime) which was formerly in power in Germany. As a result of my well recorded and indisputable experiences in Germany it would appear to me that the spirit of Adolf Hitler and the old regime is still firmly in control of Germany at every possible level of the political establishment, government and of civil society.

What I an now reporting to you is no isolated case involving me only, what I have reported to you appears to be routine German practice when it comes to thousands of other victims of International child abduction to Germany. I have come to this conclusion in addition to other reasons as a result of what has been directly reported to me a hundred fold by other foreign victims following International child abduction to Germany. These victims unfortunately for one reason or the other, mostly due to threats and for the fear of reprisal by Germany and it’s state organs in particular the Jugendamt, have failed due to very well founded fear to record or report their horrific experiences with Germany and it’s officials to the world.

Report by

Michael Hickman

On the 13 July 2007

From Durban, South Africa


This email has been sent to you for your information and your action by

Michael Hickman
135 Torquay Avenue
Durban 4052
South Africa
Tel: +27820612593


This email can not be clasified as spam as it is legitimate political activism in regards to bringing the world attention to the violation of fundamental freedoms and human rights as well as criminal acts being committed by German politicians and officials

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Freedom of speech" earns Vince Siemer 6 weeks jail!!

This is appalling but else would you expect from the judges!Ned Kelly would shine all over these people .

Robyn Case reports on the sad situation on justicesucks.com

July 15, 2007
"Freedom of speech" earns Vince Siemer 6 weeks jail!
The controversial, outspoken, but ever entertaining Vince Siemer, once the proud owner of Paragon Oil, has just earned himself six weeks in the slammer. Sadly, he paid the supreme price for daring to stand up to Vector chairman Michael Stiassny, the man he (Vince) believes wrongfully destroyed his company in his capacity as a receiver.

In a fiery High Court appearance on (appropriately enough) "Friday the Thirteenth", Vince Siemer copped a six week prison sentence for defying a 2005 court order to stop spreading defamatory material about Michael Stiassny.

Apparently the defamation was committed in postings to two web sites, the distribution of stickers drawing attention to these two sites, and letters to two newspapers.

But how's THIS for twisted justice???

In one breath, Judge Judith Potter granted Vice a 24-hour adjournment to prepare submissions for his case - and then ordered that he be held in custody - effectively denying him any reasonable possibility of being able to prepare any such submissions!

Another disgraceful act by a High Court judge ??? SURELY NOT!!!

To outbursts of raucous laughter from his supporters in the Public Gallery, Vince Siemer accused Justice Potter of running a "Kangaroo Court"; accused Mr Stiassny of perjury and claimed that his rights had been denied while in custody at Auckland Central Remand.

Sure, Vince Siemer broke the law when openly defying a 2-year old court order. But hey, c'mon………. s-i-x w-e-e-k-s in jail???

Whatever happened to freedom of speech???

This is exactly the sort of thing that has me convinced "we New Zealanders" need a constitution - just like they do in the States!

Oh, and Justice Judith Potter… You should be ashamed of yourself for denying Vince Siemer any reasonable chance of preparing his case effectively and fairly - regardless of your personal dislike of the man.

After hearing about Vince Siemer's plight on Friday, and then reliving (in my mind) the eery similarities between the way HE has been treated by the justice system and the way "I" have been treated, I honestly applaud Vince's stand against what he believes has been "judicial tyranny".

NZ Rehabilitation programe 'increased reoffending'

Rehabilitation programme 'increased reoffending'

By IAN STEWARD - The Press | Tuesday, 17 July 2007

A programme to rehabilitate criminals made youths and "high-risk" adults more likely to reoffend than those not involved, says an official memorandum.

A Probation and Offender Services memo, obtained under the Official Information Act, said results for the Corrections Department's "criminogenic" programmes were poor.

The author of the memo, Community Probation and Psychological Services Manager Katrina Casey, yesterday confirmed the programmes had the opposite effect to that intended.

Graduates were "offending more than the control group who didn't go through the programme", she said.

Casey said the "ineffective" programmes had been stopped in late 2005, once the negative results were revealed.

It could not be confirmed last night how many offenders went through the programme. The results were for all the 100-hour programmes delivered to offenders in prison and in the community, and also the structured individual programmes delivered to offenders in the community.

"When all 100-hour programmes are combined, the negative effect is statistically significant," the memo said.

It said the results were worse for young offenders (under 20 years) and for those with a very high risk of reoffending. The paper noted there was "currently no alternative criminogenic programme for young offenders in the community".

National Party justice and corrections spokesman Simon Power said the department had got it "embarrassingly wrong" and instead of trying to fix the problem, its approach was to "do nothing".

"Surely attempts at rehabilitation are most effective when they are targeted at young offenders before they end up in prison," Power said.

Casey said other non-departmental services, particularly drug and alcohol programmes, had been available to offenders in the interim.

Casey said a new programme was being planned that would be more intensive, although she admitted the new one could also fail.

"It's possible with any intervention. It's always a concern we have," she said. "We have to do this properly and learn from the past. Is it going to be easy? No, absolutely not, but we're a bit older and a bit wiser now."

Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft said youth was the time a person was most receptive to education.

"It's the group we can help," he said.

Becroft said about 60 14, 15 and 16-year-olds were sent to adult prison every year.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Taken Into Custody

In solidarity Mike and Stephen .

Mike McManus has written a column featuring my
forthcoming book, Taken Into Custody (see below).
Mike is a prominent columnist and founder of the
highly respected Marriage Savers, which is devoted to
(and successful at) rescuing marriages from the
horrors of the divorce industry. Yet I cannot find
that a single newspaper has printed the column.
(Something similar happened last year when Mike wrote
a column on John Murtari's arrest and incarceration.)

Mike McManus is, along with Phyllis Schlafly, the most
eminent figure to publicly align himself with the
cause of shared parenting and against the injustices
of family courts by actively writing about it. We
must encourage him and other respected public figures
to enlist themselves with us by showing that their
effort is not in vain.

If you have contacts with newspaper editors, please
urge them to publish this column. You should call the
Op Ed or Editorial Page editor and say why the column
should be published before sending it. If interested
the editor should call Mike at 301 469-5870.




June 20, 2007
Column #1,347
"Taken Into Custody"
by Mike McManus

Father's Day was not joyful for millions of fathers
who had a divorce forced upon them, whose children
were "taken into custody" by the mother who filed for
the divorce.

Indeed, Stephen Baskerville is a father who feels
"taken into custody," since he can't see his children,
when it's not authorized. For example, Father's Day
fell on a weekend when he did not have custody.
Fortunately, one daughter had a piano recital, and he
was able to attend and chat with her and her sister
for a few minutes afterward. That was his Father's

Baskerville has written an important book not yet
released by Cumberland House, "Taken Into Custody: The
War Against Fatherhood, Marriage and the Family."

He purposely does not tell his own story, because he
doesn't want to be dismissed as an angry father.
However, as the President of the American Coalition
for Fathers and Children, he has a national
perspective on what happens to perhaps 700,000 fathers
a year, 7 million in a decade, when their wives file
for divorce.

Very few fathers file for divorce Why? Consider
Massachusetts, where custody is granted to the father
in only 2.5 percent of cases, but the mother gets it
93.4 percent of the time, and joint custody is
permitted in only 4 percent. In a divorce, fathers
lose regular access to their children.

However, even if the mother is an adulterer, who moved
in with a boy friend, fathers lose their kids thanks
to "No Fault" divorce laws in which the court won't
consider who is at fault. Why not? Surely, in this
case, the father would be the better parent. "No
matter how faithless," writes Bryce Christensen, "a
wife who files for divorce can count on the state as
an ally."

The court says it is acting in "the best interest of
the child." What rot. The best interest of the child
would be served by the court telling the couple to
work out their differences, leaving the child with a
married mother and father.

That virtually never happens. Whoever files for
divorce always gets it. There is no defense. The U.S.
Bill of Rights supposedly protects citizens against
being "deprived of life, liberty or property, without
due process of law."

Where is "due process" if a divorce is always granted?

"The advent of No Fault divorce in the early
1970s...has left fathers with no protection against
the confiscation of their children," writes
Baskerville. As this column has argued, No Fault
should be called Unilateral Divorce, because what was
entered into by two people is typically ended when one
spouse calls a lawyer.

"The result effectively ended marriage as a legal
contract. Today it is not possible to form a binding
agreement to create a family," argues Baskerville.

Children need the protection of that law for at least
20 years.

Children of divorce are three times as likely to be
expelled from school or to get pregnant as a child
from intact parents, and are five times as apt to live
in poverty.

Arguably, the whole of Western civilization is built
upon the enforcability of contract law. "A society
without contracts lives in mud huts, except for
dictators. A contract is needed for people to
cooperate to build something larger than themselves,"
says attorney John Crouch.

But when a spouse's feelings change, the solemn oath
"till death us do part," is worthless. What's more,
the law takes the side of the miscreants and punishes
their victims.

A typical father sees his kids every other weekend. He
must move from his own house, rent another, and often
pay confiscatory child support. Baskerville paid 65
percent of his $38,000 income as a Howard University
professor. He still pays for day care for children,
aged 10 and 14, who don't go.

If he doesn't pay, he can be jailed, without a trial.

Why not ask the court to lift the day care charge? "It
would cost me $10,000 to go back to court. And going
back to court is risky. It could take away my right to
see my children."

Baskerville makes a case that the "divorce industry"
of lawyers, court-appointed psychologists, and judges
who depend on them for campaign contributions and
state legislators who are often divorce attorneys -
will never reform itself.

The only hope is if religious leaders fight for
change. The Catholic bishops have been considering
the marriage issue for two years, but are not calling
for divorce reform. They are issuing TV spots
endorsing marriage.

How lovely and how irrelevant.

Copyright (c) 2007 Michael J. McManus


Stephen Baskerville, PhD
American Coalition for Fathers & Children
1718 M Street, NW, Suite 187
Washington, DC 20036

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Australian Courts fight against PAS ( brainwashing)


Jacqueline Maley
July 12, 2007
SEPARATING parents who make derogratory comments about each other in the presence of their children are so bad for their children's development that the Family Court can impose criminal sanctions on them.

In a recent decision handed down by the Family Court of Australia, Irvin and Carr*, the mother and father were ordered to refrain from making such comments with a child present.

The order was one of several directions about custody arrangements and reflected the willingness of the court to govern the private behaviour of parents where it disrupts the wellbeing of the child.

Justices Finn, Warnick and Boland found that the mother had breached the order by making an insulting comment about the child's father on the phone.

The breach, with other contraventions, contributed to a change in custody orders which meant the three-year-old lived primarily with the father. A breach of orders made by the Family Court is a criminal offence, and can result in a jail term.

Geoff Dunlevy, the president of the Law Society of NSW, said "non-derogation" orders, as they are called, are one of a number of specific directions the court can make governing behaviour.

Others include directions not to smoke or drink alcohol in front of the child, or the stipulation that the parent use a particular car seat when driving their children.

"The reason the court can make non-derogation orders is that it can be very psychologically damaging for one parent to make insulting comments about the other parent in front of the child," Mr Dunlevy said.

Although some would consider such an order an unacceptable invasion of the state into the private sphere, the rights of the child must be factored in, he said.

"The Family Law Act makes very clear that where the rights of parents and children conflict, the rights of children prevail."

But Anne Hollonds, the head of Relationships NSW, which counsels in family court disputes, believes it is more complicated than that. "It takes [enormous] emotional maturity and self-discipline not to let the kids see what you really think of the other person," Ms Hollonds said.

"The child embodies both parents in their sense of self, so they will identify with criticism of either parent. When a parent is criticising the other parent, to an extent they are criticising their own child," Ms Hollonds said.

"The child may start to suffer emotionally and psychologically."

However, Ms Hollonds said non-derogation orders hold separated families up to standards that would never be enforced in families that stay together. "The occasional careless comment won't cause lifelong damage," she said.

But Coral Slattery, the secretary of the Family Law Reform Association in NSW, a lobby group in favour of shared parenting, says non-derogation orders are necessary. "It is something like wicked to turn a child against one parent," she said.

"That is brainwashing. A child deserves to have a good relationship with both parents whether they are living together or not."

* The Family Court changes the names of parties to protect their privacy.

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Sunday, July 8, 2007

Daddy Track


As society acknowledges that men can be great parents, the number of single fathers is on the rise. So what is life like for men juggling career, family, and home? A lot like life for single moms.

(Photo by Tim Llewellyn)

By Anne Jarrell | July 8, 2007

When Keith Mochida and his wife split up nearly 10 years ago, she wanted to explore life beyond motherhood. So Mochida got the mortgaged-to-the-hilt house, a hefty car payment, and the two kids. "Panic is how I'd describe it," says the 39-year-old Chelmsford computer engineer. "Suddenly I had $1,200 a month in day care on top of everything else." To manage, Mochida downsized to a three-bedroom rental home and a Hyundai in the driveway. But he was prepared to roll with the changes, he says. "Being a father didn't come with any criteria like I had to have a wife."

Ed Antos, 54, found that he had to switch careers after winning sole custody of his two daughters in late 2002. No longer able to make time for the commute from Merrimac to his job at Harvard University in Cambridge, he became a sales representative working from home. As for his social life, he has spent many Friday nights watching the Disney Channel and making tuna melts or attending Lowell Spinners games instead of the Red Sox. "Seeing them thrive is worth it," says Antos of his girls, a National Honor Society scholarship winner and a competitive swimmer.

And Jay Portnow, a doctor who works in Brockton, cut a deal to ensure he didn't get cut out of his sons' lives when he divorced 12 years ago. His oldest boy, then 10, lived with him full time, his youngest, then 7, half the time, and, according to the terms of his settlement, he paid his former wife above and beyond what a court would order. Now, he is not only paying $33,000 a year in child support but also willingly pays two private-college tuitions with no help from his former wife, who works as a nurse. "There will be repercussions," says Portnow, 61. "I can pay the bills, but I have little in my retirement account. But I have no regrets."

In the last 30 years, as women have made gains toward achieving equality in the workplace, men have done the same on the home front. Across the United States, the number of households headed by single fathers almost doubled between 1990 and 2006, from 1.15 million to 2.1 million - or 20 percent of all single-parent families, US Census Bureau figures show. No longer willing to accept that the mother should automatically look after the children - the "pay up and shut up" narrative in divorce - fathers now are competing more aggressively for custody and are winning cases. In an April 2006 survey, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 22 percent of its 1,600 members are seeing a rise in cases in which a father wins sole custody, a trend that Massachusetts lawyers and judges say they are also seeing, along with a rise in joint or shared custody arrangements.

"Society is really changing," says Rosanna Hertz, a Wellesley College professor of sociology and women's studies. "What we're seeing is more and more men stepping up to the plate." At the same time, those dads are discovering what single mothers have long known: Along with offering rewards, the job requires sacrifices.

There are many reasons why men become custodial parents. A mother may move to remarry or for work. The father may live in the better school district. It may be the housing situation. Or the father may remarry, and his new wife provides much-needed help in child-rearing duties. To be sure, some single dads have no other option; the mother may be unable to fulfill parenting responsibilities. But many men say they choose to raise their children themselves. "I always wanted kids; I come from a family of nine," says Chris Broderick, 46, who lives with his three young children in a two-family house in Roslindale that his mother owns. Chelmsford dad Mochida says he had a tumultuous upbringing (he ended up living with a grandfather in Texas), and he wants to provide stability for his children - including a third child from a second relationship - no matter what.

Changes in societal views on gender and parenting roles that let dads take on child-rearing duties are "very positive" for men, women, and children, says Susan Bailey, executive director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, a social-science research arm of Wellesley College. "Absolutely, there are situations where the father is the best caretaker. Is it always terrible that a mother is not caring for her children? No." What children need, Bailey says, are adequate financial and emotional resources - in short, a stable environment, and that is not contingent on gender or biology.

Martin Whyte, a sociologist at Harvard University, says that the shift in gender roles in parenting is in line with society's growing acceptance of same-sex marriages and adoptions by gay parents. "The culture is in the midst of reorganization, but it is still difficult for men to venture into female territory," he says. Donna Booth, a Saugus divorce lawyer, says that the change is difficult for women, too. Even in divorces where a mother has been the family breadwinner and the father has stayed home, a lot of women who come into her office, Booth says, insist on fighting for sole custody. "It takes a brave woman to go for another arrangement."

Changing custody law to acknowledge the importance of a father in a child's life is the bottom line of the fathers' rights movement, which has been growing steadily and agitating increasingly in the last decade or so, not only in the United States but also abroad. To publicize their cause, activists embrace a range of tactics, from flamboyant stunts like scaling Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman, as Jason Hatch of Fathers 4 Justice did two years ago, to peaceful rallies and vigils like the one the group held this spring at the Massachusetts State House. At the grass-roots level, the movement sponsors support and consciousness-raising groups reminiscent of the ones the women's movement organized 30 years ago.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Corruption of Power

The Corruption of Power

It was Dr Thomas Sowell, author and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute who said about government, “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong”.

All of us, of course, like to hope that our “government” is working in our best interests - after all we pay for the government with our taxes. While we accept that the ruling political party has some influence on what goes on inside the machinery of the government, common sense tells us that the vast public service bureaucracy has a mind of its own.

That of course was the theme of Roger Hall’s highly acclaimed “Gliding On” series and the much-loved British programme “Yes Minister”. In real life, however, we know that governments are not necessarily benevolent, but are sometimes responsible for grotesque consequences.

The persecution by OSH (the Department of Occupational Safety and Health) of Margaret and Keith Berryman for the death of a beekeeper - as the result of the collapse of a bridge built by the Army on Crown land - is a case in point. The fact that he was not an employee and that the bridge did not belong to the Berrymans did not seem to matter. OSH was determined to prosecute and with their unlimited taxpayer-funded resources, the Berrymans hardly stood a chance.

Their case highlighted the power of the bureaucracy and the consequences for those who get offside.

This was the theme of the book by MP Rodney Hide The Power to Destroy in which he detailed cases of persecution by the Inland Revenue Department. Included is the tragic case of Ian Mutton, a small businessman who broke his ankle in a work-related accident - which ACC originally refused to cover – getting behind in the payment of tax. Instead of working with Ian and his wife Bronwyn, the IRD applied harsh penalty rates and the couple faced ruin. Unable to cope, Ian took his life and tragically, seven months later, his 13 year old son Trevor followed suit.

Christchurch businessman Dave Henderson, in his book Be Very Afraid: One Man’s Stand Against the IRD outlines his nightmare battle with the IRD, which fabricated a $1million debt against him. Dave’s four-year-long campaign eventually resulted in the false assessment being reversed in favour of a $65,000 refund. The book is now being turned into a film which Dave hopes will encourage more people to stand up against state stupidity and aggression.

Inhuman government regimes have been the cause of many deaths. The IRD is not the only government department that drives people to suicide: parents, crushed through the loss of their children as a result of the grossly unfair family law system, have taken their lives on a regular basis, and sometimes the lives of their children as well. Every week patients die on hospital waiting lists as they hope against hope for the medical treatment they believe the government promised it would provide.

This week’s NZCPR guest is Trevor Grice, co-author of The Great Brain Robbery and founder of Life Education. Established in 1988, Life Education takes a preventative approach to children’s health, warning about the dangers of drug use. This is in sharp contrast to the official government’s “harm minimisation” approach (to read Pauline Gardiner’s NZCPR article “A Magnifying Glass over Harm Minimisation”, describing the dangers of this approach, click here>>>).

In his article, Trevor questions the wisdom of faceless government bureaucrats who produce official pamphlets for children telling them how to use illegal drugs and he calls for more accountability:

“The pamphlet produced by a DHB (Health Ministry) describes how to safely use NOS (nitrous oxide) if you want to get high. Evidently the main problem for young NOS abusers is that they are prone to fall over and injure themselves - so the pamphlet advises only inhaling it if you are lying down in a well ventilated area! What kind of message to our younger generation is that? Whatever happened to the idea that self-destructive children can be rehabilitated? What kind of society produces advice for teenagers on how to self-destruct safely? And why produce information like that when according to this country’s law it is illegal to use NOS outside of a medically supervised situation (i.e. in a hospital)”. To read the full article, click the sidebar link>>>

These days New Zealand’s drug problem is never far from the headlines. It is at the core of our gang problem and it is a major contributor to this country’s estimated $9 billion crime problem. As a result, it has been suggested that we should consider putting the same effort into preventing drug use that we have put into preventing smoking.

Countries take very different approaches to drug use from Singapore which has imposed the death penalty for drug trafficking, to Holland which is extremely tolerant of soft drug use. In the State of Montana, a high density television advertising campaign uses shock tactics to discourage young people from using the drug methamphetamine. If you visit the NZCPR Debating Chamber Forum you can view some of the ads in the series – but be warned, they are pretty disturbing! Click to view>>>

For the last two weeks, Frank and I have been travelling in Europe. We spend a few days in Poland and visited the concentration camp at Auschwitz. There we were reminded of how evil government can become.

Auschwitz was chosen for the death camps because it was a deserted military barracks that was located on a railway junction some distance from the nearest town. Jews from all over Europe, political prisoners, Gypsies, Jehovah Witnesses, criminals, homosexuals, prisoners of war, and those regarded as “antisocial” were among the groups sent there. Some were used for slave labour, others for medical experimentation, but most - millions - were exterminated.

We stood inside the gas chambers, saw the furnaces where the bodies were burnt, the death wall where prisoners were shot and the gallows where they were hung. There were bales of human hair that had been destined for the German textile trade on display, mountains of shoes, clothes, glasses, suitcases and piles of empty Cyclon B canisters – the poison used in the gas chambers. On the walls were endless, endless haunting photos of the innocent people who died.

All of this happened only 60 years ago. Since that time, nothing much has changed. Dictators are still committing atrocities using the vast powers of their state machinery, and people who should speak out against such wrongdoing still remain silent. As George Washington once said, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter”.

In reflecting on the vast power held by government - and its ability to do great evil as well as good – probably the most important safeguard that citizens have is the freedom of expression. A courageous free press and a well informed public who are not afraid to speak out, are vital parts of the system of checks and balances that help to ensure that a government serves the people and does not overstep the mark.

Inviting guest commentators to speak out - as forcefully as they like - and encouraging NZCPR Weekly readers to express their views are key objectives of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research. Helping to keep readers informed – about Parliament (What’s on in Parliament), government departments (Consultation), Think Tanks (Coffee Break), and the world-wide media (Media) - are important services provided by the NZCPR. While all of these services are free, thankfully some readers are happy to subscribe to help keep the NZCPR going. My heartfelt thanks goes out to those supporters. If you would also like to help, please click here>>>

Poll: The poll this week asks whether you believe more needs to be done to discourage drug use in New Zealand.
To vote click here>>>
[Comments received during the week on the column and the poll will be posted here>>>]

Last week's poll asked: Do you believe that global warming poses an opportunity or a threat to our economy?
The result: 2% voted Agree, 98% voted Disagree. You can read the hundreds of comments that were submitted by clicking here>>>.

Survey: I received so much correspondence about last week's topic with suggestions for other questions that readers would like to see explored that I intend to develop a global warming/climate change survey which I will send out to our NZCPR Research Panel later this week. If you would like to join our Research Panel and take part in the survey, please click the sidebar link to register>>>

Housekeeping: Please send this newsletter on to others who you think would be interested and encourage them to visit the website and register.

Don't forget that we are always keen to consider publication of opinion pieces for the website Soapbox Series - why not visit the page and send in your submission.

To contact Muriel about this week’s column please click here>>>.

NZCPR Weekly is a free weekly newsletter by Dr Muriel Newman of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, a web-based forum at www.nzcpr.com for the lively and dynamic exchange of political ideas. You can reach Muriel by phone on 09-434-3836, 021-800-111 or by post at PO Box 984 Whangarei.

UK - F4J start campaigning for equality and justice

I couldn’t help myself, but reading today [July 1st, 2007] the interview below with Matt O’Connor, which was published almost a month ago just a week before last Father’s Day, reminded me of Shakespeare’s Hamlet where he wrote [Source: Hamlet Acte II, Scene II]:

Polonius: "What do you read, my lord?"
Hamlet: "Words, words, words."
Polonius: "What is the matter, my lord?"
Hamlet: "Between who?"
Polonius: "I mean the matter that you read, my lord."

This week and also today both Matt O’Connor and Fathers 4 Justice have again taken up campaigning for justice and equality (see reports elsewhere) in front of Bristol prison to have the criminalised and jailed father and F4J legal adviser Michael Cox released. I sincerely hope it will be a promise for much more, instead of the ego-filling columns below. Fathers-4-Justice still has the edge as well as some wonderful people within their ranks, including Matt himself, who are well capable of making a real difference. I therefore hope that Matt does “mean business” and is capable of making himself subject to and an essential part of the equal parenting movement again. Modesty, compliance, subservience and above all action instead of words would go best with that for starters.

Peter Tromp


Matt O'Connor: The Caped Crusader of Fathers 4 Justice means business

Matt O'Connor was the force behind the stunts involving comic-book heroes that kept his pressure group in the news. After a year sorting out his domestic troubles, he has returned to the fray and a big surprise is planned...

Interview by Cole Moreton

Independent Online Edition - Profiles - Published: 10 June 2007

Holy security cordons, Batman is back. He won't be wearing tights this time but does promise to make more enemies than ever before. "This one is a fucking cracking idea," says the fast-talking Matt O'Connor, founder of the campaign group Fathers 4 Justice, with a grin. "It's the most controversial thing we have ever done. If it happens they will come down on us like a ton of bricks."

"They" are the police, the law, the politicians - the people O'Connor has been irritating since he started the most spectacular protest movement of modern times, four years ago. Batman on a ledge at Buckingham Palace. Spiderman on the London Eye. Purple powder hitting the Prime Minister in the House of Commons when the country was afraid of terrorist anthrax. They were all Fathers 4 Justice stunts. They were all condemned as irresponsible, stupid, dangerous or offensive.

Then came a plot to kidnap Leo Blair, the Prime Minister's young son, as "revealed" in The Sun in January 2006. O'Connor condemned the idea as "sick" and insisted he knew nothing about it. The story wasn't true anyway, he says. But it made him walk away, declare that his campaigning days were over. So why, after more than a year out of the headlines, is O'Connor back and promising to make the biggest stink yet?

"We have a high-profile idea that will take the protest right to the heart of government," says the 40-year-old marketing consultant, whose rapid, freewheeling sentences often morph into slogans. "Literally. To the heart of our democracy."

We are at his home in Winchester, Hampshire, a modern apartment with wooden floors and walls that are lined with framed newspaper front pages. "Purple flour bomb hits Blair," tuts The Daily Telegraph. "Flour Show Special," wisecracks Private Eye. O'Connor wears a chunky silver bracelet on his wrist in the shape of barbed wire.

If the verbal machinegun that is his mouth is telling the truth, then his troops will go over the top in London some time before Father's Day next Sunday. "There will be no men in tights," he says. "That was right for its time, but it's not for now. I won't tell you what this one is but it will fuse two highly charged issues together." Excitement blurs his estuary accent. "

Among the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan 54 fathers have died, orphaning about 83 kids. There is an irony about going off to fight a phoney war on behalf of a country which doesn't even afford you the right to be a father." He knows the risks. "Last year the police thought we were going to target the State Opening of Parliament. Scotland Yard said to me: 'Make sure you're not coming into London on the day, because you will be arrested. And if anybody tries to do anything you will be shot.' Period."

Not that the master strategist will be placing himself in front of a gun. "Erm. I've done several things... but at this moment in time it wouldn't fit in with my long-term political plans." Those include starting a new party in the autumn, to campaign against the erosion of civil liberties. That will follow the publication by Orion in August of a book called Fathers 4 Justice: The Inside Story. He has also sold the rights to a movie, although it appears to be stuck in development.

Perhaps they are toning down the lead character. In real life, Matt O'Connor looks and sounds like a cheeky chappy survivor of Britpop (he even has a union-flag guitar on a stand in the study corner of his open-plan living space). He's wearing Chelsea boots, and faded and frayed grey jeans, a black leather box jacket and a grey T-shirt that bears the logo "Fathers 4 Justice Campaigner" on a roundel.

During his time out of the headlines the campaign didn't disband as he had said it would but consolidated quietly, putting up a slick website with a merchandising operation. It still doesn't make any money though, he says. Everyone's a volunteer. O'Connor still works as a brand consultant some of the time and his hair is spiky, gelled and highlighted. His glasses have thick, funky frames. In the lobe of each ear is a small silver cross, evidence that this lapsed Catholic has recently returned to his faith.

On his dining table are books that may well have been piled there to make several points: V for Vendetta describes a dystopian, authoritarian Britain; The Audacity of Hope by the new star of American politics Barack Obama; the works of agit-prop artist Banksy; and The Book of Dave by Will Self, a novel about a disgruntled father. "It's about a right-wing mysogynistic, racist, homophobic cab driver," O'Connor protests. "I'm centre left, raised in the Labour Party, I was in the anti-apartheid movement... this is a civil rights issue."

Any film may as well open with a shot of him standing on a bridge over the Thames, late at night with a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand, trying to jump. That happened for real six years ago when O'Connor was at his lowest. His business partner had died in an accident. The banks had foreclosed and taken away the company flat in which he was living. His ex-wife wouldn't let him see their two sons.

"It's like someone dragging a serrated knife across your heart," he says. The ex-couple were at war in the courts. "I went in like most naive, probably arrogant, slightly sexist pigs and it was a slaughterhouse. They say, 'You have no right to see your children.' Your jaw hits the floor. 'Ugh? What happened there?' Then you discover this grotesque edifice, this cathedral of cruelty which is the Royal Courts of Justice."

He's a natural spin doctor, obviously. So was he really going to jump, or just drunk and miserable? There is a long pause. "Put it this way ... I set off with the intention. There is a safety mechanism that asks how it would damage your kids. I lost my father in 1990 and I know what that does to you."

Instead he "set off on this insane adventure called Fathers 4 Justice". O'Connor himself was the force behind the stunts - such as the condom filled with flour that an F4J member threw at Tony Blair during Prime Minister's Questions in May 2004, and the scaling of Buckingham Palace by two men dressed as Batman and Robin that September. They were reviled and despised by those who said the actions endangered lives, demeaned dads and damaged the cause. But F4J also changed the nature of protest, showing how the right absurd image in the right place could dominate the news. It was bad timing and tasteless though, surely, in the wake of 9/11? "There is never a good time," he says. "Before that were the mainland bombing campaigns by the IRA."

The irony was that by F4J's peak he had sorted out his own domestic problems. "I'd been a lousy, drunken husband," he says, "but I was never a bad dad to the boys. We're a very close, tight-knit group of people. Me and my ex, Sophie, have strived to get on well since that time."

Daniel is now 11 and Alexander 10. O'Connor also has a son called Archie by his girlfriend Nadine Taylor, a fellow campaigner. Taylor was one of the F4J activists who ran on to the set of The National Lottery: Jet Set show, protesting that family law was a lottery. "She's fucking feisty," he says with pride. "Très formidable."

At its most popular Fathers 4 Justice had 12,000 paying members; now 3,000 people are registered to its website. Surprisingly, a quarter of them are women. "They have experienced family breakdown; their fathers haven't been living with them; they miss their dads. They're very supportive."

Archie was three weeks old when The Sun published its story about Leo Blair. "I knew jack shit about it," says O'Connor. "I couldn't believe it. Then the world started caving in." There was "barely a shred of truth" to the alleged plot, he says. "The organisation had been infiltrated by Scotland Yard. It was a hatchet job."

Furious and frightened, he stayed up all night talking to the media but snapped next day, on a lawn by Winchester Cathedral. Tearing off a Sky earpiece mid-interview he walked away, with the presenter calling after him. "I just didn't want to be involved any more. I was totally and utterly mentally shattered. The police, the media, the internal shenanigans, the courts, the judges... it's very difficult to remain sane."

Some people - who hated his self-confessed "dictatorial" style - didn't think he had the right to say it was all over. They called themselves Real Fathers 4 Justice and tried to put handcuffs on the then education secretary, Ruth Kelly. O'Connor admits, "There is always a danger people will go off at a tangent. One chap was threatening to blow his brains out in front of Tony Blair. You would be irresponsible if you didn't pass that information to Scotland Yard."

Fathers are now "emphatically better off" than they were four years ago, he says, not least because of the increased presumption of shared residence. "Most judges recognise and accept it. And we have started a chain of events that is unstoppable: the reform of the shambolic family justice system."

So why come back now? "I want to see mandatory mediation, before people even get to speak to their lawyers. Second thing is that both parents recognise and accept they should have equal or sensible contact. The third is that we must have an open, transparent system where the judges are held accountable for their outrageous decisions."

Maybe, as he insists, Matt O'Connor has been brought back to direct action by the stories of desperate men who come to F4J needing help. Or maybe he just can't give up the buzz of planning great stunts. And getting other people to do them. This week he - and we - will find out if they're still willing.

Further reading: 'The Book of Dave' by Will Self is published by Bloomsbury.