THE FEDERAL Government is playing politics over the issue of family law, Shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has claimed. Her comments come after the Government rejected a package of amendments to family law, released by Labor last week.
Labor last week urged the Government to accept amendments to Australia’s family law, which it claimed could further improve the Family Law Amendment Shared Parental Responsibility) Bill. But the Attorney General released a statement after the release, claiming Labor is “still all over the shop on family law reform”.
The Government’s “most significant changes to family law in 30 years” protect children from the risk of violence or abuse by making it a primary factor to be considered in child custody cases, Ruddock claimed. Under the changes, “court should always be a last resort, not the first”.
Roxon said Labor generally supported the Government’s reforms, but proposed several changes that it said would make safety a priority. Its proposed amendments included that there be a guarantee in law that move to compulsory mediation will include a promised three hours of free mediation, and that there be a clear legislative framework to ensure that Family Relationship Centres can meet the challenges they face.
But Ruddock claimed that the proposed amendments are designed to undermine the recommendations of the House of Representatives Committee.
In a tug-of-war between the Attorney General and the Shadow Attorney General, Roxon has now hit back at Ruddock’s claims, arguing that his “poking fun at Labor’s plans to improve the family law Bill” and his claims that the party is “all over the shop” are strange and odd.
“Labor’s position on the Bill is crystal clear. We support the Bill in principle, especially the provisions that encourage both parents to take responsibility for their kids and the effort to help parents resolve their disputes without expensive and stressful litigation. However, we do have some concerns that aspects of the Bill could be worded to provide greater protection from family violence. We have proposed amendments that would address this issue,” she said.
“The sad thing is that [Ruddock] is intent on playing politics and exaggerating differences, when there is really bi-partisan agreement on the big issues in family law,” Roxon said.