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MENZ Issues: news and discussion about New Zealand men, fathers, family law, divorce, courts, protests, gender politics, and male health.

Tue 31st August 2004

Its Official Child Support Is a Tax!

Filed under: Child Support — Scrap_The_CSA @ 6:13 pm

Politician and Official agree, so called Child Support is a Tax

On 15 August 2004 the Hon Paul Swain,Associate Minister of Revenue and John Wright, Under-Secretary to the Minister of Revenue, issued a media statement. Fairer tax treatment proposed by discussion document. I would suggest that you read the statement. In summary it’s a media release telling taxpayers that IRD want to try and be fairer.

“The proposals in this discussion document attempt to strike a balance between the two extremes, to encourage voluntary compliance with the tax laws in the best possible way.”

Interesting as this is have a look at question and answer number six :

6. Will these proposals apply to all taxes?

Yes, with the exception of child support. Child support payments may be passed on to the custodial parent and are paid for the support of children. If child support debt was written off the children involved would suffer and the principles of the scheme would be undermined.

Its nice to see Paul Swain, the politician, and John Wright, the official agreeing with what we have been saying for a long time.

It is child tax, not child support.It is calculated on gross income using an inflexible formula and mostly ends up in the consolidated fund. It targets a group called ‘liable’ parents and it takes no account of individual circumstances. The Child Support Act 1991 is focused on collecting money, not on supporting our children, and is nothing more than a tax applied to ‘liable’ parents

Given that David Cunliffe, espouses the notion, “that the level of payment is fair and that the system is based on sound principles.” one can only conclude : that taxing separated parents with a Child Tax is fair and sound?

David Cunliffe and other tax collectors would do well to remember the words of Tiberuius Cesar “It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them.”

Myself, I am reflecting on the words of Henry David Thoreau ” If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.”

Think about it friends, a “peaceable revolution” may be the answer?

The Child Support Act 1991 is financially crippling, mothers, fathers, children, step families, parents with student loans, parents with variable income, parents who are suddenly unemployed, parents planning families……the list goes on.The time for change is long overdue.

Thursday night I am having a reunion with some of the friends I made on MEN’s Convoy 2004 as we prepare for the MENZ PIKNIK (for Dad ,Mum and the Kids) at Parliament this Sunday, Fathers Day. It will be a great celebration, music, clowns, lollies for the kids, a sausage sizzle, prizes and giveaways. A celebration of fathers on fathers day. All are welcome.

Following the PIKNIK I will be addressing the Wellington Members of NZChild Support Reform Network. An update on this will follow next week.

The theme of this address will be “Is a peaceable revolution the answer? ” Keep an eye on your email and letterboxes.

Together we will achieve our goal of a fair and reasonable child support system.

Keep the comments flowing.!


Wed 25th August 2004

Judge to address Family Court seminar

Filed under: Law & Courts — domviol @ 9:54 pm

Press Release: Victoria University of Wellington

Judge to address Family Court seminar
The role of the Family Court will be the focus of debate at a one-day seminar on Monday 30 August, organised in association with Victoria University’s Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families and hosted by the New Zealand Psychological Association.

Issues for the Family Court will open with a presentation from Principal Family Court Judge Peter Boshier, who will discuss his view of future directions in the Court, including openness, the participation of children, the role of court professionals and other changes signalled in the impending Care of Children Bill.

Mon 23rd August 2004

Quotes from the internet on the need for reform of the New Zealand Child Support Act 1991.

Filed under: Child Support — Scrap_The_CSA @ 7:59 pm

Quotes on the New Zealand Child Support Act 1991 collected from public websites on the Internet via a search engine.
Suggested Search Terms :
Child Support Act 1991, Child Support Theory, Men’s Convoy 2004,
Child Support Reform

“In light of that is can be easy to forget the basic truth that in child support I know staff want to be as helpful as possible, that the level of payment is fair and that the system is based on sound principles”

David Cunliffe, Minister Responsible for Child Support : Child Support National Workshop 28 July 2004.
See full speech at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ViewDocument.cfm?DocumentID=20446

Perhaps David Cunliffe would do well to listen to what the real situation is:

“There are major problems with the Child Support Act which are not addressed by this Bill. In particular, a basic flaw is that the objects of the Act are inconsistent with the formulae. This is discussed in the August 2000 issue of the New Zealand Law Journal. An extract from a version of the article is appended to this submission. Any piecemeal change to the Act is likely to exacerbate these problems.”

Stuart Birks, Director, Centre for Public Policy Evaluation, Massey University, Submission to Social services Select Committee on the Child Support Amendment Bill 2001
For full submission see http://econ.massey.ac.nz/cppe/issues/csasub.htm


Sat 21st August 2004

Floods leave wake of family violence

Filed under: Domestic Violence — domviol @ 4:52 pm

Police in Whakatane have detected an upsurge in family violence as a flow-on effect of the region’s floods.

Community Sergeant Neil Peterson said yesterday that reported family violence had doubled during the weeks since the July flooding.

“We average five to six incidents each week but there is obviously a lot of stress and frustration out there in the community,” Mr Peterson said.

“There are lots of different types of family violence and it is not always partners fighting. Some cases have involved mothers and daughters or even extended family members.”

Court activism sets up ‘vicious cycle’

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 2:17 pm

Judicial activism creates a vicious cycle that undermines confidence in court decisions, says a long-serving United States federal appellate judge, Diarmuid O’Scannlain, brought to New Zealand by the US State Department.

Judge O’Scannlain referred to the present “conversation” between New Zealand politicians and the judiciary on the question of judicial activism – when judgments reflect what judges want the law to be rather than applying the law.

But he said he would “never deign to take sides in such a debate”.

However, speaking at the United States Embassy in Wellington yesterday, Judge O’Scannlain, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan 18 years ago, was highly critical of the effects of judicial activism.

“Eschewing judicial restraint for judicial activism such as this can generate a vicious cycle by triggering a lack of confidence in judicial decisions, which thereby stimulates political meddling, which again reinforces a lack of confidence in judicial decisions.”

Wed 18th August 2004

Minister claims Child Support Act based on sound principles.

Filed under: Child Support — Scrap_The_CSA @ 4:08 pm

On July 28 David Cunliff delivered an address to the Child Support National Worksop.

My response to David Cunliff’s speech is in italics

What is clear is that the advice Mr Cunliff receives is very different from the reality of the experiences of Parents and Children subjected to the Chilod Support Act 1991.

Hon David Cunliffe
28 July 2004

Address to Child Support National Workshop

We all have something in common. We all have jobs where our clients have pretty much decided they don’t like us before they come to us. They come to us at difficult times. At times of stress. And we tend to hear from people when something is going wrong, or they disagree with a decision that has been taken. Not much correspondence comes through my office that congratulates me on a decision or policy.

I don’t get a lot of letters saying that the writer has just had an interaction with our department where the staff were helpful, that the decisions were fair and that the system is based on sound principles. In light of that is can be easy to forget the basic truth that in child support I know staff want to be as helpful as possible, that the level of payment is fair and that the system is based on sound principles.

Its all very well preaching this erroneous information to the to the converted. Spin doctoring does not change fact.

I challenge David Cunliffe to debate with me the fairness of the Child Support Act and the soundness of its principles. I have spent extensive time working with parents subjected to the current Child Support Regime. I can produce real people to back up the mountain of issues experienced by parents affected by this Act. I have extensive knowledge of NZ and International child Support Law and systems.

The reality is that the Act is based on flawed principles that have lost any vestige of credibility that proponents of this unfair and draconian Child Support Regime claim.

Overall, we have a basically sound piece of legislation in place. It needs some updating, which I will discuss later but it is basically sound. That means that it is up to those that administer the legislation to do so in a manner that is consistent and fair, and with a customer focus

They can administer it fairly or consistently but it does not change the fact that the Child Support Act 1991 is fundamentally flawed. The hundreds of millions of debt point to the underlying problems with a “simple formula” that stems from an Act. The Act is all about benefit recovery and not about supporting children.


Review Domestic Violence Act Says NZ First

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 10:33 am

New Zealand First social services spokesperson Bill Gudgeon has called for a review of protection order provisions and police responses to domestic incidents under the Domestic Violence Act.

“Domestic violence is a major problem for New Zealand women. It has been blamed for up to 27 deaths each year,” Mr Gudgeon said.

“Evidence suggests that the Domestic Violence Act has lost its effectiveness since it was introduced nine years ago because women are losing faith in the protection provisions that it offers.

“Women are being discouraged by court delays and the failure of the authorities, the courts and the police to enforce the law. Because of this, they are resorting to informal agreements which can’t be enforced by police who appear to have different interpretations of the Act anyway.

“This results in even further violence.

“The legislation should be amended to ensure that greater protection is given to victims of domestic violence, and that anyone who breaches a protection order is automatically arrested.

“More robust enforcement provisions and the need for greater collaboration between Police, Child Youth and Family, Courts, Women’s Refuge and Stopping Violence services are issues that should be considered in the review,” Mr Gudgeon concluded.

Tue 17th August 2004

IRD staff shocked by bridge jumper

Filed under: Child Support — JohnPotter @ 12:12 pm

The man … leaped from the bridge on August 6, just hours after he had quit his job with the department’s child support team in Takapuna.

Staff told the Weekend Herald that the man had complained to management that he could not cope with the stress and demands of working at night.

They said he was not happy about having to deal with the sometimes angry complaints Child Support received at night and asked to be transferred to the day shift where he would be dealing with clients face to face.

National spokeswoman to tackle men’s health

Filed under: Men's Health — JohnPotter @ 11:59 am

Men’s health issues will get special attention from National, says the party’s new health spokeswoman, Judith Collins.

She has asked associate health spokesman Paul Hutchison to take responsibility for promoting men’s and children’s health, and pharmaceuticals.

There had been no specific men’s health initiatives in the past five years, Judith Collins claimed. Sitting on Parliament’s health select committee for 18 months, she had constantly listened to “women talking about women’s health”.

Boys are parents, too

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 11:33 am

Nobody is even certain how many teen fathers are out there. The meagre statistics available (commissioned by the former Ministry of Youth Affairs and dating back to 1997) indicate that just over half the babies born to teenaged girls are fathered by teenaged boys.

Given New Zealand has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world, the lack of solid information is bizarre, says Father and Child Trust co-ordinator Harald Breiding-Buss.

Victoria University associate professor of psychology Jan Pryor … interviewed 15 teen fathers in 1995. Her findings have never been published, but she describes it as one of the most extraordinary studies she has done. “I had no idea it [fatherhood] would be so important to them … These were ordinary young men, but they had been through the birth and had been extraordinarily moved by it … That was a turning point for them.
More than one of them was in tears describing the birth of their child.”

Thu 12th August 2004

Family Law Section Executive Committee – dinner Rotorua

Filed under: Law & Courts — domviol @ 9:56 pm

Hon Rick Barker

There is a real mood of willingness for the Family Court system to be brought into the 21st Century. As family changes involve step parents and children, single parents and extended family – the role of the family court changes.

The government is listening to what practitioners envisage for the court.
We talk about wanting more openness, but at the same time we must be confident that families won’t get caught up in a media circus and lose their privacy.

Generally for people to need a family court, things are not going so well in their lives, so everyone involved is dealing with many different emotions.

It is my job and the role of you all here tonight to make the rocky road as smooth as possible.

The government announced a $73 million budget package to improve the courts by injecting money into new technology, staffing and facilities.

I am just quickly going to read over some of the initiatives that are coming up:

Wed 11th August 2004

Domestic Violence Investigation Scheme Applauded

Filed under: Domestic Violence — domviol @ 3:29 pm

Press Release: New Zealand First Party

New Zealand First social services spokesperson Bill Gudgeon has praised the new domestic violence investigation system initiated by the Wairarapa police.

“Every two weeks, a team from the Police, Child Youth and Family, Courts, Women’s Refuge and Stopping Violence services meet to discuss the cases of domestic violence reported in the area,” Mr Gudgeon said.

“Every incident reported to police is now investigated and already the team is starting to see fewer cases where violence is repeated.

“For too long agencies have been working in isolation in an attempt to combat the incidence of domestic violence and child abuse.

“It is encouraging to see the move towards greater collaboration between agencies, and I would urge police in other areas to follow Wairarapa’s lead,” Mr Gudgeon concluded.

Tue 10th August 2004

Divorce as Revolution

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 12:44 pm

By Professor Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D

The result of three decades of unrestrained divorce is that huge numbers of people — many of them government officials — now have a vested professional and financial interest in encouraging it. Divorce today is not simply a phenomenon; it is a regime — a vast bureaucratic empire that permeates national and local governments…

Mon 9th August 2004

Research sheds new light on stepfamilies

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 11:53 am

Stepparents and non-resident parents play just as important role in the behaviour and well-being of their children as the parent they live with, Victoria University researchers have found.

Centre Director, Associate Professor Jan Pryor, says the study found children’s relationships with their stepparents and non-resident parents are much more important than previously thought and not only affect their relationship with the parent they live with but also their own behaviour, self esteem and happiness. The quality of these relationships was also linked with the quality of family life in their stepfamilies.

“This means a child’s perceptions of their relationships will give a clear indication of how well their family is functioning, which has important implications for how the Family Court, professionals working with families, and parents think about managing separation and divorce, and the best interests of children.”

Laws aimed at keeping women safe from domestic violence are failing

Filed under: Domestic Violence — JohnPotter @ 10:30 am

Women left to fight on their own


Sunday Star-Times investigations reveal it is getting harder for women to win protection orders against violent partners, and judges are increasingly granting orders only in deferred, defended court hearings – rather than straight away.

The National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges, expected to release a report next week criticising the trend, says it puts women in danger.

Refuge workers say that’s because women are being put off by court delays — they don’t want to be put in danger without legal protection while they wait for the defended court hearing — and the failure of courts and police to consistently enforce the law.

Brian Gardner, manager of the National Network of Stopping Violence, said women were more at risk than before the Domestic Violence Act became law.

Fri 6th August 2004

Money wanted for years spent in jail

Filed under: Law & Courts,Sex Abuse / CYF — JohnPotter @ 11:29 am

A Christchurch man who wrongly spent three years in jail on sex charges after a judge made a procedural error is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation.

Mervyn Finlayson, 60 — a stroke victim with a serious heart condition — was jailed for six years in 2000 on charges of indecently assaulting a boy aged nine, inducing the boy to do an indecent act on him, and two charges of sodomy.

Finlayson’s appeal said the trial judge in his case, Colin Doherty, made a procedural error by failing to provide balancing evidence from the defence case when he replayed the boy’s evidential video to the jury during its deliberations.

Wed 4th August 2004

Aust police looking for missing NZ girl

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 8:53 pm

Sydney: The Australian Federal Police are appealing for help to track down a 4-year-old New Zealand girl believed to be have been taken across the Tasman by her mother in defiance of a court order.

Rebekah Jayne Stewart has been missing since March 2003, when former New Zealand policewoman Roanne Jill Stewart is believed to have brought her to Australia.

Rebekah’s father, Steven Petty (44), is seeking his daughter’s return to Auckland under the United Nations Hague Convention which facilitates the return of children who are abducted from their home countries.

The Stewart case hit the headlines last year when it emerged Roanne Stewart had allegedly spirited her daughter out of New Zealand in what Family Court Judge Jan Doogue described as a “clinical and calculated exercise”.

Mon 2nd August 2004

Penalties for ignoring access orders

Filed under: Law & Courts — JohnPotter @ 9:19 am

Parents who repeatedly use their children as pawns in custody battles may be asked to pay a “good behaviour” bond to try to ensure they respect access orders.

The court-ordered payments, which could reach thousands of dollars, will be cash or bonds listed against assets, such as a house or car.

The decision to change the law to allow bonds to be used more widely follows increasing concerns that Family Court access orders are too often ignored or manipulated.

The provisions are included in the Care of Children Bill, which rewrites the Guardianship Act and should become law within a few months.

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