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MENZ Issues June 2000 Volume 5 Issue 5

AGM date set for Sept 20th -Situations Vacant.

Matrimonial / De Facto Property BillThe Government’s next piece of family law to take the NZ family further back into the dark ages has been announced. Please everyone, make a submission! Includes a summary of media reports.

Consultation opens on proposed changes to relationship property lawThe Justice and Electoral Committee is inviting public submissions on Supplementary Order Paper No 25.The SOP will extend the bill to cover couples in de facto relationships, including same sex couples, and make other changes to the law covering relationship property.

Law strikes at fathers who stick with mother and fall in love with their children "If Parliament wants to send a message about the value it places on the role of the father in child rearing, then it should send this bill to the select committee for its consideration and for the community to have its say. I want to hear from those fathers who have lost their families. I want to hear the effect that it has had on them, and on their children. Let their voices be heard!"

Citizens Initiated Referenda on Shared Parenting On behalf of: "A Childs Right to Be Mothered And Fathered by Both Parents" The government”s argument that this issue affects only 5% of people who separate with children is an insult to the intelligence of anybody who has been remotely involved with such issues.

Salute to fatherhood unites dads and kids On Saturday 20th May, almost 40 people met in QE ll Square at 9.45am and marched up Queen St to Aotea Square, promoting shared parenting and Family Court reform. There was a ‘Fathers for Families’ event in the square, with displays by Auckland father’s organisations. Organised John White from the recently formed group Just Dads.

Family Law Must Change – to Recognise Value of Fatherhood media release from the Separated Fathers’ Support Trust. "We see the current family law and the family court system, as detrimental to the wellbeing of children, and others."

Father s Plight a father and his three-year-old daughter traveled from the North Island to Christchurch to visit the mother of the child. On arrival she ordered them off her property. They had nowhere to stay and so turned to the police for assistance. The police contacted all the welfare agencies they had contact numbers for, none of which were prepared to offer them a place to stay for the night. The daughter yes, but not with her father.

Naming “sex offenders” before conviction "Naming sex offenders before they have been found guilty has frightening consequences for the innocent accused", says Bruce Cheriton of Mana Men”s Rights Group.

Taking issue with views on psychiatric illnesses "It is misleading for a psychologist to claim, or even suggest, that schizophrenia and similar psychotic disorders are caused by childhood abuse. Parents and families of people suffering with schizophrenia will be distressed and disgusted to learn that Dr Read continues to promote his daft gospel."

Green Party and Shared Parenting To her credit, in her speech to Parliament on May 10th Sue Kedgley acknowledged the "problem that thousands of people lose effective contact with their children within a few years of separation and divorce." Of course many separated fathers end up walking away from their children – when they learn that the Family Court system (with its almost infinite resources) will work against them they simply give up.

Peter Ellis Enquiry Not Accepting Public Submissions Letter from Minister of Justice "As you correctly note in your letter, Sir Thomas has not been asked to invite and consider general public submissions, either on the literature relating to mass allegation sexual abuse cases or on the circumstances surrounding Mr Ellis’s case."

Live Alone – Avoid Procreation Labour’s plans to cause everyone to live alone and remain childless could be very good for the economy, in many areas.

Chairman Jim: The time has come for one of you members to be looking at being Chairman.

Heartbroken Grandmother It has been a huge struggle being a grandparent in 2000 to my young grandchild of 3 and a half years. We are lucky to see him at all, even for 2 hrs a week.

arch.jpg (22432 bytes) Family Day March by Dad”s Army and Separated Fathers” Support Trust enters Aotea Square, Auckland. 20th May – story (here)

AGM date set-Situations Vacant

At the Men”s Centre June committee meeting, it was decided that the Annual General meeting will be held at 7.30pm on September 20th. As Jim Bailey has decided not to stand for Chairman again, and Paul Wannop has indicated that he intends to resign as Treasurer, we will be looking for two keen men to fill these positions. If you support the aims and activities of this organisation, and are available to attend around ten committee meetings a year, please consider doing your bit to keep us in action.

As usual, no proposals will be accepted from the floor at the AGM. Notices of Motion must be delivered to the Secretary, Richard Wheatcroft, 2 / 1 Paget St, Freeman”s Bay before 20th August, so there is time to inform all members of the meeting agenda.

Feedback Request

Our new secretary Richard is rightly concerned that only a minority of MENZ Issues readers pay a subscription fee. Currently, we have no funding support for the newsletter, and are using our small reserves to keep publishing. If the situation does not resolve soon, it may be that we will have to abandon the print version and concentrate on the website as a way of spreading our message.

We would like to hear what you think of this newsletter, and any suggestions on how it could be improved. What don”t you like? What would you like to see more of?

Matrimonial / De Facto Property Bill

Please Submit to the Select Committee!

The Government’s next piece of family law to take the NZ family further back into the dark ages has been announced.

Please everyone, make a submission! Do it well before the closing date (7 July, yes that’s right, just one month) and get your discussions on the net so we can all share ideas and help each other. We will get draft submissions out soon.

When the original matrimonial/de facto bills were before Parliament in 1998 there were 260 submissions to the select committee. The submissions were mostly strongly in favour of all the things we know will be disastrous. There were very few submissions against the original matrimonial/defacto bills. Our opposition had really cranked up their submission machinery.

Bruce Tichbon,FARE (Families Apart Require Equality)

(Information on making a submission can be found here)

More information on FARE here

A summary of recent media reports.

Hyperlinks to the full articles are here.

23rd May. Greens Request Second Look At Property Bill

"While we strongly support the provisions in the bill, we want to ensure it works as well as possible, and there is a major issue of democracy here," Green Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today. "The bill includes fundamental changes that could affect every relationship in the country."

National’s Justice Spokesman Tony Ryall said: "National has a number of concerns about the Bill. If passed in its present form, it will see most matrimonial disputes ending up in court – only 10% do now. These cases will take years to solve and will be a new gravy train for legal aid lawyers. The Bill undermines the long-standing 50/50 split rule, and changes the clean break principle so that one partner will end up paying alimony way beyond the boundaries today.

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley said: "It took pressure from all sides of Parliament, but it is great news that Labour has finally been brought to heel on its proposed shake-up of matrimonial property law."

The Government decision gives a month for public submissions, but some MPs are concerned that may not be long enough. It is expected that the Select Committee will report back to Parliament for further debate by 1st August.

ACT’s Stephen Franks said Margaret Wilson’s move to allow just one month for public submissions was an insult. "The degree of public interest will mean that it is unlikely that the Justice and Electoral Select Committee could get through hearing submissions, drafting amendments and report back in a considered way by Ms Wilson”s deadline of August 1. The essence of the multi-party move today that forced Margaret Wilson to this was to try to take family law back away from ideological posturing and to ensure that family law is stable and doesn”t change every time there is an election."

Franks said: "The Bill gives enormous power and discretion to Judges. The drafting is obscure. But it is so bad in principle that even exemplary drafting would still drag thousands of unhappy, separating couples into a quagmire of litigation. Bitter people can”t avoid lawyers exploiting uncertainty. Advice on either side will urge their party to “try it on” as no one knows what the Judge will think is fair. It may depend on the Judge. Is equality equity?"

Donna Awatere Huata warned: "This certainty of litigation will impose great costs on Maori solo mothers and the legal aid system. In Maori society it is practically always women who do the saving. This provides security for the children and herself when her partner abandons his responsibilities. Yet when this flawed legislation becomes law, Maori women will be at great risk of losing half of their hard earned assets to the absconding male.

Placing the onus on the asset holder, predominately the Maori woman, to invest time and money to opt out of the legislation, will make nobody but the lawyers better off."

United New Zealand leader, Hon Peter Dunne is concerned that there are aspects of the proposed amendments which appear to go beyond the scope of simply extending the existing legislation. "They introduce far-reaching changes that will have implications for existing married couples they may be unaware of."

A digest of the Supplementary Order Paper (link)

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24th May. Government backs down over ‘gold digger’s charter’

The National Party has slammed the Property Relationships Act as a “gold digger’s charter.” It says the legislation has the potential to clog the courts, blow the legal aid budget and destroy the institution of marriage through its abandonment of terms such as “husband” and “wife.”

"Yesterday”s decision to refer the sweeping changes introduced by way of Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill to select committee is a victory for democracy," said Young Nationals Chair Daniel Gordon.

Green MP Sue Kedgley said she was mystified by the attacks of the National Party, New Zealand First and Act against the new economic disadvantage provisions of the bill, which are needed to give redress to the many thousands of parents, mainly women, who devote years to unpaid full-time parenting of their children, and who are disadvantaged under the present provisions of the Matrimonial Property Act. "The heart of the problem is that when parents look after their own children, they receive no remuneration," she said. "Studies show that a parent who has been looking after children on a full or part-time basis are often financially worse off after divorce, while the partner who has been in the paid workforce is financially better off."

25th May. "Women will pay the price

….for the Government’s under-estimation of the impact the new matrimonial property legislation on the Family Courts," says Opposition Women’s Affairs spokesperson Anne Tolley. "A flood of cases will be filed following this legislation, only to be caught in the logjam that already exists."

Lawyer Deborah Hollings, says that her client ‘Z’, an Auckland wife who won a portion of her wealthy husband’s future earnings – would be delighted with the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill. Although the payout was overturned by the Court of Appeal, it caused a furore about inequities in relationships where one partner’s career prospects and earnings are ‘restricted by child-rearing.’ Australian judges award up to 70 per cent of existing assets. She says the bill will benefit mostly "women who do not have dependent children…often middle-class families."

Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson confirmed in Parliament yesterday she had been advised the proposed changes would spark more litigation when couples broke up. The Government has come under heavy fire for the proposed changes, which would give de facto and same-sex couples the same property rights as married couples.

29th May. Bill promoted by lawyers

"Giving gays in de facto relationships property rights is probably the least controversial provision in this Bill. There is overwhelming support to amend the law to enable gays to be able to legally register their relationship. The controversial provisions are those that give the courts wide discretion to alter the 50/50 split of property after divorce and grant lifetime alimony. This reverses a bi-partisan approach to family law 20 years ago, when Parliament decided that long legal fights over matrimonial property were wrong and decided on 50/50 and a clean split. The Bill promoted by a few family lawyers will make them rich and see divorcing couples tied up in expensive litigation for years. Margaret Wilson suffered a significant blow when Parliament voted to send her ideas to a select committee." ACT”s Letter from Wellington is faxed and emailed weekly. To subscribe, or contribute, call 04 470 6624, Fax 04 473 3532.

31st May. With this Act I thee wed

"Nor should we be shocked that Helen Clark, Margaret Wilson and their fellow social engineers in Cabinet want to conduct the fiscal equivalent of a massed Moonie wedding, declaring thousands of de facto couples married.

This grants them important rights – like the right to expensive and unseemly squabbles over who gets to keep the CD collection when a relationship turns sour, just like with married people.

Many de facto couples have carefully chosen to avoid such entanglement and might have preferred the option of being able to sign up to a voluntary but enforceable agreement. Many gay couples – who will get similar unseemly squabbling privileges under the legislation have also made the same choice.

Now people in non-married relationships find they must either chuck their partner out before the bill becomes law, have that difficult ‘uhhh…I wonder if you could sign this contract’ discussion, or cross their fingers and hope it’s true love."

‘From the Gallery’, New Zealand GP magazine.

1st June. Women Should Say ‘I Don’t’

Opposition Women’s Affairs spokesperson Anne Tolley is encouraging women to say ‘I don’t’ to the select committee considering changes to matrimonial property legislation before the Government says ‘I do’ for them. "In the submissions to the two original bills, only 7% of the 273, mentioned giving support for combining matrimonial and de facto property legislation. The submissions of two women’s legal associations emphatically opposed such a move. We should be making the rules more clear – not giving judges increased discretion to work it out on a case by case basis. Family courts are logjammed now with the flood of domestic violence cases. A deluge of matrimonial property cases will only add to this."

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1st June. Shotgun Wedding

"The Matrimonial Property Bill, which took another step down the aisle in Parliament today, will shackle thousands of New Zealanders with new obligations and an uncertain future," says Opposition Justice spokesman Tony Ryall. "This Bill will leave New Zealanders who had no intention of committing to one another to queue with thousands of others for a family court judge to decide on their entitlement. Lawyers expect to see 90% of matrimonial property cases in the courts as a result of this legislation."

5th June. Respect the right to choose

"Most women I know with high-paying jobs don’t let little hiccups like marriage and babies get in the way of their lives. They continue with their careers and somehow fit it all in. So who are all these hard-done-by women who really sacrifice their careers? For many women the prospect of staying home all day and being supported by their man is – far from a burden that they’re somehow coerced into – exactly what they feel they want at the time. It’s a choice they willingly and readily make. But it is a luxury not afforded to men. Even while the number of house-husbands grows slowly, general opinion suggests that any bloke who voluntarily opts out of the workforce to be supported by his wife is a bit long-haired, sandal-wearing alternative-lifestyler. The concept that men must constantly work, be the main breadwinner and support the family is an oppressive one." Shelly Bridgeman – freelance writer.

5th June. Children suffer most

"The proposed law changes are well overdue. Far from being a gold-diggers’ charter, they will go some way towards redressing the gross financial inequities at present suffered by those who take on primary childcare roles. That will, in turn, benefit children, who suffer enough stress and confusion when their parents separate without adding financial deprivation. It is a pity that some male MPs and fathers do not recognise this." Catriona MacLennan, barrister.

wpe38.jpg (6307 bytes) Photo: General Jim Justice of Dad”s Army 2000 addresses the crowd at Aotea square 20 May

6th June. Should equity be a social goal?

"If equity is defined as equal treatment of equals, equality before the law, or a compassionate concern for the genuinely needy, it deserves a place among our moral beliefs and public policies. If equity is defined as equality of material wealth or equality of money income, it should be rejected both because it lacks an ethical foundation and because seeking to achieve it in practice does more harm than good." Dr Cathy Buchanan and Professor Peter Hartley.

7th June. Make a submission!

The Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill will make changes to the law covering the property relationships of married couples. The Supplementary Order Paper No 25 (SOP) will extend the bill to cover couples in de facto relationships, including same sex couples, and make other changes to the law covering relationship property. (more on page 5)

Courts will have the power to order one partner to pay a lump-sum compensation of money to the other if their career has been advantaged because of the division of responsibilities in the relationship (for example, staying home to raise family). Courts will have wider discretion to award spousal maintenance, taking into account standard of living of the partners, future earning capacity, effect of relationship on careers, contribution to relationship, and responsibility for their children. This change will also apply to de facto couples. The Press.

17th June. End to de factos and messy splits?

"The most constructive social move made by this government so far…the bill to amend the Matrimonial Property Act 1976….It could change social behaviour in a way the government might not intend….Technically there will be a way out for people who want to live together but fully preserve private property…..But…the point in a contented relationship that couples make arrangements for its failure, is the point it is going to fail….Opponents of the bill say it will undermine the whole 50 -50 principle and entice women to try for more. Let”s hope it does….Its full consequences might not be widely realised yet. When they are, its passage could be difficult." John Roughan, NZ Herald.

Men’s Centre North Shore made a submission to Select Committee on this Act in 1998, which was published in MENZ Issues Sept 98here.

Consultation opens on proposed changes to relationship property law

Media release – Justice and Electoral Committee 7 June 2000

The Justice and Electoral Committee is inviting public submissions on Supplementary Order Paper No 25. The chair of the committee, Tim Barnett, has announced today that the closing date for submissions is Friday, 7 July 2000.

The Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill will make changes to the law covering the property relationships of married couples. The Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) will extend the bill to cover couples in de facto relationships, including same sex couples, and make other changes to the law covering relationship property. Although the Government Administration Committee heard public submissions on both these bills in the last Parliament, the House has referred the SOP to the Justice and Electoral Committee for further consideration because there are substantial new items of interest to all people in relationships. The public has four weeks to make submissions. The committee has to report the SOP back to the House by 4 September 2000.

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The main effect of the SOP will be to extend the law covering matrimonial property to couples who are living in de facto relationships, whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex relationships. The SOP would not legalise marriage between same-sex couples. It would give all de facto couples the same relationship property rights as married couples.

To be covered by the new legislation, a de facto couple would have to be living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage for at least 3 years (or a shorter period in certain circumstances).

The SOP also proposes to change the rules covering the division of property on the break up of relationships, and to extend the existing provisions governing spousal maintenance.

Further details about the provisions of the SOP are set out in the supplementary information sheet, attached to this media release.

Copies of the SOP and the bill can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops.

The committee requires 20 copies of each submission. Those wishing to include any information of a private or personal nature in a submission should first discuss this with the clerk of the committee, as submissions are usually released to the public by the committee. Those wishing to appear before the committee to speak to their submissions should state this clearly and provide a daytime telephone contact number. For further guidance on making a submission, our publication Making a Submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee can be found on our web site at www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz

Submissions should be addressed as follows:

Tracey Conlon

Justice and Electoral Committee Secretariat

Parliament House, WELLINGTON

Contact for further details:

For further comment: Tim Barnett MP (Chair of the Justice and Electoral Committee) on (025) 570 809

For further info: Tracey Conlon on (04) 471-9539 or

tracey.conlon@parliament.govt.nz

Information Sheet on SOP No 25

The following information is provided by the committee to explain the contents of Supplementary Order Paper No 25.

Background

The Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill and the De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill were both introduced to Parliament in March 1998. The previous Government Administration Committee considered both bills and reported the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill back to the House in September 1999. In the case of the De Facto Relationships (Property) Bill, the Government Administration Committee made only an interim report: that bill is presently being considered by the Justice and Electoral Committee. Copies of the report and the interim report, as well as copies of the legislation, are available from Bennetts Government Bookstores.

After the second reading of the Matrimonial Property Amendment Bill, the Government decided to introduce a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP No 25) that would, among other things, extend the bill to cover de facto relationships.

Definition of de facto relationships

Among other amendments, SOP No 25 proposes to give couples in de facto relationships the same relationship property rights as married couples. De facto relationships are defined as relationships, including same-sex relationships, where 2 people are living together in the nature of a marriage, although not married to each other. The amendments will cover de facto relationships of at least 3 years (or a shorter period in certain circumstances). The SOP does not deal with the issue of same-sex marriage.

Measures to address economic disadvantage

The SOP proposes to change the Matrimonial Property Act 1976 to address the issue of economic disadvantage suffered by a non-career partner when a relationship breaks down. The SOP will give the courts the power to order one partner to pay a lump sum of money to the other partner if the former partner”s career has been advantaged because of the division of responsibilities in the relationship. It also provides that where one partner”s separate property has increased because of the direct or indirect actions of the other partner, they will share the increase proportionally in accordance with their contributions to the relationship.

Single rule for the division of relationship property

The SOP proposes that there be a single rule covering the division of all relationship property. Relationship property will be divided equally between the parties unless there are extraordinary circumstances that would make an equal division of the relationship property repugnant to justice. Different rules would apply if the relationship or marriage lasted for fewer than three years.

Property agreements strengthened

Further provisions will alter the law covering relationship property agreements. Where a couple have signed an agreement about the division of their property, it will be more difficult, under the proposed amendments, to have that agreement overturned by the courts. Currently, the test applied by the courts is whether the agreement is "unjust". The SOP proposes a test of "serious injustice."

Estate of a deceased partner

The SOP will give de facto partners the same rights as legal spouses in cases where the other partner has died. This includes the right to make a claim on the estate of the deceased partner and to make a claim where the deceased partner has died without a will.

Spousal maintenance extended

The SOP will give the courts a wider discretion to award spousal maintenance. The courts will be able to take into account a wider range of factors when they assess whether to award maintenance payments. These factors include: the standard of living of the partners; their future earning capacity; the effect of the relationship on their careers; their contribution to the relationship; and their responsibility for children. De facto relationships will also be covered by these provisions.

Law strikes at fathers who stick with mother and fall in love with their children

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Hansard – 10 MAY 2000

SHARED PARENTING BILL : First Reading Main speaker – DONNA AWATERE HUATA (ACT NZ):

"I am honoured to support this bill, because it aims to put right a great wrong. That great wrong is the prejudice that exists in the law against fathers and children affected by separation or divorce. The process the Government is proposing is an attempt to dodge the issue, to shut it down, to avoid the voices of fathers and children being heard. This Government review will continue to allow the law to pit mother against father, and to pit father against mother.

The current law strikes at those fathers who stuck with the mothers of their children, the ones who hung about, who provided for their kids, and who fell in love with them. What is to be their reward? What is the reality that they face when their relationship with the mother of their children breaks down? The reality is that in 1990—the last time the figures were collected—nearly 95 percent of sole custody awards were made to the mother, very few to the father, and very few in a shared parenting arrangement.

The loser fathers must wonder why they bothered. We would not blame them for thinking that those 75 percent of Maori fathers who left the mothers of their children to bear them alone were the clever ones. We would not blame them for thinking that those who stop supporting their children have the right idea. How smart is it for Parliament—which knows that children of single parents are a hundred times more likely to end up in court, to be single parents themselves, and to abuse—to continue to allow this law to discriminate against the fathers of the nation’s children?

If this Parliament cannot make the connection between the high rate of teenage pregnancies and court appearances made by Maori, and the absence of caring fathers, then what hope is there of public policy that will close the gaps? I do not deny that there are fathers who deserve to lose their families and all contact with their children. We all know abusive low-life fathers. We know that the children of those men are best shot of them for ever. But why insult all men? Why assume that they are all like that?

If Parliament wants to send a message about the value it places on the role of the father in child rearing, then it should send this bill to the select committee for its consideration and for the community to have its say. I want to hear from those fathers who have lost their families. I want to hear the effect that it has had on them, and on their children. Let their voices be heard!

No one is saying that lousy fathers should get shared parenting rights, but we say that good fathers should get it. It should be automatic when a relationship breaks up. I wonder what Laila Harre is afraid of. I wonder why she is desperate to shut down this avenue for those fathers’ voices to be heard. I do not accept that every father should be the subject of prejudice before the law and before the courts, based solely on their sex. That is a most fundamental breach of human rights. It is a fundamental breach of a man’s humanity.

I want to know where all my male Labour, Alliance, and Green Party colleagues are. Why are they not standing up against this sexist law? Around the world men stood up in Parliament and voted for women to own property and to vote, because that was the right thing to do. Why are not Labour, Alliance, and Green Party men standing up in this Parliament to vote for men to be equal partners in parenting? That is the right thing to do. Why are not all women parliamentarians standing up for the rights of their sons, especially those of us women who are bringing up our sons to be good fathers?

I have no intention of having my son endure the anguish that I have heard fathers go through when their relationships break up. No woman MP would tolerate the law if it was mothers who were disadvantaged. Why do we tolerate it just because it is fathers? That is sexism! We would not put up with it if it was women. Why do we put up with it because it is fathers?

Fewer bills are less partisan and more deserving of being sent to the select committee than this one is. I urge members to do the right thing. Tonight we can stop a great wrong being done. Let us hear the voices of those fathers. Let their voices be heard."

Citizens Initiated Referenda on Shared Parenting

On behalf of: "A Childs Right to Be Mothered And Fathered by Both Parents"

Your urgent assistance is required. A Citizens initiated referenda has been initiated. The question proposed to be put to voters is "Should Dr. Newman”s Shared parenting bill be made law in the family court?" Submissions are currently being called on the wording of this proposal.

Submissions will close on the 26-6-2000. We will then have a year to gain the necessary signatures.

This effectively takes the issue away from politicians and places it with the people. It was clear that the proposal when presented by Dr Newman was not going to proceed simply because it was presented by an Act MP.

The government”s argument that this issue affects only 5% of people who separate with children is an insult to the intelligence of anybody who has been remotely involved with such issues.

Its time that the people had their say This is bound to show the government that this issue effects a lot of people very deeply and cuts at the heart of this nation”s youth. The government must also be made to face up to its international responsibly as it is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It is paramount that we need to establish a strong network of committed people to be ready after the 26th of June so that the appropriate distribution and collection of forms, media contacts, letters etc will be able to commence.

The proposal is currently being advertised in the public notices section of all major weekend newspapers. Use this to start letters to the Editor etc and start the publicity machine rolling.

More information will be posted. A 0900 number will soon be available and an office is being set-up. Appoint representatives and spokes people for your areas. Those willing to assist please contact:

Martin James Crosbie

Fax (03) 4530667

Home Phone (03) 4530667

Cell phone (025) 6160220

E-mail: engdraw@xtra.co.nz

Salute to fatherhood unites dads and kids

kidslead.jpg (28162 bytes) Photo: Children lead their fathers on the march up Queen St

On Saturday 20th May, almost 40 people met in QE ll Square at 9.45am and marched up Queen St to Aotea Square, promoting shared parenting and Family Court reform. There was a ‘Fathers for Families’ event in the square, with displays by Auckland father’s organisations.

Organiser John White from the recently formed group Just Dads told the NZ Herald: "The day is about getting dads together with their kids and together with their families and having a good time."

White said that dads should spend plenty of enjoyable time with their kids. He said "It doesn’t give them the right sort of values if their old man isn’t around." His group was set up to support fathers who are caregivers for a significant part of the time. "You get a bit isolated," he said. "The group gives us a chance to get together with other dads."

Craig Davis and a couple of other Shore Fathers set up a stall selling books, and Jim Bailey was there distributing MENZ Issues on behalf of the Men’s Centre North Shore.

The day is intended to become an annual event offering entertainment, support, and information. White said that the importance of fathers has been neglected, and that his group aims to "put the heart and soul back into fatherhood."

twins.jpg (18446 bytes) Photo: Two junior members of ‘Just Dads and Kids’

Just Dads & Kids

Phone 09 579 3466

or 025 2151 214

Fax: 09 579 3460

E-mail: justdads@clear.net.nz

More information on Just Dads here

Family Law Must Change – to Recognise Value of Fatherhood

Media Release: Separated Fathers’ Support Trust. 20th May 2000

Our primary objective is to obtain recognition for the true value of fatherhood. The absence of a father is most often detrimental to the upbringing of a child.

We see the current family law and the family court system, as detrimental to the wellbeing of children, and others.

MENZ.jpg (23128 bytes) Photo: Craig Davis tells a couple of men about Shore Fathers. MENZ Issues stand in background.

Through 16 years of experience we have seen too many children unjustifiably denied access to their fathers through Family Court decisions.

We believe it is essential to remove the secrecy from the Family Court so the outrageous injustices of the past do not continue.

Many children will never reach their full potential, some will commit suicide, some will lose their fathers to suicide. That is surely sufficient reason to change our family law.

We will lobby for:

  • Open court for family proceedings.
  • Equity in proceedings for fathers.
  • For children’s right to a father and mother – Shared Parenting.
  • For accountability and a healing process for the injustice of the Family Court.

Warren Heap

Separated Fathers” Support Trust

Ph 09 267 5632

P.O. Box 991, Manurewa

More information on Separated Fathers’ Support Trust here.

Father’s Plight

In early May, a father and his three-year-old daughter traveled from the North Island to Christchurch to visit the mother of the child. On arrival she ordered them off her property. When they would not leave she took out a trespass order against them. They had nowhere to stay and so turned to the police for assistance. The police contacted all the welfare agencies they had contact numbers for, none of which were prepared to offer them a place to stay for the night. The daughter yes, but not with her father. This was reported on TV1 10:30 news.

There are other examples of State-constructed sexism which continues to separate children from their fathers.

Fathers who have spent years caring for their children as the primary caregiver are not able to gain access to WINZ courses for parents wishing to re-enter the workforce because they are open to women only thus failing to value committed fathers as parents.

Fathers who have always put their families needs first and engage in 50/50 shared parenting after separation are still required to pay Child Support by IRD despite their commitment to their children.

Most family lawyers believe that children should stay with their mothers and these children should only see their fathers provided he is "fit and proper" which usually means, "prepared to meet the mother”s terms" thus making any concerns a father has into a conflict.

If the mother makes an accusation of abusive behavior against the father he must prove he is "safe to be with" but in the mean-time can only be with his children under supervision, usually once every two weeks for two hours. It usually takes months before he can prove he is "safe" costing him thousands in lawyer”s fees yet he still must pay child support while the state pays the accuser”s costs.

Society likes to have a simple story to understand and having a bad guy to blame, so there has been little public questioning of the system from a father”s perspective .

Now the children brought up under this system know the truth and are prepared to speak out despite bad mouthing from those who are not prepared to listen to another”s reality. As a child of your system and a father facing it, I can tell you, it does not work in the best interests of the child. Those attitudes and behaviors need to change.

Rene Smit

Dunedin Father & Child Trust

Father”s Centre: 17 Moray Place

Ph (03) 477 6560

More information on the Dunedin Father & Child Trust here.

Naming “sex offenders” before conviction

"Naming sex offenders before they have been found guilty has frightening consequences for the innocent accused", says Bruce Cheriton of Mana Men’s Rights Group.

"False allegations of sexual abuse are very common in custody cases. They are also common outside custody cases in any situation where someone wants to destroy someone else, or the so-called victim is mentally ill, abusing drugs, misguided, or misled and manipulated by psychotherapists and counsellors.

Or the victim is a child that has been coached by an adult to make a false complaint. Yes, this really happens, but in our experience it is a form of child abuse itself that New Zealanders don”t seem to want to face.

Therefore government has to be very careful with legislation like the Victim”s Rights Bill, because they will be unwittingly increasing the nightmare for a growing category of new victims – the innocent accused.

Overseas countries were moving in different directions on these matters", he says.

"Legislation has been introduced in Canada by Senator Anne Cools to prosecute perpetrators of false allegations, because the problem has become so bad.

New Zealand is badly in need of this type of legislation, and also of more controls within the system, such as burden of proof for alleged sexual offences and better training for sexual abuse workers so they can tell the difference between true and false allegations, to protect the innocent accused.

For more information telephone Bruce Cheriton on 04 232 3775

Mana Men”s Rights Group

19 Greer Crescent, Tawa, Wellington Tel 04 232 3775

E-mail cheriton.br@xtra.co.nz

More information on Mana Men’s Rights Group here.

Taking issue with views on psychiatric illnesses.

A Letter to the Editor North Shore Times Advertiser, Tuesday 13 June 2000, Page 7. "Opinions" column:

It is misleading for a psychologist to claim, or even suggest, that schizophrenia and similar psychotic disorders are caused by childhood abuse.

In your article "Psychologist discusses effects of child abuse" (NSTA June 6), that is exactly what Dr John Read has done in his study of psychiatric patients.

People become psychiatric patients because they often have a less than firm grip on reality. They are prone to adopting ambient social hysterias.

During the 1950’s mentally unwell patients reported persecution by communists. More recently, some reported abduction by aliens.

Childhood sexual abuse is the current one.

Self-reports of abuse by delusional psychiatric patients are not credible unless externally corroborated. It is widely accepted that psychotic disorders have bio-genetic causes.

To justify his claim, Read’s "research" must meet elemental scientific standards by showing clear proof through credible external verification that patients studied were in fact genuinely abused, and that no other possible cause of the disorder existed.

It must clearly distinguish between metaphor and reality, and between cause and association. His pet theory is fatally flawed. It failed on all these counts and wrongly assumed a causal link between abuse and a mental disorder.

Parents and families of people suffering with schizophrenia will be distressed and disgusted to learn that Dr Read continues to promote his daft gospel.

Gordon Waugh

Whenuapai

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Green Party and Shared Parenting

Following the discussion on the Shared Parenting Bill in the May 2000 MENZ Issues, one reader complained that we were a little hard on the Greens.

We have been repeatedly assured that the Green Party are genuinely interested in social justice issues, and intend to work constructively towards achieving greater gender equality. The undeniable fact is, however that the Greens voted to prevent Muriel Newman’s Bill proceeding to the Select Committee. If they (and NZ First) had not supported the Labour move to shut the discussion down, the process of drafting workable legislation would be now under way. Only the pathologically optimistic believe anything will come of Labour’s proposed review of the Guardianship Act.

Holding the balance of power confers a degree of responsibility and accountability not usually faced by minor parties. Many fathers are desperate for a champion on the Left, and are ready to get behind any politician ready to represent their interests.

When it comes to the next election, the support or opposition Green MPs receive from father’s groups will depend largely on their voting record, which they can be sure they will be reminded of. It is disapointing that Justice spokesman Nandor Tanzcos (who at least is a prospective father) seems to have been sidelined on this issue in favour of a women with the correct feminist credentials.

To her credit, in her speech to Parliament on May 10th Sue Kedgley acknowledged the "problem that thousands of people lose effective contact with their children within a few years of separation and divorce."

She said: "We agree this is a burning social issue that needs to be addressed by this Parliament. We strongly support any move to increase equality and sharing between parents. After all, one of the goals of the women’s movement was to increase equality and sharing between parents."

But then she loses the plot: "We only wish that fathers would be as active in seeking a more active and equal parenting role within marriage as many groups are in seeking equality in parenting after marriages have dissolved."

Well, we have news for you Ms Kedgley. The "many groups seeking equality in parenting" are almost invariably run by fathers who do take a large share of the childcare in their families, and who strongly advocate for other men to have the choice and opportunity to take on this role. Like "Just Dads," described on page 7, the initial impetus for the formation of these groups is often the isolation and lack of social support experienced by stay-at-home dads.

However, people who get involved with the men’s movement soon become uncomfortably aware of the thousands of men whose relationships with their children has been suddenly severed by the blatant gender bias of the Family Court. Any organisation offering support for men is flooded with dozens of dispossessed fathers with tragic tales of injustice. It is precisely the men who have responded most whole-heartedly to the feminist call for equality who are hardest hit by this disgraceful abuse of human rights.

As Donna Awatere Huata points out in her speech, fathers who stick around "fall in love with their kids." Many of them wish they could just walk away like the stereotypical "deadbeat dad," who hasn’t established the intense emotional bond that develops when you spend many hours caring for a small child. While it seems that Family Court Judges, successful lawyers, and busy politicians have little appreciation of how devastating the loss of a child / parent relationship can be, fathers who do actively parent their children can understand the horror all too well.

Kedgley goes on to say: "Our view is that the present guardianship legislation is in many respects sound legislation that offers some important protection to New Zealand parents, and it should not be just swept aside."

The Greens are seriously out of touch on this, and should demonstrate their commitment to this issue by getting some competent researchers to get them up to speed. In the real world, when the CYFs workers and police arrive at 6.00 am to uplift your children, the Guardianship Act offers absolutely no protection whatsoever.

Likewise, if you are served a Domestic Protection Order your relationship with your children is effectively over for many months at the very least, and often permanently. Until the Government allows people to come and tell them about how the Guardianship Act failed their family, politicians will continue to be misinformed.

Kedgley also said that the Greens "are also concerned that Dr Newman’s bill appears to restrict the discretion and flexibility of the court to make decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child."

If there is one thing we have learned over the last 20 years it is that Judges do not have any special skills for determining the best interests of children. A survey by the Office of the Commissioner for Children showed that only 25% of people believe the Family Court decisions do not discriminate against men. What sort of public credibility is that? Of course many separated fathers end up walking away from their children – when they learn that the Family Court system (with its almost infinite resources) will work against them they simply give up.

We believe Judges ‘discretion and flexibility’ to overlook fundamental human rights in favour of feminist social engineering objectives needs to be restricted by legislation forthwith. Using the law as a tool to redress perceived patriarchal oppression of women is not OK, and not in the interests of society as a whole. Two wrongs do not make a right!

The Greens have just over two years to demonstrate whether they really mean what they say about having a commitment to social justice in addition to environmental concerns. They”ve scored no Brownie points with dispossessed fathers so far, which means there is still a sizeable a bloc of Left-leaning male votes going begging.

John Potter

Peter Ellis Enquiry Not Accepting Public Submissions

wpeA9.jpg (3067 bytes) Letter from Minister of Justice, Hon Phil Goff.

1 June 2000

Dear Mr Waugh

Thank you for your letter, plus enclosed literature, regarding the Ministerial inquiry into the Ellis case.

I have considered your request to refer the literature you have enclosed to Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, for him to consider as part of the inquiry into the Ellis case. However, I do not think it is necessary to refer this material to Sir Thomas, having regard to the purpose of the inquiry and the nature of the issues it has been set up to consider.

It may be useful if I outline the nature and purpose of the inquiry into Mr Ellis’s case. You may be aware that, prior to the announcement of the inquiry, Mr Ellis’s convictions had been referred to the Court of Appeal pursuant to section 406(a) of the Crimes Act 1961. In its judgement on that referral, the Court determined that, in its opinion, no miscarriage of justice had occurred in Mr Ellis’s case. Simultaneously, however, the Court also indicated that there were a number of matters, including a large body of literature which had been adduced before it by counsel for Mr Ellis and the Crown, which it was unable to look into but which might be better addressed by an inquiry. Subsequently, the Governor-General received a further application from Mr Ellis for a pardon and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into his case.

I have enclosed a copy of the terms of reference for the inquiry for your information. As you will see from these terms of reference, Sir Thomas has been specifically asked to provide advice on matters that will enable resolution of Mr Ellis’s application for a pardon, by examining the limited set of issues that were left open by the Court of Appeal. In particular, he has been asked to identify current best practice for investigating mass allegation sexual abuse cases, and to determine whether these practices were followed in Mr Ellis’s case. He has also been asked to seek the opinion of at least two internationally recognised experts in the area, and has been asked to receive submissions from certain parties on these matters. Finally, Sir Thomas has been asked to examine the literature which the Court indicated would be more appropriately reviewed by and inquiry.

As you correctly note in your letter, however, Sir Thomas has not been asked to invite and consider general public submissions, either on the literature relating to mass allegation sexual abuse cases or on the circumstances surrounding Mr Ellis’s case.

Yours sincerely,

Hon Phil Goff

Minister of Justice

Live Alone – Avoid Procreation

Labour’s plans to cause everyone to live alone and remain childless could be very good for the economy, in many areas.

Causing everyone to live alone will increase the demand for fridges and stoves and TVs and stereos and video players and furniture, pots and pans, automobiles and telephone accounts, etc.

Everyone sleeping alone will create a need for more beds.

These developments will stimulate a necessary increase in productivity, though many of the items will be imported and that will adversely affect the balance of payments.

A sharp drop in the birth rate will eventually reduce the costs of providing education. However, long term, it will also mean that the money saved on educating young people will be more than offset by the revenue required to care for the elderly as an overall percentage of the annual tax revenue.

Because people will not be wasting so much time trying to make

relationships work, they will be free to work more hours for income and then spend their earnings consuming more.

If the government can reach a "nil-birth" "nil-relationship" position, it will solve so many of their problems.

  • No more worries about lead maternity carers.
  • No more disturbingly high abortion figures.
  • No more need for CYFS. (Both major parties would welcome that.) The Commissioner for Children’s Office would also disappear when there are no children.
  • No more youth court.
  • No more difficulties with child health and mental health.
  • No more ‘youth’ suicide problem.
  • No more family court.
  • No more schools.
  • Once there is no one to employ, there will be no more unemployment.

The list goes on.

Labour’s strategy is certainly bold. New Zealand could soon be leading the world in the race to totally eliminate the family.

River.

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Chairman Jim

The time has come for one of you members to be looking at being Chairman. Being Chairman has been a huge learning curve for me and a most interesting experience. I can’t say I have enjoyed it at all times but I certainly leave the position a wiser man.

The function has clarified the 2 areas where I personally can be most productive in men”s / fathers” work if I can get funding for the equipment, time and travel. That is to build the now 1300 and growing list of men and their groups who are vitally interested in men”s / fathers” work throughout NZ.

The list also holds all current MPs and many others who are in the political world. It holds contact details for many who stand against men /fathers for various reasons. This very day it has put a man in anguish in contact with those who will help him in Rotorua. It can be used by anyone as a mailing list and a search for local men”s groups. I believe I have not really scratched the surface and would dearly love the time to grow it and utilise for the expansion of men”s work NZ wide.

I also enjoy calling fathers to task / men to mentor. Asking them to put as much if not more effort into preparing themselves for fathering / mentoring as they do into lobbying and advocacy. In other words, are you able to father / mentor given the opportunity. Let”s face it, opportunities arrive hourly to mentor, be ye taxi-driver, senior lecturer or local cop. You don’t have to have kids or have access to your own to build your fathering techniques just help your mates. It needs practice; ask any dad, step dad, or granddad.

Being Chairman has highlighted for me;

  • The desperate need for men in anguish to deal with their own victim mode so as not to pass it to others or abuse their fellow males as they come into the movement for support.
  • The need to learn to honour each others differences and to maintain good rapport with as many men as possible.
  • The need for men to unite and stand again as male / paternal mentors. Our children desperately need us to become powerful lobbyists for our right to father / mentor them our male way and to grow as men. To take back our tasks.
  • Our Family Court and many of our social policies place men on the back foot. THIS MUST CHANGE. It will only change when men unite and make a very clear message that they have had enough of being put last.

We need questions answered like;

  • Why is father not recognised as equally important as mother?
  • Why are men not supported when they are doing their best to father their children? All too often they are blocked by callous short-sighted law and social policy.
  • Why is there virtually no funding for men”s / fathers, groups?
  • Why is there virtually no funding for men”s health and research?
  • Why is there no Ministry of Men”s Affairs?
  • Why do men need to fund fighting the State for the right to father their children? Shouldn’t the State be encouraging men to father their children or has the government got other ideas?

Sadly I am unable to continue as Chairman as I struggle with my health, my dear son Javan is demanding more of me, my business is not producing enough profit to give me the free time needed. Put all these and men”s / fathers” work together and it”s simply too much.

Who will stand?

Regards, Jim Bailey

Heartbroken Grandmother

It has been a huge struggle being a grandparent in 2000 to my young grandchild of 3 and a half years. We are lucky to see him at all, even for 2 hrs a week.

All because of a breakdown of my son’s partnership with the mother of my grandson and our feminist justice system biased in favour of the female’s side.

It has been a heartbreaking time for my son and myself.

A child has the right to see both parents and all grandparents so that the child can be a reliable and stable person in their youth and beyond. No person, lawyer, justice system or government department should be allowed to keep a mother or a father from their own flesh and blood.

Shouldn’t the two grown-up people (being the mother or father) be able to work their problems through without legal and justice systems making money out of the situation?

More counselling services are needed such as budgeting, psychological, child management and anger management. These services should be attended before a lawyer or judge interferes into the situation.

From an angry and hurting mum and grandma,

Bev Lowe.

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