The Hard Road to Reform.
No progress without struggle as they say, however we are yet to achieve any reform in child support legislation – (and given the latest legislation tabled in the house just before the election recess, it is fair to say we are still in retreat.)
I have to look back at the Family Court Campaign. That’s what it was – a hard fought campaign over several years. There is enough dirt in family court cases to sink the ship; however the tactics of Patrick Mahoney always managed to keep it afloat. He wasn’t one for just sweeping the dirt under the carpet, and hoping it never surfaced. He was a little more subtle than that. When a dangerous case arose — like the Rolly Young case for example – he would send in an investigator, one of his trusted allies to clean up. His team was quaintly referred to as “Mahoney’s vacuum cleaners”, because they went in to suck up the dirt rather than bury it. Of course, there are some cases like the Rolly Young case that you can never clean your finger prints off, because this is a case that required more than the work of an investigator – the collusion of a Judge.
You could always tell when there was a bad egg about. With monotonous regularity you would hear the same name popping up. It was like phone calls from the Hawkes Bay. They always had the name Von Dadelzen attached. As I never had a great number of calls from the region, there was never a move amongst the locals to form a lobby group and they remained somewhat isolated cases. When the Rolly Young case was suddenly moved to Napier, I became a little more suspicious.
Earlier this year I attended a public meeting in Napier, and to my surprise found the biggest anti family court meeting I had ever come across. The name in the centre of it all of course was Von Dadelzen. Somehow he had managed to keep the lid on the pressure cooking, but not now, it had just blown off. This certainly attracted the attention of the current principal family court Judge Boshier, who I have no doubt would be well aware of can of worms that could be opened up in the Hawkes Bay. Judge Boshier took the proactive step of bursting into print in the local Napier Paper to defend his court, and was quick to sideline Von Dadelzen by sending in several other Judges to preside over cases in Napier.
Since the inception of the Care of Children Bill, the court has come clean over some cases, with the odd letter of apology, and even the reversal of custody in some long running cases.
Of course there are some cases like the Rolly Young case that go well beyond the ambit of apology. You can tell there is a bit of clean up going on when you get phone calls from lawyers asking for dirt on other lawyers and psychologists, and I am sure one or two will get hung out to dry, just for good looks. Napier may however be a different story — One thing the family court cannot afford is for the name Von Dadelzen to become a household name, outside of Napier, as it may well bring some light to the goings on in the Rolly Young case, and how it ever ended up in the Napier Family court in first place.
This is not so much about child support, but about the co operation and effort required to achieve reform. It doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen.