The Family Court as far as I’m concerned is the only court that tries to act as the gate before the cliff, rather than the grave digger at the bottom. Even the youth court usually winds up as merely a ambulance driver. Families, when they go wrong, can wind up as being one of the most corrosive social environments to kids. The costs to society both directly and in loss of potential can be astronomical when taken over a persons entire lifetime of not handling the family issues clearly and decisively.
In the entire legal system from police to prisons it would have the best cost-benefit ratio of government funds. That has certainly been the case with the people I know who have been involved with it over the years. You don’t always get what you want – what you get is what the kids need. So why fiddle with it? Simon Power has been his usual spectacularly uninformative self blathering on about things that are largely urban myths rather than anything much to do with the actual workload of the court.
Imperator Fish has a look at Simon Power’s fiddling with the Family Court. I was going to quote from it, but found that that he hadn’t left any junk passages I could trim out. So I have quoted the whole of it and flogged his title – sorry Scott..
Having given the bash to beneficiaries, kneecapped those in trouble with the law, slapped parents of pre-school children, and slammed the door on educational opportunities for older people looking to retrain, the Government is now turning on families in trouble.
Simon Power wants to rein in the ballooning costs of the Family Court, without really understanding why those costs have risen so sharply.
The Family Court is an institution whose role is to clean up the mess when families crumble. It has a critical role in sorting out issues concerning child custody, relationship property and domestic violence, to name but a few areas the court is active in. Generally it does a pretty good job, but it has its work cut out. The rise in reports of domestic violence over recent years, as a consequence of anti-violence campaigns, has led to the court having a greater workload, while the stress and anxiety caused by both economic and natural disasters will be causing many families to fall apart.
In times of stress it makes sense that there will be a greater demand for the services of the Family Court. Simon Power has claimed that too much court time is being wasted by trivia, but this has been disputed by lawyers working in the field, and Power has provided no evidence to back his theory up – just anecdotes. It’s what we have come to expect from a government immune to evidence-based policymaking, and unable or unwilling to look ahead to see the potential effects of its policies.
We continue to wallow in the depths of a downturn, and debt issues and job losses are putting enormous stress on families. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to take away some of the services offered by the Family Court that are helping to keep families functioning. Services that may prevent some troubled families from turning into breeding grounds for crime and substance abuse.
The Family Court is very often an emergency service, acting swiftly to sort out violence and child custody issues, and intervening in family crises. An effective intervention by the Family Court can reduce cost to the taxpayer later on.
If we were in the middle of a pandemic it would be the height of absurdity to respond to the additional demand on our hospitals by cutting funding to the health system. Nor would we slash police funding as a response to a crime wave. So why are we contemplating cutting Family Court funding in the middle of a downturn?
In other reaction to the proposals The Law Society says it is ‘unnecessary’. Lawyers working in the area have described it as ‘frightening’. There is dispute about what is generating the rising costs (and I suspect that most government ministers have problems reading asset schedules or even simple accounting based on past idiocies).
The Family Court is doing a excellent job overall. But what Simon Power is setting down as the parameters of the review look to be designed to change the underlying basis of the court in yet another example of this governments focus on ideological stupidity. The examples that he is using to justify the review are quite simply political bullshit – that he would not be able to justify with the analysis of the more than 68 thousand requests that the court is dealing with annually.
Quite simply any review that looked not only at the costs but also the benefits is going to conclude that the cost/benefit ratio of dealing with family issues early is easily the best policy. But I suspect that the benefit side will simply be ignored. It certainly was on Early Childhood Education. But the holiday highway is still going ahead despite having a cost/benefit ratio that costs more than the benefits.
Mr Power says there will be an opportunity for the public to take part in the Family Court review when a public consultation paper is released in September this year.
Yeah right! This government has almost unblemished track record of pushing changes through under urgency, avoiding public consultation in select committees by either not having them or ensuring they are inaccessible, and simply ignoring any consultation if it manages to happen. Why should this review break the pattern?
For that matter, they also seem to be quite deaf even when they pay for advice. You can understand it with the nutbar ‘reviews’ that Act got them to do. But what about Power ignoring less is idiotic advice that he has paid for.
The Minister of Justice moved swiftly to change the rules on legal aid eligibility following Dame Margaret Bazley’s report, but quick-as-a-flash, nothing’s been done on her recommendation that creches be set up for kiddies in courts.
It is hardly the type of thing that you want kids to regard as being ‘normal’. You get the impression that if there isn’t an urban myth that Power wants to seen to be fixing then he really in’t interested in doing much that is constructive.
BTW: While you’re reading Imperator Fish, have look at The Further Tales Of The Duc’ d’Eglise de Christ. A fascinating look at Gerry Brownlee’s rich fantasy life.