On the second-last sitting day before Christmas, Senator John Madigan introduced cabinet secretary and former adviser to John Howard, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, to representatives from a group called the Family Law Reform Coalition. They presented him with a policy proposal document called “Children in Crisis”. The following day, the last sitting day before Christmas, Madigan set up a meeting with crossbench senators and representatives of the FLRC, who presented them with the same document. All but Nick Xenophon attended. The remaining seven agreed to write and sign a motion, conceived in less than an hour, to perform a “root and branch” review of the family law system.
The motion calls on the government to “recognise that thousands of Australian children continue to be harmed by a family law system that is not fit-for-purpose”. It calls for the Family Law Act to be simplified and shortened, and makes particular reference to “gender equality, and equal parental care and responsibility”. On Tuesday, that motion was passed.
The FLRC representatives who accompanied Madigan to the meeting with crossbenchers last year were David Carr, a wildlife documentary-maker, and Jasmin Newman, a men’s counsellor, life coach and relationship therapist who runs a business called Relating to Men. Newman has a large Facebook presence, through a page called “Destroy the Narrative” that is focused on perpetuating anti-feminist propaganda and highlighting instances of women committing violent acts.
By Nijole Cork
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