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?