Australia’s child support system is broken and requires significant changes to make it fairer, Senator Pauline Hanson told Parliament this week.
The One Nation leader, whose advocacy with the government led to the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into the Australian family law system, has called for some urgent changes to child support.
“This is a broken system which breaks people,” Senator Hanson said. “As many parents have told the inquiry, and as I myself have experienced, Australia’s child support system is outdated, unfair and unjust.
“It works to compound the hurt, pain and anxiety felt by parents at the breakdown of a relationship. It’s a system which can be weaponised by acrimonious parties, and allow children to be used as pawns in such conflicts.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve been working towards a fairer system since my election to the Senate five years ago. I’ve had personal experience with it, and the inquiry has heard from many parents some horrific tales of their own experiences.”
Senator Hanson suggested a range of practical measures to be included in the committee’s recommendations, including:
- assessing net rather than gross incomes;
- ensuring payments did not leave parents with an income below $27,000 a year;
- assessing salaries on a 38 hour week;
- basing child support on the number of children at the time of separation and not on additional children to other partners;
- assessing residential costs individually;
- including Family Tax Benefit in assessing incomes;
- not including Workcover, TPI or superannuation payouts in assessable income; and
- having child support payments paid to a separate child support account, with the payee held to account for expenditure by Services Australia.
“The fairest approach is to determine payments according to what is needed to raise the children: food, clothing, housing, education and medical care, shared by both parents,” she said.
“Where child access is between 35 and 65 per cent, costs are effectively the same in a lot of cases so there is no real need for child support payments at all – this would take the sting out of a lot of breakups and disputes, save money and time, and let parents spend more time with their kids.”
Senator Hanson said the joint select committee conducting the inquiry should have adopted her proposals in its formal recommendations.
“Instead, in a bid to head off my dissenting report, they’ve just as adopted them as ‘issues raised during the inquiry’,” she said. “I am not appeased, and my dissenting report stands as an indictment on the refusal of the government and opposition to make meaningful changes to a broken child support system.
“Ultimately we all want the best outcomes for all parties involved in these incredibly difficult circumstances: both children and parents. It’s time for a fairer child support system in Australia, and I’m not stopping until we get one.”