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Social Engineering

Kevin Andrews, our Minister for Social Services and member of the Credlin led Star Chamber, has announced a brave new initiative.

“A TRIAL that offers $200 marriage counselling vouchers should be rolled out permanently because it will save taxpayers millions of dollars and more than pay for itself by avoiding expensive divorces, according to the federal minister in charge.”

The trial will cost $20 million initially though Mr Andrews is calling for its expansion before the trial even begins. He quotes a report from 1998 (seriously is that the most recent data you could find to support your argument?) that calculated that the cost of divorce was about $6 billion a year.

“I imagine it is higher than that now and that figure is consistent with studies in the USA, UK and Canada about the cost of divorce.

So we are talking about something that costs many billions of dollars a year that – if you just do a simple calculation, about 50,000-55,000 divorces a year – that means that each divorce is costing over $100,000.

So we would only have to prevent 200 divorces or 200 people deciding not to get married because they worked out beforehand they weren’t suitable for each other …

This is a very modest investment in trying to tackle what is a huge cost to the community but … more significantly the huge cost in terms of personal trauma.”

As the state does not pay for your divorce, quoting how much they cost and how the scheme would pay for itself is completely illogical.

Rather than “imagining”, a quick check showed that divorce is down, and has been for a while.

From 2007-2011 the rate per 1000 people has stayed around 2.2 and 2.3. This is down from 2.9 in 1996, and very far down from the biggest peak of 4.9 in 1976 after the Family Law Act 1975 came into effect.

Mr Andrews suggests that these vouchers will help some people decide not to get married. So who are they offered to? Anyone who is wondering if they should get married? The age that people get divorced has increased dramatically with a 7.4% increase from 1990 to 2011 in divorces after 20 years of marriage. Will the vouchers be offered to all married and defacto couples?

He went on to say

“We know for example that many former partners, and it’s unfortunately more often women than men, end up much worse off as a result of divorce, many end up in poverty that affects children. So there are huge costs that actually flow from divorce and family breakdown which means the state is involved, so if the state’s involved at the end of this process my argument is, well, perhaps with some modest involvement earlier on with some prevention and early intervention we can actually get a better outcome.”

And what is the cost to society of domestic violence? What is the cost to well-being of staying in an unsatisfactory relationship?

And how can you feign interest in people in poverty when you are telling us welfare has to be reined in, that you can’t afford to increase Newstart, that single parents and people with disabilities should go get one of those many jobs floating around.

How many families end up in poverty and divorce due to gambling and yet you are dismantling the Poker Machine reform laws. You say government shouldn’t intervene here but are happy to spend hundreds of millions encouraging people to stay with their partners.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s Managing Director Lyle Shelton said it was unclear how the Coalition would tackle the problem gambling issue with the power of the clubs lobby and state government addiction to gambling revenue.

Mr Andrews appears to be promoting the views expressed by his leader Tony Abbott

“If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband. Not withstanding all his or her faults, you find that he tends to do more good than harm.”

and his colleague Cory Bernardi

“Given the increasing number of ‘non-traditional’ families, there is a temptation to equate all family structures as being equal or relative. Why then the levels of criminality among boys and promiscuity among girls who are brought up in single-parent families, more often than not headed by a single mother?”

Perhaps we need to look into who owns counselling services because this scheme has the potential to cause far greater harm than home insulation.

Kevin Andrews is only interested in services and security for the people with whom he associates and the society they wish to engineer.


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  1. Matters Not

    Andrews is a true believer, and has been for some time.

    SOCIAL Services Minister Kevin Andrews has been accused of a conflict of interest over his plan to introduce $200 marriage counselling vouchers after it was revealed his wife worked as a marriage educator.


    … in his statement of registrable interests dated ­December 9, 2013, Mr Andrews listed his wife as earning “substantial” income from the roles of “publishing and marriage educator”.

    But that’s all in the past.

    Mrs Andrews is also listed as a registrant contact for the domain name marriageeducation.com.au and Mrs Andrews has also previously edited Threshold Magazine – which is described online as a publication “written by marriage educators for marriage educators”.

    “Mrs Andrews resigned her positions and has not worked as a marriage educator since the minister was appointed to his portfolio,” a spokeswoman for the Minister said. “There is no conflict of interest.”

    Say no more!


  2. Kaye Lee

    I think that is what I am finding so insulting about this government. They are so blatantly feathering their own nests and those of their inner circle. The examples are endless. Conflicts of interest, jobs for the boys, decisions made to accommodate donors. They are so arrogantly secure that they don’t care if we find out, something that is easily done. Either that or they only read the Telegraph and the Australian and think we still don’t know.

  3. samantha

    Perhaps Kevin Andrews should follow the lead of Greg Hunt and consult Wikipedia for his information

  4. Kaye Lee

    Australia’s vale of tears


    We can hale the commitment of the G20 to a target of 2% growth as a major achievement but we cannot commit to halving homelessness because Tony wants to cover his arse if we don’t achieve it and has no intention of doing anything about what is, after all, “personal choice”.

  5. scotchmistery

    Ahhh fills me with hope for the future of this phuqued land.

  6. Olive

    Ridiculous. From a government that is cutting back on mental Health services, psychological counselling etc for people with real illness and needs . One or two counselling sessions is a waste of time and will not do anything . It’s just a stunt . Put the money into real services that help people living with the pain and disability of mental illness who can’t even afford to see counsellor.

  7. Kerri

    I’m with you Kaye Lee. I keep noticing the “coincidences” in grants and policies benefitting LNP Government ministers and their families friends colleagues subordinates etc.
    Does anyone one know if Margie and the girls prefer chocolate to fruit???

  8. diannaart

    Why then the levels of criminality among boys and promiscuity among girls who are brought up in single-parent families, more often than not headed by a single mother?”

    Why is it NEVER promiscuous boys and criminal girls??? Bernardi hasn’t a working neuron in his head perhaps? Of course, it is all the fault of single mothers.

    When my mother was widowed, strangely my sister and I did not become prostitutes. Must be the exception which proves the rule. 😈

    As for the idea of preventing divorce by spending money that could go to assisting single parents. No one, not even a counsellor with the wisdom of Solomon would have thought my ever so charming fiancée would turn into a controlling, wife-beating freak in the privacy of the marital home. The best thing I ever did was add to the divorce statistics and still be alive today to comment on this nonsense that is being excreted by our LNP overlords.

  9. Wayne T

    Average cost of a counselling session – $90-$110 (at least that’s what it was 2 years ago). Anyone who thinks that 2 counselling sessions are going to help couples resolve major relationship issues is a moron of the highest caliber and in need of some counselling of their own. Yet another piece of useless do-nothing twaddle being pedaled as a ‘solution’ by the LNP as they go about dismantling the very services that actually DO help people. AAGGHHH!!!!

  10. scotchmistery

    The fact that we hear anything from the likes of Bischoff, Kwistoffer Pyne, Corgi St Bernardii, is all down to South Australian liberals. The balance is Sarah Hanson-Young, Penny Wong and the other ALP/Greens.

  11. Lily Arthur

    Yes they are all lovey until they get behind closed doors, women walk away from these abusive men and then pay the price for years to come by being shunned and labeled as “single mothers” and treated with scorn by the rest of society

  12. Don

    This policy should go back to when it was created 1998, like all their policies they are trying to drag Australia backwards to the horse and cart days. Catholic church needs more money, you can bet any one who approaches the church would be forced to take the counselling, must have been one of Pell’s conditions

  13. Ricardo29

    After Haneef Is anyone ever going to take anything Kevin Andrews says seriously again? The man is a hypocrite, a fool and a deranged religious zealot (witness his attack on the NT Rights of the Terminally Ill Act). Don’t these idiots understand about keeping their own religious views out of political affairs. There’s too bloody much of it.

  14. Fed up

    Would love to see that money put aside to assist women and children who have been forced to flee from violent marriages get back on their feet.

    Some could be used, to assist them to flee earlier in the piece.

    The harm done in these cases is never overcome. Leaving does not automatically fix the harm. Parents are parents, whether together or apart.

  15. Fed up

    It is nearly impossible to pick these men, before marriage. The problems only become apparent once that ring is on. In some cases, not until the first child is born.

  16. scotchmistery

    Problematically, the hill-song style of church doesn’t provide that service. It requires folks who can think and be empathic. So no – no money for that good idea.

  17. patsy

    what a lot of bulls twaddle…..the money would be better spent on mental health they need help in this area and so will a lot more people who are going to lose their jobs…..if people need to be counseled two years into their marriage why did they get married in the first place….maybe after 10 years yes…tony abbott is a complete IDIOT…he needs to be counseled and urgently….what a joke where does he go to come up with these ideas the land of oz

  18. scotchmistery

    @Fed Up, whilst partially right, in many cases have a look at the man’s father. Not a complete fit, but often enough to be telling.

  19. John.R

    Fear Not.One day in the not to distant future the righteous right and even some of the loony left will have to reappraise how they look at all of this. Our whole society has a cocked up perspective on what a relationships should be and what should happen in it based on a widely misunderstood book whose whole meaning has been distorted so some sections of society can control others.
    The bottom line with any relationship is to live up to your own expectations and nobody else`s.You are not here to suffer abuse of any form from anyone for any reason.
    The bias`s of this Government in who they consider to be less worthwhile of support from our taxes are typical of a bully who picks on the weakest
    They seem to use the Darwinian approach of survival of the richest which is the opposite to how things actually work.
    It`s a DILLIGAF type of rule of the population

  20. Matters Not

    John.R said:

    One day in the not to distant future the righteous right and even some of the loony left will have to reappraise how they look at all of this

    Right. Not sure what meaning you intend nor do I know what meaning to give to your assertion.


    Our whole society has a cocked up perspective on what a relationships should be and what should happen in it based on a widely misunderstood book whose whole meaning has been distorted so some sections of society can control others

    Not sure what ‘book’ you are talking about (perhaps the Bible) but I am certainly interested in ‘whose whole meaning has been distorted’. Are you suggesting that the ‘book’ has ‘meaning’ completely separated from those who are reading it? Are you saying the words I use will not be ‘interpreted’ by you? That is, you won’t give ‘meaning to what I write?

    Serious question. Please respond.

  21. Stephen Tardrew

    What $200 for 4 visits to a counselor? I am a counselor and two hundred dollars wouldn’t by you any meaningful long term advice and support needed to assist a family in crisis. Community Health have a waiting list as long as your arm and by then many people don’t even make it to appointments. These guys pull this garbage out of their asses.

    It may assist a few in early stages but usually people do not ask for help until they are well and truly in crisis. I have work with, and run Housing Support services, for families in crisis and often six months is not long enough to stabilize the family if, and only if, that is possible which it often is not.

    Mental health drug and alcohol generational violence, sexual abuse. Women often go back to perpetrators time and again because they feel incapable of supporting themselves and their children.

    Bloody magical thinking again give someone $200 and all is going to be well in fantasy land.

    One wonders if the $200 dollar voucher system will lead to justification for shutting down community counseling services and refuges. I just don’t trust this bunch of charlatans.

  22. Stephen Tardrew

    By the way $50 would not cover private counseling unless there was some substantial subsidy.

  23. sam

    Yeah like hell this will fix the situation!

    Financial stress (money problems) is still the major cause of divorce/relationship problems and with the Liberals pushing hard for Austerity which will make more people underemployed/unemployed (there is the mountain of evidence we’re going to loose steady working conditions). Result: They will cause more divorces. (What good would even $1000 of marriage counselling vouchers do if you’re out of work and in debt) Can this voucher pay a home loan? Might save a marriage!.

    As the budget time of year draws closer will be interesting to see that fool Hockey juggle economic reality with his own idological stupidity. He wont understand ‘automatic stabilizers’ involving the inverse relationship between tax and welfare. Budget outcome = (Tax Revenue + Other Revenue) – (Welfare + Other Spending). We’ll see a series of fumbles which will be nothing more than a contractionary monetary policy.
    In the form of an attack on working class with work choices 2. Cheapening working condiitons will of course filter down by: killing people, families and marriages.

  24. Carol Taylor

    John.R, I rather think that the “cockup” was a previous society which forced people to stay in loveless marriages, where the beatings of women and children were considered a man’s right because under the law wives and children were a man’s property.

    Of interest is that a majority of marriage celebrants do provide pre-wedding counselling. Counselling is also compulsory under the Family Law Act that if a couple who have been married less than 2 years wish to divorce, then they must “attend counselling with a family counsellor or nominated counsellor” or seek permission of the Court for an exemption. Therefore isn’t the issue of counselling already well covered by the existing situation? To me this is purely grandstanding by the Libs, window dressing to avoid addressing the root causes – those mentioned by Sam.

  25. Tracie

    What arseholes!

    scotchministry – my first perpetrator’s father had died when he was 1. There was no help in that situation to know whether he would commit the violence behind doors.

  26. Tracie

    Sorry scotchmistery. I need more coffee I think, or better reading glasses… Or both…

  27. Möbius Ecko

    This is a Liberal bribe, no different to those Howard doled out and aimed squarely at their archaic view of a societal utopia they believed existed in the early to mid 1900’s, yet never did.

    Yet this is the same mob that decried the previous government’s handouts during the GFC, that were given for a specific purpose and met that purpose on post analysis.

    It is similar to them decrying the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment to Queensland flood victims with Abbott calling for rural independents to ditch it, yet Abbott’s drought relief package of a similar amount to the flood relief is being touted, along with the usual staged footage of action man Abbott on the scene saving the day.

    Just one of the many incongruities with this government as compared to what they opposed when in opposition with the problem being the MSM is not picking them up on these incongruities.

  28. Stephen Tardrew

    I think Tim Costello does not understand choice. As for Abbott he is an intellectual pigmy: no offense to pigmys. The philosophical grounds for choice are convoluted however there is a clear distinction between compatibalist, who think choice is compatible with determinism and incompatibility who think it is not. Baring theological and metaphysical arguments these are the main schools of thought.

    To say that people choose to be homeless is to miss the point that the causal contingencies of their lives may well limit their capacity for choice both financially and intellectually. The objective world is demonstrably deterministic and it is only unit volume complexity in subjective space that gives the perception of free will. When much of life is determined, for example heritability, IQ, emotional intelligence, family, culture, religion, social class, country of origin etc. much of life is out of the individuals hand. It was not by choice that we are fortunate enough to live in a fairly affluent society when each of us could find ourselves born in the slums of any third world country.

    Now this does not mean that we cannot collectively decide what values to embrace what it does do is limit the scope of the individual too participate in reciprocity if their lives are difficult and brutish through no fault of their own. It is up to the more affluent and privileged to help those who live in fear of loss of security to feel they have a sustainable future so that fear of poverty and unemployment do not undermine their capacity for benevolence and charity.

    To say we cannot house every body or have adequate food and work is to convince the populace that it is impossible to avoid suffering so just go away and play your determinate role. The point is is that this attitude is more deterministic than an intelligent assessment of the capacity to choose and the physiological biological and environment constraints upon behavior. If you cannot get the facts right you cannot, or rather will not, find a solution.

    The point is individualization plays against communitarian values and distributive ethics. You may agree or may not that is not the point. Many people who come to this sight have an intuitive understanding that what we do to our fellow humans will reflect the type of society we live in and meanness, judgement, blame and retribution can only lead to inequality and social conflict.

    I know what I would prefer.

  29. abbienoiraude

    She met him. He came from a ‘lapsed catholic’ family. She came from an atheist family.After a short time they decided to marry, went to the local Catholic Church where they met with the priest. He said it would be a good idea for them to have ‘pre-marriage counselling’. They attended all appointments and one thing that kept coming up was ‘money’, the other was his attitude to his mother. She was far from her family, they lived close by his.
    They married in the Catholic Church. She had a Public Service job, he was a house painter, but had forgotten to tell her he had never paid tax. She was honourable and said; I will sort it out with the tax office and pay all my wage into paying back what you owe the ATO.
    After six months she had nothing but a job and had cleared his debts.
    He got ‘god’ with a vengeance. He had changed religions ( ‘happy clappy’) and was condemning her for not believing in god, with threats, name calling, and the start of his ‘control’ of her movements ( him being a ‘man’ you see…)
    She finally left and went to another city far away.
    He followed her but she refused to take him back.
    After 12 months she lined up a time to meet with him, they went to the court house and lodge their divorce papers ( yes she did all the research, got it organised and paid for it). It cost $450.

    Shut up Andrews. You don’t know what you are talking about (as usual as in NT VE laws!!).

  30. Fed up

    Yes, one might get a clue from observing the father. Yes, but that might not be true. It might only be loading the sins of the father on the son. I am sure not all fathers, follow their father’s action.

    I suspect the few that do, are worse than the man that fathered them.

    I’m for one, lived in fear that my son would follow in his father’s footsteps. Yes, at times, in my paranoia, I have seen glimpses of his father. Thankfully, he seems to have seen what I saw, and pulled back. There is no way he wants to be the person his father was.

    If Andrews has any money to spare, and wants to help these families, it would be spent on the victims. Yes victims, so they do not tend up in the same place.

    What this mob tends to overlook, the majority to not even see the need for mastiff today. Fewer still, for one sanctioned by the church. Time for this mob to start governing for the real world, not the imaginary one they seem to think exist.

    PS I am 72 years old. I still fear for my son, my skill grieve of the effects that come from me staying in that marriage, much too long. My mistake was believing it was OK as long as the kids were out hurt. Yes, even victims cam bury their heads in the sand.

    Yes, I believe that woman job was to hold the marriage together. Yes, I also believe when one made their bed, they had to lay on it, for evermore.

    I believed that divorce was not an option. I believe that one had to find a way to make it work.

    Yes, I kept hitting my head against a brick wall for 14 years. Yes, it took a tragedy, to force me to leave that marriage.

    Yes, my kids lost all respect for me, fror allowing myself to be abused. They rightly relied on me to fix things up. Trouble was, fixing things up, in retrospect meant getting them out much earlier.

    It takes two to make any relationship work. It takes only one for it to fail. This is a truth, one cannot ignore.

  31. John.R

    @ Mattersnot. I mean just as I wrote. Both sides of the political chasm(not divide) will have to reassess the meaning and purpose of “MARRIAGE” .a ring and a piece of paper do not constitute an unbreakable bond and it makes no difference as, if it is not, or no longer is,in your heart to be with another then it serves neither to be there.If they do not have that state sanctioned piece of paper they can leave whenever,but once you put your name into it then the state wants to tell you what you should do
    Societies views on relationships has up until recently been moulded by churches and religions.Marriage has been presented as a backbone of society.It isn`t It is the individuals in that society that give it backbone and strength regardless of any relationship they are or are not in
    In case you missed it the bible is a set of stories laid out as examples of the things you will encounter during your lives It is symbolism.It is not history but it has been made into his-story as have all historical events imagined or real

    @ Carol Taylor You are right about the previous society being responsible for the loveless marriage but it appears that remnants are now running the country.They are men who are afraid of women as equals and regardless of what side they are on any religious upbringing is brought into any issue that requires a question of beliefs

  32. sam

    New idea for LNP. Fits with their moronic ‘seen to be doing something’ middle class welfare.

    $200 coffee vouchers!!!

    Increase ‘productivity’ of Australians workers and students while they struggle for less jobs, spiralling costs of their education, less equitable wages and conditions when they finally get a job. It will even help families stay awake at the end of their 13 hour work day to have some family time together. (Obviously this offer only extends to good christians: mum and dad + 2.5 kids. Bad luck for single mums)

  33. diannaart


    I cannot thank you enough…

    for explaining just what all those RWNJ’s are on about and why they would vote for a government that appears to be doing little more than taking down anything that Labor worked hard to achieve.

    Remember the days which, although fraught due to minority government, and didn’t get everything right, but achieved more in one day than the current mob have in 6 months? Sigh.

    I thought the continual attacks from the then opposition were among the most vicious I had ever witnessed – yet the work of government persisted.

    Somewhat like the dog which finally caught the car – now Abbott has government, he doesn’t really know what to do with it.

  34. Wayne T

    Just one small point…there are plenty of us single dads out there too, who are not wife-beaters, child abusers, deranged ‘born again’ beard-in-the-sky-worshiping NJ’s or just plain A-holes. Just saying is all, cause I get a little tired of being tarred with the same brush.

  35. scotchmistery

    Hey Wayne,

    Since I first brought the point to the table, that it’s often possible to see the man to be in his father, the brush wasn’t tarring everyone, and probably, since you stayed with the kids would never have been applied. The jury appears out on commonalities, but it appears rather than visiting the sins of the father, it is rather the father maketh the man.

    Like most things in socio-economics, and socio-politics, there is rarely a single formula that either can or should be applied.

    Apologies if it was taken personally.

  36. Kaye Lee

    Divorce happens for many reasons Wayne. In the majority of cases it does not involve abuse. You make a good point.

  37. Wayne T

    No offence was taken mate, just wanted to make the point. As Kaye says, divorce happens for a lot of reasons 🙂

  38. Fed up

    Wayne, if you are sick of being tarred with the same brush, which is only in your own mind by the way, the answer is not to shut down debate or discussion on the problem.

    No, the answer for any male that thinks this way, is to get out and condemn the men that do.

    The problem is not caused by females. It is caused by what maybe a minority of men. It harms the whole community.

    Yes, Wayne, I understand your concern.

    Getting rid of DV and all that goes with it, will make things better for you.

  39. Wayne T

    @ Fed up
    Ahhhh, not sure of I understood your point there, and I think we may be veering off-topic, but I wasn’t trying to close down debate, unsure why you think I was, and apologies if that was the way I expressed myself.
    As to it being ‘only in my mind’, I can assure you that one of the favourite and more popular topics of discussion at my single dad’s support group is how many times were you asked this week by some ‘concerned’ citizen if the child whose hand you’re holding is actually yours? I have personally been called a pervert for sitting on a bench at the park watching my son play.
    I would NEVER condone violence to ANYONE btw. Walk a mile before you give me advice please

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