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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