Australia

Malcolm Roberts slammed for suggesting family law system behind domestic violence

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The Law Council of Australia has warned accusing family law courts of driving domestic violence is 'dangerous' behaviour after video emerged of One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts making the suggestion.

The Law Council of Australia has labelled ‘irresponsible and plain stupid’ past comments by Senator Malcolm Roberts, blaming the family law system for driving men to lash out with violence. 

It’s urged all MPs to undergo family violence awareness training ahead of an inquiry examining the nation’s family law system announced last week.

The One Nation Senator said "there's no excuse for violence", but blamed family courts for “driving violence” and making men lash out in a Facebook Live video from last year, revealed by the ABC this weekend. 

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts and One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson at Parliament House in Canberra.
One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts and One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson at Parliament House in Canberra.
AAP

Law Council of Australia President Arthur Moses has condemned the comments as “irresponsible and plain stupid”.

“It is inappropriate to be blaming victims, the courts or judges for any person lashing out and hurting another person," Law Council President Arthur Moses said.

“These comments could incite violence against partners, children or judges of those courts.”

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who has been appointed deputy chair of the inquiry, was drawn into controversy last week for accusing mothers of lying about domestic violence to get custody of their children.

Senator Hanson, who has long pushed the family law system to be reviewed, cried after hearing the Morrison government’s announcement.

Senator Pauline Hanson becomes tearful during her press conference last week.
Senator Pauline Hanson becomes tearful during her press conference last week.
AAP

Video posted on One Nation’s Facebook page and website in March last year, shows Senator Roberts talking about the family law system with men’s rights activist Leith Erikson and former One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson.

In it Senator Roberts accuses the family courts of playing a role in pushing men towards violence. 

“There’s no excuse for violence,” Senator Roberts said.

“But when you’re a father, and you can’t get access to your kids, and you can’t get access to the legal system properly, what else is there to do other than check out or hurt the other person.”

“You can just see people just lashing out – the system is driving violence,” he said.

The One Nation Facebook Live Video with Senator Malcolm Roberts, men's rights activist Leith Erikson, and then One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson.
The One Nation Facebook Live Video with Senator Malcolm Roberts, men's rights activist Leith Erikson, and then One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson.
One Nation

Mr Moses said politicians “must be careful” not to use language that could incite those already disgruntled with the family law system.

“This inquiry must be about finding long-term solutions to a crippled family law system,” he said.

Prime Minister Morrison has stressed the inquiry into the family law court system is about helping children and parents.

The wide-ranging review will examine issues, including the timeliness of family disputes over custody and assets, exorbitant legal costs and child support.

“This is one of the hardest things people go through, relationship breakdown, family breakdown is a terrible experience,” Mr Morrison told SBS News last week.

“We want to make sure that as people go through this, that the systems they have to go through… can work as best as they can.”

Mr Morrison dismissed accusations political negotiations with Pauline Hanson were behind the decision to lobby for the inquiry.

“This is about kids, it’s about parents whose relationships have broken down and making sure that people can get to the other side of that and they can get on with their lives.”  

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