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SUMMARY

By firstly repealing both child support acts and sacking the CSA employees there are direct savings of $190 million per annum, and indirect savings of some $6,000 million per annum by allowing dads to go back to work. There is no doubt that the CSA idea has failed dismally, nor was it ever necessary in the first place as the changes which mattered were those made a year before the Scheme to the SSAct and to a lesser extent the FLAct.

So the good news is there is absolutely no cost to Government or the parents to simply revert back to what is virtually Stage 1, ie what the Chief Justice described in Gyselman as the almost identical procedures in s 66A to Z of the FLAct, minus the absurd formula. The only good part about the CSA and the formula is that it was so bad that it caused the 1994 JSC, which set in place proper research on cost of children via the BSU Report.

And if it helps parents to work out what is a proper level of maintenance, I am most willing to share with the Government (via Centrelink?) my developed software which uses the BSU figures via the Mee method. There is no reason to believe that the situation would not revert back to the pre Scheme situation where 95% of child maintenance orders would be by consent ("assisted" of course by lawyers in most cases).

Secondly, as requested in Ganter, we need to patch up the FLAct by re-drafting the 8 references in the FLAct (we can forget the 15 other errors in the CSActs), typified by s 66K:

FAMILY LAW ACT 1975 - SECT 66K Matters to be taken into account in determining contribution that should be made by party etc.

(4) In determining the financial contribution, or respective financial contributions, that should be made by a party, or by parties, to the proceedings, the court must disregard:

(a) any entitlement of the child, or the person with whom the child lives, to an income tested pension, allowance or benefit; and

The correct drafting is:

(a) any entitlement of the child, or the person with whom the child lives, to any portion of a pension, allowance, payment or benefit which is maintenance income tested; and

By also adding the word "portion" we bring the act up to speed as for the present 50 cents in the dollar plus slush zones. However that would not be needed if, thirdly, a dollar for dollar testing was employed, without slush zones. As seen hereabove this would save some $500 million per annum.

Now I hear a million little Ozzie pensioners saying "what are we going to live on if every dollar of child support reduces my "pension" by the same amount?", to which I would answer "what about the little Ozzie pensioner whose ex partner is one of the 200,000 either on the dole or dead?"

In my view the Government has almost got it right over the years, but the CS Scheme put a spanner in the works. It needs to be remembered that before about 1960, when Oz was a rich and growing nation, there was full employment and mainly intact Howard nuclear families with dad the breadwinner. The Government offered incentives to populate by having kids (rather than paying Poms 10 pounds to come here). While mum got "family endowment", the main benefit was that dad paid family tax rather than single man tax (yes the word man was used, so don't shoot the messenger) and with a wife and say 3 kids, there was a substantial tax incentive.

The early feminists argued that dad spent that extra money at the "6 o'clock swill" on the way home, so the incentive was taken out of the tax system and paid as "family allowance" direct to mum. That was followed by such as the little Ozzie pension to allow mums to keep illegitimate kids etc. You all know the rest of the story via the mum of Jasons story above, but a big issue is that within the Centrelink "things" (ie pension, allowance, payment, benefit or whatever) is not just a welfare aspect but the fragments of the former tax incentives.

The problem that remains is that the Centrelink things (quite rightly) don't promote different classes of recipients or standard of living. The income testing on most "things" is therefore set fairly high (like at some $90,000 for family with 3 kids) before they get no "thing" at all from thing that was called family allowance, whereas the thing formerly called pension cuts out at some $20,000. But before the income testing comes into play an intact family in St Ives gets the same amount for a kid of a certain age as a single mum in Darwin.

Also there has been a fantastic initiative since about 1996 to pay youth allowance direct to the kid in lieu of the family allowance to mum, from age 16.

The only flaws globally are firstly that the CS Scheme created an intolerable situation where various levels of living standard (at least for mum) are created by the progressive formula and secondly that such payments are substantially "as well as" the Centrelink things, rather than "instead of".

Both problems are solved by having a non progressive (but not fixed as such) child maintenance payment and dollar for dollar clawback, applied to an increased level of "family payment" (which is now affordable because of the huge savings set out hereabove). The BSU report also provides the answer as to what such payment should be, and such a maximum amount is not a lot more than it is at present. In that way the huge divergence in the living standards between mum of Jasons and mum with no maintenance is negated, and the taxpayer is not paying for kids as well as dad. We would then have the ultimate dovetailing between maintenance versus social security, envisaged by Parliament via the EM when the issue was addressed in 1987, but unfortunately being railroaded.

In mentioning the Youth Allowance initiative, which starts at age 16, there is an anomaly that child maintenance/support ends at age 18, meaning that for 2 years Centrelink is paid to kid and mum reduces to the slush zone level. This means there is no maintenance testing at all for those 2 years. I seem to remember that a family can "opt" to have full "family allowance" instead of youth allowance (like mum says "either I get it Jason or you are on the street"), so perhaps that should be made compulsory if child maintenance is being paid.

Alternatively the Government should decide if child maintenance should stop at 16 as it used to under some state laws back in the 1980s. There is huge ethical conflict there in saying kids should be masters of their own destiny at 16 but mum keeps getting child support till 18, with no clawback.

So there are all the answers - everyone's happy.

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