Sunday, May 03, 2020

Shutdowns are risky times for men

Bettina Arndt

The big news in the feminist press this week was the Family Court has just announced a new triage system prioritising family violence matters. Such cases will now be able to be rushed through the courts within 72 hours.

“Our calls answered!! Thank You!” enthused Women’s Safety NSW which had been pushing out press releases reporting “alarming evidence” alleging “domestic abusers are using their shared care rights as a tool for further abuse during COVID-19.” They claim the closure of safe places for child handovers means women are forced to compromise their safety using informal arrangements to hand over children to abusive ex-partners.

So now the Family Court is to strengthen its policy of giving priority to cases where there are allegations of violence with a new dedicated COVID-list. Rest assured the Court will be less interested in the other major component in the recent 39 per cent increase in urgent applications to the Family Court – fathers being denied contact with their children.

Men who have spent years battling through the court system for decent parenting plans are discovering such hard-won victories count for little under the new COVID-19 social order where ex-partners use the virus as a reason to deny contact.

Corona child access battles

I’m hearing from many of these men. Yesterday a psychologist wrote about a father who spent over four years and huge sums fighting to get reasonable custody of his young child. As soon as COVID-19 hit his ex-wife denied all access claiming she was worried about the child’s health because of the father’s work, even though he was in a very safe job. She produced doctors’ letters claiming this posed a risk to the child and eventually the father agreed to stop working in a desperate attempt to still see his son. He’s now  moved in with a family member to save money so he can still pay maintenance and lawyer’s bills but the mother’s lawyers are still making moves to cut back on the very minimum contact he currently has with the boy.

Of course, there are also men whose fears about the virus leads them to overreact, like the fathers who try to bully ex-partners who work in high risk jobs like hospitality or nursing to self-isolate from their children. But since it is mostly mothers who have the major care of children, they are usually the ones with the power.       

There’s a very interesting blog by Robert Franklin, published on the National Parents Organisation website, commenting on current articles about sharing parenting which quote judges and lawyers sensibly saying that despite the pandemic parents should work together and abide by court orders. But Franklin then includes an extract from an article in The Atlantic by writer Deborah Copaken, who shares custody of her 13- year-old son with his father.

Copaken’s reaction to the pandemic was simple. She decided it was safer to keep the boy with her:

‘“I’m keeping him home from school,” I texted my ex the next morning: a unilateral decision, not an opening to a dialogue.’

She followed this up with another text to the father:

“Hey, hey, we need to talk about parenting in the era of corona. All things being equal, I’d be happier if he just stays here until the plague is over, but maybe you could do bike rides together outside?”

It’s perfectly acceptable for this woman to boast that she decided to violate the court order: “If you’re a Mom with possession of the kid, hey, do whatever you choose,” observes Franklin.

It says a lot that the magazine editors clearly thought this was fair enough.

Men at risk

Last week I received a tragic letter from a man who is facing his own court battle. After I wrote back to him trying to find someone to help him, I received another email which ended with the chilling line:

“I have been close to ending it all and your email literally was a life saver.”

Seventy per cent of Australia’s suicide victims are male and our biased court system has long been a key part of this problem. Now the corona virus is putting even more men’s lives at risk as divorced fathers deal with yet another obstacle in their fragile relationship with their children.

That’s not the only way this pandemic is putting pressure on vulnerable men. Just wait until the economic consequences of the lockdowns really start to kick in and more men lose their jobs. 

It is now very unfashionable to talk about the burden men face providing for their families but the reality is that here in Australia males are more than twice as likely as women to be a couple’s primary breadwinner. Being the major provider for a family carries a real punch when it comes the impact of losing a job.That pesky legacy of “toxic masculinity” still  connects a man’s earnings to his sense of self-worth and achievement.

Data from Australia’s leading longitudinal study, HILDA, shows in 2018 that males were the primary earner in 58 % of couples – 20 per cent of the women earned no income. In over 40% of dual earner couples, the female earned less than half that of the male, mainly due to working part- time.

So, it is hardly surprising that the loss of that key income hits men hard. Just look what happened after the financial crisis. British data showed 1,000 suicides linked to unemployment from 2008-2010,  84%  of which were male, according to an analysis published in the British Medical Journal.  And men dealing with this personal crisis rarely have the social networks nor inclination to seek out the help they need to get through.

But there’s no way such analysis will impact on current media coverage promoting women as the real victims of the current economic crisis, as more jobs are being lost in retail, hospitality and healthcare sector which employ more women.

The barrage of stories about the stress this is placing on families has forced governments to dig deep for more money for mental health services. Our Federal government recently allocated an additional $74 million specifically for mental health services that are coming under strain during the coronavirus pandemic.

That money is to be shared amongst all the usual services, like Lifeline and Beyond Blue which in January received a $64 million funding boost for suicide prevention strategies. Most of that money will be spent supporting women, according to a detailed analysis by the Australia Men’s Health Forum (AMHF). Even Movember, the huge men’s health fundraising organisation, gives most of their suicide money to a programme called “Way Back” – 60% of people who benefit from this service are women.

But – wait for it – some of the new corona-related mental health funding is being directed at men. A very select group of men. Men’s Referral Services is to get more of the new mental health funding to deal with perpetrators of domestic violence. This is an organisation which proudly boasts of their expertise in weeding out the men who ring their help lines claiming to be victims of domestic violence but who are, in fact, perpetrators.

As for real victims, truly vulnerable men – MRS has no time for them and neither sadly, does our government.

Well, that’s it for now. Sorry about the grim tidings. Like most people, I’m enjoying some of the funny material floating around the internet at present. Here’s one of my recent favourites.

Via email:

Coronavirus: Victorian health officer’s ‘Captain Cook or virus’ tweet sparks outrage

An angry lady. 

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer is facing calls to resign after comparing Captain Cook to the coronavirus on the anniversary of his arrival into Botany Bay.

“Sudden arrival of an invader from another land, decimating populations, creating terror. Forces the population to make enormous sacrifices and completely change how they live in order to survive,” Dr Annaliese van Diemen tweeted on Wednesday – the 250th anniversary of Cook’s arrival.

“COVID-19 or Cook 1770?” she asked.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Today this morning that Dr Annaliese van Diemen should be stood down.

“I think she should go. I think it’s pretty obvious in the middle of a pandemic the second highest medical officer in the state of Victoria should be concentrating on the people of Victoria and the crisis associated with COVID-19,” he said.

“Instead she is off running culture war debates. I think she is unfit for that office and she should go.”

Labor MP Richard Marles also said the tweet was unhelpful but did not say she should be sacked,

The tweet sparked outrage from Victorian Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith, who described it as ill-timed, “culture wars crap”.

“What's with the culture wars crap from a state health bureaucrat at a time like this?'” he said.

“Captain Cook didn't invade Australia. He charted the east coast of Australia.

“She is calling Captain Cook a virus. I mean, how ridiculous. Why would you say such a thing during a pandemic?"

Former state opposition leader Matthew Guy also jumped in, describing Dr van Diemen as “a complete fruitcake”.

“No wonder the COVID-19 rules are different in Victoria to anywhere else in Australia. We are being governed by hard left nutters,” he said.

Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the tweet was “divisive” and called for Dr van Diemen to step down.

“The Deputy CHO’s comments are divisive. She holds a senior position giving advice to the Premier and ministers on COVID-19 that are impacting all Victorians. She should be impartial not political,” she said.

But Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos stood by the health officer on Thursday, saying “angry MPs” should instead be focusing on the virus.

“The Deputy Chief Health Officer is doing an outstanding job protecting Victorians from this deadly pandemic. Criticism from angry MPs is irrelevant to the fight against this virus,” she said.

Others on Twitter said Dr van Diemen should be free to express her views on “historical issues”.

But Liberal backbencher James Newbury noted that the tweet was posted at 10:16am on Wednesday, “during work hours, when funded by the taxpayer”.

“The Public Administration Act requires that a public servant must be impartial, apolitical and behave in a way that sustains public trust,” he said.

Dr van Diemen was appointed as Deputy Chief Health Officer in November. She has worked at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services since March 2016.


Coronavirus Australia: The decision that saved Australia from a COVID-19 death toll of thousands

A leading infectious disease expert has praised Australia’s rapid response to coronavirus, claiming our death toll could have spiked to devastating heights had the decision to block flights from China not been made early on.

Professor Sharon Lewin this week shot down claims that our success in the battle against the deadly infection was merely due to “good luck”, attributing our low fatality rate to the Government’s decision to bar or quarantine travellers from China in early February.

It comes as the ACT became the first Australian jurisdiction to be free of all known cases of COVID-19, South Australia boasted a week free of new infections, and the Northern Territory reported just three patients left to recover from the virus, with the rest of Australia not far behind.

Prof Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, spoke as part of a COVID-19 webinar held by the Australian Academy of Health and Medical science on Wednesday, where she rebutted claims by a contributing expert that Australia was “lucky”.

Touching on the decisions to be made surrounding the economy as Australia continues to crush the curve, Australian National University economics professor Warwick McKibbon commented that we were “lucky” to be in a position where such conversations could start.

“I think we’re in a very good place,” Mr McKibbon said.

“We’re in a place where almost no other country is in except for New Zealand and South Korea, so I think the luck was there but I think it’s overplayed. I think it’s overplayed by the people who made the wrong arguments at the beginning.

“We had some bad luck – where we had a couple of cruise ships that were let in, and that was bad luck but we managed it,” he said.


Perrottet's recovery plan to axe 'inefficient' stamp duty, payroll taxes

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet plans to abolish stamp duty and reform the broader tax system as he faces down a $9 billion hit to the state's bottom line in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald, Mr Perrottet said unemployment could double to be as high as 10 per cent by the end of the year – or 420,000 people out of work – the worst level in three decades.

"This is the biggest challenge facing our generation," Mr Perrottet said. "There is no place for pre-pandemic thinking in a post-pandemic world."

Mr Perrottet said a five-point recovery plan for NSW would focus on improved productivity, tax reforms, deregulation, digitisation, trade and investment.

"There is no better time to rid the states of inefficient taxes that hold back economic growth and I am talking stamp duty and payroll taxes," Mr Perrottet said.

"We are not going to tax our way back into prosperity. Increasing or decreasing taxes is not tax reform."

When asked which state tax was at the top of his reform agenda Mr Perrottet replied: "Stamp duty. I’ve raised it before, I think we need to get rid of inefficient taxes."

Stamp duty, also known as transfer duty, taxes the sale of all properties in NSW and last year raised $7.5 billion for the state's coffers. After payroll tax, stamp duty is the biggest source of taxation revenue for the states.

The tax has been widely condemned as inefficient, with economists like former Federal Treasury secretary Ken Henry arguing it creates "all sorts of economic and social distortions," including unfair hurdles for aspiring homeowners and disincentives for those seeking to downsize or move around for job opportunities.

Mr Perrottet’s commitment to replace stamp duty will reignite debate over state-led reform, particularly following the recent remarks of Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe who argued land tax should be at the top of the agenda.

The Treasurer said the health response and recovery remained "paramount" but it was critical that the economy was operating as much as possible.

"The longer a business remains closed, the less chance it has of opening up again," he said.

"We want as much of the economy open as possible and the more we practise social distancing, the more chance we have of that."


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

I think that in future studies on Public Health, the Ruby Princess will be remembered as a disaster within a disaster.