MP wants lie detectors in Family Court

Sydney Morning Herald

August 17, 2007

An MP has called for compulsory lie detector tests for parents facing the Family Law Court.

South Australian independent MP Ann Bressington says current family law is a divisive “cash cow” that harms those it aims to protect – children.

The federal government must intervene and rewrite the law, just as it is acting to protect indigenous children in the Northern Territory, Ms Bressington told AAP in Sydney, where she is attending a Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission conference.

“We have to ask why the Attorney-General (Philip Ruddock) and the Prime Minister (John Howard) would be seen to support such a dysfunctional (Family Law) Act when they can take the action they did in the Northern Territory to supposedly protect Aboriginal children,” she said.

A draft bill to introduce polygraph (lie detector) tests for individuals before Family Court proceedings would be introduced in the South Australian parliament in the next session, said Ms Bressington.

However, she said the use of polygraph tests needed to be implemented federally.

“There is no recognition of perjury. A man or a woman can go into a Family Law Court and lie about the conduct of their partner and it can be proven to be false but there is no course of action that’s taken,” Ms Bressington said.

“I believe the research and evidence to support the use of polygraphing, not for court but pre-court is very strong. It has a 98 per cent accuracy …

“If we can save resources in the social services departments and thousands of hours spent by social workers investigating false allegations … that’s a good thing.”

Ms Bressington said the family law system was biased against men, but children suffered too.

“On top of the dysfunctional family law system we have a corrupted child protection agency.,” she said.

“We have children being coerced in interviews to support false allegations.

“It’s a feeding ground, it’s a cash cow, people are literally striped of any assets and use it (the court) against one another,” she said.

Ms Bressington said her main focus was on drug and alcohol issues but through this she had experienced first hand the difficulties people faced with family law.

In 2006 she introduced a bill calling for random drug testing of SA school children.

She is the chief executive officer and founder of DrugBeat South Australia, a treatment and rehabilitation centre.