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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 1 Hansard (10 February) . . Page.. 92..


MR PRATT (continuing):

background my concerns, and what I know to be the deep concerns of society, about the Parentage Bill. I speak as a member of society, I speak as a parent, I speak as a professional and I speak as the shadow minister for education when I address the obnoxious nature of this irresponsible bill.

What is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of society? It is the responsibility to raise our young properly and prepare them to be, in turn, responsible members of society. ACT society, Australian society and any civilised society are practically, morally and legally responsible for nurturing, developing, guiding and loving their young and, ultimately, for educating and training their youth.

Mr Stanhope: What do you think of single mothers, Mr Pratt?

MR PRATT: I will talk about that later, Mr Stanhope. No problems. To that end, society must support the traditional family structure, which is the essential building block of society and the entity most responsible. It, too, needs the help of society to nurture our young. Since time began, and certainly since civilisation took hold on this earth, the natural building block and family structure have been both fathering and mothering society's children.

Why does this government not understand or care about that fundamentally time-honoured principle of mankind and society as the plank upon which we rear our children? Why does this government fail to understand that this time-honoured tenet relevant to our youth must be protected at all costs? Why does this government fail to understand that it is failing in its duty of care to our youth by pursuing the introduction of this bill? That is what they are doing: failing in their duty of care.

They are failing in their responsibility to take a leadership role in the fundamental responsibility that society has: to raise its youth. The Stanhope government is required to set an example in the protection of what is sacrosanct, and it is dismally failing again. The Stanhope government is only taking into consideration a small portion of its constituent base, not its entire constituent base.

This government was elected by a majority to govern in the best interests of the territory. I accept that government must take note of minority constituency issues and must ensure that, in all fairness, the legitimate requirements of all sections of society are taken care of. That is a fundamental responsibility of government. But this cannot be at the expense of fundamental principles-for example, what is in the best interests of our children. This is exactly what this government is doing. With this bill they are failing children; they are not supporting the sanctity of the family.

Through changed circumstances, we know that a significant proportion of our children will be raised by one parent. We know that fantastic jobs of parenting mostly occur in these circumstances. We know that. We know that being in a single-parent family is the hard reality for a great proportion of our children, and we as a society must strive to do more to support those single parents and the parents in those single-parent families. We on this side of the house hold that as a fundamental tenet.

Let's not see social engineers use this dynamic-the reality of single-parent families-as an excuse for turning upside down tens of thousands of years of accepted and natural


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