Family, cornerstone of a Civilised Society – I wrote this as a speech 17/11/2004 – nothing has changed.
The Hon. DAVID OLDFIELD
- [10.23 p.m.]: This week my wife, Lisa, and I had the privilege of meeting the President of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Family Association, Mrs Mary-Louise Fowler. Mary-Louise and many committed and well-meaning individuals and organisations are doing their very best to promote the family. The family is the cornerstone of decent society and the matchless building block of any good civilisation. Unfortunately, there is a considerable ongoing attack on traditional families and traditional family life. Such assaults are largely the work of social engineers with personal agendas related to the justification and promotion of their own circumstances, not the welfare of the people, or for that matter, the nation. Among the material that I have received from Mary-Louise was the excellent booklet entitled “21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters”. I seek leave to table this document.
- It is said that marriage is a man and a woman’s ultimate expression of commitment to a lifelong partnership. The foundations of marriage include love, trust, faith and respect. My wife chose the traditional, “love, honour and obey” vows. However, I acknowledge that despite Lisa’s chosen commitment at the time, I am not always successful in getting her to obey me. Of course, it is not all bad because I still enjoy love, trust, faith, respect, and obedience on occasion. Family usually flows from marriage, and I strongly believe every child has the right to the benefits of stable marriage. Equally, every child has the right to a mother and a father. I am very much opposed to planning children out of wedlock. However, more than that, I uphold that setting out to have a child as a single parent is irresponsible in the extreme. There was a time when people made sacrifices for their children, but these days there are many who give the impression that having children is the sacrifice.
- The booklet “21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters” was published by the Fatherhood Foundation in co-operation with the National Marriage Coalition. It factually points out many things such as:
- Marriage increases the likelihood that fathers have good relationships with their children…Cohabitation is not the functional equivalent of marriage…Daughters raised outside intact marriages are approximately 3 times more likely to end up young, unwed mothers than are children whose parents married and stayed married…Boys raised in single parent homes are about twice as likely to commit a crime that leads to incarceration by the time they reach their early thirties—boys raised in step families are 3 times as likely…Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase the economic vulnerability of both children and mothers.. Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples…Children of divorced or unwed parents have lower academic achievement, are more likely to be held back, and are more likely to drop out of high school…Married men and women have lower rates of alcohol consumption and abuse than do singles…Marriage is associated with better health and lower rates of injury, illness and disability for both men and women…Married mothers have lower rates of depression than do single or cohabiting mothers…Single and divorced women are 4 to 5 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than married women and most particularly are almost 10 times more likely to be raped…Children living with single mothers, stepfathers, or mother’s boyfriends are more likely to become victims of child abuse.
- Research has found that pre-schoolers living with stepfathers are 40 times more likely to be sexually abused than those living with both biological parents. Australian research has also found that the typical child murderer is a young man in a de facto relationship with the victim’s mother and that parental divorce is a factor for a wide range of social and psychological problems in adolescence and adulthood.
My mother, June, turned 81 today. She has been married to my father for nearly 50 years. Clearly they are an example of a couple with a strong commitment to marriage, each other, and their children. Indeed, I am extremely fortunate to be their son. No marriage is perfect because no person is perfect, and when marriage does break down it is not the fault of the institution but, rather, the people involved. Whatever faults the knockers may come up with, the positive aspects of marriage far outweigh any suggested negatives. We should choose our partner wisely, understand our commitment, and not fall for how easy society seems to have made divorce.